by Linda Scrivner

FRANKLIN, Tenn. – The National Horse Show Commission held its judges’ refresher course on Friday, Dec. 5, at David Landrum Stables in Franklin, Tenn. There was a large turnout for the mandatory meeting that was held between 1:30 and 3:00 p.m.

First on the agenda were the model and halter divisions. Carlyle Johnson began by trying to stimulate thoughts in those present. “You should ask yourself: What impact can this division have on your business?” He began by asking the judges what they looked for in a colt. He said that the first thing that they should look for was movement. They should first look at the backend, then the shoulder movement and last, the headshake. He stated that they should look for the same things in a halter colt that they would look for if they were selecting him to go under saddle. After watching the movement, the judge should scrutinize the horse or colt in the line-up, studying first his head, then the neck and its placement, and thirdly, its conformation. They should count off for human induced weaknesses and traits that would be passed on. Reward the colt that will enhance the breed.

Dr. Doyle Meadows spoke next on the versatility division. He puts several of these clinics on a year, in North Carolina and other locations. He said that Bobby Richards did a great job in North Carolina at one of the clinics. In many of these clinics, they score a class, show videos, and then go back and review the scoring. They hope to expand training in this area.

Leigh Bennett next discussed the trail pleasure, county pleasure, lite-shod and park divisions. There were five horses riding around the indoor riding area with the judges seated in the middle. Bennett asked them if one of these horses did not belong in the trial pleasure division and they remarked that Laurie Toone’s horse was doing too much for the division. Toone was riding her world champion lite-shod horse. Bennett then asked if there was another horse that could be in another division and they selected a roan horse that would be more correct in country pleasure since it was shod with factory shoes and was not striding quite as much. In country pleasure, the horse should break less than 45 degrees with its front legs.

Toone then demonstrated her western lite-shod horse and Bennett talked about her reins being loose, how the reins should be held with one finger between or if it was romell reins, the fist could be between the reins. She reminded the audience that in western classes a lope should be called, not a canter. She then talked about turning western horses toward the center of the ring when reversing and that if a 360 circle was asked for the horse should turn on his haunches.

 Bennett reminded them that in trail pleasure a fourth gait could be called for, a trail pleasure walk. She stated that a bad image pleasure horse should be excused from the ring. Park horses should also have a light rein. She said that a snaffle bit could be used in any pleasure class, with two hands being used on four years and under horses in western classes. She reminded them that if a horse appears bad image coming from the line-up, the judge should take the back number and class number and turn it into the NHSC. She also reminded them that if a pleasure horse throws a shoe, the shoe needs to be weighed.

Jennifer Bingham spoke about judging spotted saddle horses, while two were ridden by Dickie and Misty Gardner for demonstration. Bingham talked about the differences in the two associations, the Spotted Saddle Horse Breeders’ & Exhibitors’ Association and the National Spotted Horse Association. She also explained the different gaits and divisions as well.

Leigh Bennett was up next to discuss equitation, the art of riding. She had three world-class equitation riders she used for demonstration: Kaitlyn Rippy, Allison Thorson and Alice Klein. She explained correct clothing, use of the reins and use of the whip. She stated that no communication devices were allowed for equitation riders but they are allowed everywhere else. Patterns are at the discretion of the judge. If riders do a pattern at least two should be asked to perform it. The rules are no longer in the rulebook since they are in the addendum. Equitation riders reverse toward the rail and they no longer address the judge. Derby hats are acceptable and formal suits with top hats are only correct after 6 p.m. If a rider falls off, they must be sent out. If they are knocked off, they are not disqualified and you may want to excuse the unruly horse that caused the problem.

Bennett discussed the academy program, which is thriving. The academy has two divisions. The first is judged by the rider’s ability to get the most out of his horse and the second is equitation. There should be an imaginary straight line on the rider from the shoulder, hip and heel. They do not have to wear a coat as vests are normal with shirts and gloves. Helmets are required. The rider must either have a certified instructor or a trainer and they may be in the ring coaching the rider during the class since it is all about learning to ride and showing horses in a safe, non-competitive and fun climate.

Jamie Hankins explained the performance, park performance and show pleasure horses. They had each division of horse showcased for the crowd of judges. Hankins stressed that the bad image horse has no room in the show ring. If the horse is not in compliance, dismiss him.

The judges’ refresher course concluded with a rulebook test for the judges.