Simon Reynolds: Judges must be accountable but ‘social media bashing’ isn’t on *H&H VIP*

  • It seems that the trend of “judge bashing” on social media and gossip sites is on the rise. No matter how you feel when you come out of the ring, it is never acceptable to do this! If you feel hard done by or feel there has been something underhand, you should complain to the relevant society.

    Of course judges should be transparent and whiter than white, and should quite rightly be reprimanded if they are not acting impartially, but I strongly believe that competitors should be dealt with equally as fiercely if they start vendettas, or bully judges or other riders. Judges should not be made to feel pressured by competitors.

    Following a show I judged recently, I was the subject of personal rants on social media, because one disgruntled competitor was placed second. Societies need to do more to protect their judges — I always thought the judge’s decision was final. I have thick skin and the criticism is water off a duck’s back to me, but I’m sure there are some who could be intimidated.

    When I go in to judge I put my judge’s hat on and judge fairly, and I do so regardless of who I hunt with, have bought horses from or sold them to, or who I’m friendly with. And yet sadly I have been inundated with tales of classes being influenced by “connections”, in both the horses and ponies.

    To be told weeks before a class who will win, and then to connect the dots and watch it all click into place is not right. In any other sport this would be classed as match fixing.

    Surely there is no satisfaction in winning a class in this way? It’s time these judges were held morally accountable, and classes were judged without them thinking of their pockets or personal friendships.

    Good times at RIHS

    What a treat for competitors that the all-weather canter track has been extended around the whole of ring five at Hickstead. It allowed competitors to really gallop and show their horses off in the best possible conditions.

    The extended track is a much-needed asset, given the sheer volume of horses that use that ring. I certainly appreciated it on hunter day, when you could flow on safe in the knowledge that we were minimising the risk of injury and that the horses felt secure off the corners.

    We took the time to watch the supreme championships at the Royal International. It was a real spectacle and immensely enjoyable. There were some cracking shows, in particular Oliver Hood and the cob champion, Chaplin, who ended up on top of the Derby bank. I’m glad he took a pull and not a kick! It certainly was a crowd pleaser.

    Well done to Jayne Ross who secured her supreme win with a blistering gallop around the whole arena.

    The main arena looked magnificent and was a credit to the Hickstead team — the going was superb.

    Showing director Roger Stack never failed to keep us amused with his hilarious tales. As he left on his buggy at one point he enquired, “Do you like sex and travel?” I replied yes, to which he smirked, “Well… f*** off!” Typical Roger!

    Ref: Horse & Hound; 13 August 2015