Kentucky Mountain Saddle Horse News

Jan/Feb 2007

IDJ Series

The New Year Brings both Changes and Opportunities

By: Cherie A. Beatty

Independent Director of Judging for the KMSHA


2007—Ready or not, it’s here. Although some of us may still be a little behind the curve, the KMSHA has been hard at work preparing for the New Year well in advance of the annual celebratory ball dropping in New York City. In fact, thanks to the work of many people, balls that are unexpected won’t be dropping at all as the Association heads into its new show and promotion season. Let’s take a quick look at just a few of the new things coming KMSHA's way for the New Year.

Look for the new KMSHA/SMHA rulebook to make its appearance soon. The book will go to the printer as quickly as the sanctioning agreements for this year’s shows arrive. The 2007 rulebook has been expanded to include appendices that give clear answers to the annual question: “What are judges looking for?” Each division has now being assigned expanded descriptions of ideal, average, and below average indicators of performance in the areas of gait, performance requirements, and tractability, as well as specific division requirements which come into play.

The appearance of these expanded definitions corresponds to an important decision made in January by the members of the Trainers and Show Committees. This is important, so take note: In 2007 horses that do not fit the requirements of the division may not be considered for ribbons in the class, no matter how well they perform, per direction from the governing body of your Association.

This means that if you present a park horse in a classic class, a classic horse in a trail pleasure class, or a trail pleasure horse in a country trail pleasure class, even if correctly gaited, the horse that is incorrect to type for the class may not be used.

How will this new policy be enforced? There was considerable discussion about whether  or not the Trainers Committee or Show Committee should put spotters in the ring at the early season shows and send out horses that do not fit the description of the class during the initial entry before the gate was closed. No one really wanted that job. The Committee members then decided by majority vote, that they would prefer that judges make the final decision about who should and shouldn’t be in the classes. Their direction to me is that all entries in the class will be allowed to compete the rail work and head to the line–up, but horses who do not meet the requirements of the class will be excused by
the judge before he walks the line and asks for the reinback.

What brought the Committees to this point? Human Nature. It’s human nature to place a horse where you believe it can be a blue ribbon winner. A park horse that spends most of its time in third or fourth place, is likely to be moved by its owner or trainer to the Classic ranks in hopes of getting that elusive first place tie. Now we all may know that this park
horse doesn’t really fit the requirements of the Classic class, but as the old book was written, gait had to come first; if the park horse had the best gaits, he might end up beating the real Classic horse, whose owner then heads over to the trail pleasure division and the beat goes on.

There will be no penalty attached to being excused from the line-up. The announcer will be required to announce that the dismissals are because of incorrect way of going for the particular division. Exhibitors will be able to return to the show office and have their entry fees reapplied to the division where the judge feels that they should be competing.  The judges’ decisions on excusing horses for incorrect divisional performance will be final and binding.

And, please remember that this new policy does introduce an element of subjectivity into the judging process. You may not agree with the judges decision to open the gate, but the Committees have determined that they believe the judges are the best people to make the correctness to type call. They have also said they are willing to live with the results and will support the decisions of the judges.

Owners and trainers should remember that on the day horses who may have always fitted nicely into one division may, through excitement, cold weather, nerves, or just the fact of being a horse not a machine, need to be moved to a different division. KMSHA does allow horses to move back and forth between divisions, although a horse and rider may only show in one division per show. The exception to this rule is the western division where entries from any division, able to exhibit the true qualities of a western pleasure horse, are allowed to compete in the western division.

Because the committee members are active in the show ring, this decision to try to stop the tendency towards performance creep that takes place in all horse shows was thoroughly discussed before they arrived at their final decision. The new policy is intended to reward the horses in the divisions where they actually belong by discouraging through elimination owners and trainers who put horses where they shouldn’t be competing.

If the to-type horses left in a class, after the inappropriate horses have been excused, fail to execute correct gaits, protective ruling, as outlined in the rulebook, will take over in placing the class. Off-gaited horses will not be given blue ribbons in 2007, even if they are the only horses left in the class. The requirement for correct gaits in every division
still stands as the fundamental first test for performance. That hasn’t changed for 2007.

A change in the sanctioning of shows is the elimination of AAA-rated shows in 2007 and the addition of a category called Schooling or Fun shows. The new requirements for classes, which qualify shows for sanctioning, will be appearing on the KMSHA website.

A-rated shows will be confined to regional areas, although there are opportunities for regional shows to be AA-rated as well, AA- rated shows can be for single day or back-to-back day events. These shows that meet the requirements for sanctioning outlined in Section 111.2 of the new rulebook will give the exhibitors the opportunity to earn double high points at the show.

Schooling shows will become the reasonably priced entry level for people who might want to try showing a horse but aren’t ready to jump in with both feet. Schooling shows will be able to offer 4 regional classes that qualify for the high point program, so exhibitors can get started on their high points without having to commit to competition on the recognized show level. There will be no sanctioning fee for schooling or fun shows.

Also new for this year is the introduction of Academy Equitation. Outfitting a rider to compete in the formal equitation classes is an expensive proposition. It also takes time and effort to develop an equitation horse, so people need a place to get started.

