Judges Are Human Too – A Letter From A Horse Show Judge

I want to put this out there for all people that show horses.  Judges are just people! We don’t think we are God!
Exhibitors should keep this in mind as you get ready to step in the arena and face the judge at the next horse show……we are human!

Sami & George Hernandez - From Facebook

Sami & George Hernandez – From Facebook

I wish exhibitors and spectators would look out at the person standing in the middle of that arena and remember they were probably a little kid that loved horses and played with Breyer’s! They probably begged for a pony.  They had a long road of lessons, failures, success and lots of struggles….just like you! They rode bad horses, a few good ones and more bad ones!

Did you ever give it a thought that judges have such struggles and doubt? We question our decisions and hate that we disappoint people! We hear what is said outside. “That judge doesn’t like me.” “They train Quarter Horses so they hate Arabs, or Apps, etc.” We hear it!

Realize this, we know every time we walk in that arena we are only going to be able to pick 1 winner. That means we spend most of our time disappointing 99% of the people. Whether its windy, sunny, dusty, cold or my feet are hurting from standing out there for 10 hours, I’m still just a person trying to do the very best I can.  And yes, I was a little girl that dreamed of having a pony, so I assume that each of my exhibitors share my passion. So today I’m the judge, but everyday I’m just human♡

Written By, Sami Hernandez of Diamond Crest Stables.  Share this on Facebook if you appreciate horse show judges!

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One Response

  1. Laurie Taylor

    I was struck by this article. I agree that judges are human too but as judges , we have a greater degree of ethics and professionalism that needs to be met. We have been entrusted with a set of association rules and usually a large number of classes with variety in the criteria of each class or division of classes.
    We need to present ourselves in the highest professional manner possible. Follow the rules set and have more knowledge than those we are judging in order to assure that all exhibitors are judged and evaluated fairly, within the rules and criteria set by the governing association. Breed judges sometimes only know that breed and should not be judging open shows where all breeds will compete against each other. Those who judge the youth development programs such as 4H and FFA should have but do not always understand how to judge for a variety of reasons. I think it is a lack of education by the land grant universities as some want to be a big fish in a little pond and in charge when they are not good judges for that very reason. Larger organizations that depend on good solid judging generally do not tolerate this sort of behavior but there are some judges who can mask their motives and so this can be a detriment to an organization, locally, statewide, regionally and even nationally. This is my concern for judging programs; judges need to know how a horse is supposed to move according to it’s breed and what the breed criteria is rules over their personal opinion. And not judge horses they do not like by breed- therefore some judges should not be judging but one or fewer breeds but not open shows. Ego’s do get in the way with some judges and should not, so organizations have the difficult job to know why someone wants to be a judge.
    Good judges do not struggle and should never have doubt in a class. They need to judge, place the class as it is seen and be extremely professional with a parent, child, amateur and/or professional approaches them with a question and with either a show steward or event manager present in order to maintain the professionalism that they should posses in order to assure that their job as a professional judge was done as well as they could have for that day.
    As a breed, USEF judge and an FEI steward, who gives time to the youth development programs, a competitor and board member I fully understand the needs of good solid people to be judges. I am a cow horse girl – western pleasure professional who has championships in all divisions and enjoys working for the USDF championships each year. I do my job with ease because I know and understand horse flesh and the rules set. If someone is disappointed in their placing, they can come and find out why and I am able to tell them as I hope all judges do the same. It develops a remoure that educates exhibitors on what is needed to improve their placings the next time. I keep my notes and have a photographic memory, which can work against me at times. I never assume anything and always check out what I may not know about, rules, styles of horses and conformation of breeds I may be judging in an open – all breed show. I am a student of all equines, large and small. Some people should not be judging horses for various reasons but still do and it is very harmful to our industry. I don’t ever like to see a judge who judges who the rider is and not their performance. I see this is a real issue with exhibitors. They just want a fair shot at the prize. I think that it is about wanting to be the best possible judge for the horse’s welfare and those who exhibit first and ourselves for reputation or fame not in the mix. Stated by Laurie Taylor http://www.TaylorMadeHorses.com


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