I knew I wanted to learner judges at HITS Ocala because it is my homebase, but it was harder to organize that I anticipated. Originally I got permission from Kristin Vale and HITS management to learner at the December HITS, thinking I’d be more comfortable with a less-busy horse show and be able to check off some of my equitation requirements. I ended up not going to December shows because the weather that week was crummy so the show was consolidated into three days instead of four, and because my mom was showing, which puts me at a conflict of interest in the judge’s box.
I managed to reschedule to judge HITS 7. A much bigger and more competitive week, meaning a bigger challenge for a learner like me. On Wednesday, I judged the conformation division with Patrick Dodson and Christina Schulsemeyer, both veterans and great mentors. Over the weekend, I sat with Carole O’Brien and Kerry Kocher. I ended of judging the Amateur Adult hunters with both of them on separate days and it was fascinating to hear both their similar as well as unique perspectives. What I think riders and competitors would find interesting is from perspective, the horse/rider combinations in the Adult hunter division were significantly varied from one day to the next. The clear winner and show-stopper one day, could be completely out of the ribbons the next. There were a lot of low scores in that division, and it was so rewarding to give a horse rider a score in the high 80s. The judges really are rooting for the riders to have a great performance. I was listening to a recent interview with Archie Cox where he said that when he gets excited about watching a good round, he will radio to the ingate to say “That was a score of 90. 9. 0.” even if it is not a class that is being scored, just because he want the rider and trainer at the gate to know how please he was with the performance. It is definitely something I will keep with me as a I go forward.
Even though HITS Ocala was a big show, I feel like I managed organizing my cards well and keeping the scores fair and consistent with my mentors. It was a great experience.