How many jumping rounds can a judge watch before she begins to go insane?
There really isn't an answer to that. But believe me, I was beginning to ponder one while I was judging today. I first sat down in the judge's booth at 8:30 a.m. And except for a couple of potty breaks and a quick pass by the food booth, I judged non-stop until about 6:00 p.m. It wouldn't have been so bad except that mentally I was prepared to work a short day: a couple of my friends who've judged the same show had told me, "Oh, Cindy, that show is usually pretty small. You'll be finished by 3:00 at the very latest."
At about 3:00 I was trying not to become hypnotized by what seemed like the 347th bay horse jumping the brown gate with the yellow flowers directly in front of me. On the bright side, it was a reflection-- I suppose-- of how fairly I was judging that riders kept adding classes all day. Well, that and the fact that this was one of the final shows on the San Diego County show circuit where riders could qualify for the year-end championships and the medal finals. To keep myself alert and focused I'd get up from my chair and stand on one foot while marking my scorecards. Or I'd do deep knee bends between jumping rounds. Then, when the flat classes came into the ring-- a welcome break-- I'd hop down the short flight of stairs and stand along the rail, just so I could be out in the fresh air.
There was also a brief moment of near panic when the batteries in my walkie-talkie went dead. It was a little disconcerting when I was trying desperately to communicate with Linda, the backgate steward, and nothing was happening. She was oblivious to me. I was too far away to yell and smoke signals seemed out of the question. Fortunately, the show secretary had a box full of batteries and we were up and working again before too much calamity ensued.
The brightest part of my day was chatting with two of the little pony girls after their classes were done for the day. One rode a buff-colored palomino named Bippity-Boppity-Boo. Is that too cute or what? The other rode a very flashy pinto pony that flicked its little toes at the trot like a ballerina. Both of those little girls were excellent little riders and they were just as engaging out of the saddle. In between giggles one of them told me, "Our ponies are best friends and guess what? We're best friends, too!"
Now, isn't that what horse shows are all about?
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