Before I came to college, I had absolutely no idea that collegiate horse judging was a thing. I am so so so SO glad I found it! Horse judging has helped me become a better horsewoman for many different reasons, but I also developed great public speaking skills and overall, be more confident.
Horse judging is exactly what it sounds like. You are on a team of girls (sometimes guys…but hardly ever) and you get to judge a class of horses in a discipline (in my case, it was for AQHA shows). Not only do you practice your conformation skills or your ability to seek out the best overall horse, but you also need to give a speech, AKA “reasons,” about why you placed the class you just saw.
When I first started judging, I hated speaking in front of people. I hated having the attention on me and speeches in front of the class were the worst things ever, even if it was something I’m comfortable with. The reason I started judging was because I wanted to learn how to be a better horsewoman and better develop my eye for picking out a really great horse. Not only am I adept in horse conformation and movement, I gained so much more.
Now, the reason I keep judging is because I want to be the best judger out there, but I also want to feel comfortable enough explaining why I chose the placing I did. I love that horse judging has made me more confident in speaking my mind! I love that I can look at different horses and know why a horse that has a steeper shoulder will have a rougher topline and potentially other balance and structural issues. I love knowing what an ideal reiner or trail horse or western riding horse should look like. I also love that I know how to transition between sentences and topics when explaining things so that I can make fluid arguments.
I will admit that I think every horse person that is serious about riding should take a judging class. It helps you understand what makes a horse great and helps you pick out the serious flaws in others. It makes you a better rider, a better trainer, and an overall better horse person.
Still interested? I would recommend horse judging to anyone and everyone! It is so fun and so rewarding. If anyone is genuinely interested, I would say to contact your school to see if they have a team, or visit http://horseandrider.com/article/more-on-collegiate-horse-judging-13360 to learn more about a horse judging team from a coach’s perspective. Or, you can talk to me by filling out the handy dandy form on the contact page.