One of the showing world’s most respected judges, Cindy Sims, is to stand down from half a dozen judging panels after becoming disillusioned with the attitude of competitors.
“I have no dispute with the societies,” says Cindy, who has been judging for 25 years and is a regular in show hack, cob, hunter, Arab, New Forest, Coloured Horse and Pony Society and National Pony Society classes. “But I just don’t like dealing with the competitors – sportsmanship is lacking, it’s become cut-throat and the atmosphere has gone. Showing has lost its shine.
“Most of the professionals are lovely. One professional, however, has really soured it for me this year in the hunter world. In fact, there are two professionals that I dread judging and I feel almost sick if I know they going to be in the ring because they are so intimidating.
“And I can’t stand going into a ring and wondering if exhibitors think I’m cheating or doing someone a favour. You could have cut the aura at one of the HOYS qualifiers with a knife.”
Sims continues to explain how she used to look forward to judging, and particularly enjoyed riding other people’s horses.
“I’ve been very lucky to meet some fabulous people, especially stewards,” she says. “Some shows are still fun: my favourite is Royal Balmoral: it’s a great giggle and just how it used to be, as are a couple of the hunt shows, where we have a scream.
“My sister has found the same, but she’s tougher than me. We’ve both noticed a change over the past four or five years. But for me, it came to a head when I missed my 14-year-old daughter’s speech day, and I thought: ‘I shouldn’t be standing in a ring being abused by competitors, I should be there’.”
Cindy may return to judging in a few years “with a fresh outlook”, but she fears that judging may have to go the way of the US, where judges are paid.
Cindy will do some showing, become more involved in eventing as an owner, continue to do grading and will get more involved in her children’s Pony Club eventing and tetrathlon activities.