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Virginia Brings Home 1998 Quarter Horse Youth World Championships in 4-H Horse Judging

Livestock Update, October 1998

Larry A. Lawrence, Extension Animal Scientist, Horses, Animal andPoultry Sciences, Virginia Tech

Virginia's State 4-H Horse Judging Teams traveled to the American Quarter Horse Youth Association's World Championship, the largest all youth event in the nation, in Fort Worth, Texas, August 14 and 15, 1998. Of the approximately seven million horses in the U.S., three million are registered Quarter Horses. This was the first time the teams competed at the World's since 1994. They were hugely successful, returning with Grand and Reserve World Championships. Virginia's Judging Team is known for its winning tradition at the Arabian Nationals. Since 1984, Virginia has concentrated on the Arabians with excellent results, winning national championships all but two years.

The state judging team is selected at the State 4-H Horse Judging Contest held in June. The team consisted of the top ten placing seniors. The 1998 teams comprised members from every corner of the state. They came from the Piedmont, the coal fields of Southwest Virginia and Northern Virginia. In the months of June and August the team traveled around Virginia and North Carolina visiting farms and horse shows. Horse industry professionals donate time and effort to the training of these young people as future judges, trainers and horse owners. During the trip 4-H members were honing their skill at judging Quarter Horses in action.

To be among the best in the nation requires a tremendous personal commitment. Horse Judging is a demanding activity. Participants must possess great discipline and determination. Literally thousands of facts must be memorized about the conformation, anatomy, gait analysis, lameness', unsoundness', and breed ideals of horses. All rules, class specifications, patterns, judging procedures and performance standards must be committed to memory before the contest. Attention to detail and precision are required at each phase. This activity is also a lesson in "thinking on your feet". After 4-Hers learn the facts they must learn to judge four horses simultaneously and rank them according to their performance as it relates to the breed standards and to the other horses and riders in the class. This is the easy part, this portion of the contest last about four hours. Then things start getting tough. The young judges must make notes on the classes. These notes are used to write a speech. Then throughout the afternoon the competitors memorize four speeches on separate classes and have to go before the official judge to defend their reasons for placing the classes the way they did. Every word must be critically chosen to covey truth and accuracy. This is the hard part!

The reasons division is where Virginia excels, five out of eight team members placed in the top ten and received awards in the speech category. The team of Nicole Long (Clark County), Cameron Nuckols (Goochland ), Jason Haynes (Lee) and Kristen Grzech (Fauquier) won the reasons division. The team of Kelly Pitts (Hanover), Jessica Artrip (Lee), Rebecca Vanderhoff (Hanover) and Emily Stowe (Clark) were 3rd in reasons. Nicole was 2nd highest placing individual in reasons, Cameron placed 4th, Jason placed 7th, Kristen placed 8th and Kelly placed 10th.

In the Halter division both Virginia teams placed in the top five. The team of Jason, Kristen, Cameron and Nicole placed 2nd. The team of Kelly, Rebecca, Jessica and Emily placed 5th. Individually Jason Haynes placed 3rd, Kelly Pitts placed 8th, and Kristen Grzech placed 10th. Cameron, Nicole and Rebecca all placed in the top 20 out of over 100 competitors representing 28 teams.

The youngest team with three out of four members in their first year on the state team placed 2nd in the performance division. Jessica Artrip placed 7th individually and Cameron, Rebecca and Kelly all placed in the top 20.

When all the scores were totaled and the final overall placings were announced Virginia was 1st and 2nd in the contest. The Grand Champion team was made up of Kelly Pitts, Rebecca Vanderhoff, Jessica Artrip and Emily Stowe. Kelly placed 6th overall and Rebecca was tied for 10th overall. This team received plaques, trophies, special jackets and World Championship belt buckles. The Reserve Champion team consisted of Cameron Nuckols, Jason Haynes, Kristen Grzech, and Nicole Long. Cameron placed 5th overall and Jason placed 9th. Six out of eight team members placed among the top 20 individuals in the contest.

The Virginia 4-H horse judging team came home to a hero's welcome from parents, coaches and supporters. It was recognition well deserved. Most of the team members have been studying horse judging since they were 9 or 10 years old. Putting in long hours under the watchful eye of local county coaches and extension agents. All but one of the coaches of this year's team members have been on previous state teams as 4-H members. Dr. Arden Huff developed the program based on a strong volunteer effort with the premise that "what you get out you put back in". The county coaches for this years team include Sharon Livsie from Hanover (also serving as a coach of the overall state team) Cheryl Nuckols from Goochland (also a state team coach), Ruth Boden from Clark, Kris Kipping from Fauquier, Lindsey Nuckols from Goochland, Andrea Weis from Hanover, and Elizabeth Rasnic from Lee county. Everyone involved in the program at the county level, the trainers, horse owners, donors, parents and 4-Hers all share in the success of this team. This is truly the result of the efforts of literally thousands of dedicated individuals.

This educational program offers so much to young people. The 4-H judging team members learn facts, learn how to organize those facts into a convincing argument and are scored on how accurate and truthful they are. Simply, they make judgements based on facts then they stand by their decisions. Not a bad lesson for life. The donors that provide the funds for this program deserve special recognition, for without their support the program would not continue.

The 1997 and 1998 contributors include: Peggy Augustus, Larry Blair, Jim Brown, Paige Burns, Fencetoppers 4-H / Sue Sprouse, Fred Campbell, Mary Garrow, Taylor E. Gore / Culpeper Farmers Cooperative, Mary Harcourt / Averett College, Dr. Arden N. Huff, Darlene Jacobson / Virginia Horse Journal, Alan Kirshner / Markel Rhulen Underwriters, Leaps & Bounds / Tamara Ketterman, Paul Mellon, Joan Moore, Timothy Mullins, Northern District 4-H Horse Council, Ernest Oare, George Ohrstrom / Ohrstrom Foundation, Nancy Peterson / Roanoke Valley Horsemans Association, Mr. & Mrs. Samuel Rogers / White Oaks Farm, the estate of Patricia Bonsall Stuart, Virginia Horse Industry Board, Virginia Horse Council, Kenneth Wheeler / Cismont Manor Farm, Lewis S. Wiley, Dave Zeller / Morven Farms

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