by Stephanie Rose

SHELBYVILLE, Tenn. - A National Horse Show Commission Judges’ Versatility School was held on Friday, Feb. 13, 2009, in the Calsonic Conference Room at the Calsonic Arena in Shelbyville, Tenn. Dr. Doyle Meadows of the Celebration and Dr. Dave Whitaker of Middle Tennessee State University’s Horse Science Program, both renowned judges in multiple breeds, moderated the discussion. The clinic started at 9 a.m. with Dr. Meadows giving a definition for judging, which he said was simply “recognizing differences”. He also went on to say that, “Judgment is based solely on the performance and not last week.”

 Next on the agenda was Judging Ethics. A judge should have judging ethics toward show management, the associations involved, toward the fraternity of judges and doing the right thing by yourself.

The next topic was Model Presentation. Dr. Meadows said that the reason you have model classes is to protect the integrity of the breed and have the ideal horse. The main thing that lets the horse be an athlete is balance, and that is the basis for how the horse should look or carry itself.

Dr. Meadows followed the model division by giving an understanding of the scoring systems in reining, showmanship and horsemanship. He showed several videos of each and let the participants score them on a score sheet. He explained there are specialty horses and trainers now in each breed and as judges they needed to understand how to properly place them in shows.

There was an hour lunch break and then Dr. Whitaker came to speak about trail and western riding. He showed videos and had actual walking horse classes of a different association, which was helpful to the judges. He passed out score sheets as well and had the judges partner up and one scribed and the other called out penalties. Dr. Whitaker recommended each judge have a scribe at his or her show.

There were some comments to change the way that the versatility classes are scored and do away with the fractions, but Dr. Whitaker felt certain that everyone should use the same system in case you wanted to judge an all-breed show or so that other judges could come judge our shows if need be.

The versatility school had good participation and all that came seemed to learn new things. Dr. Meadows commented that he loved teaching and would like to do more seminars like this one. At 4 p.m., the clinic was adjourned.

Dr. Meadows said, “It gives our judges an opportunity to expand their judging skills by judging these versatility classes. Additionally, it gives these judges an opportunity to use judging systems that are more objective than subjective in nature.”