XC Jump Judging

I’m volunteering at an event tomorrow for the first time as a XC jump judge. Any tips on what to bring, what to expect, etc.? Thanks in advance!

Dress in layers—more than you think you’ll need. Bring sunscreen and a hat. Even if they’re providing food/drinks, I always try to bring at least water and a snack of my own too.


Excellent advice already from JenEM. I hate sitting in a vehicle when FJ so I’m outside for several hours. It is really important to be warm enough, cool enough, dry enough… and that might be in one day. Waterproof overtrousers stop wind as well as rain getting through. I find good boots also important. I use Ariat All Terraine boots because they stop my hips aching when standing for most of the day (accidents happen fast) and a pair of waterproof boots in case you have water, either a fence or a monsoon. It is helpful to have some kind of waterproof cover for paperwork. I usually have a spare clipboard for various bits of paperwork and extra pens and pencils. Folding chair. This is stream of conciousness now … fingerless gloves are useful as the radio is easier to use but your hands stay warm. Hats: waterproof, shady, windproof so more than one with you unless you have a perfect multifunctional hat. I have spare TP in my kit in case it runs out in the portapotty and hand spray. A basket to carry everything is helpful.

I shall stop. My car is an entire FJ mobile unit all season, based on years of experience, so I have some ridiculous things with me.

Enjoy your day. It is fun and educational.


To add, what to expect. A briefing to tell you your duties, timetable for the day. Paper work to include scoresheet, list of runners (here in the UK accident report forms) and a rule book. As it is your first time, introduce yourself when you arrive and say that, if possible, you would appreciate being paired with someone experienced.

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In the US (at least at non-FEI events), it’s usually a single fence judge per fence. Sometimes at an unrecognized event, I’ve even been responsible for multiple jumps. (Although they wouldn’t make a first-time jump judge do multiple fences).

I haven’t volunteered yet this year, but last summer in my area, some events didn’t have an in-person briefing. Judges just went out to their jumps and then the briefing was over the radio.

The USEA website has some useful tips. https://useventing.com/resources/documents/XCJumpJudgeJobChecklist.pdf. The USEA jump judge videos are also useful.

It can take a little time to figure out how to handle the timing of watching the horse, filling out your score sheet, and reporting on the radio without talking over other people, so don’t worry if you feel a little behind at first.

Take your radio with you if you have to leave your spot (for bathroom break, etc.) but don’t drop your radio in the Porta-potty. :laughing:

Have fun! Should be a beautiful day tomorrow!


Also, you should get assigned a straightforward jump since it’s your first time. But if you have any questions about how to judge your jump or where you should sit or anything like that, feel free to ask the TD. Generally they come around to every fence before the start of the competition to check that you’re in position and see if you have any questions.

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Guess I’m lucky, I’ve never been alone.
I recall there only being one JJ at CCCHT at the fence when she told me to let the rider behind me overtake me (without bothering to record my time “held.”)

@Gardenhorse great suggestion re: the videos! Super helpful.

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Others have already mentioned most of what’s on my checklist to bring, but I would maybe add gatorade in addition to water if it’s going to be really warm day where you’re located and I usually bring a protein shake/meal replacement bar for something a little more substantial which is better if you’re judging a section with a lot of starters.

You will have so much fun! I really love jump judging and can’t wait for the season to start here. I don’t event anymore as a rider but I always smile so much listening to the junior riders talk to their ponies on approach to the fence.


If you need to pull out of the way because your are being overtaken, the rules are quite clear that the time you are “held” is neither recorded , nor subtracted form your elapsed time. Sorry, the jump judge was doing what he/she was supposed to.


Yes, with COVID restrictions still in place, we are doing the jump judges briefing over the radio.

But if you have any questions, the TD should be happy to come to your fence and discuss them with you.

Another good idea is to take a baggie, or something similar, to put the radio in if it rains (if you are sitting outside, and not working from your car.).
And I reiterate, bring a hat.

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I have been jump judging (in the US) for decades, and I have never been given a rule book. Once or twice I have been given a 4 page handout on jump penalties, but that is it.

In the US, accident forms (here they are called “fall forms” and “injury forms” ) are usually filled out by the safety officer or the TD, not the jump judge, though they usually interview the jump judge for details about what happens.

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Yes. Even at recognized Horse Trials, it would be very unusual to have multiple judges on one fence. And quite common to have one jump judge covering multiple fences. But sometimes, if there are two jumps relatively close together, they will let the two judges sit together, so the new judge can consult with the more experienced one.

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Yeah, I probably should have said that in my experience in Area II in the US, there’s usually only one jump judge per fence. I haven’t volunteered in other Areas. Occasionally there may be a couple or friends who volunteer together at the same jump, but I have never had a second judge assigned at any fence I’ve judged.

To clarify: Time is only deducted when holds are called by a TD. Usually bc of rider falls or fence repair.

A rider that is overtaken on course (with 2-3 minute increments between riders) is usually already into time penalties. Holds are fair for a rider in a no fault situation.

Fence Judging Scenarios and Tips For Riders - Eventing - Chronicle Forums (chronofhorse.com)

More than you need to know if you’re first time but hey it is a learning curve and it takes time to build the automatic responses of an experienced fence judge.

#1 tip CALL for the TD and discuss what you saw. So many scenarios occur.


Thank you all for your great advice! Was a really fun day.


Reading responses on here, it seems to me that there are potentially some easy wins in promoting greater safety in eventing. A handy guide to rules for jump judges so they know the rules and have the confidence to call in bad riding and poor behaviour (If I could work out how to insert an image, I would show a handy BE version). Fall forms filled in by the witness immediately after it happened (admittedly easier with two fence judges on duty) because my fear would be forms being forgotten and important details being lost. Briefing for all FJ before the competition starts. The report into the two deaths in Australian Eventing (2019 I think) was very concerned about poor training of volunteers. Thoughts?

I think that the videos/checklist that @Gardenhorse referenced above are the best possible resource (the videos in particular), and what you’re describing. The event where I volunteered was well-run; in addition to the technical briefing, we got a handout with the rules. Our technical director was also really on top of it, and there seemed to be a culture of pointing things out or keeping an eye on certain situations from fence to fence. Just my anecdotal experience, based on a grand total of one experience. But I would recommend anyone reading this thread in the future to definitely watch the videos.

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As a long time score runner, let me just add this: If your control person (radio guy) tells you to stay in your place until the score runner picks up your last sheet for a class, please listen to him. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve had to chase down a jump judge who has moved to their next spot or gone to the porta potty with score sheet in hand. If you wait, I can DRIVE you to the porta potty.

Obviously, if your control person says you can move to your next spot, then move. Different control people run their shows differently.


This made me giggle. If only my bladder would listen to the rules.

(For the record, I totally get your point and it is a good point.)

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