So the first day is here, it is very cold and I’m super thankful that we have heat in our indoor judging booth. Christine Reupke reminded me to bring snacks, which was a great idea, but I only mange to pack apples and goldfish (this is a total mom-ism).

First up are the small ponies and I was shocked and happy to see so many competing. I was even more shocked to see how beautifully they were turned out for the first indoor horse show of the year. Actually all the ponies were turned out beautiful for the first Trillium Show of the season at the Hamilton Hunt in April.

The prep work that I didn’t do was to establish my own symbols, which was a big mistake on my part. When the class is coming at you fast and furious you just don’t have time to think of what symbols you want to use, you have to get something on the paper so you can remember the horse and the trip. I struggled in the first couple of classes, but in terms of the actual placings of the classes, Christine and I were exactly the same, which gave me hope that maybe I could do this.

As for the homework I didn’t do… as a judge you need a symbol for everything and there is not a huge space to put them in. In our world of doing everything on the computer, where the backspace button is so easy to reach, this can be challenging! For me this required an excessive amount of white-out! I also didn’t bring any white-out…so I used a lot of Christine’s, so much so that I brought her a new stash the following weekend.

So…turns out judging is hard! The amount of focus required for a day of judging is intense. You don’t realize the number of built in breaks in a regular day; you may stop and check your Instagram while waiting for the elevator, or stare out a window for a moment while thinking about an important decision. You can’t do this while you are judging – they are paying you to watch every trip! Every lead change and every swap! I definitely underestimated how much focus it requires. All. Day. Long. Of course, there are some breaks while the course is being changed etc., but these are also busy because you need to pee and eat before they start again.

One way I have learned to help me remember the horses, is to give them little nicknames, because all the numbers at the show become a blur. Like one pony we nicknamed Buck-a-loosa, because he looked like a Buckskin and an Appaloosa. We also had names like Little Black Cutie and Grey Bubble Butt. What people may not realize is that we (the judges) are routing for you to have the best trip you can and we are equally as disappointed when you don’t find the best distance to your last line on a good trip. It’s also easier to judge when you have great trips to choose from.

Next time we’ll talk about my first day of judging jumpers.