Judging conflict of interest?

I manage a local show series and have hired a judge for our final show in a couple weeks.

I’m also an exhibitor with a regional organization and had planned to compete at that year end final show, held the day following my series year end competition, but the judge has just been announced as the same one.

I feel that I shouldn’t compete under the same judge that I’m paying to officiate at my show, literally on the same weekend.


I’m not questioning the integrity of the judge. I’m concerned it won’t look good for either of us, especially if my horse pins well.

I’m bummed either way.

I’m a judge and regularly judge the children of people that hire me. I think its ok, but maybe someone else can say otherwise? Ask the judge. Most of us do not put any weight towards managers that hire us!

Just FYI, it is my understanding that the USEF does NOT consider that a conflict of interest.

The relevant rule is GR1304-22-h:
“h. An entity that employs you or a member of your family, which includes individuals, corporations, partnerships, foundations, trusts, non-profit organizations, and any shareholder owning five or more percent of the stock, if any.”

A couple of years ago there was a rule change proposal, during which the USEF clarified that “hiring someone to judge a show” does NOT make you an “employer” in terms of the Conflict of Interest rules. (You can check with USEF if you want.)

But I agree with the “it doesn’t look good” sentiment.


Not at all, in my opinion. Unless the judge themselves is unethical (which is very unlikely) they know their job- to judge the horse and rider combination in front of them in an unbiased manner. Go have a great show, confident that you and the judge are both doing exactly as you should.

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No. I used to hire judges for a local show series and also competed.

Noting that I inherited that job when the previous person was accused of influencing the judges she hired. But she was announcing and sitting with the judge and pointing out her daughter. The judges may or may not been influenced by her, but the optics weren’t good and she was asked to stop. Whereupon she had a fit and stormed out of the board meeting.

I don’t consider this a conflict. This happens all the time. You hired the judge, you didn’t marry her. She’s supposed to be neutral. If this was a conflict no barn that hosted/hired a judge could have their own students compete in the show— and obviously this happens all the time. I think you are fine.