How do you feel about over-bitted ponies?

I don’t like to see over-bitted ponies – or horses – with novice riders. A lot of times you’ll see a pelham with a converter or a kimberwick. I would hope that isn’t necessary for an undersaddle class; it’s simply too much tack.

In a ride-off, you call four back, but one decides not to return. Do you pin that one with fourth place, or can you bring back another one for further testing? What happens to the one that didn’t return if you select a replacement horse?

Selecting a replacement is not allowed. The one electing not to return is automatically placed fourth and I test the remaining three.

As a judge, do you like it when a course designer confers with you about the course and how it is riding?

Yes, I do like it, and most course designers do ask me for my opinion. Course designers are usually busy with other rings and don’t always get a chance to see them all working. I readily and it is always a constructive and positive exchange.

How do you feel about a horse wearing a stocking or a net over his nose?

It is allowable; an invisible one is okay, but an obvious one is distracting. It should also not be too snug or restricting, acting like a drop noseband.

If you see a horse trot into the ring lame before starting the course, can you stop them from jumping?

No. They must be allowed to go, but then if they still appear lame when they jog back at the end of the class, you can excuse them.

Can you, or have you ever, talked with an exhibitor during a show?

I have spoken with an exhibitor during a show, but never directly. I always communicate with a steward present, or send a message through a steward. The rare situations when I may want to approach an exhibitor is if I see excessive abuse in the ring, or dangerous speed when on course. Again, I would advise to not go there personally – ask the steward to relay the message.

When a horse or rider shows in a class you know they are not eligible for, as a judge do you just let it go, or do you do something about it? (For example, a horse showing in a first year green class when you know it has shown in that division in previous years.)

I have dealt with this situation before and it’s a tricky one. I once made the mistake of calling the show steward over to have the entry eliminated before the end of the class. The proper channel to go through would have been to notify the horse show management and let them handle the situation.

Can you bring your dog with you to the horse show when you are judging?

I have seen it done, but let me assure you that it could be the last show you judge for that management! The judge’s booth is no place for a dog given the inherent distraction they pose for their needs to be met throughout the day. The show hired only you, not your loyal companion! Leave the pooch at home or with a friend.