Youth News

Test Your Judging Knowledge

November 6, 2009

Try your hand at placing a class of horses and giving reasons.

OSU at the judging banquet in 2008

OSU judging team from World Show 2008

Believe it or not, it’s that time of the year again — the AQHA World Championship  Show!

One of the main events for youth at the World Show is the judging contest. Amid the practice, practice, practice in Oklahoma City, you’ll find an impressive set of young judges emerging into the horse world.

To continue the fun of the competition, we want to see how good at horse judging you might be.

Read the quick guide to reasons below, and then try your hand at placing a class! Give us some quick reasons why you placed the horses the way you did, and if we agree with your findings, we’ll give you credit in a future Youth News post and send you a Junior Master Horseman miniature beach ball, AQHYA magnet and a pencil!

Developing a set of reasons

From AQHA’s Competitive Horse Judging Manual

The ability to forcefully present reasons clearly is an absolute necessity to being an effective judge. Further, it is essential to absorb and retain a mental image of the good and the bad points of the animal. These attributes come only with practice, time and experience. Reasons are scored from 0 to 50. Seventy-five percent of the score is based upon accuracy; 25 percent is based upon oral interpretation.

Three points critical for obtaining a high reasons score are:

  1. You must speak with conviction.
  2. Your reasons must be grammatically correct.
  3. Reasons must be presented in two minutes or less.

Reasons can be divided into five basic parts:

  1. Opening statement — This is the first impression the official has of the judge’s speaking ability. In the opening statement, the judge should tell something obvious and/or briefly summarize the class.
  2. Comparisons – Judges give reasons to justify their placing of one animal over another. Therefore, comparisons between pairs will constitute the bulk of a set of reasons. Each class is placed on a positive evaluation of three to five main points. Include each of these points in your comparisons. Again, keep reasons fundamental.
  3. Grants — Grants give credit to an inferior animal in the areas where it surpassed the higher placing animal.
  4. Criticisms — Criticisms are utilized to describe an animal’s faults as they relate to the ideal. They are used in the body of the reasons only if a problem cannot be described by grants and comparisons.
  5. Transitions — The most often neglected part of a set of reasons is the transitional terms. Transitions are the words or phrases that make reasons flow. Almost everyone uses terms such as “furthermore” and “in addition.” Use transitions that are unique.

Taking notes on a class

In competitive judging, students are often required to give reasons several hours after they placed a class. Under these circumstances, it is necessary for the student to take notes as they judge. These notes can be used in preparation, but cannot be used during the presentation.

It is generally helpful for the beginner to include in the notes something unique, which might help to visualize the class later.

  1. Green halter
  2. Bay with star and snip
  3. Handler wore red blouse
  4. Solid black

Crazy about horses? Test your knowledge with AQHA’s Junior Master Horseman program. You can even earn certificates!

It is always important to write your order of placing at the top of each page. Be certain this agrees with the placing on the card turned into the officials. After the placing, describe in your notes the distinguishing characteristics of each animal. The major reason why the first-placed animal started the class should be recorded next. Factors of major importance should be listed first.

In placing a class of four animals, there are three pairs. For example, in a placing, 1-2-3-4, 1-2 are the top pair, 2-3 are the middle pair, and 3-4 are the bottom pair. Thus, the next step is to list reasons why 1 was placed over 2. These should be listed in order of importance. In discussing the bottom-placed animal, it is necessary to list the main reasons for placing the animal at the bottom of the class.

An example set of reasons:

Sir, I placed this class of halter geldings 4-3-1-2.

In this class, I found there to be an easy top pair with a dominating top horse and an obvious bottom pair.

I started this class with a top pair of 4 over 3. It was the bay horse that easily won the class today. He was the boldest mover with the longest stride. He was the heaviest muscled of the class and showed the best conformation, as well as breed type. He was the most structurally correct horse in the class, as he was level over his top line as well as through his rear legs.

I do realize that the No. 3 red horse had the cleanest throat latch and trimmest neck of the class and possessed equal conformation to 4. However, he lacked the power that 4 demonstrated and was smaller boned, putting him at the bottom of the top pair.

I appreciate 1 for having a cleaner neck tying into the shoulder with better conformation than 2. He was also more correct and level from poll to wither to croup, making him more structurally sound and better conformed.

I did notice that the number 2 horse had a good amount of muscling through his hip, as well as his shoulders. Nevertheless, he must be last as he is the most badly structured, demonstrating sickle-hocked rear legs, short stride and restricted movement, therefore lacking good conformation.

For these reasons, I placed this class of halter geldings 4-3-1-2.

Think you know it all?

Now try your hand at placing a couple of horses.

Send your placing and your reasons to AQHYA’s Ande Parlow, and if we agree with you, we’ll send you back a Junior Master Horseman beach ball, AQHYA magnet and a pencil! Have fun!

horse number 1

Horse No. 1

Horse Number 2

Horse No. 2