Something happened at a U.S.E.F. Judges’ Clinic a few years ago that I think is worth passing on to women who aspire to be horse show judges. As you probably know, continuing education is required of all judges, so there is a mix of both current judges and people applying to be judges at the Judges’ Clinics. At this particular clinic, the organizer asked us to divide into two groups—those with “Big R” licenses and those applying for a license. As it turned out, I was the only woman with a “Big R.” As I moved into the line of men, which numbered somewhere around ten, it was apparent that all of us had a “uniform” of sorts—khaki pants, paddock boots, a solid or striped dress shirt, an Irish cap or other style of classic hat, and a jacket, with the majority of the jackets being navy in color.
Across from me was the line of applicants, the majority of which were women. When I looked at their attire, I saw shoes with toes exposed, flowered sundresses, heavy gold necklaces, and large sunhats. It occurred to me at that moment that a women shouldn’t look like a greeter in the hospitality tent if she wanted to be taken seriously as a judge. By wearing tailored clothes based on men’s fashion, a woman can fit right in with the other judges and make her knowledge, rather than her sexuality, the highlight of the day.
It’s not as easy to find women’s khaki pants as it used to be, but the brand, “Jones of New York,” did carry them this year. Also, “Jones of New York” and “Ralph Lauren” have some beautiful no-iron shirts in solid colors and stripes. I thought I’d pass this information on because I think my judging attire had something to do with fitting in with other judges and not being mistaken for an assistant when I stood beside a male in the show ring. I hope this advice might be useful to other women seeking licenses and promotions.