Academy Equitation is that first step that allows riders, 17 and Under and 18 and over to get ready for recognized shows. That’s right— Academy Equitation includes classes for adults. Entries must have a cutback or dressage style saddle, an English bridle with cavesson, and must wear a long or short sleeved shirt, white or pastel in color, a four-in-hand tie of conservative color, and black pants, preferably jodhpurs, tie-downs and a black boot in order to compete. Helmet rules as otherwise outlined in the rulebook still apply to this division.

The Academy Equitation pattern for the show year will be posted on the KMSHA web site. Saddle up and try your hand at Academy Equitation in 2007. It’s the perfect place for new riders and horses. Horse show managers may offer Academy Equitation only at regional fun or schooling shows. New patterns for the Equitation classes in recognized shows will also be available on the web site and in the rulebook. Pattern score sheets will also be available. The patterns will be in use for the entire competition year. The canter pattern will be required for the Grand Championship Equitation class at The International.

Moving along, an old issue from 2006 has a new answer for 2007. The controversy over how to deal with horses that have clipped themselves during a class will be dealt with in this manner.

Horses who come to the line-up showing signs of one foot clipping-up will be allowed to remain to be judged, unless the injury is deemed by the judge to be significant. Horses that show injury on two feet or legs will be automatically excused.

As we must remind ourselves, a horse can clip himself when he stumbles and regains his footing; when he cross fires in the corners; or, if he comes to a quick stop because the horse alongside fails to observe good ring protocol and cuts in front of him. These would be examples of accidental clipping. Accidental clipping that results from a one foot injury that is not significant will not be penalized, and judges have been so directed.

Exhibitors are also reminded, however, that horses that show signs of clipping are frequently horses that have been over-ridden, or are not balanced. Over-ridden or out-of-balance horses are to be penalized in final judging according to the rulebook.

As the desk sergeant used to warn the officers in the old TV show Hill St. Blues, “Be careful out there!” That’s still good advice for exhibitors, owners, and trainers. Show your horse but don’t show him past his limits to sustain gait and balance and don’t use your horse like a demolition derby car. Other exhibitors have rights in the ring, too. Be careful out there.

Continuing with what’s new, we have new shows coming up in 2007, as well as some new
guidelines for existing shows, the majority of which are benefits. One of these guidelines concerns prize money.

When prize money is offered by horse shows and classes don’t fill sufficiently to allow entry fees to help fund the prize money, the charities and school teams that these shows support are the losers.

Last year there were some hard feelings from exhibitors when on-site decisions were made to reduce prize money. This year to make the prize money situation clear the new sanctioning policy is as follows: If an insufficient number of entries, as determined by show management, are in a class, at national or regional sanctioned shows, the show may offer less prize money to the exhibitors than was advertised. That announcement that prize money may be lowered due to insufficient entries must be declared on the show bill and published a minimum of 30 days before the event.

If you want to keep those paybacks coming in at advertised levels, the solution is simple – get out there and support the KMSHA sanctioned shows which give people a place to perform while raising money to support deserving charities and school teams.

The new innovative Junior Robinson Pot O’Gold Jackpot will add additional interest to this year’s show season. Although it won’t have any impact on judging. the program may fatten the wallets of exhibitors who pre-register their horses, regularly attend KMSHA sanctioned shows, and turn in good enough performances that they find themselves in the ribbons and in the money.  Complete details of the Pot O’Gold are to be found here.

Finally, the last change I have to report is that Sandy McCart, the long time go-to-girl for the KMSHA, has resigned her position. Sandy has been an invaluable source of assistance to me in my first year with the KMSHA. I have admired her ability to keep all of her various activities on behalf of the association going and producing results. She will certainly be missed by the KMSHA. I wish her every success in her new position, which for the first time in many years will not have anything to do with horse shows or horse organizations.

In fact, Sandy tells me, if she gets access to a trailer, she might even come out and show with the KMSHA in 2007. That would be a new thing for her after many years, the chance to be in the ring rather than standing outside it watching others have the fun that she helped to organize.

The year changes, events move on, but some things do remain the same. It takes dedicated, good people to make an organization work. Sandy McCart certainly fitted that description, as will the people who must step up to take up the slack that she leaves behind. Fair winds and following seas, Sandy.




Note .


Issues of the KMSHA News will contain a regular column on judging issues will run.  If you have questions about the judging program, I'll be happy to answer them within the column if the questions are of interest to the broader audience or I'll send you a personal answer if your focus is more narrow.  Please direct your questions to the Editor of the magazine and they will be forwarded to me.  To submit a question I'll need your name and address and also the specifics surrounding your question if it concerns a recent shows.


Meanwhile, you can help to build this judging program by becoming proactively involved.  Become familiar with the rulebook and put your horses in the right divisions.  Know what separates mediocre horses from good horses from great horses based on the Standard.  Then, train to the standard and look at your horse as critically as a judge will look at him.


Be honest about your horse's gaits.  If you are over-riding so that the horse is pacing or slick pacing, slow down.


Use adherence to the standard as your criteria for evaluating your own placings at the show as well as in evaluating the judges.


Forward your comments, based on specifics, not on general likes and dislikes, about the judges.  Use the evaluation forms available at the shows in the officer area to give your educated perspective on what happened during the show.


In this second season for the new judging program, we continue to grow together.  In time, this program will stand as an example of how horse show judging should be done.  The goals are quality, consistency, adherence to the rules, and fairness to each exhibitor.  In the final analysis, nothing else is or should be acceptable.



Cherie A. Beatty

Independent Director of Judging

 for the KMSHA/SMHA