One of the cool new things I did this year was to start judging at live shows. I’d previously dabbled in judging for an online photo shows series, but I hadn’t yet jumped into judging at live show. I’ve now judged at four shows and am scheduled to judge for at least three shows in 2015.
If you are a live shower, I highly recommend that you get involved with judging. There are many great reasons to judge, for all different kinds of hobbyists. And the hobby needs more judges. It is a common lament of show holders that good judges are hard to find. And often the same judges are available for a region’s shows, which gives showers less variety of opinions and placings.
Why should you judge? To help the hobby. To learn more about breeds and anatomy. To save money on showing. To oogle beautiful models. To be inspired. To have fun!
To learn. I’ve learned a lot about breeds, horses genetics, and anatomy as a customizer and shower. But judging pushed me to even further learning- I have a better working knowledge of breeds and breed types, and I’ve become a better judge of conformation and biomechanics. This in turn is helpful for me as a shower and customizer, as I am better at breed assignment and making a customized horse anatomically accurate.
To save money. Are live show entry fees a turnoff for you? Learn to judge! Generally judges are granted free entry to the show in the divisions they are not judging. Some shows will also provide lunch and even travel stipends for judged. Save on your entry fee, and you’ve got more cash for shopping and raffles at the show!
To oogle. There are so many beautiful model horses out there, and now you have an excuse to stare at them! It’s a real treat to see so many gorgeous pieces in one place. As a judge, you have the time and the mandate to examine them from every angle! There are some mold sand resins that didn’t tempt me… until I saw them in person! Beware: judging may effect the size of your want list :)
To be inspired. As a customizer, it’s important to see what else is out there. You can learn a lot from looking at other people’s work. I always find judging and showing to be inspiration- I got home renewed with ideas for new techniques to try, and new levels of detail to aspire towards.
To have fun! I was a little nervous when I judged the first time, but it was a lot of fun. I really enjoyed examining and placing the models. You also get to meet and talk to a lot of people this way, since folks always have questions for the judge. Judging is a great way to really partake in the full show atmosphere.
Excited yet? If you’re interested in judging, there are several good ways to get started and gain both confidence and reputation. First off, you can start judging photo shows. The online shows like MHOSS and TOPSA are always seeking judges. This is a great, low-key way to try it out in the comfort of your own home.
You can also look for youth divisions at local shows. Youth divisions tend to be smaller, with fewer entries and shorter class lists. They also have a pretty wide variety of quality in terms of entries, which can make it easier to judge. These divisions are extra fun too, since you get to talk to the kids and see their beloved ponies.
One of my favorite entries in the “Painted by Owner” class in the Sweet Onion Live Youth Division
Another good stepping stone is to judge at a home show. Home shows are smaller and generally more relaxed. It’s a great way for a novice judge to graduate from Youth Division to Open competition. In my experience, people are really excited to have a new judge, and are very welcoming to someone who wants to learn and practice.
I am really glad that I took the plunge to start judging. I’ve learned so much and it has really helped me to improve my own work and entries. I love to talk to other hobbyists, and I love giving back to the hobby! Need a new year’s resolution? Let 2015 be the year where you go forth and give judging a try!