Believe it or not, the show season is just around the corner. I’ve been getting phone calls from horse show managers recruiting me for judging jobs. I’m already booked for every weekend in May and for several dates throughout the summer and into fall. But I figured I’d also add another judge’s card or license to my resume, which will (hopefully) increase my chances of getting even more judging assignments. That means I’ll have to fill out some forms, join a few breed associations or riding organizations, take some quizzes and attend a clinic. That’s all fine with me. After all, if there weren’t some kind of criteria for evaluating a judge’s expertise, can you imagine what the ribbon placings might be like at a horse show?
At any rate, I thought I’d share one peculiar incident I encountered while researching what was necessary to gain acceptance as a judge in one of the smaller breed organizations.
I filled out the application, stating my previous judging history and citing references. Then I was sent the official Rules for Judges from this group. Listed among them was this: “Judges are not permitted to smoke or chew tobacco while judging a class.”
Now, I have to ask, is it really necessary to have that rule? Are there truly judges out there who are puffing away on a Marlboro while deliberating whether to place the chunky mare or the leggy gelding first in a showmanship class? Are exhibitors in danger of being expectorated upon while they’re in the line-up of a pleasure class? I try to imagine the scenario:
“Uh, Number 97, can you back your horse for me please? Oh wait… (Patooey! Spit and wipe chin with shirt sleeve)… Now go ahead and back up a few steps. Thank you.”
Heaven knows I’ve had some inglorious moments as a horse show judge. More than once I’ve arrived dressed sprightly in an equestrian print dress only to end up shivering from the cold and shrouded in a borrowed horse blanket to stay warm. Nothing says “glamour” like being wrapped in a size 82 turnout rug (complete with hind leg straps). But at least I’m not dripping tobacco juice from my chapped lips. The worst thing that’ll ever cling to my lips is shredded cheese from the taco wagon that’s parked behind the judge’s booth.
Yet despite my bemused astonishment, I’ll probably go ahead and sign up to get a judge’s card from this organization. In this economy I’m not about to turn down a way to earn some extra bucks. And I promise there won’t be any cigarette smoke or chewing tobacco tarnishing my image. Or my score sheets.
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