Sunday, August 26, 2007

Rachel and Grandma and Arabian Horses at the Summer Show Talking to the Judge

Part 1 at the Summer Show

From before I ever even began showing Arabian horses, I heard all of the talk that you had to have a $50,000 horse, you had to have it in training with one of the "top" trainers and you had to pay your dues and then and only then could you maybe climb up the political ladder enough to be successful.

Well, I've never really been one to do what I was told. Tell me I can't, and that's exactly what I'm going to do so it shouldn't be any surprise to anyone that I'm out here doing it on my own with horses that I've bred myself.

Part of my thinking along this journey is that there's more than one way to climb to the top. From my very first Arabian horse show it was clear to me that there were people doing it their way and doing it successfully. I paid close attention to those renegades and to the other's in the ring as well..

The major thing I noted about them was whatever it was, they did it better than the other guys. AND they did it on great horses. And the other guys, well it depended on who they were. Politics, well no, it wasn't that.

I realized that lots of those people out there in the ring I didn't have a clue who they were so they all just blended in together. But the big name trainers popped out at me because I knew them. Recognizing them made it easier to see them in the ring.

Thinking about it some, it seemed to me it must be the same way for the judges. In that mass of strange horses it must have been easier for the ones with recognizable riders to stand out. I seemed to me being known by the judge could be a good thing.

So I began working on show committees where I would be seen by the judge and talking to judges after every show. Over the years, you get to know them and they get to know you. If Rachel wanted to be around this industry for some time, they might just as well get to know her too. It couldn't hurt for a kid who wants to come up through the ranks and train great horses someday.

So Rachel and I went to talk with the judge. The protocol at any USEF show is you must first speak with the USEF steward and request permission to speak with the judge. The steward will then ask the judge if he/she will speak with you. Then after the show is over you can tall with the judge. Sometimes the steward will stay for the conversation sometimes not. Usually the steward will be somewhere close by.

I told Rachel she needed to thank the judge for coming, tell him she had a good time and ask him a question. I wanted Rachel to ask if he thought this horse would be competitive in the 14-17yrs age division at Youth Nationals if he were using himself correctly.

Rachel did pretty well. She's not all that comfortable speaking to adults so this was a stretch for her. She did remember to thank him for coming and tell him she enjoyed herself but then couldn't remember the whole question so turned to me.

The judge, Bill Melendez of California, laughed told Rachel to do trail with that horse. Then he laughed and patted his briefcase and told me he was taking my courses home with him. He thought they were great courses and would be really good for schooling. Grandma was pretty tickled.

He he told Rachel that you don't need a $100,000 horse to win at youth nationals. What you need is a steady horse. If the horse was doing his job consistently she would be fine. But do trail with him. It was obvious even to Mr Melendez that this big Arabian gelding has an aptitude for trail.

He also mentioned about the championship rides and how much better the horse went for Rachel after I had ridden him in my class. He thought that Rachel's last ride was much better because I had gotten the horse much rounder.

That information is another of the reasons I talk to judges. That told me that Bill Melendez is more concerned with how round the horse is versus how soft it is. The judge from last year had been the other way around. Dandy could have been rounder but was so soft that he won both championships.

Judge's preferences are a good thing to know when you're showing to them. Sometimes an appropriate tweak in the direction of a judge's preference can make the difference when it comes to winning those blues. Rachel and Grandma are starting a book with notes on judge's preferences starting with Bill Melendez and Mike Brown.

Judge's preferences aside, Rachel totally forgot to ask about Hope. She was so excited that he remembered her, I think, that she didn't ask a question about the mare being competitive at Youth Nationals in halter. But then Grandma didn't remember that question either.

All in all it was a pretty good horse show.

The first post of the Rachel and Grandma and an Arabian Horse series was posted several months ago and documents Rachel's journey on her way to her dream of competing one day at the Arabian and Half Arabian US National Championship Show.

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  1. Wow, that is GREAT advice! Thanks...

    Also, congrats on how well Rachel, Dandy, Hope, & you did at the show! It's pretty cool to read about her progress as time goes by.

  2. You realize of course that I'm taking notes? You offer such great information in your posts.

    Tell Rachel congrats and give those horses a good smooch for me. :)

  3. Rachel needs some praise. A bonus.

  4. Sounds like a great talk with the judge...and a wonderful idea to do so!

  5. Wonderful ending to the whole tale. Congrats to all involved in this success.
    What are these courses he was taking home? I must have missed that post.

  6. Talking to judges is a great idea and I have ABSOLUTELY seen it make a difference in the show ring. But what has been hard for us, is that Paso Fino judges are flown in, leave right after the show so there is rarely an opportunity to speak with them. I'm figuring it out though!

    When I competed in Speech and Debate, talking to judges made all the difference, because the audience IS all that matters. I would give each one of them what they asked for and it made a huge difference in my success.

    Live and learn.

  7. now that sounds like an exceptional way to go about doing things.. smart lady:)

  8. I could buy a lot of great horses with $50,000! Great post about the politics of showing horses. That is why as a kid I only did games...can't argue with a clock. I was never one for smoozing with judges either. I give Rachel a lot of credit for doing the work.