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Learning about judging

From: Debbie Button

Hi Jessica,

I love your digest and this is the first time I have written you. I have been looking for some info on judging. I've tried E-L and rec.eq but haven't received any responses to my questions.

What I'm trying to do is gain some experience in judging. Starting with small local open shows with a goal of becoming a card carrying judge in a few of the breed associations. My background includes judging some small 4-H club (members only - so we're talking less than 30 participants overall) about 10 years ago and also placed 1st overall, 1st in placings, and 2nd in reasons at the Florida state 4-H horse judging competition my last year in 4-H (about 13 years ago).

I've thought of a couple of ways of approaching this. I'm not a breeder and don't have a big name in training. I give lessons to a few people but don't want to become a full-time instructor and therefore, I'm not a well-known as many of the other local judges are with their intense lessons and training programs. One of my thoughts was to contact judges in my area and ask to "apprentice judge" under them. Judge the same classes, but receive no pay or acknowledgement outside of their comments to me. The other approach I've thought of is to contact the local horse clubs and ask to participate with their judge - again, no pay, no glory, etc. just for the experience.

I don't know if either of those ideas is appropriate. Obviously, if I turn out to not be a very good judge, I won't get any jobs, but I don't know how to start out. Judging feels right for me, like it's something I should be doing.

---- Debbie Button, Central Florida

Hi Debbie!

You're embarking on a long voyage -- it's not easy, or cheap, to become a judge. But it's a worthy ambition, and heaven knows that good judges are a valuable resource. Whether you stop at 'r' or become an 'R' judge -- go for it!

Your single best source of information would be the current AHSA Rulebook. The section on "licensed judges" will give you all of the most up-to-date requirements for judges at all levels, including Guest Judges, and in all specialities. You'll also find out how to apply for enrollment as a Learner Judge, how to begin the process of getting and maintaining a judge's license (enrollment, re-enrollment, and promotion), and which fees you will need to pay.

The Rulebook is published biannually. You can purchase a copy of the current Rulebook (1996-1997) by writing to the AHSA. The price is $20. If you're a member, you will get the book as part of your membership.

220 East 42nd Street
New York
NY 10017-5876

You can also call them -- the number is 212-972-2472. I think that they now accept credit card orders over the telephone, so if you call them today, you might have your Rulebook next week!


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