Words from the Wise: The 2010 Northwest Autumn Classic "Ask the Judges" Clinic

by Betsy November 17, 2010 in Education, Shows

Photos courtesy Jay Goss Photography.

It is a unique skill to be able to have twenty five restless teenagers hanging on your every word, but that is just what United States Hunter Jumper Association President Bill Moroney and Vice President Chrystine Tauber achieved during the "Ask the Judges" clinic at the 2010 Northwest Autumn Classic Horse Show.

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The clinic was held in conjunction with the draw for the order of go for Saturday night's ASPCA Maclay Regional Final. The "Ask the Judges" clinic consisted of a USHJA Zone question and answer session for which Mr. Moroney and Ms. Tauber, who were judging the 2010 NWAC horse show, were joined by Dianne Popp, USHJA Director of Zones, Data, and Competitions, and a general question and answer session with the judges.

The "Ask the Judges" clinic was held Thursday, September 16th 2010 at the Evergreen State Fairgrounds in Monroe, WA. The clinic was the first special event of the 2010 Northwest Autumn Classic horse show, which also hosted the Zone 9 Jumper Finals, Zone 9 Hunter Finals, the ASPCA Maclay Regional Finals, and the $10,000 Speedway Chevrolet Grand Prix. The discussion during the USHJA Zone question and answer session focused mainly on the World Championship Hunter Rider program, Zone specifications, and possible rule changes. 2010 has been an exciting and dynamic year for the USHJA with the introduction of new programs and the joining of the USHJA and the American Hunter--‐Jumper Foundation. Ms. Popp informed the attendees of the necessity of member participation in the selection of WCHR member horse shows. A topic of heated discussion was the possibility of nationalizing many Zone specifications, particularly in the Children's and Adult divisions. Again, Ms. Popp urged attendees to get involved by writing letters, speaking to members of the Zone Committees and attending events such as these.

The second portion of the "Ask the Judges" clinic was a general question and answer session in which attendees could ask the judges, Mr. Moroney and Ms. Tauber, questions relating to their horses, showing, training, or riding in general. Since many of the attendees were junior riders competing in Saturday night's ASPCA Maclay Regional, many of the questions centered on what the judges look for from the riders in the Hunters and Equitation. Mr. Moroney and Ms. Tauber stressed the importance of having a plan on course, as well as strong and effective riding. They urged riders to show them, the judges, their strengths rather than their weaknesses. Mr. Moroney and Ms. Tauber also answered questions relating to the Handy Hunters, which have made a resurgence in recent years due to the introduction of the International Hunter Derby competitions. The judges also noted that the USHJA is in the process of developing additions to the Rule Book, which would better define somewhat vague terms, such as "handiness", and "brilliance". One young rider who was certainly paying attention was Alexa Anthony, who went on to lay down a beautiful trip and win the ASPCA Maclay Regional Final.

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All attendees likely took away something different from the NWAC "Ask the Judges" clinic. Whether it was an interesting nugget of information or a greater understanding of the workings of the USHJA and the Zones, perhaps the key lesson learned was the importance of getting involved. In a region known for its philanthropy and volunteerism, the Hunter Jumper community is no exception. For a relatively small area of the equestrian nation, the Northwest is well represented at the highest levels of the USHJA, and is home to strong and active affiliate associations. Mr. Moroney, Ms. Tauber, and Ms. Popp all stressed the importance of continuing that legacy of involvement. Getting involved can mean attending the national convention, joining a committee, or it can be as simple as writing a letter to your Zone committees, or responding to a survey. In these exciting and changing times, the USHJA is looking to its members now more than ever.