WWU to Present Third Annual 4-H/FFA Horse Judging Clinic

Horse-crazy youths from around Missouri will gather at the William Woods University stables Feb. 13 for an afternoon of learning and fun as part of the third annual WWU 4-H and FFA Judging Clinic.


The WWU Intercollegiate Judging Team and their coach, Jennie Petterson, equestrian science instructor, will conduct the workshop to teach youngsters the basics of judging equestrian competitions.


The William Woods Judging Team knows a thing or two about competitions. Teams from WWU were named the 2006 U.S. National Champion Sr. Collegiate Judging Team and the 2009 Morgan Grand National World Champion Judging Team.


The clinic will offer participants the opportunity to gain knowledge about judging different breeds, such as Arabians, Morgans, Quarter Horses, Thoroughbreds and American Saddlebreds, and disciplines such as hunt seat, western and saddle seat.


Designed specifically for 4-H and FFA horse-judging competitors, the clinic will give participants examples and explanations of ideal conformation and performance before being given the chance to apply this knowledge by judging four classes (two halter classes and two performance classes).


The clinic will begin at 10 a.m., with a workshop on judging halter, followed by a workshop on judging Western Pleasure and Hunter Under Saddle. A workshop on Oral Reasons will take place from 11:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. This will include overall procedure, structure and methods of practicing reasons.


Lunch break will be from 12:30 to 1:30 p.m., with both a concession stand and tours of the stables available. Application of the knowledge learned will be from 1:30 to 3 p.m. with the practice contest, followed by an Optional Oral Reasons Practice at 3 p.m. This final optional session will give participants the chance to give one or two sets of oral reasons to collegiate competitors for practice.


Petterson noted that this clinic is very helpful to 4-H and FFA leaders, as they often don’t have access to the number of horses and riders that WWU has. For students without access to clinics, their first chance at judging a large group of horses will be at the actual competition.                            


“Competitive judging requires you to make a timely, efficient analysis of the horses in the ring, and then to accurately and clearly explain why you placed the class the way that you did. The more you study and practice, the better you get as a competitor,” said Petterson.


Approximately 40 William Woods University horses will be used in the event, and 50 students from all seats will assist in keeping the clinic running smoothly. Student coordinators are members of the Senior Intercollegiate Judging Team: Caitlin Ferguson of Las Cruces, N.M.; Heather Sim of Vernon Hills, Ill., and Isabelle Hilgers of Warrenville, Ill.


“Our major goal is to help 4-H and FFA teams from around the state advance their knowledge of judging contests, as well as their skills in judging and placing contest quality classes of horses,” said Ferguson. “One of our favorite parts of conducting the clinic ever year is the response we get from the kids and coaches alike.”


Sim added, “I hope that our third installation of this clinic can give all the participants a better understanding on what to look for and make them more competitive and comfortable judging their next contest. It is also a great opportunity for our wonderful facility and program to be on display for people who have never seen it before.”


Petterson views the clinic as a chance for WWU students to pass along their knowledge and impact the community in a positive way.


“William Woods has a very successful collegiate judging team, and it gives those students a chance to teach what they have learned. My applied western students have the chance to help the younger horse enthusiasts in our community. Volunteering with 4-H, FFA or Pony Club is a fantastic way to share your knowledge and passion for horses with the upcoming crop of horsemen and women.”


In conjunction with the clinic, the Western Show Team will sponsor its second annual Tack Swap & Shop. Students will sell tack, show clothes and other horse-related items. Western Show Team President Amanda Seitter, a sophomore from Peculiar, Mo., is hoping this year’s sale will be even larger than last year.


“Last year’s sale went really well and quite a few items were sold. FFA kids are always looking for new stuff, so they help make this sale successful!”


The event will take place in the UPHA Arena, and it is free and open to the public. For more information on the clinic, contact Jennie Petterson at (573) 592-1102 or at jennie.petterson@williamwoods.edu.