Showing judges’ pet hates

It’s what every showing exhibitor wants to know — what is the judge really looking for and, more importantly, what is guaranteed to lose you that red rosette?


Judging for: 11 years
Background: breeding, breaking, producing and selling competition horses; point-to-pointing; now manager of Weatherbys Chase
Pet hates:
• Bad feet
• Offset forelegs
• Incorrect tack — “strings” for reins on double bridles, very “blocked” saddles
• Exhibitors who don’t consider the size of a ride judge’s feet and have tiny stirrups on their horse’s saddle


Judging for: 30 years
Background: breaking, schooling and training young horses for all disciplines
Pet hates:
• Horses covered in baby oil and make-up
• Shaved and not properly pulled tails
• Late arrivals who try to miss the initial go-round, because their animals behave badly in company
• Bad legging-up
• Classes that run late
• Rude competitors


Judging for: 30+ years
Background: hunt horses, Pony Club, riding and competing
Pet hates:
• Fashion bits — most are far too severe
• Fixed head position, from lead-rein up
• Overfat ponies, all types
• Small children with top hats and brown jodhpur boots


Judging for: 20+ years
Background: breaking, schooling and dealing competition horses and hunters
Pet hates:
• Horses that aren’t ready to be ridden by a ride judge
• Too small saddles and/or stirrups; too short leathers
• Too much make-up
• Bad manners from competitors
• Ponies which scrabble off a corner, go flat-out for six or seven strides and then pull up


Judging for: 20 years
Background: Pony Club; producing and showing at top level for friends, fitted in around full-time job
Pet hates:
• The erosion of classic and traditional methods of production in turnout and etiquette
• Bad hocks
• Very fine bridles with very thin reins
• Overly elaborate browbands
• Ever longer bridle lines on Arabs


Judging for: 25 years
Background: fell pony breeder and producer, now widened his scope to include most natives
Pet hates:
• In-hand handlers who don’t try to get their animals to walk
• Riders who make a cavalry charge for the front when there is no pull-in, disregarding instructions from steward
• One-handed canter from riders of Highlands
• People who hog the inside track


Judging for: 25 years
Background: showing rider producer and exhibitor of horses and ponies
Pet hates:
• Poorly fitting tack and overbitting, such as a 133cm show hunter pony in a Sam Marsh or Swales bit
• Overuse of coat gloss and baby oil
• Ponies and horses that are badly shod
• Bad horse/pony management
• Overproduction and overshowing of young ponies

To find out what our judges do look for, see the full article in Horse & Hound’s showing special (2 April, ’09), plus an interview with top pony producer Katy Carter, and H&H’s pick of the new showing combinations to look out for in 2009.

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