Katy Barglow: 2017 Shannon Foundation Fund for Judges' Licensing Recipient

I was so thrilled to receive a grant from TDF’s Shannon Foundation Fund for Judges’ Licensing towards my promotion to my “R” license. The road to becoming a judge is long, time consuming, and expensive. I entered the USDF “L” program in 2008 (at age 28) and graduated with distinction in 2009. I immediately applied for, and was accepted into the “r” program. There was no open program until 2012. I received my “r” license in September of 2013, and between 2013 and 2015 I judged 11 recognized shows, all without any payment. For several I paid my own travel expenses to gain experience. I applied for, and was accepted to the “R” program in August of 2015, and started the program in November of 2016.

Our initial training session began with two days of discussion of movements, using both videos and live horses, followed by a full day of judging at a show. We focused most on the expectations of, and new movements in, the Third and Fourth Level tests, as all of us were experienced judges at Training through Second Level. These included flying changes (single and sequence changes), canter pirouettes, half passes, and extensions. Our instructors, Jayne Ayers and Axel Steiner, were amazing in what they could notice in about half a second. For example, the directives for a canter pirouette state that the movement is being judged on “lowering of the haunches, size, bend and balance of working pirouette, straightness, regularity, engagement, and collection of canter.” I would think I was doing well in noticing the quality of the canter on the approach, sitting behind, control of the shoulders, position of the poll, bend, size of the turn, and quality of the canter out, and then one of them would point out something about the rider’s position along with all that! The more we judged these new tests and movements, the easier and more instinctual it became to take in both the details and the big picture.

We also worked to further refine our use of comments, to be as clear and helpful to the rider as possible. “Braced” is to generic; we used “bracing under-neck”, or “needs swing through back.” When possible, we tried to address the root cause of the issue: “unsteady hands causing hollow topline,” or “needs collection in corners for uphill medium.”

We continued to refine these skills in multiple group apprentice sessions. I was blessed with a fabulous group of colleagues in this “R” program, and we took turns organizing sessions around the country (hiring “S” and FEI judges as our instructors). I organized a session in Sacramento, and traveled to Del Mar and Seattle for sessions organized by others in the program. Our instructor judges were terrific and spent many hours with us going over tests score by score and comment by comment. Lively discussion from the group also helped to cement our scores and comments. Along with many hours of sitting with judges and observing tests, the apprenticeship program left me feeling prepared coming into the three-day final exam, held along with the CDS Championship show and Region 7 finals in October of 2017. It was great to see all my friends from the program again, as we judged tests, took a written exam, and answered oral questions.

I would like to thank Connie Davenport, Regina Antonioli, and the other show managers who have supported us, and Michelle Ng, our amazing program organizer and her wonderful group of scribes and demo riders from Foothills Chapter of CDS. I had the great fortune to learn from Jayne Ayers, Axel Steiner, Jane Weatherwax, Joan Darnell, and Trenna Atkins in training and apprentice sessions, as well as my wonderful friends and colleagues from the program. Finally, my heartfelt thanks again to The Dressage Foundation for their support.

I am very pleased to share that I was granted the promotion to “R” Dressage judge in January of 2018. Look for me at “C” (or “B” or “M”) this coming show season!