Rehashing Judging

Ok, I’m going to try really hard to be diplomatic in my wording here, because I really don’t mean to offend anyone. BUT, I know I can get opinionated and carried away with myself sometimes, so if I make anyone feel slighted I do want to apologize in advance.

I’m just curious what other folks think about the (seemingly) continuous rehashing of judging at various shows? And are these conversations productive? I can understand the need to discuss if a judge is particularly (and obviously) terrible. But because of the tone of past discussions, now when someone asks “How was the judging at ____?” it almost feels like baiting.

I’m not typically a Pollyanna type, but what shows have folks gone to this year where the judging was particularly good? I’d like to see us patting those folks on the back, and spreading the word for future shows rather than moping around about the ones we’re not so happy with.


15 Responses to Rehashing Judging

  1. colwilrin says:

    I agree, it feels like baiting to me to, especially because I am aware that an “anti-show” chat group (my term for it) occasionally posts links to our judge discussions on their chat group in what appears to me to be attempts to prove that even show people don’t like what happens in the show world.

    With that said…I thought Dwayne Knowles did an especially good job at Penn-Ohio this year. He was fair and unbiased with many smaller/AOTS people having a great show as they deserved to. What really impressed me was the time he spent looking at every entry. For example, he took extra time to talk to each leadline exhibitor and seemed as though he was really trying to engage them, not just making a cursory stop at each person.

    I also agreed with most of the pinnings of Josh Merritt at Western NY Morgan. He was the hunt/western judge. He seemed to give everyone a good look and watched all of the ring, not just one rail or corner. Mistakes were counted, but didn’t knock a high quality horse completely out of the ribbons if the mistake was more of a bobble and corrected quickly. I didn’t get to see many of the English classes, so I can’t make an opinion on the English judge.

  2. morgfarm says:

    I would like to commend Katie Mair and Phil Fountain for jobs well down at Mass this year. It was Katie’s first show and she handled the tough eastern circuit remarkably. Phil has always been outstanding in my book. Cheers to both!

  3. Jerome says:

    I believe opinions are just that opinions, that’s what you pay for and trainer show for. Believe me i’ve had my share of wtf but in the end did my horse show to his potential ? it sounds easy but if your gonna allow someone to alter your mood you’ve already lost. I should take my own advice

  4. empressive says:

    I’ll just chip in my two cents. I have not been to any of the East Coast shows, but do enjoy reading the “re-hashes”. Everyone here has actually done a pretty good job of respecting themselves and each others opinions. I also think though that it might be more savory if people titled and asked about shows rather than naively brooching the “How was the Judging?” clause. That’s like double judging and what’s done is done cannot be reversed. Still like before that is my opinion and thankfully on this site I do not need a disclaimer! But that could only be becuase of one reason…. wonder what that is???

  5. jns767 says:

    I’ve only been to one show – Morgan Showtime – and though I didn’t always agree with the judging, I felt that it was fair enough. I usually don’t get upset about a judges decision. For one – I don’t have the same field of vision and two – it’s one person’s opinion. At Morgan Showtime, one particular barn cleaned up. I heard several people mumbling and grumbling about how unfair that was, but when I stopped to take notice. This particular barn had MANY nice horses and atleast one horse entered in almost every single class. This trainer has many many clients, and to me this says something about that person. In fact, I’ve looked into this stable because the trainer always seems upbeat, nice, and like she’s having a good time at the shows. Her clients are always laughing and joking around with each other and they all seem to have great sportsmanship. I’m really digressing here, but I just don’t understand the negativity. Sure, it’s awesome to win – we all crave that victory pass feeling, but when people whine about the judging constantly, it makes them look like major poor sports imo.

  6. Jerome says:

    Winning is fun. losing is not . I just don’t believe you can do anything about judging or it would have been done, when you can use “it’s my opinion” how can you argue. I’m not sure how many registered judges there are but i’m sure there is enough so we don’t have to see the same ones every couple of years. if there isn’t enough we should encourage trainers and owners to get involed in the industy they work in, everyone takes the same test . The excuse i’M not sure who the judge is shouldn’t matter they were all taught the same stuff. Take a chance what is there to lose. A CLASS

  7. 10jloftus says:

    I thought that Larry Bolen did an excellent job judging at New England this year

  8. IED says:

    I think the judging rehashing is pretty interesting, actually… if nothing else it serves to teach you what kind of horse a certain judge likes and what they look for. I also think it’s interesting to note if others like the judge as much as you did or if they disliked him/her as much as you did :)

    A judge that I thought did a good job this year was John Warner. He was a really fun judge and seemed like he did a great job.

  9. Scottfield03 says:

    This season has been a great one for us in terms of getting under good judges. We have many, many good judges out there! And some stinkers…. It only takes one show to find them!

