Equine Trail Sports Judge Training & Certification Program

National Standards, How Do We Do It?

Equine Trail Sports (ETS) provides Regional and National tournaments for its members. Tournaments compare riders’ performances both within their region and nationally. This means that the Judging Standards with each ETS event needs to be consistent from coast to coast.  Riders can compete with confidence knowing that the judges at an ETS event are trained to maintain consistency with their judging standards and scores.  ETS makes this happen with its Judge Training & Certification Program!

The Judge Training program is free and available for anyone to complete and it is a volunteer based system. Potential judges need to have a solid sense of horsemanship and can complete the training at their own pace. Judges in training can scribe with mentor judges in addition to their online training to accomplish their comfort level with judging on their own. Many ETS riders complete the Judge Training program to judge events and to give themselves insight into how to better their own scores.

The judge training program consists of 4 steps:

1 – Complete the Knowledge Check
The Knowledge Check is an online education tool to help the user grasp all of the important content. Materials are provided for the judge to study and to reference during the Knowledge Check ‘test’. You cannot fail this ‘test’. If you get an answer wrong, the system will tell you why it is wrong and give you information as to what a better answer would be and then places the question at the end of the test for the user to read and answer again. It is truly an educational experience, much like a classroom.

2 – Attend a Judging Clinic, live or via a webinar
Judging Clinic webinars are very popular and they mimic a live judging clinic. You can take the webinar from the comfort of your own home. Webinars provide a classroom experience where the judges in training watch videos and judge them in the same way they would at an event by using their judging tools and applying a score and comment for each performance they watch. The ‘teacher’ of the webinar will then discuss each performance and guide the judges in training until they completely grasp the judging standards.

3 – Complete the Practical Judging Exercise
The Practical Judging Exercise is an online education tool to give the judge in training the experience of watching videos and providing scores and a comment for each performance. Once the scores and comments are entered, the user experiences a replay of the video with audio from our Director of Standards, Miranda Holaday-Lyon. If the user provided scores that are not in an acceptable range, they get to attempt to score another video for that same maneuver category and they continue until the videos are scored within an acceptable range. By listening to the audio, they are still learning as they progress.

4 – Judge 2 ETS events
At each event, judges get to listen to a Judges Meeting, judge and score all riders, and give their Judges talk to the riders for the obstacle they judged. Each Judges Meeting provides a review of the Judging materials and Standards allowing the judge in training to continue to learn as they progress. Once they repeat this process, ETS considers them trained and certified.

Once you have completed the certification process, judges always have continuing education at their fingertips. ETS provides an online ‘Judges Playground’ where you can practice watching video performances and scoring them, and then listening to the audio feedback from our Director of Standards, Miranda Holaday-Lyon. Judges are welcome to attend as many Judging Clinic Webinars as they’d like, and ETS also hosts an ETS Judges Facebook Group for open conversation about anything related to judging an ETS event.

It is an easier process for hosts to gain judges for their events knowing that potential judges can complete the steps from the comfort of their home since the Knowledge Check, the Practical Judging Exercise, and the Judging Clinic Webinar are all online tools.


If judging interests you, please visit the Judge page on the ETS website to get started – https://www.equinetrailsports.com/judge_cert/

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