Scott Williamson has been riding and training professionally since he turned 18. He has had the honor of working with some of the best horsemen of his time. He’s been judging for over 30 years, including judging the National Horse Show six times, the Maclay Finals four times, Devon five times and the Washington International Horse Show three times, just to name a few. Do you have questions for the Sidelines “Ask the Judge” column? Send them to firstname.lastname@example.org.
What’s your opinion of a trainer “whooping and clapping” ringside after a trip?
I’m fine with it when the trip warrants it. Over-applause and whooping when the trip is average to poor only makes the trainer and others look like they have no clue about our sport.
If a horse has a bad trip in the first round, as a judge do you still have that in mind when seeing the second round?
I might remember the first trip, but it does not affect my scoring of the second round.
Braiding or no braiding? What are your thoughts?
Braiding for all rated divisions — all! This is a strong part of tradition and class, which unfortunately both seem to be not as important as they should be these days in our sport.
What’s the first thing that catches your eye when a horse or pony enters the ring?
Turnout: Healthy, happy horses and riders well-dressed in traditional clothing. I don’t like bling of any kind; ugly, poor-fitting, tight, short coats; breeches with visible tags; sparkles; plastic of any kind on the saddles. To me, all of these are big distractions and ugly.
Are hunter derbies and hunter classics judged the same way?
Not always. Derbies have a handy round and extra points for higher option jumps, which greatly affects the final score. I think movement has a bit more importance in the hunter classics, as the second round usually has the handy portion to highlight your final performance.
When a ring sits open for 30 minutes and the horse finally makes it in the ring, do you judge that horse in the same way as the horses that were on time and prepared to show?
I do, even though I don’t like to. However, if you hold my ring up for no specific reason, do not expect to win a tie.