5 Things That Make a Horse Show Judge Happy


I love judging horse shows, but over the years, I’ve come to recognize that certain things can make the job even better. Sometimes it’s the little things, you know? Here are five things that make me especially happy when I’m judging.

Western Pleasure Morgan

Ice-cold Water

Most of the shows I judge are held outdoors and—thankfully—most of the time the weather cooperates and sunshine reigns. But long hours spent in the sun make you thirsty, which is why I’m always delighted when the show management has an ample supply of ice-cold water. Not only does it quench that powerful thirst, it’s refreshing and cooling and absolute perfection.

Exhibitors Ready at the Gate

Horse shows are long, and when you’re tasked with the responsibility of moving along 40 or 50 classes in a single day, you’re always on the lookout for ways maintain efficiency. That’s why when I look up to see an exhibitor ready and waiting at the gate, it always makes me smile. That simple courtesy of being on time and ready to go is one of the main things that helps keep a show moving smoothly, and I always appreciate it.

Happy People

A day of judging is filled with a lot of people: ring stewards, show management, announcers, trainers, exhibitors, parents of exhibitors (!), and there are a lot of different personalities that fall into the mix. That’s why it’s such a pleasure to work with all the happy, smiling people who are enjoying the horse show experience along with you.

Classes without Any Entries

I have to confess that I’ve never cried over the cancellation of a class without any entries. “What? There aren’t any entries in one of the half-dozen Western Pleasure classes?” Oh, well…. ? By the end of the day, a few skipped classes have helped make up for the big classes that went long.

Sunscreen and Comfortable Boots

Without these must-have items, I would be a sunburned, achy-footed judge at the end of the day, but thanks to the genius inventors of these products, I can stand in the sun all day long in relative comfort and ease. Although I’ll never forget the Western Pleasure class in which I accidentally rubbed sunscreen in my eyes right before placing the class. (To all of the exhibitors in that long-ago class—no, I wasn’t emotionally crying my eyes out while judging; it just looked that way.)

What makes YOU happy about the horse show experience? Leave a comment and share your thoughts!

Read more from the judges’ perspective:
Insider Tips from the Horse Show Judge
My View from the Judge’s Booth

Samantha Johnson is a freelance writer and the author of several books, including The Field Guide to Horses, (Voyageur Press, 2009). She raises Welsh Mountain Ponies in northern Wisconsin and is a certified horse show judge. Follow her on Twitter: @miraclewelsh.



Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here