Brenda Minor: 5 top questions riders ask regarding judging

Now that is an interesting question. The rules are very clear that should a rider at a competition have a question for the judge, they must first ask permission to do so through the steward or technical delegate. An excellent tactic, in that it usually means there will be some emotional involvement and the presence of a third party may allow for some coolness of thought. However, in my experience, riders do not ask judges anything. I believe it is the general perception that to talk to a judge and ask a question about a ride/score would result in horrible consequences to a rider in future competitions…and that is unfortunate from both the rider’s and judges perspective.

Clearer understanding and more open communication needs to be developed between competitors and judges. Riders have a difficult job in presenting their riding skills and their horse’s ability in a stressful situation. Judges have a difficult job in that the quality of what is being presented must be analyzed and commented on in mere seconds. Sometimes, the parties are at odds, one with the other.

Riders need to know that most judges appreciate their efforts in the ring. If a rider feels strongly enough that a movement was unfairly scored, they should be able to approach a judge, via the steward, for an open and, hopefully, unemotional dialogue. Judges are not always right, but most make a tremendous effort to be fair to a competitor and will certainly not hold it against the rider in future. In fact, it will improve the level of awareness for both rider and judge.

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Comment by Sarah at on February 17, 2009 at 1:05am
Thank you for the judge's perspective. It is always great to hear.
Comment by Barbara F. on February 12, 2009 at 10:41pm
Interesting perspective on rider/judge communication. I think no one really knows what the proper etiquette is supposed to be at the shows. Competitors seems unsure if they should even say hello to the judge outside of the ring, let alone politely inquire about a score. In the past, I have occasionally asked for a judge's overall advice after a ride, if I know them personally, and they have always been supportive and helpful, but I don't really know if that was appropriate of me. What is the proper etiquette? I have no clue.
Comment by Joanna @ Red Scarf Equestrian on February 12, 2009 at 8:42am
Your comments are insightful, accurate and right on the mark!
I appreciate your honesty.
Comment by Brenda Minor on February 12, 2009 at 8:30am
What I love to see in the ring are horses and riders working in harmony! I like to see horses that know and like their 'jobs' and riders who are empathetic. Conversley, I absolutely cannot stand to see rider's jerking their horses in their mouths for whatever reason. It shows such a lack of horsemanship and riding skills and an overall lack of respect for their 'partner'. Riding and showing is not about making a horse do something, its about good training and communication skills.

And yes, I have given a 10 for a halt! A great place to make marks in a test!
Comment by Barbara F. on February 11, 2009 at 4:06pm
Really good insights!
Can you also ask Brenda what she loves and hates most to see in the ring? Also, has she ever given out a "10"?
I'd love to know!!

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