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Pet Peeves of a Hunter and Equitation Horse Show Judge

The First in a Series by Hunter and Equitation Judge Shane Ledyard

· Horsemanship

"I probably like you more than you think I do. It's your loud-mouthed trainer who is driving me insane."

A common misconception among some exhibitors is that judges are mean, scornful individuals who are just waiting for you to make a mistake. While there may be some mean-spirited individuals out there, I can assure you that the majority of judges are kind, positive individuals that want you to do well in your performance. In fact, I even root for riders to do well. I can only judge what I see, and I NEVER give sympathy, but I do want you and your horse to succeed. I also compete and coach, so for me there is a great deal of empathy that goes on in the process of judging a trip. I have chipped horribly, fallen off in front of a large group of people, gone off course and had rounds that I hoped to God that no one had videoed; and so have my students. While this is the exception an not the norm, the point is that I get it, and I don't feel I have any right to make fun of you or chastise you.

Assuming you agree with that notion, let's proceed to where my welcoming attitude can get a little off track. Part one in my series of "Pet Peeves of a Hunter and Equitation Horse Show Judge" starts with a pet peeve that drives me nuts as a trainer, judge and exhibitor-The loud-mouthed trainer.

There is absolutely no need for a trainer to be yelling instructions across the ring at their student as they jump their course or hack in their flat class. There just isn't. I strongly urge trainers to keep their mouths shut when their student is in the ring. It is distracting to the judge, the other exhibitors and worse yet, the very rider that they think they are helping. If they don't know what they are doing by the time they are at the horse show, then they shouldn't be at the horse show. I completely understand if a mini-stirrup kid or short stirrup rider could use some encouraging words or some timely instruction. These little guys are just starting out. But if your adult amateur client is, for example, the CEO of a major company, my guess is that they know where the next line is, and shame on them if they don't. Sometimes I think that trainers are loud at the horse show to justify their knowledge. Usually, the louder they are, they less they know, and the more insecure they are. I can make this presumption because when I first started out I was like that, and when I matured I realized just how damaging it can be. Not as damaging as the angry trainer who rips on their students in public, but that is the subject for another post of the pet peeves of a hunter and equitation judge. Until then, talk to your students outside the ring, make your plan and let THEM execute it. After all, you trained them to get there in the first place.

Do you have a pet peeve in the show ring you would like to discuss? Please email me at Shane@Ledyardhorsetraining.com . I would love to hear it, and perhaps make it the subject of a future post!

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