Best Condition: What do Judges look for?

best condition

For those of you who follow mine and Scottie’s story, you will know that we have entered a couple of Best Condition classes and managed to place in both. However, I know that many people are confused as to what Judges look for in Best Condition classes, so I hope to clear that up in this post.

Fat Doesn’t Mean Best Condition

Despite what many people seem to think, it is not the fattest horse which will win. Or at least it shouldn’t be! The winning horse should be the healthiest looking horse.  A good judge will look for the following things:

  • Weight
    As I previously mentioned, this doesn’t mean the fattest. They should be well covered but not over weight.
  • Muscle Tone
    How well covered is the horse. Top line is particularly important.
  • Coat Condition
    The judge wants to see a healthy, shiny looking coat. You can improve this by bathing and using products on the coat!
  • Feet
    A winning horse should be well shod/trimmed with neat feet with no cracks.
  • Eyes
    The eyes should be bright and clean.
  • Nostrils
    The nostrils should be clean. Too much snot suggests a health issue.

Other Factors

There are other aspects good judges will consider to help build up a bigger picture of the individual horse. The following things are not always considered, but may be used if the judge is struggling to choose between horses:

  • Age
    A horse in its 30’s in slightly worse condition, may beat a younger horse of similar condition.
  • Breed
    Thoroughbreds are known for being skinny and hard to keep weight on, so a well covered TB may beat a well covered cob.
  • Field or Stable kept
    In theory, a stable kept horse should be in better condition than a field kept horse. Therefore, if there is a very similar condition field kept and stable kept, the field kept may beat the stable kept.
  • Conformation
    Although conformation doesn’t usually relate to the health and condition of the horse, having a good conformation can only help. Especially if the horse is flashy and eye catching.
  • Blemishes
    As with conformation, blemishes do not affect the health of the horse. Scottie has several blemishes which hasn’t stopped us placing! But they could make a difference if there are very similar horses.

Other things such as plaiting are often optional or stated in the class rules, as each show tends to be different. If you enter and you are unsure as to why you ended up where you were, most judges are happy to tell you what they wanted to see in your horse and what you can improve. However, never get hung up on what they say, as showing all comes down to the opinion and preference of the judge. A different judge may have place your horse highly!

I hope this helped any confusion!

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