2017 Miniature Horse World FALL 2017 - Page 26

judges speak by Karen Maas, AMHA Senior Judge An Interview with Show Ring Legends A tongue in cheek view of the perceived slant of judging in the halter show ring I had the opportunity recently to present a reader’s questions to Sir Beaucoup Winsalot, the noted show ring professional, and his wife, the Honorable Lady Shirley Winsalot. Lady Winsalot, while a non-professional, is an esteemed exhibitor with many National and World titles to her credit with horses she has bred, raised and trained. Both the Winsalots had been top junior exhibitors prior to transitioning to the Open divisions and the top echelons of AMHA handlers and drivers. Sir Winsalot is also a noted AMHA judge, which gives him a perspective from both sides of the rail. As an exhibitor, both he and his wife know precisely what judges are looking for and how the judging process works (AMHA judges are required to know the AMHA rules in great detail and must be able to process the information presented by a class promptly and accurately). As Sir Winsalot notes, there is a personal perspective in judging, or there would be no horse shows. We could select one perfect horse, and that would be that. But a horse owner’s use of their horse impacts their preferences. Breeders may choose to focus on height, color, and eye appeal. Performance drivers select for movement, trainability, and soundness. Others may select for a horse’s willingness to accept handling from a variety of people, and the confidence to perform in a variety of situations (AMHA recognizes the need for variety within the breed and gives judges and breeders room for personal preferences). 24 Miniature Horse World FA L L 2017 Miniature Horse World readers ask, “Why do professionals win so often?” “Which end of the lead is being judged, anyway?” “Why does old so-and-so win so doggone much?” The short answer, says Shirley Winsalot, is that “We’re good at what we do! That is why we can make a living showing horses. After all these years, and all these shows we have developed an in-depth understanding of horses that is beyond what most people even know exists. Much of what makes a horse a winner is based on factors that may be generally unknown and thus not understood or even valued by the average exhibitor.”