Stick or not to stick, that is the question

Tomorrow, I shall be getting up super early and heading to Addington Manor for the Sports Horse Breeding and British Show Horse Association joint Judges assessment day. I was so excited to have been accepted although now the nerves are kicking in a bit. I love judging and I am good at it but am I good enough for the top people who will be assessing me? The people who have judged me, who I have aspired to be and now who I need to impress and potentially, confidently stand beside in the ring in the future.

And then there is my dilemma – a sticking situation………to carry a stick or not to carry a stick?

In showing, there is a lot of etiquette and tradition and as a judge, one should carry a stick. However, I do not want to carry one as I don’t agree with their use.

Carry it because

  • it is “correct dress”
  • It is what will be expected – will it even be noticed? Will they just consider it a minor oversight by me?
  • I would like to be accepted and not seen as the odd one out – hasn’t happened yet in 31 years!
  • I shouldn’t rock the boat – change only happens when someone rocks the boat, but is this the right time?

Don’t carry it because

  • I don’t agree with their use – I could carry it but not use it
  • I would like to represent non-violent training and riding – I don’t need to use it, just carry it

I have so many conflicting arguments in my head and have been going back and forth but I think it comes down to this….. I just need to be me and if that isn’t what they want then so be it. 

Yes, carrying a stick is traditional but I don’t believe a sport should be held back because of traditions. The debate about hats is still in the air – do we stick with traditional strapless hats and bowlers or do we wear a hat that will possibly save our life? Charlotte Dujardin stood up to be counted on that one and it certainly hasn’t held her back.

So, I will be studying my conformation books, swatting up on my rules, polishing my boots (well, Grannie will be!) but I will not be carrying a stick tomorrow or when I judge. And if that means I can not be a judge then I will have to accept that. I am different but that isn’t necessarily a bad thing!

I would love to hear your thoughts – are you a judge? Do you carry a stick? Do you think I’m daft and should just carry one?

You may also like


  1. The Kitty King thing (which I didn’t know about) makes one think that the horse knew what that whip was for. Perhaps had he been trained without one, he may still have given his best? As Eileen says, very tricky.

  2. I agree with Eileen. Although it will be interesting how horses go without a stick as Kitty King dropped her whip in the Olympics and then apparently (I didn’t see it) the horse ‘didn’t go a yard’ (as the expression goes not to be taken literally).

  3. Goodness Daisy, this is a tricky one! Have to say, I would probably want to get a foot in the door before trying to change things, but then that’s me. Would you be able to get your point across about judges carrying sticks if you are on the outside looking in? I really hope you pass as I know how good you are and how fair you would be, all the very best Eileen xxxxxxx

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *