SELECTING JUDGES FOR SOUTHERN COUNTIES
Advice to members of Southern Counties Committee
A successful show is almost entirely dependent on the judging panel and to be able to book the judges we need this, in turn is dependent on Committee members bringing judges to meetings in plenty of time. However, please remember that there will always be occasions that the Secretary has to take an emergency decision when a judge drops out at the last minute or is turned down and no-one on the panel for that breed is available. The secret is to ensure that each panel has a range of judges identified as being suitable and there are enough of them.
Southern Counties operates a 'panel' system for selecting judges. The procedure is well established and is used by a number of Championship Shows. Judges, whether specialist or non-specialist, are allocated to the appropriate breed panel and it is helpful to have at least four judges on each panel at any one time. This allows the Secretary to work through the panel and allocate judges over several years if they are unable to accept a specific appointment or if a judge has to withdraw or is turned down. This is particularly important, as SCCA has always preferred that there be minimum period between appointments of 18 months. There is also a group judges panel from which judges are selected for BIS, groups, special stakes classes and varieties. Those judges may also be asked for specific breeds in an emergency where they are on the judging list of that breed.
Committee members of SCCA are asked to research judges for their allocated groups. The basic requirement is that judges recommended are well qualified (if they are first time judges), have the confidence of the breed and will draw a good entry. It is helpful if nominated judges are on breed judging lists but this is not a requirement. As a society we accept that there are some judges who will get a good entry but are not on breed lists for political reasons although it should also be noted that some will not be on lists because they genuinely do not have confidence of exhibitors.
It is essential that no one is asked specifically whether they are free to judge or told that their name will be put forward. If the person involved mistakenly believes that they have been offered an appointment they begin to wonder why a formal letter ahs not been received or may even turn down another appointment because they think they are judging for us. Even when a judge has been placed on a panel, they should not be informed for it might be three or four years before their name comes up.
The key element is that the committee member has researched their nominations. This is best achieved by asking a number of exhibitors at the ringside for their opinions. For instance valid questions might be:
- Is the judge on that day doing a good job?
- Who might do a better one?
- Do exhibitors like non-specialists or specialists?
- Which type of judge tends to get the best entry?
- Are there any judges about ready to give tickets?
- Have any experienced judges been overlooked during the previous few years?
- Which judges are considered to have judged too regularly?
Part of the research needs to be from past catalogues. Whatever the exhibitors say, a non-specialist might actually get a better entry because all the exhibitors might enter while only a proportion will enter under a specialist (although in some breeds the reverse is the case). Most committee members will have access to some recent catalogues and the Secretary will be pleased to forward copies of recent breed judging lists if a committee member would find this helpful. Most useful is the copy of the published Kennel Club list of judges.
It is important:
- Not to guess
- Not to put someone forward who is a friend or colleague but who is not otherwise exceptionally well qualified
- Not to put forward someone who has recently been responsible for getting you an appointment!
Names may be submitted direct to the Committee at a committee meeting or to the Secretary at any time. If they are submitted in advance, the Secretary will review them and inform the proposer if there any problems associated with the name (a judge may have judged the breed at Southern Counties within the last few years, for instance) and bring them before the committee.
It has been the practice, under normal circumstances, for the Chairman, Vice-chairman, Secretary, Chief Steward and Treasurer only to propose judges for their own breeds although they often second judges when proposed. It is therefore essential that all committee members should be actively engaged in the research and selection of judges.
Committee members may also propose judges for breeds outside their own sector where they have a special interest or knowledge of the breed. In general, the Secretary invites the national or local breed club to make suggestions for judges of breeds (three are requested) where tickets are not on offer. This seems to work well.
David Cavill (Chairman)
THE SOUTHERN COUNTIES DOG SHOW AT MAIDSTONE