Kentucky Mountain Saddle Horse News


March/April 2007

IDJ Series

Forms to Function

By: Cherie A. Beatty

Independent Director of Judging for the KMSHA

All horses exhibited at KMSHA/SMHA sanctioned shows are to be judged in a positive manner. Entries whose performance and appearance comes closest to meeting the ideal standard should always be at the top of the card. The remainder of a class is to be tied using a descending scale of performance and appearance.

The standard moves from ideal to average, from average to below average, as defined by the current rules and regulations of the KMSHA/SMHA, and as further defined in the judging standards outlined for each division.

The emphasis on judging at KMSHA/SMHA events is always based upon conforming positively to the breed standards established by the KMSHA/SMHA.

Judges have been instructed to remember that the objective of the KMSHA/SMHA show program is to consistently advance the future of the breed by recognizing and selecting in every class, each division, every discipline, the horses that best meet the breed standards.

A series of new score sheets in some classes have been developed in 2007 to help judges determine that all the requirements of a class have been fulfilled.

In conformation classes, the score sheet assigns point values for categories of importance like adherence to breed type, quality of movement, manners and structural soundness, while also giving judges a mini checklist of all the qualities that must be considered when putting up a conformation winner.

In trail obstacle competition, a score sheet, similar to the type used in other breed organizations, will allow exhibitors to have a more clear understanding of what the pluses and negatives of negotiating an obstacle course involve, and how those courses are evaluated.

Equitation score sheets give riders a point value for how well they sit or are turned out, as well as for how well they guide and maneuver their mounts through a series of specified figures. Certain areas of the test are given collective marks, meaning that the original score is multiplied by a stated multiplier. This gives a rider the opportunity to be rewarded for excellent performance of the more difficult sections of a pattern.

In the case of a tie in an equitation class, the ties are broken by the rider scoring the highest level on the "seat" section of a test.

There is also a new evaluation form for exhibitors, trainers, and owners to evaluate judges, a new form used for show managers to evaluate judges, and a new form for judges to use to evaluate horse shows.

All of these forms have been designed to increase the functionality and accountability of horse show judges and judging, while making the process of tying classes more understandable to exhibitors, owners, and trainers.

In cases where score sheets are available for review after a show, the information which they contain is intended to be valuable at improving your performance at the next show.

Evaluation forms for judges should be available in the office of every KMSHA sanctioned horse show. Please take the time to fill them out and return them to the KMSHA headquarters.

Judge evaluation forms are not complaint sheets. If you feel that there has been malfeasance or incompetence in judging the proper route to follow is filing a complaint with the KMSHA using the complaint process. For immediate difficulties involving rule violations or related issues at horse shows, you must file a protest with the show manager that day in order to receive satisfaction.

To print forms for your own use, please go to the go to the Forms page. If you are not computer savvy, forms are available at the KMSHA office.

The show season is underway. The age old question in riding is "Which is more important, form or function?" This year KMSHA will function with forms and the rest should be beneficial to all.




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