AU Press Releases

Equestrian Program director earns USEF's judge's card for independent show work

Nancy Kohler, director of the Alfred University (AU) Equestrian Program, has earned her United States Equestrian Federation (USEF) “r” judge’s card in hunters and hunter seat equitation.

This card will allow her to judge independently at USEF recognized horse shows in the hunter and equitation divisions.

Kohler has spent the past year working toward completing the requirements to become a licensed USEF judge. Hopefuls must first attain a learner permit, which allows them to shadow USEF registered (“R”) judges at recognized horse shows and learner judge with them. Learner judging alongside successful “R” judges helped Kohler develop a strong system for judging large groups of riders in a class, which she cited as an important skill for a judge to have.

“I have a good eye for what is correct and good quality, but having a system to keep track of each horse and rider that is easy to follow and efficient is crucial as a judge,” she explained.

Kohler was required to learner judge at least six full show days for hunters and 10 classes for hunter seat equitation, although she went beyond the minimum requirements in order to ensure that she would be approved. She traveled to shows in Connecticut, Texas, California, New Jersey, and Pennsylvania as well as learner judging at local shows in New York.

“This all paid off because I was approved the first time I submitted my application,” she said. The application required at least 25 references from USEF members, a summary of the classes she had learner judged, and evaluations from each judge she had worked with.

Kohler believes that going through this rigorous licensing process has not only increased her judging skills but will also benefit the AU Equestrian Program, especially the IHSA hunt seat equitation team, of which she is the head coach.

“I have a much better understanding of how a judge ranks a class, what are considered minor errors and what are considered major errors, and also how important that first impression is,” Kohler said. “I know now how judges are ‘trained’ and what our governing body sets as a standard for us to judge from.”

Kohler was appointed director of the AU Equestrian Program in 2007, bringing more than 25 years’ experience in riding instruction and training in hunters, jumpers, and lower level dressage. Previously, she has served as instructor and show manager for Lake Erie College, Painesville, Ohio, teaching jumping classes and managing dressage and hunter/jumper shows, and has been partner and manager at The Willows Farm in Fairview, PA, a boarding and training facility that also houses the Mercyhurst College and Allegheny College equestrian teams.