This year’s K-State Horse Judging Team made history this year by walking away from the season with two major wins at top-level competitions.
The team won the American Paint Horse Association title in September and the top spot at the American Quarter Horse Association competition last month — the first accomplishment of its kind by any four-year institution, head coach James Lattimer said.
“I feel more pride as a coach than I ever did judging myself,” Lattimer said.
Although they had a stellar season, due to the nature of the competition the team can only participate once during their four years at the collegiate level.
“It was a bittersweet ending,” said Alyssa Leslie, team member and sophomore in animal science. “It was nice to have it be done. And I can focus on school work now, but it was also nice to just have those days where you can just go and give a set of reasons and place some classes and hang out with the girls on my team.”
With the season over, the members said they still want to come back to horse judging later in life.
“I would like to perhaps one day become a national reining horse carded judge or even judge open shows, possibly become carded in the American Quarter Horse Association,” Emily Prugh, junior in animal science, said. “It’s all up in the air because I do want to be an equine vet later on, and with that there’s little to no time to really judge horses. So that would be something much later on in life.”
Along with making history and building strong bonds between teammates, Prugh said there are other teams they are looking forward to becoming a part of, like the cutting horse team.
“It’s just incredible to know that we’ve achieved this goal,” Prugh said. “A lot of hard work has gone into this win, and I’ve met some really great people along the way.”
Horse judging teams compete in two divisions: halter and performance. Halter is based off the horse itself.
“Halter is a class solely based on confirmation balance, muscling,” Leslie said.
Performance is based on the way the horse moves or how the rider interacts with their horse. Each classification contains four horses, which judging teams rank from highest to lowest.
For Leslie, horse judging runs in the family and has been part of her life since she was in eighth grade.
“I grew up showing horses [from fourth grade to high school], and then my mom also grew up showing horses,” Leslie said. “So it was kind of a family affair.”
Lattimer said horse judging provides many benefits and opportunities for students.
“Their public speaking skills are far superior to their contemporaries,” Lattimer said. “Also, their ability to make wise decisions under pressure.”