Where are your start and finish markers?
The two most common errors I see when judging intermediate jumper classes:
1.) Riders are not aware of the placement of the start and finish markers or electric eye
2.) Riders do not understand the concept of crossing their own path
This week, we will focus on the markers. It is the trainers responsibility to teach their students to know exactly where the start and finish markers are and how to use the placement to their advantage. It is just as important as knowing the course. No time? No placing.
Round after round I see riders turn too early and miss the start marker entirely or break the timer headed in the wrong direction and add many seconds to their overall time. Subsequently, when referring to the finish marker, they may make a hard turn after the final fence and miss the marker or timer or they lose seconds by not taking the most direct route to the finish.
As a judge at this level you want to be kind but you also want the rider to learn these important lessons before they are competing at the rated shows. An electronic eye makes the error glaringly apparent because the time will not begin until the laser has been tripped. It is not as clear when using markers and a stop watch and whistle. My advice? Trainers, spend the time it takes to prepare your student completely. Do not allow them to enter the show ring until they have not only told you the course but also the exact placement of the start and finish markers. You may take this for granted but they are still learning and may get nervous and lose focus. Make it your practice to have them begin their reiteration of the course with ” First I come through the start marker” and end with how they are going to reach the finish marker as quickly and efficiently as possible. Students, it is now your job to execute what you have learned. Have fun out there and be prepared!