Judges’ results and scores reflect their view of a performance from the judges’ unique perspective based on their vast experience. Photo © Ali Grusha

When Judges See Things Differently with Stephanie Lynn

Do you ever wonder how you can receive two firsts and a gate in a class at the horse show? It happens quite commonly, yet always creates a bit of a stir. Most of the time the odd judge is thought to have “missed” something. But more often than not, the odd judge did not miss something, but rather saw something that the others did not.

Riding on both sides of the fence, I have been the odd judge who saw or missed something and the exhibitor whose mistake was seen by one, but not by all. After my initial disappointment of not receiving a clean sweep, I remember the far corner where I had an ugly departure that I thought no one saw and must acknowledge my performance was less than perfect.

Most of the time now, I am the one in the center of the pen who misses or catches – sometimes it makes me the odd judge and sometimes my scores match my peers. Regardless of the outcome, judges mark what they see and what they see influences how they score the performance.

It is not uncommon for judges to place more emphasis on one aspect of a performance over another. For instance, in showmanship, I think the most important part of the performance is tracking and setting your horse up straight in front of the judge. If an exhibitor misses their line and is off, their score is going down on my card.

However, if one judge is sitting three chairs away from the steward who is walking the class, viewing the performance from an angle, they will not be able to see if the exhibitor is getting straight to the steward. Unless the horse is standing sideways, the judge viewing from an angle will not able to place a great deal of importance on straightness. Lining up in front of the steward is important to me so you will always see me sitting as close to the steward as I can without interfering in the exhibitors’ performance.

It is human nature to remember the good over the bad, the positive aspects over the negative aspects of our performances. Judges’ results and scores reflect their view of a performance from the judges’ unique perspective based on their vast experience. A judge that has experienced a horse trip and fall resulting in an ambulance ride may fault your horse for tripping more than the judge who has never experienced a wreck caused by a horse stumbling.

That is what makes it so dang cool to receive high marks on all the judge’s scorecards. It is truly impressive when an exhibitor can positively impact multiple opinions with one single performance. Keep at it and that exhibitor will be you!



About Stephanie Lynn: Professional Horseman Stephanie
 Lynn coached her first AQHA World Champion in 1988. She has since 
coached, trained and shown World, Congress and Honor Roll horses across
 disciplines. She is a judge for AQHA, NSBA and APHA and has judged World
 Championship shows for each association. Most recently, Stephanie is
 the author of The Good Rider Series and A Lifetime Affair:
 Lessons Learned Living My Passion. The Good Rider Series is a library of
resource material that is both practical and applicable in the barn and 
show ring for riders. Stephanie can always be reached through her 
website: http://www.stephanielynn.net.

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