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  • Writer's pictureKathy Troxler

The 2017 Arabian US Open-The Judges

In addition to being held in a very unique location, the Arabian US Open in Central Park has another interesting feature. The slate of judges! I have no idea what sort of judging or scoring system is going to be used, and quite honestly I don’t really think it’s particularly important. And it’s certainly not the subject of this blog post.

Once, again, I was simply curious about the group of horsemen that had been selected to judge this year’s show. I was able to find their names from the show’s website. But, by the time I had the idea to write this (which was after I wrapped up the performance horse and rider biographies), it left me no time to really reach out to these folks to find out more about them.

What I did find is what anyone can find out by an internet or social media search!

Leslie Connor-United States

"I have been involved with Arabian horses for almost my entire life. I showed for over thirty years, winning three USEF (then AHSA) National High Score Awards in the Arabian division, plus numerous other National and Regional awards. I have been a recognized judge with USEF in the Arabian division since 1975, and later added cards in the National Show Horse, Andalusian, and Friesian divisions. I also have cards with AMHA (Senior), AMHR (R), ASPC, Modern (R) and Classic (R), ASPR (R), and GVHS. To date, I have judged over 225 rated horse shows, 37 of which were Regional or National/World shows. I have judged extensively in the US and Canada, and many times abroad. Other countries where I have judged include: Brazil, Australia, New Zealand, Sweden, England, France, Belgium, The Netherlands, and South Africa."

Claudia Darius-Germany

To say that Claudia Darius has extensive international judging experience is a whopper of an understatement. Visit the Darius Arabians website and you can call up a list showing just how extensive it is. Like many young girls, Claudia started riding at a young age. But it was visit to the All Nations Cup in Aachen that sparked, what has turned out to be, a lifetime devoted to Arabian horse. Her family formed Darius Arabians in 1987 and in the 1990’s they decided to specialize in straight Russian bloodlines.

Jaroslav Lacina-Czech Republic

After training and managing Arabian horses for several years, ECAHO president Jaroslav Lacina bought his own Arabian Stallion in 2000 and since 2001 has been judging consistently on an international level. You can learn more about his history with the Arabian horse from an interview at

Richard Petty-United States

Richard Petty is a name that is familiar to anyone in the Arabian world! He has held Registered status with the Arabian division for over 30 years and is currently a USEF Registered judge with National Show Horse, Western, Friesian, Andalusian, Morgan and Shetland breeds, and has judged each of their National and World shows on numerous occasions. Richard is a recorded judge in the Saddlebred, Saddle Seat Equitation, Hackney and Roadster divisions with USEF. He is also a senior judge with both Miniature Horse Association – AMHA and AMHR – as well as with the Pinto Horse Association. Richard has been an invited judge throughout the U.S., Canada, Australia, New Zealand, South America, Europe and South Africa.

Graham Smith-Australia

The following information on Graham Smith is directly from the Australia Horse Society Web Page. Graham has a lifetime of horse related experiences being directly involved with Arabian and other horse related activities both as a competitor and/or committee member. He has been an AHSA National panel judge for over 25 years and is an International A list judge. He is a proud recipient of the AHSA Distinguished Service Award and is a life member of WAHO. He has bred, owned and ridden a wide range of Arabian purebred and derivative horses and has competed successfully with them at all levels across Australia. He is a judge on a number of breed panels as well as being an Equestrian Australia National Show Horse judge.

As an international judge he has become a familiar face at European, American. Middle East and United Kingdom shows (both as a judge and spectator). He has judged at some notable world class shows including the Paris World Championships, the Las Vegas Breeders Alliance World Cup and the United Kingdom’s only A class Arabian show, the UKIAHS. He also gladly gives his time to judge at smaller agricultural and Pony Club shows – he strongly believes in supporting local and regional shows as he sees these as being the backbone to our Arabian horse industry

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