Downeast Medal Finals

November 2017

Downeast Medal Finals
Thank you to everyone who attended the 2017 Downeast Medal Finals! Visit our website for more information. We welcome all questions, suggestions, and sponsorship: please email Ginger at .

Downeast Medal Finals Team Challenge
By Barbara Baker

It is safe to say that, year after year, a crowd favorite at DMF is the Team Challenge. Our objective in offering this class is clearly identified in the name, TEAM. While the thought of being randomly assigned to teams is uncomfortable to many competitors, the timing does not leave much time to think about being nervous meeting new friends. The team assignments, team meeting, and selection of the team captains are quickly followed by costume and team identity selection, all taking place within the hour prior to the class. Teams tack up, without assistance from adults, with the older team members assisting the younger ones. The only ‘outside’ assistance allowed is the holding of horses during the course walk, and of course, putting tired ponies to bed once they have competed! The course is the same for all riders; only the height of the fences is changed to correspond with the level of each rider. Competitors are randomly assigned to teams by level of ability with a goal of each team being comprised of riders across the spectrum from walk/trot to the 2’9” level. We pair the Team Challenge with our complimentary Exhibitors’ Party so the parents and trainers can try to relax during this class!
The generosity of sponsors Double G Tack Shop and New England Equine Surgical and Medical Center certainly made the 2017 DMF Team Challenge a wonderful end to the first day of our show. Six teams of four riders entertained us with some memorable trips around the course designed specifically for this class. This year’s teams were the DMF Dinos, the Hoppers, Underwater Riders, Ponies of the Caribbean, Fairyland, and Cantering Incantations. Competition was close with the riding of eleven competitors across the teams earning a score of 70 or better from Judge Nancy Murphy! The Underwater Riders captained by Summer Pilley were the winners of the Double G Tack Shop saddle pads. Reserve and the Equine Journal saddle pads went to the DMF Dinos. Thank you to all our wonderful competitors and sponsors for helping us continue this fantastic DMF tradition. We can’t wait for next year!
Showmanship, the Judge’s Perspective
By Nancy Murphy
USEF R Judge (H,H/E,J),
Trainer, Clinician

Oftentimes while judging a horse show, I wish I could interact with exhibitors. For this reason, it is always very rewarding for me to give clinics. While teaching a clinic from a judge’s perspective, I am able to call each rider over at the end of their round and give them feedback regarding their choices, as well as suggestions and ideas as to how they could have done things differently to receive a better score. Sometimes during competitions I see riders doing things that I sense they feel are correct, or necessary, but they are in fact not exactly what the judge is looking for at all. Horse showing is just that, a show. As an exhibitor it is necessary to understand the showmanship aspect of our sport. You are performing, and with proper planning and knowledge you will have a much better chance at completing your tasks effectively, and receiving a top score based on a correct performance.

An excellent example of this, and one of the most common mistakes I see while officiating, occurs in flat classes. In these classes, the judge must ask for trot and the canter in both directions, but the order in which the exhibitors are asked for each gait is not predetermined. Some judges ask for the walk in between the trot or canter always, but often times in intermediate and higher level classes, I will ask for the canter from the trot to help determine the best exhibitor. When I do this many times I see a rider caught off guard by the command, and subsequently rush into the canter without taking a moment to set their horse up properly, which results in a wrong lead. When you are competing in any class you are responsible for demonstrating, through your performance, the best of both yourself and your horse to the judge. In this instance, that means always asking your horse clearly and calmly for the given commands. There is no reward for being the first to pick up each gait in a class, and I’m sure other judges would agree that we would much rather see you take a moment or two to properly prepare your horse and show us your best performance. Possibly being a stride or two later into the canter than the others in the class is always favorable to being on the wrong lead. Showmanship in a flat class also includes keeping proper space between yourself and other exhibitors, so as to be seen unobstructed by the judge as often as possible. It is also important to understand the importance of using the quarter line in front of the judge, rather than the outside rail, whenever possible. Judges cannot evaluate you clearly if they cannot see you in the ring, and if you are riding too closely to where they are sitting, it is difficult for them to effectively observe you. 

Another common mistake I see often in over fences classes is an incorrectly executed inside turn. Often a course will include a roll back turn, and the exhibitor has the option of doing a tight turn to the next jump, or of going out and around other jumps and then back to the next obstacle. On our score card there is no automatic bonus points for doing the more difficult, or inside turn. We score the rider’s entire overall performance on course. A well done inside turn certainly stands out because it is more difficult, but is not a necessary requirement of the course. Many times I have seen a novice level rider, or green horse, attempt the inside turn and either break to the trot, miss their lead change, cross canter, or miss the distance to the next jump. All of these faults are automatically scored much lower on our cards than simply making the wider outside turn would have scored. Again, proper showmanship skills in the ring apply here. It is the exhibitor’s responsibly to show to the judge they can complete the course correctly in regards to their pace, leads, and distances, and if it's necessary for you or your horse to take the longer approach in a roll back turn to demonstrate this, then that is what is appropriate for you, and it will earn you the best score possible.
Upcoming Shows with Downeast Qualifying Classes
Nov. 12  Cornerstone Farm Haverhill, MA
Nov. 26  Evenstride Byfield, MA
Thank you so much to our incredible sponsors who help make this show possible.
Become a Downeast Medal Finals Sponsor:
All levels accepted and appreciated! 
Visit  our website  for more information.
For more information, to list your show with Downeast qualifying classes, to be featured as a Downeast spotlight rider, or to become a sponsor, please email Ginger at .

Thank you to Spotted Vision Photography and Riitta Fortier for providing us with many wonderful photographs from 2017 Downeast Medal Finals.