Judging the Model Horse

The basis of most model horse showing is to recreate real horse showing in miniature, and the main idea of a performance set up is to create a 3D `snapshot` of the action. Keeping this in mind, it takes a bit of homework and studying real horse events in order to become familiar with what is required for showing the model horse. When judging, it is important to understand what is and is not acceptable in the real horse world, in order to judge fairly. Below are a few points that the model horse judge should consider.


  • Does the model have the characteristics of the breed it represents?
  • Does the mould have good conformation, relevant to the breed it represents?
  • Is the model in a realistic pose? Sometimes models can be portrayed in dramatic but unrealistic poses.
  • Is the colour realistic and appropriate to the breed listed?
  • Are any markings clearly defined and realistically placed?
  • Does the shading and highlighting of the muscles help to define or detract from the colour?
  • Consider the condition of the model. Does the model have any scratches or dents, or rubs (sections where the paint appears to have been rubbed off)?


  • Is the gait appropriate for the class entered? A rearing or galloping model would be inappropriate for a showmanship class.
  • Does the model have appropriate tack, which fits correctly?
  • Are all of the straps on the bridle laying flat, as opposed to being twisted?
  • Is the model actually doing what the explanation says?
  • Is the movement appropriate for the class? Dressage-specific movements, such as piaffe, will not been in a show hack class.

The most common method is to pick a short list of models to place, and then assess them again. From a short list of models, the smaller faults (such as a browband sitting too close to the ear) can separate the different places.

No two judges will assess models in the same fashion. For example, some will place more weight on finish than conformation. Be aware that by judging you are giving your opinion on the entries before you. You should be able to justify your choices if asked.

Judging Championships - Guidelines
Judging photo and live shows can be a very rewarding experience for both experienced and novice judges alike. Outlined here is how, generally speaking, awards should be considered. It is also a good idea to keep these in mind when organising class lists too.

Here is an example class list to show how Championships are awarded.



1.    OF Stallion
2.    CM Stallion
3.    AR Stallion
Champion & Reserve Stallion

4.    OF Gelding
5.    CM Gelding
6.    AR Gelding
Champion & Reserve Gelding

Grand Champion Male

7.    OF Mare
8.    CM Mare
9.    AR Mare
Champion & Reserve Mare

10.    OF Youngstock
11.    CM Youngstock
12.    AR Youngstock
Champion & Reserve Youngstock

Grand Champion Mare/Youngstock

Supreme Champion Gender


To judge for Champion (in this example, Champion and Reserve Stallion), all the first placing horses from classes 1-3 should be considered for Champion. Once that has been awarded, then the second-placing horse from the class of the Champion should step up to be considered against the remaining first-placing horses for Reserve Champion.

When judging for Grand Champion, all Champion winners from the appropriate categories (in this example, Champion Stallion and Gelding) should be considered for Grand Champion. (Not all shows will award a Reserve for higher superior placings. If they do, they are to be awarded in the same method as for Champion, but with the Reserve Champion stepping up instead of the second-placing horse.)

When judging Supreme Champion, all Grand Champions from the appropriate divisions (in this example, Male and Mare/Youngstock) should be considered.

Supreme Exhibit can be awarded in several ways. If Supreme Exhibit is the top award for the show, then the winner of the Supreme Exhibit award should be the most successful model of the show. This can be decided through points (the most common method) or through superior awards won.

If there is also a Superior Horse of the Show to be awarded, then the Supreme Exhibit can be judged either from the Grand Champion winners (if there are multiple Grand Championships awarded), or from the Supreme Champions (if multiple Supreme Champions awarded), and the Superior Horse of the Show should be awarded to the most successful model of the show - this can be done on either a points basis, or taken from the numbers of superior places each model has been awarded.

Using the above outline when judging helps to provide some continuity in judging shows. It in no way impinges on any individual judge`s opinion or decision-making processes, but rather helps judges and competitors know where superior awards were considered from.

A more in-depth article on judging can be found here.