In hand: The more things change
In the November/December issue of TMH there was a letter to the editor on the current status of the in-hand divisions. To give some context, the letter was actually received after the New England Regional in 2013, and is being reviewed by the Judging Standards Committee. The committee is seeking feedback from the Morgan community which is why this was published in the magazine.
The in-hand division is no stranger to controversy. Ironically I’ve recently been re-reading through my copy of Jeanne Mellin’s The Complete Morgan Horse. In her treatment of the ideal Stallion, Mare and Gelding she mentions the in-hand division specifically. While she’s honest with her analysis, I can sense that she’s treading lightly around what was, even then, a sensitive issue.
Fast forward to the current day. The reason for controversy may be slightly different, but it obviously still exists. I’m not sure I agree with everything that was in the letter, but it raises some good points and I appreciate that it’s not just a complaint but is well thought out with a proposed solution. The suggestion is that we have an in-hand class (either in addition to or to replace the current in-hand format) that is judged more like a Dressage class. The class would have specific criteria and the horse would be ranked on each category. Scores would be tallied to determine the winner rather than it being subjective. Like judges cards, these scores would be made available during and/or after the class. Arabians are already using a similar approach and you can read the class specs here and view a score card template here. It would be very easy to take this basic approach and slightly modify to fit our breed.
Now, I personally have a logical/mathematical bent and as such I love this idea! I’ve often wondered how classes would be pinned if we took the actual criteria for each class and ranked each horse on each category, then somehow calculated a score based on the priority of each category. Unfortunately most classes don’t allow time for this approach (although as entries drop I suppose it does become more feasible, hah). What does everyone else think about this approach? Are you dissatisfied with the current status of the in hand division? And if so, do you think this could be a solution?
(PS, Chris, I can hear you sighing with relief that someone officially brought this up!)