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SHOW HIO Hosts Judges' School



By Jeffrey Howard

SHELBYVILLE, Tenn. – The SHOW HIO kicked off its annual Judges’ Applicant School this morning on the show grounds of the Tennessee Walking Horse National Celebration.  The two-day school (February 18-19) opened with an address from SHOW HIO President Dr. Steve Mullins to the 136 applicants in attendance (a total of 172 signed up with 36 remaining having to complete their school on the makeup date).  “I want to thank each of you for coming to the 2011 SHOW Judges’ School.  Your attendance signifies that you agree with the new way we at SHOW are trying to take this industry,” said Mullins.

He continued, “As I said, 2010 judging was improved but it can and will be better.”  A change in 2011 is that SHOW will not have a Director of Judges but will now turn over the evaluation of its judges to a judging panel. Sitting on that panel in 2011 will be Steve Aymett, Billy Young, Sheryl Crawford, Richard Garnes, Tommy Hall, Carol Smithson, Connie Waldo, Deborah Williams, SHOW DQP Coordinator Tony Edwards and Mullins.

“In 2011, judges will be reviewed by the judges’ committee on the judges actual performance at each show.  Each judge will be evaluated on his or her particular performance on a particular night,” continued Mullins.  Mullins spoke to two qualities that the SHOW HIO was looking for in their judges which can’t be taught in a two-day seminar.

“Ability can be learned but it comes with experience.  SHOW has calls from show managers every year asking for judges that will come at no charge.  If you would like your name on this list please sign up.  Experience is the key,” said Mullins.  Mullins then turned his attention to is his second requirement.

“Integrity comes when one decides to do what is correct every time.  You as judges have got to put aside your personal issues and your personal paybacks and mark the cards according to how the horse is performing that particular night.  All of you can do it but you have to choose to do it every time,” continued Mullins.

Mullins thanked his committee for all of their hard work and also thanked Leigh Bennett for her work on the rulebook and Kathy Zeis for her tireless efforts on the International rulebook.  “The year 2011 is the most important year in the history of judging inside the Tennessee Walking Horse industry.  I recently talked with Dr. Gipson and he told me a couple of years ago the majority of his complaint phone calls involved bias or inadequate inspections or a sore horse showing here or there.  He now says over 70% of those phone calls deal with judging in one form or another,” said Mullins.

To conclude, Mullins finished, “I challenge each of you to do the absolute best you can do.  There are naysayers who say the judging can never be corrected as long as trainers and owners are judging.  I challenge you to prove them wrong.”

Smithson then took the podium to give the overall objectives of the new judging panel.  Smithson pointed out that the mission of the judges’ panel was to establish, implement and monitor three things; 1) criteria for licensing judges, 2) code of conduct/ethics for judges, and 3) procedures and policies to review the performance of judges and maintain the judging and apprentice programs. 

Smithson also pointed out the panel’s objectives which included providing training and education, using technology to assist in support and evaluation of judges and to assist in high but realistic expectations for SHOW judges.  “All people expect is a fair and objective evaluation of their horse versus the others in the competition,” said Smithson. 

A new classification in SHOW judges in 2011 will include a AAAA judge which will be the highest rating of a judge.  The requirement to reach AAAA status will include certification and licensing in all divisions, which includes equitation and versatility.  A judge must first be a AAA judge and meet those requirements before he or she can move to AAAA status.  Those AAAA judges must have judged five shows in his or her life to include each division of performance, pleasure, versatility and equitation.

SHOW will continue on with the traditional A (apprentice), AA and AAA judge classifications.  Outside of the A level of judge, all others are subject to continual review and renewal each year.

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