New Poll-Professional Trainers And Judging

I have been reading all the responses and discussion regarding the judging at NE last week.  Many people on the blog were very disappointed and frustrated with the class results, even the point of wanting to write to the show committee to voice their concerns (See “Trainers Who Judge” and “New England…Good Show?”).  While I think that is a good idea (it is always a good idea to discuss problems in an effort to find solutions), there is one thing that committees can’t do a whole lot about: There aren’t very many of Judges out there willing to put their lives and businesses on hold to judge many shows, especially long ones like NE and OKC.  The pay isn’t good and there aren’t many “perks” to the job (not counting political perks), even though it is a vital part of showing.  You can’t have a horse show without exhibitors, but, in turn, you also can’t have a show with out a judge.  Asking for better judging is important, however, I think it is often times very hard to find a judge willing to take the job. 

One way to possibly increase the judging pool is to have all trainers be required to also attend judges school, get their judges card and be required to judge “x” number of shows in a 3-5 year period in order to keep their professional status.  That would greatly increase the judges pool and give some new blood and new eyes to the show world.   I know there are a lot of problems with this idea but I thought that maybe by throwing it out there it would generate some more constructive ideas on how to renovate the judging (or lack thereof) in the Morgan Show World.

 So, hit me people…positives and negatives!

18 Responses to New Poll-Professional Trainers And Judging

  1. Anonymous says:

    I think that making it a rule to have all trainers judge is not the answer. I think that a judge needs to have confidence in their ability, and not all trainers would possess that confidence. I do think that there needs to be higher standards that we hold judges to, and more education to the Saddlebred (or other breed) judges we hire to mark the cards at the top Morgan shows. Both of my trainers are judges, and I can not say that I am happy when they leave to take judging assignments in the middle of show season as I am paying them to prepare my horse for our own competitions. I think we need more independent judges like Karen Homer Brown and Terry Jones Brennen, and to make it easier for skilled amateurs to earn their judging cards.

  2. jessica says:

    The bigger problem, I think, is getting show committees to hire new (“r”) judges, or even different judges than the “usuals”. Many shows don’t want to take a chance with an unknown – afraid doing so would cause a drop in exhibitors.

  3. Black Eye Beth says:

    That is a good point. I had not considered that. That does pose a big problem for new judges; How do they get the experience they need to get jobs at the bigger shows? That is a definite problem with the system.

  4. colwilrin says:

    I would like to see more competent amateurs get their judges cards.

    Back a thousand years ago, when dinosaurs roamed the earth and I showed Jr. Exhib., I remember quite a few amateur/breeders who were very good judges.

    I also think bringing judges who are competent in Morgan judging…but own/train another breed, is great. From a western standpoint…it is WONDERFUL to have an arab judge look UNDER the horse to make sure it’s gait is correct, rather than just being dazzled by a gorgeous head and neck as it swaps leads behind all the way down the rail!

  5. jessica says:

    BEB – Yes, it is very tough for many new judges to get enough jobs to maintain their cards, let alone get promoted to “R”.

    colwirin – “when dinosaurs roamed the earth”! You crack me up… And yes, back then, there were more amateurs and/or breeders who were judges.

  6. your_starr says:

    the problem with this idea is that there are so many people who call themselves “professionals” when there is nothing “professional” about them. those who truly are professionals and can train a rider and horse to a certain degree should contribute to the judging pool. but if we let anyone who calls themself a professional judge a show, then we would have some serious problems. i think one way to solve this problem would be to have all professionals who have a WC under their belt contribute. this way those who are judging at least have some sort of knowledge

  7. colwilrin says:

    I agree that too many “professionals” really aren’t. I always thought that USEF got it backwards. The amateurs should have the flat rate. gets more of them in on affordable prices…and the pro’s (who profit from this) should have to pay a high one-time declaration fee…say 5,000.00. Then once they were approved to be a pro…you couldn’t ever apply to be an amateur again. I think that would eliminate many of the “shingle hangers.”

  8. Black Eye Beth says:

    I am glad to see so much conversation in the various posts defining the problems and looking for solutions. While I think it is always good to be able to vent frustrations, it is even better to put that frustration to use by finding ways to make productive changes.

    I know my “solution” is far fetched but maybe through discussion, we can help bring about positive change!

  9. hrhirene says:

    Pay 5 grand to become a trainer? That’s silly – do you know how much most trainers get paid?? Peanuts!!

    I do not think that Morgan trainers should have to have a judges’ card to be considered a professional trainer. There are plenty of people who don’t WANT to be a judge, for whatever reason – they don’t want to spend 3-7 days standing up, they don’t want to ‘rock the boat’ politically, they don’t want the responsibility of picking the winners and losers, they want to concentrate on their training business.

    I do think it should be easier to become a judge. I would do it in a heartbeat if it were cheaper and easier to accomplish.

