Joanne Bouwhuis, a Senior dressage judge, EC Level 2 dressage coach, and active FEI competitor, recently earned a promotion to FEI 3* dressage judge from her previous 2* status. The owner and operator of JEB Equine Consulting, Bouwhuis coaches and gives clinics at Cedarbrook Farm in North Oshawa, ON.
The time commitment and expense involved explains why there are only six dressage judges in Canada with FEI status at present. The intensive exam took place in Stuttgart at the German Dressage Masters from Nov. 14-18, 2018. The test was held over four days and included judging movements on video, actual live judging at the Dressage Masters, plus written and oral exams. All expenses are paid for by the judge applying for promotion.
“The entire process is quite lengthy,” Bouwhuis explained. “I have been a dressage judge for over twenty-five years and have judged across Canada. It takes many years to gain the experience and expertise to judge at the grand prix level. Horse show management have to get to know you and be willing to give you the opportunities to judge the higher-level classes.”
She continued, “Judges are required to attend a judges’ clinic every three years and in the year that they apply for promotion. We also have to be able to ride competently to an Intermediate II level before applying for promotion to FEI, which requires having a well-schooled horse to show ‒ and that takes many years to develop. My most recent partner has been a 17.2-hand Oldenburg gelding called Phantom Menace (a.k.a. Dennis) that I co-own with Elizabeth Thompson of Bowmanville, Ontario.”
Other new North American FEI judges emerging from Stuttgart included Americans Bill Warren (4*), Kari McClain (3*) and Heidi Berry (3*).