Thursday, April 3, 2008

The judging of horses

I had to sub today. I am not sure why because every class I was in there was another teacher there. One that could actually help these kids with their math(ummm...middle school math is nothing like what we learned-WOW!!). But, hey...I got paid to be there and so there I was. It did give me time to work on my 4-H Horse Judging handouts. As I was going over my old judging notes from college and looking at the handwritten notes I had made, I got to thinking about people's opinions about what makes a "good" horse. I have to find a way to explain to these kids and their parents how to judge horses against the ideal for the breed standard and not offend them regarding the horses they own in reality.
Last year, I gave a mini horse judging for the kids after their safety meeting and one of the leaders was kind enough to bring in 3 of his geldings. One of the geldings was a 4-H kid's horse, one was a gelding they purchased and one was one they raised. Not only did they run to extremes in quality, their ages were 2, 4 and 12. Yikes!
I let the kids judge the horses, collected their cards and then gave them my placings. They all placed the big, soggy 12y/o ranch gelding on the top. I placed the balanced, stylish 4y/o on top. Unfortunately, the 2y/o they raised was dead last. Needless to say, this did not go over very well with most of the ranch folks and the owner of the horses was not very happy that his colt ended up last. I tried giving them the reasons, but I am afraid that it didn't make sense to them. So this year - NO 4-H horses will be used for judging.
However, I still have the dilema of teaching these kids about formal judging. I am hoping that by working against the ideal and teaching them the vocabulary used for judging that they will be able to look at a group of horses and use the knowledge they have learned to place the horses based on sound judging standards not necessarily what they have standing in their corrals.

PS - Woofer's baby is moving regularly now. The other day both my mom and I watched "something" slide down her side and then back up again and then back down. I hurried up and put my hand over the spot and could feel the little stinker under my hand.
Tonight, Megan and I watched him(hopefully HER) kicking like crazy. Poor Big Momma...Five weeks to go.


Nuzzling Muzzles said...

Horse & Rider magazine has an article in each issue called "Conformation Clinic". They show photos of three horses standing, pictured from the side. You have to rank them from one to three for their conformation, then turn the page and see how a judge ranked them and why. I always enjoy doing that. Maybe you can do the lesson with photos of horses that no one knows.

I'm Mikey said...

I don't envy you, having to judge horses. It's hard! You bet people get mad at you, or worse, cry...

I'm betting that baby comes sooner than 5 weeks. I will be it arrives.... April 15th :)

Rising Rainbow said...

I've taken my horses over for the 4'H kids to do their judging thing. I didn't stick around to see how they judged them. Didn't really care. I make it a point to know what is wrong with my horses.

It's important for people to see the flaws in their own horses, not seeing them can cause them lots of problems, not to mention get expensive. As a breeder I can't afford to be barn blind and I really don't think anyone can afford that luxury.

I guess my point is that I think if you can teach kids to see what is wrong with their horses you are really doing them a service. Maybe they have made mistakes now but they won't repeat them later if they can learn from these mistakes now.