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What the Judge Is Looking for
When you are going to a horse show you want to know what the judge is looking for. The judge picks out the horse just as people pick out the best looking apple in a mound of fruit in the super market. The one which looks the freshest, cleanest and crispest will get ‘the nod’.
As a spectator and competitor you can understand what the judge is looking for and pick out the winner and improve your placings with these simple things. You should answer ‘YES’ to all of these questions to be picked in the ribbons.
- Does your horse go forward with purpose? And by this I mean is he going forward: over-tracking at the walk, easy trot which is tracking up and steady canter. If your horse is dragging his toes, not stepping forward, lumbering along or, at the other end of the scale, running away with head raised you will be over looked.
- Is your horse pushing himself forward with his hindquarters? Or does it look as if he is pulling himself along with the front end. Pushing from the hindquarters does not mean going fast or running. Nor does it mean being on the bit. A horse can be going forward and pushing from the engine or hindquarters.
- Does the horse accept and maintain a light contact on the reins? This means a light contact and accepting the contact. Horses which lift their head and have the top of their neck shorter than the bottom of their neck do not show an acceptance of contact. A light contact with a slight frame showing acceptance is prefered rather than the horse balancing on the reins or no contact at all.
- Do you have a even rhythm? This is important. If you are troting quietly in one moment and the next you are at an unsteady pace then this will be marked against you.
- Is your horse relaxed? As a judge I can see a relaxed horse, with its tail swinging in a steady fashion and the horse reaching forward. If your horse is tense, it will show up as quick steps which is an undesireable trait.
This is a small sampling of what the judge is looking for in the hunter ring. If you would like to add something please post it in a comment at the bottom of the post.Want to get more tips like this? Then sign up for the Hunter Judge Newsletter.