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What Does It Mean to ‘Judge’ a Horse?

The word “judge” means “to form an opinion or estima- tion of after careful consideration.” When you judge a horse—whether in a show, on an individual basis, or in a contest—you form an opinion or estimation about that horse. However, in order to form a valid opinion, you must have the following basic skills:

  • Be familiar with the horse.
  • Know the criteria used to judge horses.
  • Be able to recognize conformational faults.
  • Learn more about the horse.
  • Learnhowtoevaluateandselectahorseforasuitable purpose.
  • Learn to make choices and form opinions.
  • Learn to have confidence in your horsemanship skills.
  • Learn to defend your ideas and take other ideas into consideration.

 

Using This Manual

The suggestions, drawings, and lists of terms used in this manual are intended to serve as a guide for developing a 4-H, FFA, or collegiate horse judging team. Because certain breed types change frequently, this guide in no way tries to establish an ideal for each breed of horse. Instead, it lists terms that can be used to describe any individual, no matter the type or style prescribed by a specific breed organization. The parts of the horse, structural diagrams, and list of unsoundnesses provided are primarily the same for all breeds. The suggestions and recommenda- tions for judging are universal rules that have withstood the test of time and should remain unchanged.

What Does It Mean to ‘Judge’ a Horse?

According to Webster’s New World dictionary, the word “judge” means “to form an opinion or estima- tion of after careful consideration.” When you judge a horse—whether in a show, on an individual basis, or in a contest—you form an opinion or estimation about that horse. However, in order to form a valid opinion, you must have the following basic skills:

  • Be familiar with the horse.
  • Know the criteria used to judge horses.
  • Be able to recognize conformational faults.

With these skills at hand, you are on your way to a successful judging experience!

Developing Life Skills

Continuous learning throughout life is important to character development. Judging horses allows you to:

  • Learn more about the horse.
  • Learnhowtoevaluateandselectahorseforasuitable purpose.
  • Learn to make choices and form opinions.
  • Learn to have confidence in your horsemanship skills.
  • Learn to defend your ideas and take other ideas into consideration.

Characteristics of a Successful Judge

To be a successful judge

  • A desire to know thoroughly what you are judging.
  • A clear knowledge of the ideal or standard type of each breed of horse and an ability to recognize desirable and undesirable conformational characteristics.
  • A quick and accurate ability to observe and critically evaluate.
  • The ability to form a mental image of many individual animals and to rank them by making comparisons.
  • Reasoning power that takes into account practical considerations.
  • The ability to reach a definite decision based on sound judgment.
  • Extreme honesty and sincerity to avoid bias or prejudice. Decisions should always be based on knowledge and judgment.
  • Steady nerves and confidence in your ability to make close, independent decisions based entirely on the animals’ merits. Students in practice and in contests should always work independently. A good philoso- phy for all judging is to do the best work possible at the time and to have no regrets about the results or accomplishments. Every contest is a chance to learn and grow in your skills.
  • The ability to evaluate and rank the individual animal according to its appearance on the day of judging, regardless of its rank at a previous show.
  • Sound knowledge acquired through practice and ex- perience to give effective reasons for decisions.
  • A pleasant and even temperament.Good judges,however, do not fraternize with exhibitors or friends along the ringside.
  • Firmness to stand by and defend your placings with- out being offensive or in any way implying that your decisions are infallible.