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Sarah Jenkins: Stamping out unsportsmanlike behaviour

Judges get a lot of flack. I’ve contributed to this in the past as a writer, drawing attention in reports to large discrepancies in two judges’ marks of the same test at a championship. I don’t doubt we will again.

I’ve also spent a good 10 minutes on the odd lorry journey home berating the judge who clearly must just hate chestnuts, or thoroughbreds, or Sundays, because my test obviously deserved more than 64%. And I’m just an amateur — how much more upsetting if my livelihood depended on that placing.

I’m not suggesting bad, biased, or completely incomprehensible judging shouldn’t be investigated — it must be. However, whether it’s my New Year’s resolution generally to cut people some slack, or whether it’s the amount of criticism we all seem to give out and come in for these days, I’ve started to look at things more from the point of view of the poor sod receiving all the grief.

Carl Hester (Horse & Hound 26 February, p42) makes the very valid point that two judges may mark the same test entirely differently because they see different things from where they are sat.

And as our writer points out (Horse & Hound 26 February, p24) only the person who goes home with the ribbon is going to be happy — the rest doubtless disappointed. Yet we continue to see things only from our perspectives.

The extreme of this manifests itself in people taking to social media to drag a judge’s name through the mire, or, arguably worse still, aggressively confronting and even threatening that judge in person at a show. At this point you sigh at the human race.

This behaviour will not improve their lot, nor change the result, and says more (and not positive things at that) about them than the judge. May we all work together, through the proper channels, to stamp out unsportsmanlike, unedifying behaviour.

Ref: Horse & Hound; 26 February 2015

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