Test Your Judging Knowledge

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

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

31 thoughts on “Test Your Judging Knowledge”

  1. in this gelding pair i plcaed the palomino gelding over the sorrel gelding. the palomino was thick in his muscling especially over his point of shoulder. he was correctly structured and well balanced. he had a decent sized gaskin and was level across his top. the sorrell was heavily muscled was a smaller boned gelding and had a higher hip which i will admit may help him in the riding process. but for overall structure i’d say the winner between these two is the Palomino

  2. in this pair of geldings i would have to place horse 2-the palamino- over horse 1-The sorrel. Horse 2 broke more evenly in to 3 parts and had more quality and quantity of muscle especially in the front. Horse 1 tied in higher and clener from the neck to the shoulder and appeared to be stronger over the top. But 1 was unevenly muscled having excessive muscle in the front and almost none in the rear. 1 also is smaller boned and clearly not as high quality of a horse as 2. so-in my opinion- the palamino gelding takes this halter class

  3. the sorrel had good muscles in the back leg. alittle skiny in the stomach. but the rest was good. the pal horse had a nice shiney coat and good muscles

  4. I placed the palomino gelding (horse 2) over the sorral gelding (horse 1). The Palomino is more balanced all the way around were the sorral has a larger front end and a weak hind in. The palomino also has a nice head and neck. Which all fits in to the over all look and conformation of the horse. The sorral has a nice front end but the hind end is so weak that really stands out. The palomino also has more width to his front and hind end. So over all the palomino takes it home.

  5. I place todays class of quater horse guilding 2, 1. I placed 2 the palimino at the top of the class for he dominated it in relation to heavy muscling, structural correctness and over balance. He was extremely well balanced guilding easlt divided into thirds having a more desirable slope to the soldiar, being neater and sharper at the withers thus giving him a shorter, stronger back in relation to a longer more athletic underline. Though I did critisize him for not carrying enough ripple and bulge of muscling from end to end. Fallowing the number the number 2 horse 1 the sarrow for he showed few obviouse grants, being low backed, weaked loined and high hipped. While he lacked presence, quailty, balance and comformation. For these reasons I place todays class 2,1.

  6. I placed today’s class of Geldings 2-1. I placed the palomino at the top, because of his balance and conformation. He also had a nice underline and had a large amount of muscle. His short, strong back really struck me. His shoulder and barrel was considerably better then the sorrel. I was expecting to see more balance and structure from the sorrel. His conformation wasn’t the neatest, but I did see how neat his head and neck was. His head and neck was well balanced and combined, I was just expecting to see a better overall balance and conformation. For these reasons I placed today’s class of Gelding 2-1.

  7. In this gelding pair I place 2 over 1. I placed the Palomino top because it has a well developed shoulder, arm and chest. There is acceptional muscling in these three areas. 1 has strong withers and the ideal back.The Rump has more of a rounded shape when compared to the Sorrel. Overall the Palomino is more proportional. Granted the Sorrel has the ideal neck.

  8. Hello, my name is Corbin Jeffries and im representing the Henry County FFA Chapter. I placed this class of Geldings 2-1. I place the palomino first because he had over all more balanced and more muscular. His croup is good and he had a strong top-line. Granted 1 has a more ideal head. Again I placed this class of Geldings 2-1. Thanks

  9. Hello my name is Jessica Holcomb and I’m proudly representing the Henry County FFA Chapter.I placed today’s class of Gelding 2 to 1. I placed 2 over 1 because 2 looks more balanced and more muscular in the chest and shoulders. Also, 2 has a strong top line. Granted one has a more ideal head. This is why i placed todays class of Gelding 2 to 1. Thank you!

  10. Hello, My name is Haley Bramblett i am representing the Henry County FFA Chapter. I placed todays class of Geldings 2 to 1. i placed 2 over 1 because 2 looks more balanced and more muscular in the chest and shoulders. Also, 2 has a strong top line. Granted 1 has a more ideal head. This is why i pleced todays class of Geldings 2 to 1. Thanks

  11. horse number 2 is more body fat then muscle granted horse 1 has muscle and very good posture and has good muscles so i place this class of horses 1,2 horse #2 has good posture.

  12. i placed this class of geledings 2-1. i placed the palomino over the sorrel gelding because he has ideal muscling throughout his topline, and bottom line. he had ideal balance and was proportioned well. granted the 1 had more defined muscularity.

  13. I place the horses in the category of 2/1 Mainly because horse one has such a nice flank. Granted 1 has nice ears.

  14. I placed todays class 2-1 because number 1 is overly musceled and number 2 is equaly mucceld, and number 2 has a ideal head

  15. horse no. 1 has a straighter back and is closer to the same with the withers and is more muscular granted horse no. 2 has a closer to ideal neck. i place horse no. 1 over horse no. 2

  16. Hey Hey, my name is Chasitee Lawson. I am representing the Henry County Chapter. I place this class of Geldings 2-1. I place 2 over 1 because the Palomino has great body structure and much more muscle. 1 is much more skinny, and does have great balance. Also, 1 needs more confirmation than faults. And, for my reasons this is why i place this class of Geldings 2-1. (:

  17. I placed this class of Geldings 2-1. 2 has better muscle tone than 1 and No.2 also has a straighter back and better balance.So that is why I placed geldings 2-1

  18. Hello, my name is Cody Ruth i am representing the Henry County FFA Chapter. i placed todays class of Geldings 1 to 2. i placed 1 over 2 because 1 is more alert and confident. 1 has ideal muscular confirmation. Granted 2 has a better topline like the sloping of the withers. This why i placed todays class of geldings 1 to 2. Thanks

  19. I chose the palimino over the sorrel. I chose them in this order because the palimino”s coat is alot nicer than the sorrel’s. I also think the palimino’s muscletone is alot nicer than the sorrel’s.

