Ask the Judge: requests for advice, outside assistance, unsoundness 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

Thumbnail for Ask the Judge: requests for advice, outside assistance, unsoundness and more

By: Randy Roy |

At the end of a ride-off test, do you ask the riders to walk, sit trot, post trot, or canter back to the line?

I won’t ask riders to return to the line at a walk, as it takes too long and it’s not enough of a test of their skills. Many judges tend to ask for sitting trot, but I find it is usually poorly done. Posting trot is smoother and more workmanlike. Cantering right to the line is prompt and direct, and demonstrates skill with a smooth and efficient transition to the walk, so it is my preferred way to have riders end their test.

Have you ever been asked to comment on a round and provide advice directed at offering improvement?

I get this quite often and I am always careful to comment on the performance of the round only, without providing advice. When a judge provides advice relating to improvement, they run the risk of creating some conflict between the rider and the trainer. The trainer may have a completely different technique in mind (based on their knowledge of this specific horse and rider) than that of the judge. I usually respond to this request by saying that I am not at liberty to offer suggestions for improvement.

When the horses or ponies jog back for soundness and one seems off, can you single that one out to jog alone? What about a reluctant pony who does not want to jog at all?

You need to jog the entire class, so you cannot single out the questionable one to jog alone. The entire class must re-jog. When one is not willing to jog, as will happen especially with reluctant ponies, then just that one, with some encouragement, can jog alone.

How much does outside assistance bother you, and is it reflected in the placings?

While outside assistance is not considered illegal, it is not appreciated. Silence is golden. If instructions are being called out into the ring, it is usually when something has gone wrong and they are out of the ribbons anyway. However, if the round is still competitive, outside assistance will definitely be considered in my placing – and most often not favourably.

A halt is called for after a jump. Where do you expect the halt to be?

As close to the jump as possible, but most importantly, achieved smoothly, rather than being harsh or abrupt.

Does it bother you if a rider carries a crop, or do you even notice it?

It doesn’t bother me at all if a rider carries a crop, unless it is being held improperly and waving around. The best recommendation I can make is to hold it in a manner that makes it as invisible as possible. Improper ways to carry a crop include:
– in your boot
– across the withers
– pointed upwards
– looped around your wrist
– upside down
– behind the saddle