    But I would count among my favorites GOOD judges: Phil Fountain, Dwayne Knowles, Mark Bodnar, Jane Blue, Susi Day, Sally Lindabury, and Steve Davis.

  10. StacyGRS says:

    I’m late, but I was kinda busy with 26 hores at Morgan Medallion:):)
    I think this re-hashing is a dangerous road. The original post asked if the judgeing was getting worse to warrent it all…I don’t think so. I think these conversations have been had among 4-5 friends at evch and every show for all of time. Now those that want to complain have a platform that gets them a huge audience and they can seek out others that can join in. If there is truely a political/ unethical judge, it needs to be dealt with certainly. but, if you just don’t agree, well, as a friend used to say “them’s the berries”:) It is an opinion of that class, that day, under those circumstances. To question ribbons without using names, but giving enough info that everyone knows who is being talked about is not right, IMO. For every blue ribbon given out, there is someone else that thinks they should have gotten it. It doesn’t take a brain surgeon to realize that (was this the transferance property in math?:) therefore they think the person that won should NOT have. There are more that didn’t win that did in most classes, SO, that poor person now has the 2-8 place winners thinking that they took THEIR blue! If you have a truely bad feel for a judge that you think is unethical, fill out the form. If you particularly like a judge, fill out a form and pass their name on when others ask about good judges, but, IMO follow the old “if you don’t have anything nice to say, then don’t say anything at all” if you just have a basket full of sour grapes.
    As for people getting to know about other judges by this re-hashing, well…take it with a grain of salt. None of us know the degree of knowledge of everyone on this or any other board/list so, it isn’t really fair to take someone’s word that so and so is a bad judge when the person judging the judge may know nothing…AND have had a bad show!
    This is a true disservice of the internet, IMO, and if I were an outsider looking in I would certainly question if I wanted to join this world of bad judging and complaints when it certainly outweighs the positives that get talked about on line. Not meaning this particular board…it is actually refreshingly pleasant on the whole.
    This does bring me to a whole can of beans that I’ll surely regret opening, but, here goes. I’m on a show committee and this committee looked into doing a fun “put your money where your mouth is” thing. We’d have people sign up for a class and get to judge it. They’d have an exact repleca of a judges card (some don’t even know what one looks like) and they’d stand in center ring, not close enough to confer with the actual judge. They’d judge the class and as the judges card is handed in they’d also hand their card in. They would then leave the ring and their card would not matter at all in the results nor would they talk to the judge. However, there would be a board that would have all of the “temp judges” cards posted. SO…you get to see what it is like to have to judge that fast, consider the proper criteria, have that view point, and have the world get to see your results. It was just about “walking a mile in the judge’s shoes” kind of thing. And, for those that weren’t brave enough to stand behind their decisions and put their card up, so they won’t do it, well then maybe they could be a bit less critical of those that will. A couple of people threw tantrums at the idea and it got stopped…anyone have thoughts?? (I ask knowing I have opened aforementioned can of worms…)

  11. colwilrin says:


    I think the idea of the “temp judges” cards is brilliant. Especially having them posted for all to see. I wonder how many takers you would have though. It is different when the “temp judge” isn’t Monday morning arm-chair quarterbacking from behind the safety of anonymous computer moniker.

  12. StacyGRS says:

    exactly! It was going to be a horse show fundraiser…I think $10.00 per class and only one “judge” per class…we don’t need parties happening in there:) I bet there would be quite a few, but I also know that the posting of the cards would have made many not do it and that’s sort of the point…thus the name…
    “Put your money where your mouth is”:)

  13. RaeOfLight says:

    Thank you Stacy, that’s exactly what I meant by my original post. If there is a problem then we should be discussing it so we can know how to fix it. But griping for the sake of griping does no one any good at all. Even if I don’t agree with a judge’s decision I know I could never make decisions as quickly as necessary to run a smooth show. And, as has been mentioned above, there’s really no way to pin any class that’s going to make everyone happy… well, except for the lean-line classes :)

    I love the idea of “fake” judging. Why did it get shot down? I can’t think of what might make it a bad idea… anyone who participates is going to know their card will get posted… what can it hurt?

  14. Jennifer says:

    In the past I’ve scribed for Dressage judges. Basically, you spend the entire day with a judge writing down everything they say for each movement of all the test, Intro to Grand Prix. Once you get used to your judge you can watch some of the rides,except Grand Prix moves to fast, as you write the comments. VERY EDUCATIONAL in terms of observation and relation to standards.

  15. elkhorncreek says:

    AMHA has a program that any show can put together. They provide the ‘directions’ and a point person with the show just needs to put it together. It has been a lot of fun and is quite educational at the shows we have done this at. I am sure with some creative thinking, it could be utilized as a fundraiser as well.

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