University of Wisconsin-River Falls

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Jan. 16, 2004


UW-RF Students Excel on Horse Judging Team
By Sarah Matara
UW-RF News Bureau

The UW-River Falls equine judging team may have been relatively unknown a few years ago, but with hard work and perseverance, its members have become top competitors in less than a year.

UW-RF finished fifth at the most prestigious judging competition in the country, the Quarter Horse World Championship in Oklahoma City.

The team also finished second at the National Reining Horse Futurity in Oklahoma City, with three students placing in the top 10: Senior Rhea Bretl, an animal science major from Appleton; graduate Jess Montour, an animal science major from Shawano; and senior Trisha Keller, an animal science major from Hartland. Other team members include junior Ted Chapman, a business administration major from Stillwater, Minn., and senior Bree Ann Burgy, an animal science major from Eagle River.

UW-RF equine instruction Assistant Professor Kristina Hiney said she is proud to have taken an unknown team in the world of horse judging and made it competitive with the top teams in the country.

"Most of these teams have very established programs where they recruit students out of junior colleges or from 4-H teams to come to that university for the purpose of being on the judging team. We practiced for three months and finished in the top with the students who have been judging for years. To me, that is a huge accomplishment," Hiney said.

The team is actually part of an animal science class titled Advance Equine Evaluation. This was the first year UW-RF students received credit for their judging efforts.

Students travel to competitions across the country to test their ability to evaluate horses. This year, the team took part in three contests: two in Oklahoma and one in Columbus, Ohio.

Hiney said students come from all over the United States to the competitions. UW-RF competed with schools from Oklahoma, Texas, Michigan, Oregon, Wyoming and Florida.

At a competition, students observe 12 classes of four horses each. They have to rank the horses according to their performances, or what the horses did, and conformation, or how the horses look. They then turn in cards with their placings after each class. How the students rank the horses is compared with the ranking of a panel of expert judges. The students are expected to place the horses similarly to the judges.

After the placing part of the competition, students prepare a set of oral reasons for selected classes. The students individually present their reasoning of why they placed each horse the way they did in a two-minute presentation. The students are judged on their use of correct terminology and overall oral performance, including voice tone and inflection. The oral reasons judge then gives the students a score for the set of reasons they just performed.

Although UW-RF had a judging team for many years, this was the first year a concerted effort participate in national competitions and to do well in them.

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