Should Morgan Trainers Judge Morgan Shows?

In the post “Morgans In Hand” a reader commented that “Trainers should not judge!!”.  They also said that “I quit showing in the halter classes when they changed from confirmation halter to a performance class and quit being judged by breeders, vets, etc., and started to be judged by trainers.”

I responded that I didn’t think that there would be enough judges available if the “trainer pool” was not used.  In addition, it is very hard to entice others to become judges due to the time required and the fact that there is little monetary compensation for judging a show (for more of my response see the comments to the original post, “Morgans In Hand“).

I am throwing out the question of whether others believe that Morgan trainers should not judge Morgan shows (In Hand or Performance classes) and, if not, who would be a better choice?

7 Responses to Should Morgan Trainers Judge Morgan Shows?

  1. erikarose says:

    First off, I am not really familiar with what is required at judging school and being a learning judge. And again I have been very fortunate to be surrounded around honest people (partly by choice, party by luck). But I think trainers, being that they deal with show horses day in and day out, are appropriate judges. They see first hand how form to function come together for in-hand and performance classes.

    I’m refering to the prior topic post as I write this, and the first thing that caught my eye was why are the “park type” morgans winning the in-hand classes. Maybe I am being slightly naive or it’s because I entered into the “new age of the morgan” when I came into this breed, but they are up headed, square trotting (hopefully), and animated individuals. When I looks at some of the past WC Stallions all I see is Morgan… Mizrahi, Boogie, The Boogie Man LPS for example. Yes there are some things that I am not particulary fond of with those individuals, but they scream Morgan to me. I love sport and dressage horses, but when showing inhand they don’t seem to have that animation and fire behind them. I think an inhand horse should show itself with pride and stand there like “yeah I’m pretty, I know.” The standard says the Morgan has a “a distinct way of moving from selective breeding and good training. And a strong way of moving.” That to me is a direct statement that we are breeding for park type horses, and that is what is expected to be judged, or atleast a horse that is bold moving.

    (MO102) Type & Conformation #6
    Morgan division classes which are judged without consideration for type and conformation shall include reining, trail, jumper, carriage driving, eventing, sport horse suitability, showmanship, dressage and equitation.

    I still stand by my feelings, that the versatility of this breed is the most amazing thing we have to offer, but it seems to be the one thing tearing us apart.

    I love looking back at old Connections and issues of the Morgan Horse, and seeing the current show ring stars, as youngsters and even foals. So many hunter and western horses started out as in-hand horses and showed with great success.

  2. erikarose says:

    As I am re-reading the rule book it states
    In the Morgan division, classes that are judges without consideration for type and conformation (MO102.6), the judging of these disciplines and classes will be conducted under the federation rules of the applicable chapters and the Morgan Subchapters (Morgan Dressage and Fitting & Showmanship)

  3. Bill Broe says:

    When you show at open Breed shows with a with a Morgan and do well against warmbloods most people don’t believe they are Morgans. That is because people who are not familar with the Morgan think they are all park horses because that is what is portaryed. Your comment stating that is what we are breeding is for park is not true in everyones case. A Morgan does not have to go like a park horse to have a strong way of moving or a hey look at me attitude. As far as trainers being judges that part I can deal with but in a sporthorse class how can a saddle seat or park harness trainer make the comparisson between an up and down park trot that covers no ground and is tense and a reaching ground covering relaxed trot? A trainer who is not familar with the differences will choose the knee high trot every time. When in my view you can’t compare the two horses. The only comparisson is the fact they are Morgans. Yes they are versatile but you can’t take a park horse from his park class and do the next class in dressage or vice versa. They are both Morgans and they look the same but they don not move the same. You can’t have a dressage judge/trainer judge a park class unless they are educated in the park requirements. It has been my experience that Morgans that do well in-hand at open breed shows being judged by USEF/USDF judges do not do well in the Morgan show sporthorse classes. Even in the IBC classes at open shows being judged by international FEI judges who score a Morgan in the 70′s. That same horse doesn’t even get a second look in a sporthorse class at a Morgan show. I think that the Morgan is indeed versatile but there are distinct differences in the way they move based on their discipline and training and they have to be judged accordingly.

