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Virginia State Horse Judging Team 2004

Livestock Update, December 2004

Yvonne S. Miller, Co-Coach

Virginia State 4-H Horse Judging Teams ended a successful season of competition. Membership of this elite team was selected at the State 4-H Horse Judging Contest held in May. The eight team members included: Jessica Buchanan of Botetourt County; Maggie Gregg of Virginia Beach; Josh McCann of Giles County; Leighann Smith of Hanover; and Chad Funkhouser, Danielle Minnick, Marilea Showalter, and Allison Stefancin of Rockingham County.

Practices began in June and continued into July. Thousands of facts must be memorized about the conformation, anatomy, gait analysis, lameness and breed ideals in preparation for each training trip. Each practice is an intense review of everything learned on the county level. All class specifications, rules, judging procedures, class patterns and performance standards must be committed to memory for multiple breeds before each contest.

Attention to detail and precision while thinking on your feet, are required at each phase. During the contest, 4-H'ers place classes at the same time official judges place classes. The placing of the 4-H'ers are compared with officials and scores are given on their proximity. The class judging takes about four hours, then, in the afternoon the young judges defend their placings to the official judges in a speech they must give without notes. This is the Oral Reasons phase of a contest. In four separate reasons on different classes, 4-H'ers defend their placings and are scored for accuracy, organization, terms, content and presentation style. Each word must be critically selected to convey truth and accuracy.

The Virginia State 4-H Horse Judging Teams competed at the American Quarter Horse Youth Association World Championship Horse Judging Contest held August 5, in Fort Worth Texas. A total of 25 teams competed in the 4-H division.

The Quarter Horse Contest was comprised of four halter and four performance classes. The halter classes included: Aged Geldings, Three Year Old Geldings, Yearling Mares and Mares. The performance classes included: Western Pleasure, Reining, Western Riding, and Hunter Under Saddle.

Members of the Virginia A Team included: Chad Funkhouser, Maggie Gregg, Marilea Showalter, and Allison Stefancin. This team placed third in Halter.

Members of the Virginia B Team included: Jessica Buchanan, Josh McCann, Danielle Minnick, and Leighann Smith. This team placed third in Reasons, fourth in Halter, fourth in Performance, and fourth overall.

Several team members earned individual recognition. Josh McCann earned sixth in Halter, and eighth Overall. Marilea Showalter placed eighth in Halter. Allison Stefancin placed fourth in Halter. Jessica Buchanan placed first in Performance, second in Reason, and first Overall earning a leather jacket, a scholarship, a trophy, and a champion belt buckle.

While in Texas preparing for the Quarter Horse Contest, the Virginia Teams visited several horse farms. Northwind Ranch, the Brass Ring, and Valor Farm provided a tour of their facilities. Edgewood/Lanning, Turner Ranch, and McMillian Quarter Horses presented horses and discussed Halter type of the Quarter Horse with the team.

Before returning home from Texas, the team did a little sight seeing which included a stop by the Texas Motor Speedway, toured the Cowgirl Hall of Fame, and visited the famous Forth Worth Stockyards. The team enjoyed a lunch at the famous Clark Restaurant and watched a rodeo at Cow Town Coliseum.

(Left to right: Yvonne Miller, Jessica Buchanan, Josh McCann, Leighann Smith, Danielle Minnick, Maggie Greeg, Chad Funkhouser, Allison Stefancin, Marilea Showalter, and Andrea Weis.)

The second contest of the year was at the 34th Annual International Arabian Horse Judging Contest held October 15, in Louisville Kentucky. Fifteen teams competed in the 4-H division of the contest. Each year, winners divide over $10,000 in generously donated scholarships, saddles, boots, ribbons, trophies, books, jewelry, and gifts.

The Arabian contest was comprised of four halter and six performance classes. The halter classes included: Purebred Mares, Purebred Geldings, Half Arabian Gelding Saddle Pleasure Type, and Half Arabian Mares Saddle Pleasure Type. The performance Classes included: Hunter Pleasure, Hunt Seat Equitation, Western Pleasure, Western Horsemanship, Country English Pleasure, and Reining.

Members of the Virginia A Team included: Maggie Gregg, Danielle Minnick, Leighann Smith, and Allison Stefancin. This team placed second in Halter, fifth in Performance, first in Reasons, and first Overall earning them the title of National Champions. Each member of this team took home a $250 scholarship.

Members of the Virginia B Team included: Jessica Buchanan, Chad Funkhouser, Josh McCann, and Marilea Showalter. This team placed second in Halter, third in Performance, second in Reasons, and second Overall earning them the title of Reserve National Champions.

