Meet the Judge!

Julia Ryde Rogers will be having a busy Sunday! Not only will she be responsible for allocating the ride marks in the show hunter pony section, but she will also be judging the miniatures vying for the Miniature Horse of the Year title. Showing World finds out more about Julia and what she will be looking for…

“My parents produced professionally; predominantly riding ponies and part-breds, specialising in youngsters, and they ran a stud with at least four stallions covering, so I grew up with horses since day one,” explained Julia, adding, “my grandfather was a farrier and he shod a Derby winner, so it really is in my blood.”

Julia managed her parents’ yard before she started producing professionally on her own over thirty years ago.

“I worked for a while in the USA with Grand Prix showjumpers and working hunters gaining valuable experience. I now train horses and riders of all levels and abilities, and love to help other people achieve their dreams.”

Julia has produced “all types and breeds over the years,” but admits her “favourites have always been the youngsters, blood horses and of course, riding ponies, which are my first love.”

Joan and Carol Richards of the Caronjoy Show are credited for Julia’s first judging experiences. “They helped me take the first steps and I was judging from around the age of 20 with unaffiliated classes at their shows. Joan put me forwards for the Miniature panel and with her encouragement, I started.”

What of her upcoming appointment at HOYS?

“To judge at HOYS is such a thrill, but I was so proud to watch my father, David Ryde-Rogers judge the Supreme In Hand Championship in 2019, and to sit ringside with my mother, Vi, while we judged from the outside!

“I am now on a wide variety of panels, including NPS and BSPS. I want to take this opportunity to stress how important it is for breeders to feel valued. Without them, we wouldn’t have he ponies we see in the showring.

“When buying a potential ridden pony, it is very important to study the breeding, and to research the different lines. Temperament, correct conformation and soundness should always be the priorities.”

What will she be looking for in the ponies she judges?

“As a judge, I am always excited to see a ‘proper job’ step into the ring. I am constantly in awe of the young jockeys riding what can be the equivalent of a miniature Thoroughbred on a tiny show saddle and keeping their composure under such pressure. Seeing lovely animals is what it is all about for me.

“In ridden classes, the go round is so important as it provides that first impression and the go round does need to be taken into consideration as it is the only time during the class that you see the ponies perform with others. This is where the ringcraft of the jockeys, and the schooling and preparation of the ponies really shows.

“I will be looking for the way of going to be correct for a show hunter pony, covering the ground and staying in a rhythm. Cadence and balance are vital! I will want to see length of stride without it being forced or rushed. I love to see a good swinging walk and smooth transitions are key. In the first walk round, I am going to be looking for a pony that draws my attention the minute it comes into the ring – one that has presence and star quality.”

For the young riders hoping for a placing under her next week, Julia had a word of advice: “Remember to enjoy the moment. I know it’s difficult so difficult if you’re nervous, but it is an amazing achievement just to be there and qualifying is an achievement all on its own. Your moment can be missed so easily, and pressure and stress can spoil it.”

“This will be my third time judging at HOYS, but it was no less exciting to be asked again as it is a great honour. Morean Hamilton is my co-judge and she obviously knows a good horse so it will be a pleasure to judge with her and I am really looking forward to it.” Once done, Julia will quickly need to switch to judging the miniatures, and “going solo”. Experience, however, means that she has a very clear idea of what she is looking for.

“There are so many different types to judge but I will be looking for quality, correct limbs and conformation. The winner has to walk in and own the ring – I need to see that ‘look at me’ attitude. For me, the walk is so important and it tends to be supressed when the pony and handler are nervous.

“When I am judging, if I have asked for a set show, then please do the right one. If you’re not sure what is required or have forgotten due to the pressure of the occasion, then always ask the steward of judge again rather than do the wrong show.

“Lastly, it is vital to remember it is one person’s opinion on one day, so if you’re final placing is not what you hoped for, always try to be gracious as the next time will probably be a different opinion.”

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