Trekking up and down the country, standing in muddy showgrounds in all weathers and often bearing the brunt of disgruntled competitors, our showing judges have a lot to put up with. And they usually take on judging appointments in the name of passion and a love for the sport. Plus, many are unpaid!
As showing shows are garnering pace and we start heading back out, try to avoid saying any of these clangers to our long suffering judges…
1. ‘Why didn’t I win?’
Now don’t get us wrong, it is perfectly fine to ask a judge for some feedback if you’re down the line and you’re unsure what you did wrong. We all want to improve and often the best way to ensure your placing is better next time out is to ask for a different perspective (your mum could be looking at you with slight rose tinted specs). However, there is definitely a way to go about it. Something along the lines of ‘please could I ask what I could do better next time’ is ideal. Just avoid going in with the aggressive questions, as you might get told something you didn’t want to hear…
2. ‘My horse has won at (insert name of big show)’
While some judges just want to know your horse or pony’s age, others might have a few more questions for you. They might ask you what you do with your horse, of if this is his or her first season or outing under saddle or of the season. Keep your answers general and avoid name dropping any big wins or connections to certain breeders, producers or riders. Judges are supposed to be impartial so skipping this information in comes across as unnecessary and will probably hinder your placing, not improve it.
3. ‘Can I miss the lap of honour?’
With the abundance of rings and classes at most showing shows, it’s inevitable that clashes are going to happen. Most of the time, if asked politely, judges do let jockeys ring hop as long as they’re back for the final presentation at the end of the class. But most judges won’t tolerate riders missing the lap of honour after the presentation. It can come across as rude and a tad disrespectful, especially if you’ve been placed to win. If you have been presented with a red or a blue rosette and will need to be back for the championship, avoid missing your victory lap as it might not serve you well when you come back for the final reckoning.
4. ‘What was the show again?’
This is only a viable question if you’ve been pulled in top and have to perform the set show first. This is not a viable question if you’ve been pulled 10th and still proceed to ask the judge what the show is after watching nine others before you. Listen to the steward’s insturctions and if they’re not clear ask again. Watch the competitors before you do their shows and make sure you know what you’re doing when you present yourself to the judge.
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5. ‘I don’t agree with you’
Sometimes a judge will give you advice even if you’ve not asked for it, it just depends on their style of judging. Perhaps they want to explain why they placed the line in this order or choose to point our an error you made so you know why you finished in a certain position. Even if you completely disagree with what they’re saying, smile, nod and say thank you. Hold back any frustration and anger until you get back to the lorry. It’s not worth getting a name as a bad loser which could be detrimental to your future results. Breathe, walk away and have a rant to your groom on the drive home.
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