recently had the opportunity to “spend a day” with an incredible judge/horseman
that is retired now but still stays involved with the horse community in
“Evaluating Horses for Clients” and “giving speeches” to many associations in
the US and Canada.
The Honorable Peter Cameron was born, raised and lives in St. Catherines,
Ontario, Canada. Peter and his wife Velma have lived in the same house for 46
years. They have been married for 48 years and have four children (2 sons and 2
daughters) and four grandchildren (to keep them busy). Peter worked for TRW
full-time for 54 years - he retired in 1988. They couldn’t do without his
“personality plus” and asked him to return as a “part-time” employee - as the
Head of Security.
Peter took me on a tour of his “trophy room”, you would not believe how many
awards, statues and gifts were displayed there - more than in any awards store!
He showed me dozens of binders that were filled with Thank You cards and letters
from show managers, exhibitors, trainers and judges that he received for 36
Peter recalled an incident that happened in the 1980’s while he was judging a
show in Oklahoma City. All the while he was judging, a little white dog was
sitting/watching on the rail. Halfway through the show, Peter walked over to the
dog and showed him his judges card - the dog started wagging his tail - looks
like he “approved” of Peter’s choices!
When I was interviewing Peter, he never had a lapse of memory on who he selected
in the show ring after all these years. For instance, at the 1973 U.S. Arabian
National Championships, named “Khemosabi” National Champion Stallion. Peter
recalled “His coat was so shiny - you could see yourself in it”.
In 1998, Bert Husband (owner of Khemosabi) sent Peter a beautiful Khemo jacket -
after all these years, he never forgot Peter. Peter owns a (get this folks) a 48
year old Western Saddle and Bridle (that looks showroom new) - he bought these
when he got married.
From 1974-1980, he was the World’s Highest Rated Arabian Horse Judge. 1991-1992
he won the Arabian Horseman Award as the Judge of the Year - this was given out
on the last day of the Scottsdale Show.
He has a gun collection (no ammo) that would make all gun collectors drool over.
Such as: 1874 Sharps Sporting Caliber; 1866 Yellowboy Classic 45LC (Cochise
liked the brass); 1875 Coach Gun 12 Gauge (Doc Holliday used exact model); 1873
Winchester Caliber 45LC; 1830 Jim Bowie Knife; 1860 Henry Caliber 44-40; 1973
Colt 45LC; 1875 Remmington 44-40 and a 1875 Schofield 45LC (used by Custer).
He has Breyer Horse models of Secretariat, Khemosabi, Morgan, Appaloosa and a
Quarter Horse. Sitting in the corner of this incredible room is a statue of
“Slim Jim”. This status was painted by Peter’s good friend Shirley Arndt.
Shirley did every detail with perfection including painting wrinkles on the
pants - you have to see this to believe it!
Peter retired from judging in 1996 and the horse world lost an incredible person
and horseman. I had the opportunity after my tour to sit down and speak frankly
to Peter on the issues of today in the horse world.
What do you feel has been your most rewarding experience as a judge?
PETER: An Amateur Rider beating a Pro
Rider in the show ring.
ML: What horse or horses have you judged,
that have left the greatest impression on you?
PETER: My all-time favorite horse is “Khemosabi”.
All babies have competed in every discipline. G.S. KHOCHISE+// is
one of the Khemo babies that bears an incredible likeness to him.
Two of the many things that you are known for are your accurate and
unbiased judging. Are there any current Arabian judges, you feel best
model your example?
PETER: Joanne Crockett and Judy
ML: There are many Arabian owners that
constantly point to the political nature of today’s shows. Do you feel
it is a direct conflict of interest to allow trainers to be judges? If
so, do you believe that active trainers should not be allowed to judge?
PETER: Trainers are good and poor judges.
Favors are constantly being “paid back” at many shows. Most trainers
follow judges that will “pin them first”. There are not enough good
judges available, that is why trainers have to stay as judges.
ML: There have
been many complaints about trainers abusing horses. Recently, we have
seen David Boggs punished, first for drugging a horse and than later,
for cosmetic alterations on necks, in addition to eye tattooing. Do you
feel this is an isolated incident or do you feel it may be more
PETER: This problem is more widespread
than ever. Big-time trainers will do “anything to win” - greed plays a
big factor. But the owners are just as much to blame.
ML: IAHA has earned the reputation of
being slow to respond to the voice of the general membership. Unless
there is a way devised to get every member of IAHA a vote, how will the
status quo ever be changed?
PETER: It NEVER will! All committees have
judges or big-time owners. “Rules are changed by losers”.
ML: The Arabian World has been in a
constant downtrend. We have seen decreasing participation at Class “A”
shows, decreased breedings, decreased transfers and record low prices
for sales. Many functional Arabians are worth more as meat than they are
alive. Many blame the decline on politics and the cost of showing. What
are your feelings?
PETER: The cost of showing (drug fees,
judges fees, etc.) are out of control. For example: 2-day Quarter Horse
Show costs $90.00/show and the 2-day Arabian Show costs $350.00/show.
Arabian Shows are the most expensive than any other breed.
ML: With all the downtrends we have
experienced, the Scottsdale Show and the U.S. Nationals continue to
grow. In your opinion, what do you think has caused this?
Scottsdale is a non-qualified show and the U.S. Nationals is one “big
ML: Do you feel with the politics and
the high cost of showing in rated shows, that many Arabian owners should
consider Open Shows?
PETER: They are doing it as we speak.
Judges are “sometimes” breed conscience at Open Shows but most of them
ML: Open Shows seem like a wonderful way
to promote the versatility of the Arabian. Do you see this as a viable
alternative to promoting the breed?
horses nowadays are specialized in one discipline. Arabians make the
best Western Pleasure horses.
ML: It seems
that all breeds have their share of problems with politics, abuse, drugs
and cheating in general. The amateur who once was content with showing
on the “A” level, with no need to show any higher, has for the most
part, become increasingly extinct. Do you think an organization that
would be for amateurs only and be run as all breed Open Shows, would be
PETER: Defiantly! Amateurs and Youth
riders need a place to show. Have the Pro’s sit in the stands and get
off the rail.
ML: Do you have any “pet peeves”?
PETER: Shows that don’t send a contract
and prize list; Driver that cannot find the hotel; Shows with 80 classes
in one day; Riders that forget their numbers; Dusty arenas; Trainers
that lead their riders right up to the gate; Makeup on the horses;
Riders that stare at me in the classes; Feathers in western hats; Shiny
chaps; Two handers behind my back; Stiff equitation riders; Pro’s
coaching from the rail.
ML: If you
were empowered to effect change in the Arabian World, how would you go
PETER: I would have Arabians look like
Arabians “not artificial”. Judges need to run a different school - have
“live” horses only. Take them to a show and have them judge a class - no
videos anymore. We can’t afford (1) poor judge - everyone has to be
End of Interview Part I