by Stephanie Rose

FRANKLIN, Tenn.--The National Horse Show Commission held their judges' refresher course on Friday, November 30 at David Landrum Stables in Franklin, Tenn. There was a big turnout for the mandatory meeting. The meeting began at 1:30 and ended shortly after 3:00 PM.

 The first on the agenda was the Model and Halter divisions. Carlyle Johnson spoke about the best way to judge these classes. Three halter colts were on hand for the participants to judge. Johnson pointed out that there was a 1,2,3 process of weaknesses in judging model or halter colts. 1. Is there a human induced weakness? For example, does the horse look tranquilized, malnourished, not groomed well or is it unruly. 2. Is there a major weakness? A major weakness would be bad conformation, parrot mouth, roman nosed, or Quarterback looking neck. 3. Is it a minor weakness? That would be popping ankles (growth problem in colts), big ears, and blemishes or scars.

Next was the Versatility and was demonstrated by Jennifer Davis and talked about by Leigh Bennett. Davis showed several different spins and techniques that were proper. Bennett explained that the best way to judge versatility is to study the rule book.

Bennett also spoke about the Trail Pleasure, Lite-Shod Park Pleasure and Country Pleasure divisions. There was a lite-shod, two trail pleasure, two country pleasure and one park pleasure horse for the judges to view the difference in all the divisions. They explained the differences in each. Bennett explained to the crowd that a Pleasure horse can be bad image too and that if it is deviating or bad image, the horse should be sent out immediately. She explained too that if a pleasure horse throws a shoe in the ring, that there will be a scale and it needs to be weighed. Another new requirement is that if the horse appears bad image while coming out of the ring, the judge is to take the back number and class number and turn it into the commission, and that is for all divisions.

 Jennifer Davis spoke about Spotted Saddle Horses, while Paige Bennett rode one for demonstration. Davis talked about the differences in the two associations, the Spotted Saddle Horses Breeders and Exhibitors Association and the National Spotted Horse Association. She explained the different gaits and different divisions.

Duane Rector spoke on behalf of the Kentucky Walking Horse Association. Rector explained that there are five differences when judging their shows opposed to the NHSC shows.

1. Bands are allowed on all flat-shod horses.
2. No shank limit on Show Pleasure or Park Performance.
3. Four-Year-Old Open horses do not have to canter. It is up to show management.
4. If you have a western bridle on your horse, do not put a cavison on him.
5. KWHA does not have a weight limit on any flat-shod shoe.

  Leigh Bennett spoke about Equitation. The definition of equitation is the art of riding. She said, "Look at the big picture and don't make equitation harder than it is." Her daughter Paige demonstrated the correct form for equitation on a performance horse. She explained to the judges that if you cut the rider down the middle each side should be identical. There should be an imaginary straight line on the rider from the shoulder, hip, heel up from her bottom.

She made a few good points to remember for Equitation riders. There are no communication devices allowed in Equitation but they are allowed in everything else. The only class that backs in equitation has to be specified flat shod. Derby hats are acceptable. If a rider falls off, they have to be sent out. The horse does not count at all in equitation.

Another big question in Equitation is the patterns. Bennett said that the show manager will be sent five equitation patterns in the mail so you can pick from one before the show, but of course a pattern is not mandatory.

Mike Carpenter explained the Performance, Park Performance and Show Pleasure horses. They had each division of horse showcased for the crowd of judges. Carpenter explained that the bad image horse has no room in the show ring. If the horse is not in compliance, get rid of him.

NHSC judges may not judge non-NHSC shows. There license will be revoked. Carpenter explained that that included country boy shows, Heart Of America, etc. but not KWHA shows.

Carpenter told the judges that if someone confronts you about a class after a show that is offensive to you that you are required to turn them in to the NHSC.

The judges' refresher course ended with a rule book test for the judges.