Join Date: Dec 2009
Location: Southern California
A judge is looking for a horse on a loose rein, the bigger the loop the better trained the horse. The poll should be at least 4" below the whithers and the nose on or a little in front of the vertical. In QH and a lot of open shows, unfortunately for Arab type horses, they like the entire neck low and relaxed without an arch. They like free moving gaits, albeit slow and collected. The horse should give the appearance they are happy and could maintain the gait all day. Cues should be almost invisible and the horse should respond without a dramatic change in frame. It should appear as if rider and horse are one and that the horse responds off the riders thoughts.
As for the class, they usually ask for the walk, jog, and lope. They may ask for a change in direction at the present gait or just a reverse where it is good to have a pivot on your horse. Be ready for a back up either on the rail or at the center line up. Again, they want a willing movement with slight aids and little change in frame. It is classy to have a horse that stops and stands square as well.
Some will get as picky as to watch you corner as well. Some judges will mark you down if you cut corners or if they feel your horse is 'stuck' on the rail, using it instead of the reins for direction.
The tougher the class the smaller things the judge has to use to separate the class, so this is just some things you can work on.