Feb 20, 2020

FEH Judges Go Back to School on the Final Day of Symposium

By Leslie Mintz - USEA Staff
USEA/Leslie Mintz Photo.

“It was a down in the trenches kind of day,” said USEA Future Event Horse (FEH) co-chair Robin Walker about the final day of the USEA Educational Symposium. “It was a great value for the judges and necessity going forward.” This year’s FEH portion of the Symposium focused on judges’ training as the program works to refine the pool of judges and makes sure that every FEH horse is getting the best evaluation possible.

The day was divided into two halves with the morning focused on the judges learning from Walker and his co-chair Susan Graham White using demo horses whose owners generously brought over to Barnstaple South. In the afternoon another group of demo horses participated in a mock FEH competition with all of the FEH judges and potential judges scoring the horses just as they would in competition. After the scoresheets were handed in, Walker and Graham White would share their thoughts with the audience.

The purpose of the FEH program is to evaluate yearlings, 2-year-olds, 3-year-olds, and 4-year-olds and their potential to become top-level event horses. Walker reiterated this fact often to the judges.

USEA/Leslie Mintz Photo.

“If you are doing games you want a 12 hand pony. If you are working the land you want a huge, strong horse. If you want to event you want blood, quality, refinement, range, and scope.” It is impossible to predict the future with a young horse, so Walker’s recommendation with buying a young horse is that, “You have to want to marry them and you have to want to have their children. It has to do something to you inside.”

While the FEH judges are looking for a horse “that will leave the start box and stay sound at Kentucky,” as Walker explained. Every horse has a purpose and a job and the judges learned to be tactful, concise, and give positive feedback. He also reiterated that the judges can only judge what they see in the moment. If the horses are well-prepared, professionally handled, and ready to show themselves to the best of their ability then it benefits all involved. Overall Walker emphasized that the judges only want to do best by the horses and the organization, presentation, and evaluation should all be done in the best interest of the horse.

Here are some of the positive points given for the demo horses.

USEA/Leslie Mintz Photo.

This horse, a 2-year-old, ended up being the winner of the “class” earning 8.5 on both Type and Frame and an 8.3 on general impression. Walker and Graham White wrote that “he had many strong features and was well-structured.”

USEA/Leslie Mintz Photo.

A 3-year-old, also earned an 8.5 for Type and was just a bit behind with an 8.4 for Frame. They wrote that he was “a powerful quality horse.”

USEA/Leslie Mintz Photo.

A 2-year-old filly, earned 8.0 for both Type and Frame with comments such a “shows refinement” and “well-behaved”

Did you miss any of the coverage of the USEA Educational Symposium? You can find it all here.

The USEA would like to thank the Educational Symposium sponsor EquiAppraisal for their support this week.

About the USEA Future Event Horse Program

The USEA introduced the Future Event Horse Program in 2007 in response to the popularity of the already established USEA Young Event Horse Program. Where the YEH program assesses 4- and 5-year-old prospective event horses based on their performance, the FEH program evaluates yearlings, 2-year-olds, 3-year-olds, and 4-year-olds for their potential for the sport based on conformation and type. Yearlings, 2-year-olds, and 3-year-olds are presented in-hand while 4-year-olds are presented under saddle at the walk, trot, and canter before being stripped of their tack and evaluated on their conformation. Divisions are separated by year and gender. At the Championships, 3-year-olds and 4-year-olds are also required to demonstrate their potential over fences in an additional free-jump division. Click here to learn more about the Future Event Horse Program.

The USEA would like to thank Bates Saddles, SmartPak, Standlee Hay Company, C4 Belts, Etalon Diagnostics, and Guardian Horse Bedding for sponsoring the Future Event Horse Program.

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