From the Saddle to the Judge’s Seat Meet Bob Crandall

Photo Courtesy of Bob Crandall


Bob Crandall has been in the horse industry since he was twelve years old; as a rider, trainer, and judge, he brings years of experience and wisdom to the ring. After having his own business for quite some time, he decided to get his judges card and has been judging for over 30 years. 

“I think it really helps everything being a judge. You become a better exhibitor whether you’re riding or training,” Bob Crandall shared. “It adds a whole new element to judging, running your own business and riding. Suddenly you’re aware of what somebody is going through sitting in the judges chair.” Crandall believes that staying current with riding or teaching helps as a judge to keep perspective. 

Over his thirty-year judging career, Crandall has noticed changes in the industry, especially in the recent years. “I think we are losing perspective in our recognized larger horse shows,” Crandall commented. “I want to win just as much as anybody, but now it’s so much about winning, points, and the money factor that has changed our sport.”

From IEA, to NCAA and IHSA, to Medal Finals, and more, Crandall has judged it all. “It is hard to say your favorite show to judge when there are so many good ones.” Judging at Devon, Capital Challenge, Pony Finals, West Coast Junior Hunter Finals, and so many more, Crandall enjoys all the different venues and atmospheres. “I even have judged in Bermuda which was quite different and fun because they were so into it for all the right reasons.” 

Photo Courtesy of Bob Crandall

“I have really enjoyed judging the college programs. It is very different, but the people are so invested, and it is so fun,” Crandall commented on judging the IHSA and NCAA format for collegiate equestrians. “I judged for Scott Evans last year in Maryland and it was a ball. There were great riding kids, great horses, and it was so much fun.” 

“The team shows are so fun because everybody is so behind one another and supportive,” Crandall shared, “it’s all for the original reasons we all started this sport.” 

There are a few things that first catch Crandall’s eye when a pair enters the ring: “Horsemanship stands out, the clean tack, wearing the right things, shiny coats and dapples, and just happy looking horses immediately grab my attention.” Crandall shared that it is important to not only start the course off on a good note, but to continue to build as they continue. “When somebody starts right out on a good pace and canters right up to the first jump, you know it’s a big deal because some riders nurse their horse around a course. I want to see them come out of the turns, jump great, go forward to the single or the first jump, those are big things,” Crandall concluded.