Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Judging philosophy

There are at least as many ways to judge as there are judges.  When it comes to model horse performance showing, however, most judges fall into one of two camps.

The first group follows a "one strike and you're out" philosophy.  In this way they remind me of real life hunter judges.
Under this type of judging, each entry is judged as a whole, rather than as a sum of its parts.  It doesn't matter how spectacular the majority of the entry is, if there's a significant error, it's not going to place well.
I prefer to evaluate each class like a dressage judge.
In dressage, each individual movement of the test is scored between zero and ten, with some movements being assigned a coefficient which multiplies the numerical score by two or three.  Additionally, the judge will assign the entry "collective marks," which reflect the overall impression of the test. 
It's possible for a dressage entry to make a significant error...
My friend Trish and her horse Surprise getting lost in a pirouette
 and still place well, assuming of course, the rest of the test is excellent. 
still good enough for third!
This is also the case when I judge model horse performance.  
Obviously, it's better not to make errors, and there are some errors that simply can't be overcome.  However, when I judge, I'm just as interested in rewarding excellence as I am in penalizing mistakes.  I want my winners to be worthy, not merely error-free.  Other judges may see things differently, but this is my judging philosophy.


  1. I'm probably in the first category, but with a mix of the second. So long as it's not the flashiest entry with the coolest tack wins 1st place without regarding accuracy or real life simulation - that's something that turned me off of performance in the last few shows I did.

  2. When I'm judging, performance always trumps presentation. I am much more likely to overlook a tack error (assuming it's not major, like the ones described in the linked post) than I am a positioning error. I really, really want the horse to be performing well. Beautiful tack/dolls/props aren't enough on their own.

    What I'm really talking about is stuff like eliminating a top notch dressage entry because the arena letter is part of the fence (that's for schooling only) or because the entry doesn't have a bridle number (which IS required at a USDF dressage show). Yes, I would much rather see those details done properly, but I'm not going to place this otherwise excellent set-up behind something that is mediocre but error free.

    Make sense?

  3. Minor flaws will not take a GOOD entry down very much in my eyes. Major flaws will.... Like positioning, spit bit, etc. I don't go for flashy, I go for the most correct, even if it is the flashy.....

  4. I like the dressage test comparison, and I'd like to think that I judge a bit like that too. I also judge halter similarly - in the UK we had a lot of discussions about what to prioritise when it comes to judging breed classes, and breed type and conformation came on top, meaning you could overlook a small paint flaw if the model was still the best example of its breed on the table.

  5. I'm also in the second camp. While a truly significant error, such as a spit bit, or being on the wrong lead for the pattern, will definitely place an entry down, I do look at the "whole picture" and I don't completely eliminate an otherwise excellentJudges who totally toss an entry because of a minor problem are really a pet peeve of mine. It's not that I feel that mistakes should be rewarded, but that an otherwise unqualified entry should not place over one that only has a minor error. For example, I will not place an entry that uses non-LSQ tack/doll over an excellent entry where the bit happened to come unstuck while I was judging.