  4. erikarose says:

    Bill, The open breed shows you go to are very different then the ones I go to! Lol They all think Morgans are mini draft horses or pull amish buggies (we are in central PA). But after they see what my Morgans can do, they leave with a whole new respect.

    You’re right, I did not mean to imply everyone is breeding for park morgans (I was trying to say that breeders whose goal is to produce a saddleseat/show horse is trying for that), but I do think the ideal Morgan should have a strong way of moving and style even if it isn’t a park trot. As far as the attitude, I think that is what attracted me initially to Morgans, they should love themselves and show it to the world, even if it is a quiet walk/trot horse.

    I think there should be appropriate judges for each division that is for sure. There is a big difference between the show horse and the sport horse. I personally do not have a lot of experience with the sport variety, but I do respect them and their trainers immensely. I dabbled in dressage when I began riding, and did experience a small amount of what you are saying. I only showed intro level, but at a Morgan show scored in the 50’s, but at open dressage or schooling shows never got below a 65. I did it for such a short period of time, that I don’t know if I should chalk it up to gaining more experience, or the judging difference. But when I decided to take that horse and make him a saddleseat horse, people at the barn I was at were not very happy with me, as he was so good at it. But then when they saw him as a trained SaddleSeat horse they understood my decision, and he could trot over level if we would have asked, but could stretch out and reach too. Now that I’m thinking about it, I might take him back to dressage now that he’s sitting at home doing nothing and I need to start “playing” with him again.

    By the way, I love your stud, I’m actually trying to talk some friends of mine into breeding to him. They have the dam of that gelding I was mentioning, and we have another gelding out of her, but they want a big dressage horse and I couldn’t think of anyone better. We were stabled next to you at NY Regional, we had a little chestnut gelding with a big white face.

  5. Mocha Mom says:

    I think I agree with both EricaRose and Bill. I think that many trainers have developed the knowledge to make them excellent judges and that 99.9 per cent of them are honest. And we are paying them for their OPINION in a subjective assessment. Just because we disagree doesn’t necessarily make them a bad judge, and quite frankly, I don’t see a lot of others beating down the doors to get into judges’ school. If the trainers didn’t judge we might not have horse shows.

    I also think that EricaRose and I have had similar experiences training and showing horses both with and without a trainer, and until you have really worked with a trainer (not just pay the bills and go watch your horse show) you can’t appreciate how much more they know than you do.

    But I also think that a square trot is a square (two-beat) trot. It should not matter whether it is with a level (or AboveLevel) forearm or with extension. Morgan type and conformation (not confirmation, that’s religion) is the same no matter what kind of bridle is on the horse. Bill, what is an IBC class at an open show?

    EricaRose, I’m confused. I looked at the 2008 USEF Rule Book online and found that MO 104.1 reads, “Stallions are prohibited in Ladies, Junior Exhibitor, Walk/Trot, and Leadline Classes.”

    MO 102.6 reads, “Morgan division classes which are judged without consideration for type and conformation shall include Reining, Trail, Jumper, Carriage Driving, Eventing, Sport Horse Suitability, Fitting & Showmanship, Dressage and Equitation.”

    I’m not sure I understand the point you are trying to make. I did a copy and paste, so I don’t think I’ve made a transcription error. Are you looking at a different edition?

  6. erikarose says:

    lol Not sure if it was a typo or what but it is 104 #10
    Just trying to state, that the types are to be judged differently.

  7. ChillyOne says:


    I have to disagree with one point – a park trot is not supposed to be “up and down that covers no ground”. It’s absolutely true that you see it in the ring, it’s absolutely not a correct way of moving for any Morgan including a park horse. If the horse is built correctly to begin with regards to the shoulder – it will by default take a longer, forward stride – with or without the higher action. High action and ground covering are not necessarily mutually exclusive.

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