Sunday, April 23, 2017

Wherein I judge a schooling show

The barn I board at is h/j focused. R and I are the only ones who mainly focus on dressage. It's a great barn with great care and plenty of places to ride, so we're both very content there. The barn owner/trainer decided to put on a little schooling show with the morning reserved for dressage. After casting about for an available judge (we're in West Texas; they are few and far between) I decided to offer myself up. I'm qualified enough to judge a schooling show up to first level, which is what this one was. I've scribed dozens of times and watched probably thousands of hours of dressage. So I offered, and they said Yes. I've never judged before and was hoping it didn't prove to be overwhelming. It really didn't! I felt comfortable, and most of the scores ended up in the low sixties, with the better riders scoring mid to upper sixties. It's funny -- as a novice judge you throw out scores for each movement and hope the overall percentage is appropriate for the ride. I'm sure experienced judges have a much better sense of where the percentage will fall.

I also judged dressage seat equitation and sport horse under saddle. Luckily I felt like there were very clear differences between first, second, and third, so I didn't have to agonize.

R and Dakota made their first-level debut and had two very respectable rides. The trot work is lovely; Dakota gets a little tense and distracted in the canter. Once Dakota and R find their harmony in canter, I'd say they'll be ready to try first level at a rated show, and start their journey towards a bronze medal!

Just before the very first ride of the day, one horse spooked and bolted out of the indoor into the outdoor, which in turn caused a little girl's horse to spook, dump her in the gravel parking lot, and high-tail it for home (about a quarter-mile away). With an Arab, they quite literally high-tail it! The little girl (maybe seven years old?) was tough as nails -- there were tears for about ten seconds; then she took a deep breath and said she would go ahead and ride just as soon as they collected her horse and walked him on back, which took about ten minutes. Then she went in and rode both her intro-level tests like a champ. It was her first show away from home and her first fall; I was impressed with her grit.

I most definitely do not want to be a full-time judge; but I would love to do it every so often. I had a good time.

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