Travel Recap

AQHA World Championship Show Collegiate Horse Judging Contest

December 2017
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Oklahoma City, Oklahoma – November 11-13, 2017

Submitted by: Lonna Holland, Horseman’s Association Graduate Student Advisor

AQHA (American Quarter Horse Association) horse judging/evaluation is an activity that students can join at a beginner level in a local 4H program, high school level via the FFA Chapter and even collegiate with a participating university. Students/team members first learn the anatomy and physiology of the horse, and then learn to apply that knowledge in selecting a horse that would excel in a given performance event, based on movement, conformation, and other characteristics. The purpose of this is to not only prepare to be future judges, but also, to learn how to make a logical decision and defend it. At the AQHA World Championship Show Judging Contest, the SHSU Horse Judging team was able to compete against other universities and junior colleges to test their selection and evaluation skills. The contest consisted of 12 classes, which were broken up into 8 performances of 4 “halters” with 4 horses competing in each set. Performance classes consist of events in which the hosting association participates. A few examples include: Western Pleasure, Working Cow Horse, Hunter Under Saddle, and Trail. Halters is simply when horses are shown and judged based on the following characteristics: conformation, breed, and sex. The teams compare the 4 horses for each class and place them based on which is more ideal for that particular performance/halter class. They take descriptive notes and turn in their placement decision for each class, within the time allotted. After the last class, the official judge announced which classes the contestants will have to explain their decision-making. It is basically a formal presentation justifying why they placed the class the way they did. This is also scored like the performance classes. At the end, the total scores are calculated and placed in order by team and also individual ranks. The overall purpose of this event was to have the team compete in their first collegiate level contest after all of the hard work they have put into preparing for it. One of the students from SHSU placed 11th individual overall, which is a huge accomplishment considering she is a freshman, and it was her first contest. The team also did great presenting their first set of “reasons,” which is a nerve-racking first experience.

There are countless amounts of benefits gained from horse judging from both a personal and scientific perspective. This was the team’s first contest at the collegiate level, so they have a feel for the environment in the intercollegiate division, and can better prepare for future contests. Participants discovered their strengths and weaknesses as a team and realized what areas they need to work on. Some of the benefits of attending AQHA include: equine anatomy, conformation and kinetics, team building and defending their decision in a formal setting. Participants also had to think on their feet and explain their decision-making confidently through a presentation.

According to Lonna Holland, Horseman’s Association Graduate Student Advisor, “I benefitted from being a member of the horse judging team. I gained confidence in my decision-making, and I am honored to coach our team by sharing this knowledge, and being a part of their learning experience.”

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