In an under-saddle class, when you are cantering in the last direction, why do the judges ask for a trot again?
It is to be sure of the placings and also to have a last look to make sure that the horses are even and not too strong after the canter.
What happens after a crash when the jump is reset but not exactly the same as it was for the rest of the class – and the class proceeds?
Well, if no one notices it, then all is good, but if it is pointed out, then you have to ask the course designer and jump crew to return it to the way it was originally built and then continue. Those who jumped it before it was put back have the opportunity to go again if they choose to.
If you [the judge] cannot properly see a jump if a rail comes down, what can be done if they cannot move it or you?
I ask a person from the jump crew to go over near where the jump is and sit in a chair on the outside of the ring with a walkie-talkie. They will let me know when a rail falls.
You must hear all sorts of screams and applauding after a round – does that annoy you?
Yes! Over-zealous noises are not called for, especially when they start cheering too early before the horse has cleared the last jump or before getting the last lead change to finish the trip.
What happens if a horse steps into the ring and then the trainer or groom rushes in behind them to take off a tail wrap or hand the rider their number? What if they enter the ring, leave to take the wrap off or get their number, and then return to the ring?
On both occasions, this would result in elimination. You are better off just going in and jumping the course with the wrap or the number missing. In an equitation class, the presence of the tail wrap would not be harshly penalized, and a missing number can be resolved by the in-gate personnel providing the horse’s number to me. The best-case scenario is not rushing your preparations at the in-gate so these items are not overlooked before the horse enters the ring.
How distracting is it during a hunter class when the rider is really loose or poorly turned out?
Even though I am judging the horse, the whole picture is part of the presentation. Conservative and neat attire, along with a good position, influence my overall impression of the horse.
How do you feel when a rider does their hunter rounds and then returns for an equitation class with the horse all decked out in front boots, hind boots, bell boots, etc.?
Ridiculous! They have just managed to execute two rounds without protective legwear, then for whatever reason add all sorts of equipment for an equitation round with the same demands as the hunter course. I am only left to think that this has been done to get my attention in some way … and you have, but not favourably! My attention in an equitation class should be directed to the rider.
You had an unusual experience while judging the Washington International Horse Show a few years ago. What happened?
It was the night the lights went out while a horse was on course, only halfway through their round. After 30 minutes, the lights came back on and the rider was given the choice of jumping the entire course again, or starting from the point he was at when the blackout occurred. The rider chose to jump just the second half of the course, as he thought he was good up until then, and finished equally well. He was right, and he won!