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California Gymkhana Association

Local District Responsibility:


The Judge generally knows more about the rules and the CGA procedures than most other individuals. All Judges MUST be a fully carded CGA Judge. The Judge is a volunteer that may come to the show specifically to judge, or may come as a rider that is also willing to judge. It doesn’t hurt to buy the judge beverages and food to thank them for their efforts.

The Judge has total control of the activities in the arena.

Judging Keyhole
What are the Judge's Responsibilities?
The duties and responsibilities of the Judge include the following:
Ensure the course is correct and ready for riders.
  Judge all riders entering the arena both fairly and impartially.

Loudly release the rider (both verbally and with hand signals) when the rider has shown control over their horse and is within the confines of the course and CGA rules. The signal should be prompt and loud enough for the rider to hear. The rider must be over the 80' foul line (if one is required) before the judge will signal approval for the run. The rider must wait for the judge’s approval prior to beginning the run. The course must be started within one minute after notification by the judge.


Loudly give the final call after the rider is complete (both verbally and with hand signals), e.g., 'Good ride', 'Good ride, plus two', 'Sorry rider, no time', etc.


Give full and continuous attention to all activities going on within the arena.


Control all activities within the arena where they are judging.


Control the activities of the helpers within the arena where they are judging.


Abide by CGA rules. Keep up to date on all published rules, and all approved changes to the rules that are not yet published in the CGA Rules Book.


All decisions of the head judge in the arena are final. The head judge shall not signal his decision until other judges in the arena are monitored to determine their individual rulings.

  If a rider falls off their horse prior to running an event, the judge must excuse the contestant and place him at the end of the division or class to complete the event. If the rider falls off their horse while on course, the judge must disqualify the contestant from the event.
  In all cases where a value judgment is required by a judge, the judge shall rule in the favor of the contestant when there is any doubt as to the circumstances.
  A contestant shall be disqualified if, in the opinion of the judge, the course is not completed within a reasonable period of time. This includes problems resulting from the loss or breakage of equipment or tack while negotiating the course wherein the difficulty prevents completion of the course.
  The Judge shall bar a contestant from further participation in the show if the contestant deliberately fails to leave the arena immediately upon notification by the Judge.
  The judge must be physically in the arena during each and every rider’s run.
  A judge’s attire shall be in conformance with the dress code given in Section 3.1.a with the following exceptions: 1. Helmets are not required. 2. The requirement to wear boots is waived and the judge may wear comfortable Closed toe shoes. 3. A judge may wear a visor or any appropriate head gear to protect themselves from the sun.
  CGA Judges are volunteers and may not accept payment for their services. However, many districts provide lunch or provide other non-monetary benefits to their judges in recognition of the work they do.
  The judge may call the rider over to them for advisement, if deemed appropriate. If so, then the gate keeper should not open the arena gate to let the rider out until the judge's advisement is complete.

An apprentice judge must judge under the direct supervision of a carded judge. The carded judge must stand in the arena at all times while the apprentice is judging. It is expected that the carded judge will assist the apprentice judge with training tips during this time.

  Any CGA member may apply to become an apprentice at 16 years of age or an official CGA judge at 18 years of age. They must complete the entire process within 18 months of getting their apprentice card. If they fail to do so, the apprenticeship is cancelled and the candidate must start over from the beginning. An apprentice may not start judging or taking tests until the apprentice card is received from the CGA State Office.

Prospective CGA Judges:

  1. Must be a member in good standing.
  2. Must have a broad range of knowledge pertaining to the CGA.
  3. Must judge enough shows as an Apprentice Judge to become proficient within 18 months of getting their apprentice card.
  4. Must Pass an Arena Test given by a Master Judge within 18 months of getting their apprentice card, demonstrating proficiency in setting up all CGA Events.
  5. Must pass a written test given by a Master Judge within 18 months of getting their apprentice card. The judges test includes questions on many aspects of the CGA other than the Gymkhana rules given in the CGA Rule Book.
  6. A CGA judge is expected to be familiar with the CGA Bylaws and the CGA Information & Regulations Manual that includes information on the CGA Awards Program, Show Procedures and other information about CGA.
NOTE: Judges making improper calls or decisions may be required to be retested by the Rules Chairman or a Master Judge. Questions pertaining to the licensing of CGA judges should be directed to the CGA State Office.
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