Chatting with the judge: Joe Gill

Michigan 4-H horse show judge Joe Gill shares his personal perspective on his favorite classes, pet peeves and best piece of advice he’s been given.

Michigan 4-H horse show judge, Joe Gill.

Michigan 4-H horse show judge, Joe Gill.

I’m excited to continue a series of Michigan State University Extension interviews with some of your favorite horse judges from around Michigan. I recently spent some time with one of these industry professionals, Joe Gill. Here’s what Joe and I chatted about.

Taylor: What’s your favorite class to judge and why?

Joe: I really like the pattern classes, and probably my favorite is the hunt seat equitation. I like to see horses doing things with a skilled rider, and I think that class really gives you a good picture of each parties’ talent. When we judge rail classes we only see each horse for a brief time. It’s nice to have a chance to “interview” each team for an extended time.

Taylor: What are your favorite things in that class that help the top exhibitors shine for you?

Joe: I like risk takers. It’s a hunt class, so it should be at a forward gate. Precision is important, but I see a lot of exhibitors trying to show so conservatively for fear of making a mistake that it can ruin the picture for me. When the team is really clicking, their confidence becomes evident, and it’s easy to see that everything that’s happening is being agreed upon by both parties.

Taylor: What trend in the show industry would you like to see leave anytime?

Joe: I’m not sure if it’s a trend or just a dilemma that needs to be solved. We can see not only the breed associations, but also the more local events trying to be everything to everyone by creating multiple divisions and segments of really the same class, and I think it gets a bit confusing. I fear that it will continue to water things down for each organization in an attempt to draw people to their show. We are all aware of the expense and dedication that it takes to show horses at any level, but we also need to balance that by continuing to award excellence and superior animal husbandry practices. I don’t believe anyone has truly come up with a solution, but it would be welcomed in the industry.

Taylor: What is the best piece of advice (in regards to the equine industry) that you’ve ever received?

Joe: To realize that every horse has a job, and it’s our obligation to find the right job for each individual. If your horse likes to go fast, then let it go fast. If your horse likes to go slow, then allow it to go slow. It’ll be a better relationship, and we’ll see longevity as the norm rather than scads of burned out horses.

Thank you so much, Joe, for spending a bit of your time with me. I loved hearing some of your thoughts!

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