Virginia Tech Horse Judging Team competes in two national competitions

Football games may dominate the fall social calendar for many Hokies but not the Virginia Tech Horse Judging Team. This past fall, eight students came together to prepare for two national competitions.

Pictured from left: Stevie Williams, Hanna Bartnick, Lexy Golub, Harleigh Humphries, Taylor Franzreb, Rachel Bell, Hannah McDonald, Rachel Owens, and Julia McCann, coach

Pictured from left: Stevie Williams, Hanna Bartnick, Lexy Golub, Harleigh Humphries, Taylor Franzreb, Rachel Bell, Hannah McDonald, Rachel Owens, and Julia McCann, coach

This team of students made the extra commitment to learn the criteria for conformation and performance judging of 12 different events in the quarter horse judging contests. In addition to the challenges of judging everything from hunter under saddle to ranch riding, equitation, reining, and calf tie down, students became very competent in the delivery of oral reasons, a competition category where students orally defend their class placings to a judge and are scored on their accuracy and quality of delivery.

Judging in the limited division at the Ohio Quarter Horse Contest in Columbus, Ohio were Taylor Franzreb of Navesink, New Jersey; Lexy Golub of Leesburg, Virginia; Harleigh Humphries of Middleburg, Virginia; and Stevie Williams of Centreville, Virginia. The limited division competitors judge the full slate of classes but give fewer oral reasons than competitors in the senior team division. Competitors in the limited division only compete for individual awards. Lexy and Harleigh tied for fifth overall in the limited division. Both Stevie and Lexy placed in the top ten individuals in performance and reasons while Taylor was tenth in reasons.

From left: Hannah McDonald, Rachel Bell, Hanna Bartnick, Rachel Owens, and Julia McCann, coach

From left: Hannah McDonald, Rachel Bell, Hanna Bartnick, Rachel Owens, and Julia McCann, coach

Stepping up to the senior team division this year were Hanna Bartnick of Roanoke, Virginia; Rachel Bell of Falls Church, Virginia; Hannah McDonald of Cross Junction, Virginia; and Rachel Owens of Virginia Beach, Virginia. After five sets of reasons at the Congress, Rachel Bell placed eighth in performance judging and the others finished just under the top ten placings to push the team scores into the top five. Virginia Tech placed fourth in halter judging, fifth in performance, sixth in reasons, and tied for fourth overall in the contest with Oklahoma State University and Texas A & M University. The contest was won by West Texas A & M University and Mississippi State was reserve with seventeen full teams in the contest.

Encouraged by the strong team finish at the Congress, the senior team wanted one more contest. In the first Hokie appearance at the AQHA World Horse Show in Oklahoma City in recent history, the girls prepared to judge additional cattle classes including calf roping, heading, and working cow horse. And the merits of working together as a team once again proved to be a successful approach to this ultimate contest. The Hokies were led by Hannah McDonald’s individual ninth place in performance judging along with Hanna Bartnick in the eleventh spot. The team was proud to take home team honors that included fifth in performance judging and fifth overall in the contest. Oklahoma State won the contest followed by West Texas A & M, Mississippi State, and Colorado State. Sixteen teams competed.

Julia McCann in the Department of Animal and Poultry Sciences teaches the equine evaluation classes and coaches the horse judging team. The team is grateful for the support of the department and many industry professionals who shared their time, horses, and expertise. The fall the team valued time with Mik Jennings, Steve Meadows, Rick Baker, Kyle Hughes, Debra Wright, Will Knabenshue, and Heather Young. Team travels are possible because of the financial support provided by the Pat Stuart funds that make many equine opportunities possible for the undergraduates in the growing equine program.

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