Why: In 2012 then DoT Mike Talbot and myself began seriously discussing GNA’s judging diversity, consistency and patterns from one Chapter to another and from one test to another. At that time GNA had some Chapter and TD’s that regularly brought in Out-of-Chapter(OfC) judges, and others that rarely if ever used OfC judges. Judging consistency between test and chapters also left something to be desired and some tests almost always used the same judges and that was leading to perception concerns. In addition to just bringing in OfC judges we talked about encouraging the use of different Sr. Judges and not using the exact same three judges from year to year at the same test location.
Furthermore to discussing judge use and diversity at the same time we were developing new test questions and answers and a vigorous Continuing Education program, and giving timely and regular updates to our TD’s VR, RA’s and BoD’s. From our discussions the concept of requiring OfC judges at GNA sponsored tests was born with the goal being to help promote judge diversity, greater judging consistency between chapters and test, and to relieve a perception issue that we were having with some tests.
When: In the fall of 2012 and spring of 2013 we began encouraging Chapters and TD’s to bring in OfC judges for the reasons stated. The encouragement had mixed results. At the 2013 GNA AM the concept was brought forth to the BoD’s to make this a test policy of GNA and it was well received and approved.
In August of 2013 in an email to GNA’s TD’s it was stated that this voluntary policy of the 2013 spring and fall testing seasons would become mandatory with the spring 2014 testing season. The initial mandate was to have at least one member of each judging team be an OfC judge, and that the same Sr. Judge and exact same judging team couldn't be used at the same location from season to season. There was a strong backlash though on the item of each judging team at a test having to have an OfC judge that a compromise was made. The compromise was at least one OfC would be required at each weekend of testing instead of one for each judging team. We were told the requirement of an OfC per judging team was too restrictive, would be too expensive and that the effort to cultivate a local judging pool would be underutilized.
How: 2/26/14 a “spring letter to VR’s and RA’s” was emailed to all of GNA’s TD’s, Chapter Officers and Performance Judges and Apprentice from me and GNA’s DoT Mike Talbot. Within that letter which covered a variety of important test and judging items were the following two paragraphs.
- “Test Directors, as you organize your weekend of testing remember you need to have at least one Out-of-Chapter judge. If applicable, the Out-of-Chapter judge should be the senior judge. Your Sr. Judges need to be different then ones you used last year, and you need to not use the same three judges for a judging team. On test day, all judges should jointly engage in pre-test judge conferences; and,
- "Make sure to conduct a Judge Team meeting prior to the start of the test, to make sure you have concurrence on test management and rules interpretation. Also insure handlers have a good understanding of how their dogs will be evaluated. These discussions at the judge team level, and the judge team / handler level should be open and complete, making sure all questions are answered, and all concerns resolved. Open judging is required throughout the test.”
My spring 2014 GNA NL article discussed the reasons for the OfC policy and stated the same language concerning the OfC requirement.
Spring of 2014: GNA’s test submission page was revamped so that when a test was submitted for approval an OfC judge had to be chosen.
My summer 2014 GNA NL article discussed this policy again.
3/12/15 a “spring letter to VR’s and RA’s” was again emailed to all of GNA’s TD’s, Chapter Officers and Performance Judges and Apprentice and it contained the exact same information and wording as above.
9/1/15 a “fall letter to VR’s and RA’s” was again emailed to all of GNA’s TD’s, Chapter Officers and Performance Judges and Apprentice and it contained the same information as the previous two letters on the use of OfC judges.
In addition to the above items the topic of our OfC judge policy has been discussed at various Continuing Education seminars over the past couple of years, and is a part of a 2016 Continuing Education presentation that has been given in Osseo, MI, Helena, AL, and Cedar Point, UT. It will be presented as well at Continuing Education seminars in St. Paul, MN, Longmont, CO, Sulphur Springs, TX, GNA’s AM and the Armbruster.
If as a GNA member you have any questions about the why, when and how’s of GNA’s Out of Chapter judge policy please let me know.
VDD-GNA’s VC & DoJD