Friday, September 5, 2008

On My Way to the Judge's Booth, I Offer Up My Pet Peeves

Tomorrow and Sunday I am judging a hunter and equitation show. The fact that it is located at a rather posh training and country club facility promises that at the very least I'll get to be seated in a covered judge's booth, sheltered from the heat and sun. And it's a bit closer to the coast than my house, so it should be a few degrees cooler than here. Right now it's 93 degrees. And it's 5:30 p.m.

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:


Jessica said...

Oooh! Can I leave my pet peaves as a rider? :-)

1.Loitering with your horse at the in-gate. If your class is not on deck, please MOVE. I don’t need to try to avoid being kicked as I’m heading into my class.
2.People and HORSES (esp) hanging on the rail. My green bean doesn’t like to wonder if he’s going to be eaten as he goes into an extended trot to avoid bared teeth. (Not that his extended trot isn’t lovely – but I don’t think it gets me any brownie points! Hehe) I also don’t like to hear conversations about what’s for lunch, and what’s up with that pony over there?
3.People who excessively take out their frustration on their horse for a bad round. Horses have bad days too. Sometimes you just have to call it quits while you’re ahead. A show is not the place to do excessive training.
4.People who throw temper tantrums when they know they haven’t ribboned.
5.People who make a lot of noise during a dressage test.
6. Riders on cell phones.

Jessica said...

Thought I should post my favorite things at a horse show too (since the last one was so negative *Grin*)
1. A rider kissing/hugging their horse (my number one fav)
2. A rider who pets their horse for trying even though it didn't go right (especially at the end of a jumping round or dressage test - GOOD SPORTSMANSHIP!)
3. A nicely turned out horse (esp if a kid did it!)
4. Friends supporting friends throughout the competition
5. When a judge has time to talk about my ride (good or bad) or says something encouraging.

Cindy Hale said...

Well, I guess you'll both like my latest post on my blog!