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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