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Editorial by
Keith Smith
May 20, 2003

This is an editorial but the information presented is fact, not just my opinion.

The ABGA National Meeting will be held in less than two weeks. One of our fellow members will rise and ask us to vote on the "standing resolution" to bring the South African judges back next year to judge the national show and to instruct at the judges training classes. (Last year's membership vote requires that this matter be reconsidered this year)

I ask you to vote AGAINST this blatant snow job!

A little history...

From the ABGA Board meeting minutes Apr 24, 1995:
"... authorized the chair of the Show Committee to select a South African Judge to officiate at the national show." This is the first "official" mention of using other than United States judges. The concept made sense then... U.S. breeders weren't particularly well trained in Boer goat conformation.

From the ABGA Board meeting minutes Feb 23, 1996:
"...announced that the South African judges would be in Texas for a period of time other than just the National Show and Sale. It was decided that they could teach a two-day course for visually inspecting Boer goats." (Note the use of the word "inspect", not "judge")

From the ABGA Board meeting minutes Nov 23, 1996:
"...reported on the individuals who passed the Inspectors and Judges Training." (Note - this is the first official mention of "judges" training, it had previously been only "inspector" training)

First and foremost - We do NOT require SA trainers.
The requirement for ABGA judges to be trained by SA judges is non-existent.
You will hear the statement "Our membership voted that all judges of ABGA shows must be trained by the South Africans".
BULL! We voted no such thing! We NEVER voted to require that SA judges teach the schools. We NEVER voted to ban judges that were not trained by SA instructors. What we did vote on was to ask SA judges to present their methods at our school. Nothing was said about SA judges being the only ones that could instruct our judge candidates.

Breed Standard Differences
The South African Boer breed standards do NOT coincide with the ABGA standards (no matter how hard some high profile U.S. breeders try to tell you that they do).
The South African instructors do not teach the ABGA breed standards during their presentations. They teach the SA standard and stress their own interpretation of the correct "style" for Boer goats. A pass/fail grade hangs on your possession or lack of information that has no relationship to how we want our US Boer goats to look and how they have evolved here in the United States.
In fact, one of the questions on the Level I test given by the South Africans last year was "When was the SA Boer Goat Association founded?" Now, just how the !@#$ does knowledge of that "factoid" relate to your ability to judge a Boer goat according to the ABGA Breed Standard? All it seems to show is that you know a lot (maybe too much) about the South African way of doing things.

United States Boer breeders have gone through 10-plus generations of Boer goats. We have worked our livestock genetics up the ladder toward what we need here in the U.S. and we don't particularly care to be pulled backward.
As an example... We want and need more "air" under our goats (longer legs) to prevent injuries to scrotums and udders from cactus and other obstacles - the South Africans have recently shifted toward a shorter legged goat. We are proud of our goats and the success of our genetic selections for OUR environment.

There is no indication that South African judges are any more or less "political" in their placing of classes in the ring than United States Judges.
This has been proven at least once in every national show since the first one in 1995 (my opinion only).
Some U.S. breeders even go so far as to not show their high profile goats under U.S. judges - they will only show them under SA judges. The stated reason?... "U.S. judges don't know how to judge goats".
OK... what's wrong with that picture? We state that our judges must be trained by SA judges and then say that they complete that training not knowing how to judge. Could it be that the style of goat has something to do with it? Could it be that the U.S. judges know what we need here in the United States and judge the goats accordingly? Or, could it possibly be that "politics", not style of goat, plays a role in the decision to show or not show under a certain group of judges?

One of the most difficult functions of a show organizer is finding qualified, approved judges who can be in the right place at the right time.
There are plenty of judges. And, they're in the right places most of the time. But, we can't use them - they aren't "qualified".
It doesn't matter that they have as much or more experience judging Boer goats than some of the "qualified" judges.
It doesn't matter that they were the ones that trained some of the "qualified" judges back before the SA judges became all the rage. In fact, some of those "qualified" judges that the "unqualified" judges trained were grand fathered onto the approved judges list and, up until last year, had never attended instruction under SA judges.
The traditional argument against allowing judges from other U.S. registries to officiate at ABGA shows has been (repeating here) "Our membership voted that all judges of ABGA shows must be trained by the South Africans". BULL! We voted no such thing! We voted to invite South African judges to present their methods during our training schools. We NEVER voted to require that SA judges teach the schools. We NEVER voted to ban judges that were not trained by SA judges.

There's nothing intrinsically wrong with South African breeders or judges.
They have their way of doing things that seems to work very well for them. They originated the Boer breed and have done a tremendous job of bringing it to where it is in their segment of the industry. Their goats are impressive but they are now breeding for different looking and performing goats than we are.

The respondents to a recent unscientific survey on overwhelmingly rejected the use of South Africans as judges and as instructors of our own judges. The question was asked

"Should all ABGA judges be trained by South Africans?"
"Yes or No"
497 against requiring SA trainers to 31 for
Both groups had several cases of one person responding to the survey more than once; those responses were not considered in the totals.

A vote "for" this resolution is a direct insult to U.S. Judges.
They work hard for the industry and their reward is being told "You aren't good enough to judge our national show" and "You don't know enough to teach prospective judges how to place goats".

PLEASE!... Vote AGAINST this blatant snow job!

If you would like to discuss this issue please


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