Differnce between Ladies and Amateur judging

This started under a different thread, but interested in everyone’s belief in the difference that should be seen between a ladies class and an amateur class aside from the obvious lack of testosterone in the ladies.  I understand the horse should have manners, but other than that?

12 Responses to Differnce between Ladies and Amateur judging

  1. RaeOfLight says:

    Based on a QUICK glance at the USEF rules for Morgan classes: Stallions are not allowed in Ladies classes and it appears Amateur horses can be “stronger” than a Ladies horse.

  2. smskelly says:

    Manners and quality are the first requirements in the USEF class specs for almost all the ladies classes (oddly, park and classic vary from that). Suitability is high on the list, and elegance is in the general description of a ladies mount.

    As an exhibitor, I think a ladies horse must be pretty, well proportioned, elegant and very, very mannerly. The entire picture should be one of elegance – tractable, easy to ride horse, flawless transitions.

    While I disagree on some level with stallions not being allowed in ladies, I do believe that even the most mannerly stallion probably wouldn’t make a good ladies mount, as he would likely lack the refinement and elegance expected of a ladies horse. Even the most refined stallion is still masculine, and “strong” looking…which is definitely not what a ladies horse should be.

  3. leslie says:

    This is a bit off-topic, but related. I had a friend in college who wrote a paper on the ladies division and came to the conclusion (or had the hypothesis, I can’t remember) that the reason the division still exists is partially to keep women out of the open division. She was focused on the Saddlebred world. I don’t know if I see that in the Morgan world because I don’t think we have the same kind of good ol’ boys network as they do, but it’s an interesting idea.

    As far as stallions, I think that rule needs to go. Even though I still see it listed as an asset in sale ads down here in the south, the idea of a horse being “easy enough for a lady” is totally archaic. This is especially true since professionals show in the ladies classes. Let’s face it, it’s more common now for people to be looking for a safe, mannerly “husband horse” than a “ladies horse” and yet the old fashioned idea is the one that persists in the show ring.

    There were people in Saddlebreddom who were not especially impressed when Gayle Lampe bought Born to Win and gelded him so that she could show him in Ladies. She rode him to a WC title. Would he have not been suitable if he was still a stallion? Would she have been less able to ride him? I’d wager no and no. I believe he was later defeated in the show ring by his own son, which makes you wonder what a sire he could have been.

    I’m sort of ambivalent. I admit I do like having a ladies class because it means I’ve got another option. But I do question why we’re putting pro trainers in a division where the horse is meant to be mannerly and less bold than an amateur or open horse. Maybe it really is time to reconsider the need for that division.

  4. StacyGRS says:

    I just commented on this on the other thread. I think a ladies horse has nothing to do with professional or ama rider/driver. A great ladies horse should be elegant, light in the bridle, smooth and pretty…both standing and moving. An ama horse is basically an open horse ridden by an ama, but, imo a ladies horse looks and feels different. For the sake of the conversation I’m going to throw 2 horses I’ve won with under the bus:) IMO, Kiss N Tell was made to be a ladies horse. She was a stellar Jr Exb mount as well (a world championship and a reserve world championship in the Jr Exb divisions) but she always looked like a ladies horse to me. She took a step with ease and grace, she was pretty, she had a bounce to her that was feminine and gave her a lofty,slow pleasure trot, and she barely touched the bridle. She had a soft, slow canter, she was elegant in her trots not bold or aggressive. She even felt elegant to ride or drive. Cues were subtle and she always wore her ears. She was neither bold nor aggressive enough, IMO, to be a great ama horse. CCR’s Outrajus Corajus had plenty of manners to be a ladies horse…he’s quite a cooperative guy, but he’s bold. He’s commanding. He’s firm in his step and aggressive going. He was a great open and ama horse, but he would not have been a great ladies horse, IMO. If these 2 horses went against each other in an ama class, I have little doubt that he’d win. However, if they went against each other in a ladies class, she should beat him on her suitability to the division, but this is something that has really been a struggle in the recent past. I think it’s really important to keep these divisions separate and to really reward the horse that suits the division, not just the open horse that shows in the class.
    As for leaving stallions out of the division, I like the tradition of it. Yes, some could do it, but there are plenty of classes…they can do ama, open, youth. Let’s leave a little tradition in ther…I don’t think it hurts anyone and it does help to remind people on occasion that the ladies division IS different.

  5. rodmanstables says:

    I’ve been keeping up with this conversation for the most part…I believe that there is a simple concept that is rarely admitted when this convo comes up. The most impressive-moving horse wins, especially in our breeds (morgans, saddlebred, etc). The judge chooses the most eye-pleasing horse, and many times turns his back to the missing division characteristics. And if that’s where we are headed, let’s at least be honest with ourselves, and with the world. Lightness, softness, suitability, manners, etc…these are nice ideas for the ladies division, but let’s be honest: The industry is small, the classes are barely full at most average shows, and the overall “best” mover, highest going, quality moving horse almost always wins. I have been a participant and a spectator, so I can honestly say I’ve seen it a lot. Well-mannered, yet showy horses are more rare than we’d all like to admit publicly, but the fact is that there are very few ‘true’ ladies horses (and if you ask me, true amateur horses)…and now that the industry clearly doesn’t believe that there is a direct correlation between rider ability and gender, the “ladies horse” concept should simply be applied to the amateur classes instead. I think that overall, we would do better to make amateur-type classes be judged as the name implies: a truely mannered horse for a non-pro to have a good, safe, honest ride. Rather than a powerful, strong horse that an amateur can “kinda” ride without getting killed…let’s get back to basics…safety AND quality. If that isn’t the goal, what’s the point of even having ‘amateur’ or non-pro classes? I feel that that concept has been lost due to lack of sane, well-adjusted show horses in general. I am a Morgan owner, lover, and trainer, but I am honest with myself and with the outside world about our industry flaws. I’m not blaming any 1 part of the industry, I think these things have just happened as the breed has matured. I am a true “small time” trainer/instructor, I know I don’t have all the answers…just putting my ideas out there :)


