Subjective judging has often been the cause of a public uproar. The international attention given Olympic competition, has increased the focus of subjective judging. This reflects society’s desire to see officials employed who are respected for their knowledge and integrity.
Most draft horse enthusiasts would agree, horsemen who judge performance classes at the leading exhibitions place their reputation on the line. However, perceived errors said judges make are remembered for a short time only. The short list of judges employed to place performance classes at leading exhibitions changes little each year. However, the same cannot be said for horsemen employed to judge breeding classes. Here the proof is in the pudding, the offspring a champion stallion or mare produces.
Individuals who judge breeding classes are remembered. How often was it said the celebrated Clydesdale sire, Ayton Perfection, when first shown, placed seventeenth at the National Stallion Show. The judges employed that year still come under fire. The placing of this famous sire still sparks conversation.
It is often said, too many teamsters are employed to place breeding horses. Successful breeders suggest many teamsters select stallions and mares as they select a hitch horse. These breeders state from experience, their top sire and best brood mare will differ in several traits from the hitch horses they will produce. Be this right or wrong, who will forget breeders like Col. E.B. White, Leesburg, Virginia, who made the Percheron filly Couceorous grand champion mare at the Iowa State Fair. She foaled Laet and Treviso, cornerstones of the Percheron breed. Few seedstock judges became more popular in America.
Conjecture surrounds the topic of showmanship. What weight does a judge award showmanship when judging seedstock? While we all appreciate a good horse that is well turned out, it is imperative for a breed’s continued success that champion breeding horses be sound, structurally correct, possess breed character and are athletic. The foals these champions produce will make or break a seedstock judge’s career.
Seedstock judges will come and go. Many employed today will be unemployed tomorrow. Only those judges who select champions that successfully breed on survive to place breeding stock throughout their lifetime. Most contemporary seedstock judges fall into this category which is fortunate for the draft horse industry.