Let equine students be the judge

May 12th, 2016 | SMWC

(L to R) Stephanie McIntyre, Greensburg, Ind.; Bethany Zajac, Fort Wayne, Ind.; Ashley Koomler, Grail, Ind.; Susannah Eckert, Palestine, Ill.; Kendall Dudenhoeffer, Velpen, Ind.; Sarah Hardin, Anderson, Ind.; Jeannie Andrew, Bloomfield, Ind.

Saint Mary-of-the-Woods College (SMWC) students had the opportunity to experience an equine contest from the other side of the table – as judges. A group of seven SMWC students enrolled in the new horse judging class at The Woods traveled to Gainesville, Texas, to compete in the National Horse Judging Team Coaches’ Association Spring Contest. SMWC placed 9th out of 25 teams in the judging contest, which took place at North Central Texas College.

“Horse judging provides students a unique opportunity to not only experience different types of riding and learn the criteria by which they are judged, but also to apply those criteria to classes and become more confident in articulating their opinions,” stated Tabatha Taylor, SMWC instructor and hunt seat coach. “It is a mentally stressful exercise that allows students to develop their critical thinking and public speaking skills while watching an animal that they love.”

The Spring Contest acts as an introduction to collegiate horse judging for college judging programs across the nation. During the trip, students experienced the American Quarter Horse Association (AQHA) Level 1 Championships, a nationally recognized show, and toured 7 different horse farms between Oklahoma City and Whitesboro, Texas.

At the contest, students judged eight classes and gave four sets of oral reasons in defense of their placings. The students judged Trail, Western Pleasure, Western Horsemanship, Ranch Riding, Hunter Under Saddle and three Conformation classes.

“We are so proud of our students for earning a top ten placing at our initial contest,” stated Taylor. “Most programs that were in attendance have a longstanding and well developed horse judging program. Our presence at the contest was awesome because it allowed a large group of people to become familiar with SMWC and our students for the first time.”

SMWC student, Sarah Hardin, from Anderson, Ind., was ranked 21st overall and was SMWC’s highest ranked individual.

“Being able to compete with individuals that have been judging for years and to rank as high as I did, just shows that hard work and dedication can really pay off,” said Hardin. “Getting the opportunity to travel to all the equine facilities helped me to develop a better eye for what I need to look for. I learned so much more about judging just in the few days that we were there.”