Training

Ask the Judge: falls, pulling up, hunter derby format and more

Randy Roy is a senior international judge, course designer and author. He owns and operates Hunters Glen Show Stable in King, ON, with his d

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By: Randy Roy |

In a flat class, the ring has not yet been called to order when a horse spins, the rider falls off, and the horse runs out of the ring. Do you allow that entry to come back to show?

Absolutely. The class had not officially started, so they were not being judged at the time. Unfortunately, if this happened after the class had started, then they would be eliminated.

Which is worse, pulling up in front of a fence or a refusal?

The refusal would be considered a worse fault than pulling up. Even though both are considered a refusal with an automatic score of 40, the refusal reflects more on the horse’s performance … or unwillingness to perform!

How do you feel about the horse’s mane being braided on the wrong side – or is there a wrong side?

There is no right or wrong side for braiding; it is just what we are accustomed to, where the right is right. My suggestion is to try not to stand out negatively, and every mane can be braided to the right side with a bit of effort.

In an equitation over fences class, the first jump is set so you could canter directly to it from the in-gate. Is this what you are looking for?

Absolutely not. Give me a chance to see you, write your number down, and get an impression of you with a nice entrance before heading to the first jump. In a ride off, the direct approach from the in-gate is okay, as I have already had a chance to get to know your ride in the first round.

A rider is on course in your ring when the announcer states ‘off course’ for another ring. Your rider pulls up, thinking the announcement was for them. What do you do?

This can happen so easily with several rings going at once and having the same announcer for multiple rings. The rider in my ring would be told to proceed from the point where they pulled up and would not be penalized.

How do you feel about the Canadian hunter derby format as compared to the US format? In Canada, we have one round encompassing all of the handy and high options, whereas the US has two rounds, with the second round being the handy round.

I prefer the Canadian format where all of the questions are included in one round. The best jumper should always rise to the top, being scored out of 100 with bonus points up to 10 for handiness and 2 points each for the higher jump options. The two-round format can be hard on the horses and is also time-consuming, so that you often lose your spectators halfway through.

If you are invited out to dinner by exhibitors, trainers, or friends who are competing at a show you are judging, what should you do?

This is a no-go. Thank them for the invite and politely decline. Believe me, if you join them and others see you, the word gets around and it does not reflect well on you (and Murphy’s Law states that should you choose to join them, they will probably win the next day!).