Virginia team members also earned individual recognition. Jessica Buchanan placed seventh in Reasons, and tenth Overall. Chad Funkhouser placed eighth in Halter, eighth in Performance, fifth in Reasons, and sixth Overall. Maggie Gregg placed fifth in Halter, placed fourth in Performance, tenth in Reasons, and fourth Overall. Josh McCann placed seventh in Halter, and ninth Overall. Danielle Minnick placed tenth in Halter, and first in Reasons. Marilea Showalter tied with her teammate in Halter and once the tie was broken placed eleventh in Halter. Leighann Smith placed third in Halter, seventh in Performance, third in Reasons, and third Overall. Allison Stefancin placed fourth in Halter, and eighth in Reasons.

The team used the Arabian Region 15 Horse Show and the Virginia Arabian Horse Association District IV Show as practice shows in order to prepare for the National Contest. At one of these shows, Donnie Bullock a carded Arabian Judge, graciously spent time talking the team through various halter and performance classes.

While in Kentucky, the team visited several horse related facilities. The team watched breezing early one morning at Keenland Race Track. The team also toured Shadwell Farm, Windstar Farm, and Three Chimneys.

(Sitting left to right: Yvonne Miller, Marilea Showalter, Danielle Minnick, Jessica Buchanan, Andrea Weis.
Standing left to right: Leighann Smith, Allison Stefancin, Maggie Gregg, Josh McCann, Chad Funkhouser.)

Finishing up the year, the team competed at the Eastern National 4-H Horse Round-up Judging Contest held November 6, in Louisville Kentucky. Twenty-three state teams participated in this year's contest.

This contest was comprised of four halter and four performance classes. The halter classes included: Hunters in Hand, two classes of Stock Type Geldings, and Stock Type Mares. The performances classes included: Hunter Under Saddle, Plantation Pleasure, Western Pleasure and Horsemanship.

In team competition the Virginia team placed third in Halter, fourth in Performance, second in Reasons, and third Overall. Team members included: Jessica Buchanan, Chad Funkhouser, Josh McCann, and Allison Stefancin.

Virginia team members also earned individual recognition. Jessica Buchanan placed fifth in Reasons. Chad Funkhouser placed third in Performance, tenth in Reasons, and fifth Overall. Josh McCann placed fourth in Reasons.

Each state may only send one four-man team to the Round-up competition. Once a 4-H'er has competed at this contest, they are no longer eligible to compete in any 4-H Horse Judging Contest. These four members have achieved many honors at the county, state, regional and national levels in 4-H. All four of these members hope to continue their judging training, help with the coaching of their county teams, and begin judging open horse shows. They also posses the ultimate goal of some day becoming licensed carded horse show judges and recognized leaders in the Virginia horse industry.

Sitting left to right: Josh McCann, Jessica Buchanan, Allison Stefancin, Chad Funkhouser.
Standing left to right: Andrea Weis and Yvonne Miller.

The 4-H Horse Judging Program in Virginia has a long tradition of excellence. The 2004 team members displayed talent, dedication, willingness and hard work throughout the entire season. This education program works because of the effort of 4-H leaders and extension agents. The county coaches for this years team include: Lucy Grubbs from Botetourt County, Dr. Julia McCann from Giles County, Andrea Weis from Hanover County, Yvonne Miller from Rockingham County, and M. Jaye Keplar from Virginia Beach.

Due to the continued vacancy in the Extension Horse Specialist position, Andrea Weis and Yvonne Miller willingly accepted the coaching responsibilities. This was their third year serving as volunteer coaches for the VA State Horse Judging Team. Together they planned and conducted educational practices, coordinated travel, and coached the teams for the 2004 season. They gave unselfishly serving on a total volunteer bases. Their dedicated leadership involved countless hours away from their families, horses, and work so that the state team could continue competing at national levels. Both Weis and Miller are former members of successful Virginia State 4-H Horse Judging Teams. Weis and Miller have continued to further their judging knowledge through advanced training and now judge open horse shows throughout the state. Miller is even a card holding judge with the Pony of Americas Club.

The judging program is made possible by generous donations from leaders and supporters in the Virginia Horse Community. The donors for this year include: Turner Ashby Young Farmers; Sidney and Donna Hinkley; Sandra Vandevander; W. J. Miller, PC; Twin State Barber and Beauty Supply, Inc.; Steven H. Fairchild, Ph.D.; Rockingham Cooperative; Shane's H-V, Inc.; G & M Sales of Virginia, Inc.; LD & B Insurance Agency; Shenandoah Valley Electric; R.S. Monger and Sons, Inc.; Clyde Pugh; Wynco; Mrs. Newman; Colonial Optical; and Shenandoah Valley Livestock. Plus the support of all who purchased raffle tickets to help fund a portion of the Arabian National trip.

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