Peter Cameron is a very good judge of horses, perhaps the all-time best in the United States. He would have been hard pressed to last nearly fifty years in the show ring and manage 25 judging cards if he wasn’t particularly good at his job. He began his career with horses as a trainer and exhibitor but got his start as a judge quite by accident.
“We had a farm when I was a kid,” Peter says. “My mother was a rider and I had a pony. When I was a young man I started training a few horses and one weekend I was at a horse show in Hamilton, Ontario. The judge had gotten into an automobile accident en route to the show, so the exhibitors got together, put everybody’s name in a hat, and drew one. Guess whose name was drawn? I really enjoyed judging that show and that was the beginning for me. Over the years I’ve been able to see and touch all of the best horses. I flew somewhere to judge every weekend, got home Sunday night and went back to work Monday morning. I learned something from every breed of horse I judged.”
Eventually Peter Cameron judged all the major horse breeds in America and all of their national shows. He developed a judging system that rarely included notes, and a way of evaluating horses that reflects his integrity, style and appreciation for horses and people.
“I want a horse to be a good mover,” Cameron notes. “I judge their movement first, then their attitude and then type. I like comparative judging and I always lined my horses up in front of the spectators so that they could see why I made my choices. My advice to judges is to entertain the crowd, talk to the exhibitors, especially the children, and don’t converse with the other judges between classes. Nobody likes it, whether it’s completely innocent or not!”
“I thoroughly enjoyed doing the Varian Clinic last summer,” Peter says. “There was no pressure on people to buy. Sheila’s staff is unbelievable … laid back and friendly. There were about 350 people attending the Varian Summer Jubilee and everyone had a wonderful time, including me. It’s great to see people enjoying themselves. People don’t seem to have much fun at the horse shows anymore. It’s particularly unfortunate the way the kids relate to the horses at the shows. The trainers do everything for them and the young people never look after their own horses anymore. Riders are not horsemen. There is a difference. This is one of the reasons I enjoy the Arabian Sport Horse Nationals so much. There are people exhibiting at that show who train and show their own horses. Everybody seems happier, including the horses.”
Peter commented on those things he dislikes about the show ring: oil and grease on the horses’ faces, tails that drag on the ground, six-inch bridle paths, clipped ears, balding and shaved faces. “I did not see any of that at Sheila’s clinic,” Peter muses. “The manes and tails were all natural!”
Peter Cameron was named to the Arabian Hall of Fame as a Judge in the early 1990’s. At 84, after 46 years of judging and almost 900 horse shows, Peter Cameron is no longer judging or accepting speaking engagements. These days he is what he likes to call a “Professional Horse Show Critic” attending between 15 and 20 horse shows annually and visiting with horsemen and old friends. “I go to the Quarter Horse Congress, some Morgan shows, the Ohio Buckeye show and the Egyptian Event. I still like the Arabian breed best of all.”