All of this means that I've already pressed a nice crease in my one and only "good" pair of semi-dressy Bermuda shorts because, don't ya' know, I am wearing them tomorrow! Plus I've frozen several bottles of water and cranberry juice (my favorite thirst quencher on a hot, dusty day) so I'm well prepared.
I only wish I could prepare some of the exhibitors. Though this is a 2-day horse show sanctioned by two county riding associations, nonetheless there are always a handful of riders who are sort of clueless of how their behavior affects the impression they are making on the judge (me). With that in mind, I'll share with you my Top 5 Pet Peeves and Things that Make Me Frown When I am Judging:
1. Do not stand outside the in-gate and flog and kick your horse in an effort to force it into the arena. From my vantage point I can see nearly everything, and even though the judging doesn't officially start until you enter the arena, my impression is somewhat colored if your horse is behaving as if he's being asked to enter the Gates of Hell.
2. By the way, I can also HEAR a lot of what's going on at the backgate. I'm really not bothered that much by enthusiastic coaching from the rail, especially if it's a class for beginners or white-knuckled amateur adults. But when I overhear someone call out, "Becky, you're on the wrong lead!" you can be sure that I am craning my neck, leaning out of the judge's booth to determine just who Becky is and, once confirming that she cannot tell which lead she's on, jotting down her number on the "Bad Bee" side of my score sheet.
3. Learn your course beforehand. Trust me, they're all posted at the same place at the backgate early in the morning. If it's 90 degrees and there's an open gate because you were too busy slurping a snow cone or chatting with your barn buddies to memorize your course, I am not going to be too happy with you when you finally saunter through the gate.
4. Don't get mad at your horse and physically punish him when you're the one who made the costly mistake. Ever.
5. Is it asking too much for you to wipe the sweat off your horse's neck and flanks before you come into the ring, especially for a flat class? That's why there are sponges and rub rags. It demonstrates to me that you are serious about presenting your horse for evaluation. Besides, it makes your horse more comfortable, which shows me that you put your horse's welfare first. After all, I'd like someone to come wipe the sweat off my brow. And I'm the judge!
If you have any comments-- or horse show pet peeves-- feel free to contribute them by clicking on "comments" or emailing me at: firstname.lastname@example.org