Thursday, June 11, 2015

Judges' Answers to Pony Questions

I was lucky enough to have the chance to chat with a couple of well-respected hunter judges last month, including one who has judged Pony Finals multiple times, and I took the opportunity to ask a few judging-related questions that come up quite often on this blog.

First up is the question of the bows worn in many pony riders' hair: how big is too big? Essentially, if the ribbons cover the number at all then they should be trimmed down. The judge may choose to either eliminate the rider due to the number being unreadable, or they might radio the in-gate and ask that the ribbons be trimmed before the next round. Younger riders with shorter backs will therefore usually need bows that are on the smaller side, especially if they have long hair.

The next question was at what age should the pony rider switch from jodhpurs to tall boots (which is often also the switch from bows to a hairnet if the rider is not already wearing a hairnet)? The answer was that it doesn't really matter, but that it goes along with the question of suitability. If a rider is too big to look appropriate in jodhpurs and bows, they are also probably too big to be riding a small pony, the division in which jodhpurs and bows are most often seen (in addition to the Short Stirrup division in which the rider is generally too young for suitability to be a problem). A small rider on a medium pony can also wear bows and jodhpurs.

This rider is on the large side for this pony, and
would likely look inappropriate in jodhpurs and bows
That led to the question of what are the consequences score-wise for a rider who is too big for her pony in a hunter class? One judge said that she wouldn't deduct from the score, but that if two rounds were similar with one featuring a rider who was too big for her pony, that unsuitable pairing would act as a tiebreaker with the more suitable pair taking the better ribbon.

These are the opinions of only a couple of different judges and as such they don't necessarily reflect the opinions of all judges, but they do offer some guidance as to what might be behind the decisions coming from the judge's booth.


  1. The second photograph captured the passion :)

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