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Judges Refresh Their Pencils



The National Horse Show Commission affiliated judges had a refresher course on Friday, December 3, during the festivities of the WHTA convention and awards banquet. Director Judy Martin called the meeting to order and introduced five judges who have ridden world grand champions in the divisions they would be representing and would also be giving video presentations on what to look for in certain divisions.

John Feltner Jr., was the first representative for the trail pleasure division. Feltner brought a VHS tape with him that had several examples of the "do's" and "don'ts" of a true trail pleasure horse and what a judge should look for when tying a class. While watching the video Feltner proceeded to let the audience know that it is very important to watch for the horse that is striding and shaking its head in a very comfortable manner. Feltner reminded his fellow judges that "knee action" is not important nor desired in the trail pleasure class.

Leigh Bennett was next to discuss the country pleasure class. Bennett explained that english and western tack and attire were accepted in this class. Bennett also went to on to say that average trail pleasure horses usually make good country pleasure horses. The same rules apply to this class as the trail pleasure class on what to look for in a blue ribbon winner.

Howard Hamilton discussed the park pleasure classes. Hamilton described the difference between a horse that is elevated and striding and one that is crampy and unacceptable. Hamilton said that "knee action" is desired in this class. Questions were asked of Hamilton if he would penalize a horse in this class for doing too much. Hamilton said as long as the horse was fluid and comfortable in his gait, he would never penalize a horse for having talent.

Hoyte Eakes and Carlyle Johnson teamed up to talk about the weanling and yearling divisions. Eakes went over several factors as viewers watched a video with three example horses. The NHSC rule book states that judges are supposed to judge this class according to the 50/50 system. The 50/50 system refers to 50 percent of the deciding factor going towards appearance and 50 percent of the deciding factor going towards ability.

Eakes and Johnson described what their preferences are for a champion. Both said it is desirable for a colt to lead loosely, shake the head naturally and park out with all four feet planted square underneath the colt. Eakes also stated he would prefer the judging system go back to a more diverse percentage program with a portion favoring talent, conformation and manners.

Judy Martin went over the judges' test results to either renew or receive their license for the first time. Martin noted to judges to remember to walk the line-up in show pleasure classes. The show pleasure class is recognized in the pleasure division and therefore judges must check for the 9 1/2" bit rule. Martin also discussed some rule changes that were made November 29, 2004 by the NHSC Board of Directors.

The class currently known as “Limited Performance” has been removed from its experimental stage and will be a recognized class by the NHSC. However, the name of the class has been changed to “Park Performance” and it is now considered to be in the Show & Park Pleasure Division. Also, youth exhibitors are now allowed to show any sex in weanling classes (a decision on youth age limit for this class will be made at the January 2005 board meeting), but many only show mares and geldings in yearling classes.

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