  10. Black Eye Beth says:

    Hrhirene, I think you hit on a huge point…the process needs to be “cheaper and easier to accomplish”. I was surprised at how much it costs to go through the process by the time you go through the school and learner judge. In reality, it is probably a lucky thing that there are as many judges as there presently are! A higher amount of pay for judging would also be a good incentive.

  11. hrhirene says:

    Exactly, Beth. I don’t want to spend that kind of money to get the card, only to never recoup it.

  12. colwilrin says:

    I’ve got an idea.

    How about offering judges a some sort of discounted rate at the show the following year, and prime stabling.

    It may take some creative stabling, and understanding on the part of other barns, but at least it would be giving some relatively inexpensive incentive for people to come and judge.

    If a certain prime aisle was set aside for last year’s judge (kind of like employee of the month parking spots), other barns would not expect to get that spot, and maybe it would eventually take on an air of “somewhere special” to be stabled.

    You could even do that with preferred box seating as well…maybe with some sort of “thank you” banner and/or goodie basket from the show.

  13. Windenhill says:

    There are many USEF R Morgan judges out there who are very competent amateurs or AOT or breeders and would be impartial in the center ring. They just aren’t hired as often by show committees.

    If they were, the professionals could be left with better tending to their client horses and not having to worry about losing income judging instead of training/showing. It would also take away their stress of what to do in center ring without jeopardizing their reputation, burning bridges or enraging fellow professionals.

    Since many owners/exhibitors make up show committees, the question of WHY they don’t hire the non-professional judges surfaces. One of the answers I’ve received to this question is that show committees think the trainers won’t bring horses to their show if they don’t use certain judges (i.e. professionals or certain popular judges). If all shows rotated judges around instead of using the same judges over and over, do you think all professionals would stop attending the shows? Not likely unless they just don’t want to continue to make a living in this industry.

    There are many very capable non-professionals out there with cards. There are also many more that would get their cards if they think they had a chance in you-know-where of getting a job. It’s not an inexpensive proposition either financially or timewise to get a USEF R card. Why waste both if you will not be used?

    The most important point to bring up is that not everyone has the make-up to be a good, competent, ethical and efficient judge of horses. You have to have a backbone, most importantly. You cannot be swayed or deterred by intimidation or blinded by famous names and horses and their prior World titles. Every class that comes through the gate is a brand new class and every entry deserves a new evaluation. You have to have a thorough understanding of not only the USEF rules, but also the AMHA judging standards and the specifications for ALL classes (and be willing to apply these specifications). You must have a good, working and logical methodology for watching, organizing and placing your classes.

    Many great trainers are lousy judges. Many great judges are lousy trainers. Many successful breeders would make terrible judges and vice-versa. You can’t just apply a judging card to an individual and expect great results because of something else they do well.

  14. Bette's Mom says:

    Excellent point Windenhill. I still think it goes back to those show committees. I know we struggled year after year with judging decisions. There were some on the committee that influenced, or attempted to influence to get a judge they knew would favor their horse or horses. There were some that couldn’t see past the big names. It took an act of congress to get everyone to even agree that if a judge was already doing a show in a 200 mile range, we shouldn’t use them and give folks a chance to be seen by someone else…. more people need to be involved in these show committees if they want to influence real change. The pool can get deeper, but if the pole is only so long…..

  15. Jenny Van Oel says:

    Many trainers are not qualified to be judges…card or no card. We would surely have a diluted pool to choose from.

  16. Em says:

    I’m new here and have learned a lot so thank you guys! This is what I think.
    I agree with Windenhill. There are plenty of trainers out there who are wonderful at their jobs but would not make good judges. Whether it’s because they don’t have the backbone to deal with the HUGE amount of pressure that they have placed on their shoulders, or they just don’t want to make enemies with any of their fellow trainers. I think that the same thing goes for judges. I can think of several people who have very good eyes for picking out great horses and are very fair but at the same time they do not have the physical or mental capacity for training horses. In most cases, I do not think that you can take someone’s ability to judge and fairly compare it to their ability to train horses. Also, I do not think that someone’s ability to judge is a direct representation of their character. For example, I don’t have anything personal against the judges from New England. I don’t think they are bad people, I just simply would not want to show under them again.
    There is my 2 cents anyway! :-)

  17. jjoker says:

    There are plenty of judges out there but shows know if the right judge is not picked know one will come. the inmates are running the prison.
    i know plenty of judges and they don’t get picked because the show is afraid to tick off the high profile trainers. ask around, the shows call the big time trainers and ask who should judge, thats as crooked as it gets. The smaller trainer can’t compete with that, so they go out of business. Everyone knows the smaller barn won’t get tied so they go to the big barn where they know they will.

  18. jjoker says:

    One solution to this problem is to ask different people, their are plenty of judge. If there was a way for the show to have judges put there names in a pool that were interested and present it to there clubs and pick from that. i could give a list of judges that would over each other to get jobs. I think you advertise for judge the way you advertise for your show.
    The judges i know try and get jobs for each other or ask people that might be in a club, i see it all the time they are trying. Judges go through alot to become judges so ifeel ed. is not the problem, they know there horses they just need an chance.

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