Ask the Judge: reverse at the halt, broken lines, cheering 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 equitation, when asked to reverse at the halt, what do I do?

This is an excellent question – it is kind of a ‘trick’ command, like in the game of ‘Simon Says.’ When you are asked to reverse at the halt, SIMPLY REVERSE, then when you are turned around and facing in the other direction. REMAIN HALTED. The majority of riders will mistakenly reverse and then walk. I recommend the judge specifies ‘reverse and halt’ or ‘reverse and walk’ to avoid confusion. Reverse at the halt is not a fair request or horsemanship manoeuvre. Judges should ask for what they want instead of risking the loss of a winner if they walk from the halt.

On a broken line to a jump, should I do a lead change in both an equitation class and a hunter class?

As a judge in an equitation class, I would look for a lead change that allows the rider the most direct method of getting to the next jump. But in a hunter class, I am looking for fluidity and an evenness or smoothness in movement, so if you stay on the outside lead it’s acceptable, because it’s a more related approach. Staying on the outside lead may also ensure better form during the jump, as the rider knows his horse and wants to reduce the risk of perhaps missing a lead change.

How much does the applause influence you, if at all? For example, what if there is loud whistling, hooting and applause for one round, while the next one results in total silence, even if it is a better round?

For me, a whisper speaks louder than a shout. I know what I am doing and I am professionally and personally obligated to award the better round regardless of popular opinion. If I placed according to the applause volume, I would very shortly be out of judging jobs. This is not the television show ‘Dancing With The Stars,’ where a Bristol Palin can win against a Fred Astaire!

How do you handle a situation such as a horse spooking or bolting as a result of some unforeseen circumstance, such as a loud noise outside the ring?

I allow as much as I possibly can. If it occurs at the ends of the ring, or at the beginning or end of the course, I virtually ignore it. When it happens in a line or right in front of a jump, therefore altering the distance, I have to take that into consideration. Unfortunately, it often results in being eliminated from the placings. Most people attribute this to horse showing and look ahead to the next class or show. I have been asked if the horse can go again, and the answer is ‘no.’ It is something we all have to deal with, as unfortunate as it is.