A horse comes into the first class wearing boots; as a judge, what do you do?

I wouldn’t judge them in the first class. I would call over to the in-gate and inform them that wearing the boots makes them ineligible for placing, so removing the boots in the second class would be much appreciated. A judge is not required to communicate this, however.

A horse shows in the first of back-to-back classes wearing a gag snaffle. As a judge, it’s your call as to whether or not this is legal, but how would you handle this situation?

I personally consider the gag snaffle illegal. I would first notify the steward of this and then, while holding the rider before their second round, I would explain to them through the steward that should they want me to judge them, the bit needs to be changed. This approach is always much more appreciated, rather than canceling them out of both classes without an explanation.

Other than two or three refusals, can you as a judge excuse a horse-rider combination for any other reasons?

Yes, definitely. For example, unruly and or disruptive behavior (which directly impacts the other competitors) gives reason to excuse a horse-rider combination. Another reason for excusal would be extensive or over-disciplining in the ring.

A rider steps into the ring without a number. Should the groom or trainer enter the ring to hand the rider their number, should the rider exit the ring to obtain their number, or should the rider simply proceed without their number?

No person should enter the ring after the rider has entered, and the rider should not leave the ring unless they have completed their round. I would suggest that the rider proceed without the number and hope that management allows it. Remember that the number is called over to the judge via the in-gate or the announcer, so it will most likely be recorded. I would like to point out that as a rule, though, a rider without a number in a flat class is not judged.

When jogging back into the ring for soundness, what do I need to know and what is the correct etiquette?

This is a good question, so take note from the judge’s booth! You need to know that only a junior can jog a junior hunter or a pony. Juniors need to wear a secured helmet when jogging. In amateur and adult classes, all jogging is to be done by amateurs. All tail wraps need to be off. All competitors require a number. There is no jogging in halters allowed. You need to jog back in the same bridle you showed over fences in. Etiquette dictates that there will be no grooms jogging.

Numbers should be tied around waist, not around the horse’s neck. Saddles and martingales should be off, nosebands should be done up, and the horse or pony should be dry and brushed off.