  6. StacyGRS says:

    I would agree with parts of what you say and it’s what concerns me. I have won…recently…at Oklahoma…with true ladies horses so I do know it can be done and does happen. This year’s World Champion LEP horse was most certainly very much a ladies horse as well, so I do see it happen. I think your assessment of the smaller shows is where the problem starts…3 horses in a class, one bad in manners and quality, one average at best in quality and presentation, one stellar in quality and presentation, but bad in manners. Suddenly the specs go out the window to tie a horse that the judge appreciates as a show horse, albeit maybe not as a ladies horse.
    Personally, I’d hate to see the ladies classes disappear because they aren’t being judged correctly. I don’t see that as a solution. And I like that an ama horse can be bold…a good one can be bold and then come back and be mannerly easily.
    The lack of ama trained horses is a can of worms…there was a time when people were willing to pay for the trainer to show the horse as a Jr horse and then maybe a year in the open division and then put the ama on. These days training is expensive and people want to show. So, often they are showing 4 yr olds or horses that showed a couple of times as a 4 yr old and are now 5. They are close to finished but not finished. So, a mistake happens here and there and before you know it the almost finished horse has issues that are growing. This is not to blame the ama riders that want to show, not to blame anyone, just a sign of the times in an expensive world. That said, I don’t have a single ama or ama horse in the barn that concerns me safety wise when I put them in the ring. Not in harness, not under saddle. Will they be perfect? Maybe not:) But they are safe and I can say that most that we show against appear safe to me as well.

  7. rodmanstables says:

    I agree that some trainers/barns are responsible about selecting/training well-mannered horses for amateurs. While I’ve never been around your barn, GRS, I am aware that you guys put out lovely horses/riders, and watched them show via in person/online at OKC. I feel that you show at a higher level than the “average” joe, and I respect all barns like yours! :) I did say before that I am a small-time person (local/state level breed shows) (tho I showed at the American Royal while I was at WWU). I understand that training is expensive, because I am a trainer/instructor. That being said, I feel that trainer honesty about when a horse is ready to be shown amateur, etc. is a general problem because it involves a trainer’s ability to be able to say “no” to clients (who are the bill-payers), and it’s just hard. I’m just putting my ideas out there because this is a small world and it’s nice to share concerns. Yes, my assessment is mostly of the smaller shows, because there are more of them than anything else, and that’s where I believe we get the general public excited about our breed. I understand your perspective, and I know that mine’s different because I’m not at the same level.

  8. Windenhill says:

    Just ditto everything Stacy said and that goes for me. At the higher levels (and that’s not just OKC, but shows like NEMHS or Mass Morgan where a ladies class is a big, deep class), you should definitely see a difference in the placings from an open or amateur class. A ladies horse is a ladies horse, those specs are different than open or ammy and they should be judged accordingly.

  9. Jennifer says:

    Unfortunately, the specs are different in the hunter classes. It doesn’t matter which class you show they are all the same. I submitted a suggestion to the rules committee, but nothing happened.

  10. Sue says:

    I completely agree with Stacy. I may be old school but to me a Ladies horse has a certain “look”. Very soft in the bridle, finer boned and elegant. I always think of a softer moving horse, the kind that doesn’t seem to touch the ground. I have an Am. horse that I have shown in ladies and he has done okay at the local level-usually by default as he is not a ladies horse. He is much too powerful, not fine or pretty enough. I wouldn’t show him in ladies at NE or OKC but at the smaller shows for experience I will throw him in the class.
    I would love to have a true ladies horse. I think they are one of the hardest to find, so difficult to get it all in one package.

  11. StacyGRS says:

    Not to worry, Rodman, I wasn’t being defensive about the horses we personally put in the ring, simply saying that I don’t think the shortage of broke horses for ama’s is terrible. However, if you combine an ama with lesser skills with any horse the potential for problems is big…I mean, any horse can look rouge when it’s person pulls it over with the curb bit or makes it scared with their flailing body and gripping legs:) I think the ama division is ultimately very difficult. To get a rider that does something else for a living and puts a handful of hours a week into their riding to the point where they can handle a full bridle, deal with traffic, and interpret their horses’s mentality and re-act appropriately is hard enough. Then add that you need to get the horse where it deals well with that person’s weak points (we all have them, so don’t think I’m picking on the ama’s) and is competitive AND have that horse/rider combo have the financing to do this well is a hard trifecta to come across:)
    Sadly, the smaller shows tend to be where you do see things come apart. Which is a dilemma because it’s where new people could be brought in.

  12. rodmanstables says:

    No worries, yeah that’s true, there are so many ways to set a horse off, it’s a delicate situation. I agree, it’s tough! :)

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