When you are judging line classes, do you acknowledge the handlers or just focus on the horse?It really is all about viewing the horse, so I am focused on the animal, not the handler. If I am greeted by the handler, I will keep my response cordial and short, then move on to my job of assessing the horse and where I will place him.In a flat class a horse or pony gets loose. What should you do as the judge?Immediately have the class walk, or better still, halt until the loose horse is caught. Once caught, send the class back on the rail at a walk for a while to settle, as the horses are likely excited from the antics of the loose one. When it looks as though calm has been restored, resume the class at the last gait called for.Does it bother you when a rider counts the number of strides out loud while on course?It only bothers me if they miscount, and then make a big noise when it goes wrong! I can accept it with young children or beginner divisions, but after that, silence is golden.A rider comes into the ring as the previous rider is finishing, and as they pass each other the previous rider hands a crop to the next rider. Is this acceptable?This is not a relay class. Any exchange of equipment between riders should take place outside of the ring. It is a tacky move, and just imagine if they were to drop the crop while trying to pass it between them.In your role as a trainer, do you find yourself looking over to the judgeís booth when your horse/rider are on course?Absolutely. I look over to make sure they are watching. The most offensive thing a judge can do is to not watch all of the round from beginning to end. They can also miss parts of a round by writing too much. Judges must watch all the time and briefly mark the card with shorthand notations, as someone is always watching you!A rider enters the ring, then reaches back and hits their horse with the crop before proceeding on course. How would deal with judging that?Unfortunately I see this often, especially with ponies. It is not allowed and I consider it a major fault on my card. It is another reason why it is so important as a judge to watch every entry from the moment they enter the ring.On the final circle, how soon can you trot, walk, or pull up?The best place for the downward transition is at the end of the circle, going down to the trot and then walk. Pulling up to a halt is a big ‘no.’In an equitation class on the flat, how much flexion do you like to see?Enough to demonstrate some communication with the mouth and to show a frame which reveals a certain roundness to the head, neck, and body. I am looking for a steady, consistent contact with the mouth, evenly on both sides. Inconsistent contact or a loose rein will not work. Too-hard contact with the head and neck tucked into the chest looks too stiff. Work toward a controlled and uniform flexion.
Ask the Judge
When you are judging line classes,