  20. I placed these horses 1-2. 1 the sorrel has a more ideal figure of the Quarter Horse. The palamino looks like he is taller in his hindquarters then his front. Granted that two has a better topline then 1. But in Quarter horses you are looking more for a horse like the sorrel. For these reasons i placed these horses 1-2. Thank you.

  21. Good evening. In todays class of geldings, I placed 2 over 1. 2 showed a pleasing appearance from the begining as well as a more structural correctness. His underline was long and topline strong. His ears were small, however lacked the alertness. He also lacked muscling in his hindquarters. 1 did not have an appealing apperance. He was difficult to break into thirds. However, he did show better muscling throughout him, as well as a cleaner throatlatch. His nech tied high into his shoulder along with his good sloped shoulder and deep girth. For these very reasons, I placed this class of geldings 2-1. Thank you.

  22. I placed 1 over 2. I place 1 over 2 because, one has more balance, muscle, and overall quality and not to long in the barrel. Horse 2 has the better neck and head but lacks the balance and muscle. That is why I place 1 over 2.

  23. I would place horse 2 over 1 because horse 2 is more stucturally sound compared to horse 1 in the legs. Also horse 1 is not muscularlly developed as horse 2 in the hindquarters. There for I place 2 over 1

  24. In this gelding pair I placed the number 2 horse over the number 1 horse as his overall balance and muscling and his clean defined look. His overall appearance and symmetry was more appealing. The hind quarters were fuller, the top-line cleaner the legs stronger in appearance. The number 2 horse not only lacked balance but also his appearance is poor as his his overall condition. That is why I placed 2 over 1

  25. Today, upon evaluating this class of Halter Geldings, I found the correct placing to be 1-2, finding a more appealing and muscled horse in 1 and closing with a lighter muscled horse in 2.

    To begin, I placed the sorrel ahead, as he was was stronger over the topline, with a more appealing underline as well. Also, horse 1 had a more desirable and defined hip, though he did have a steep croup. Nevertheless, he also must be placed ahead because of his cleaner throatlatch, longer, stronger neck that tied in higher to a more correctly angled shoulder.

    Finally, the palomino gelding found himself at the bottom of my class, for being the least balanced and least appealing individual. Furthermore, besides being shallow hearted, he possessed a weak underline, and a coarse head.

    It is for the above reasons that I placed this class of Halter Geldings, 1-2.
    Thanks You

    *Not my best reasons ever, but it was a 2 horse class*

  26. I would place this class of geldings 2-1.
    I placed the palomino first, he had the stronger top line and was more
    balanced. 2 also had more muscle in the front. 1 had a very weak top line and was not very balanced and looked like he had no muscle in the front or the rear.

    It would be better if there was more horses to judge from.
    thank you

  27. I place the sorrel over the palomino because the sorrel represents the Quarter Horse breed the best. The sorrel has a great topline that looks easier the fit a saddle to when riding a horse with a saddle. The palomino’s topline is higher at the hindquarters than the withers. The sorrel has great leg confirmation, his shoulders are not as sloping so he probably wouldn’t be a good fit for barrel racing. The palomino has better sloping shoulders than the sorrel. The hindquarters of the sorrel have great muscle quality. The palomino’s coat is in better quality than the sorrel’s. I say this because the sorrel looks like it hasn’t been groomed very well in awhile or I could have been done by shedding of it’s coat.

    There should of been m

  28. I place this class of halter gelding s 1-2 ,1 was flatter in the top line and had a higher tying neck I do however grant that 2 was well muscled and has a good coat therfor I place this class 1-2 thank you .

  29. I placed this class of gelding 2-1. the palimino has a longer topline and a greater muscle mass than the sorrel, the palimino also has a deeper barrel, granted that the sorrel does have a better slope to its shoulders.

  30. Representing the Cumberland gap FFA, I placed this class of gelding 2-1. the palimino has a longer topline and a greater muscle mass than the sorrel, the palimino also has a deeper barrel, granted that the sorrel does have a better slope to its shoulders.

  31. Santa Maria CA FFA, 2/1 is how I place this class of Quarter Horse Geldings,I appreciate 2 the palomino gelding over 1 the Sorrel Gelding, the palomino gelding standing out,having greater balance in confirmation while still standing straighter and more structurally sound it also shows a shorter stronger top line and as well as an even underline therefor placing first on today’s, leaving the sorrel gelding second he is unbalanced throughout having a high tieing neck and being too high at the withers as well, his biggest fault is having a long weak back and poor underline meriting no higher placing. thank you. Noe Perez 2013 CA FFA State Champion

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