Judging Horses 101By Amanda Kumiko Kent and Cindy A. KinderPhoto by Donna GillespieAnimal SelectionTerms & TransitionsNote TakingOral Reasons Format
Horse SelectionUnlike livestock, which are judged for production purposes, horses are looked at in terms oftheir athletic performance ability.To develop a strong foundation for horse judging skills remember your A, B, C’s:Action, Balance, ConformationJust like different humanathletes, equine athletes needdifferent body types to be thebest at different tasks.Example:A sprinter (Quarter Horse)compared to a long distancerunner (Thoroughbred)A. Action – Structure and TravelThe way an animal moves or its action is determined by its skeletalstructure. Correct structure is essential to prevent the developmentof unsoundness or lameness in a horse, which may result in poorperformance or the inability to perform. You can observe structurein: the angle of the shoulder, length of back in comparison tounderline, level croup, pastern angle and leg set.Or a ballerina (Arabian) vs. afootball player (Clydesdale)Correct leg set equals durability. If a horse stands straight, it willprobably travel straight. If it stands crooked, it will travel crooked.Crooked movement wastes energy, can affect agility, and predisposesthe horse to unsoundness.1. Narrow,slightly knockkneed*Try it yourself: keep toes pointed in‘pigeon toed’ and walk four pacesHow did that affect your movement?Now try pointing your toes out orstanding with legs wide apart.2. Base wide,toed-out3. Straight legs,slightly toed-out123
B. BalanceBalance is uniformity in the appearance of muscle. This will vary slightly according to breedcharacteristics.Visualize three equal circles on the horse’s body: one starting at the point of the shoulder andextending to the heartgirth, one just behind the heartgirth to the flank, and the last one at theflank to the point of the buttocks.C. ConformationConformation includes all aspects of the horse’sbody: muscling and balance, structuralsmoothness, body proportions, overall appearanceand ideal characteristics for sex and breed. Breedcharacteristics may include specific requirementsof color and markings.Breed CharacteristicsWhat may be ‘ideal’ conformation for onebreed’s purpose may serve no need or mayhinder another breed’s performance.Faulty or poor conformation would include anunsoundness or potential unsoundness or deviationfrom the ideal.Photo from American Quarter Horse AssociationPhoto from Arabian Horse AssociationPhoto from Fresian Horse AssociationWhy might these breeds have been developed?Photo from the American Saddlebred Horse Assoc.
Note TakingPresenting oral reasons is the most valuable experience you will encounter in judging. No matter what career youchoose, to communicate effectively is a must to be successful. Success starts with note taking.In contests, several classes are judged in a short time, and oral reasons are given later; therefore it is necessary to takenotes on what you see about the animals or performance in each class. Study the notes before giving oral reasons to ajudge. A good set of notes should help you remember the class in your mind. A 6”x9” steno notebook is suggested foruse in taking notes.Only take notes on classes that have been assigned as a reasons class. Once animals are evaluated and placed notes areto be taken.The format for notes is broken down into three sections:1. Top Pair (of animals)2. Middle Pair (of animals)3. Bottom Pair (of animals)Each section can then be further broken down into three pieces:Grant – is to list one good quality of the lower placed animal in a pairCriticize – is to list the bad qualities, one or two things, of the higher placed animal in the pair.Compare– is to list two or three good qualities of the higher placed animal in the pair.Below is what a blank note page should look like.Class NameClass PlacingNumber and Grant (Good)identificationCriticize (Bad)Compare (Good)Number and GrantIdentificationCriticizeCompareNumber and GrantIdentificationCriticizeCompareNumber and GrantIdentificationCriticizeXXNotes should be readable and brief; this will prevent you from memorizing your notes. Youshould be able to remember the animals, not your notes.
Below is what should be listed in your note page.Top Pair – yellow highlighted sections are to be said for the top pair.Middle Pair – grey highlighted sections are to be said for the middle pair.Bottom Pair – blue highlighted sections are to be said for the bottom pair.# of AnimalGrant (Good)Criticize (Bad)Compare (Good)Opening statementSay any bad qualitiesSay why 1st placesay why 1st placeof the 1st placeanimal beats 2ndanimal wins the class. animal. (optional)place animal bystating the goodqualities of 1st placeanimal.Say the good qualities List why the 2nd place Say why 2nd placeof the 2nd placeanimal does not winanimal beats 3rd placeanimal over the 1stthe class. (badanimal by stating onlyplace animal.qualities)the good qualities ofthe 2nd place animal.Say the good qualities Say why the 3rd place List why 3rd placeof the 3rd placeanimal is 3rd. (badanimal beats 4th placeanimal over the 2ndqualities)animal by stating onlyplace animal.the good qualities ofthe 3rd place animal.Say the good qualitiesSay why the 4th placeof the 4th place animal animal is last.over the 3rd placeanimal.Tips for Effective Reasons Note taking and Reasons.1. Don’t start taking your notes until you have placed the class and written down your placing.2. Try to be general in the terms that you use to describe the animal in each box, but write as much as possibleto describe the animal. You will have time to be descriptive with the terms that you use when you prepare todeliver your oral reasons.3. Don’t forget to write down an ID point and sex, if needed, for each animal.4. Be sure to use the correct sex of the animal in classes that are of mixed sex and use your ID points whendescribing the animals.5. Use the time during non reasons classes to look back at your notes and prepare your reasons or completeyour notes.
Example set of notesClass: Aged Quarter Horse Mares# of AnimalGrant (Good)Placing: 4-1-3-2Criticize (Bad)Compare (Good)4Sorrel, left rearsockStraight legs,evenly balanced,clean throatlatch(No obviouscriticism)Nicest balancedSoundest MovingMore Feminine1Sorrel, star, stripe,snipMost like classwinner from amuscle standpointCoarse and straightshouldered , shortchoppy strideWider Chested,prominent withers3Bay, toed-in onright frontMore AttractiveWell muscled rearquartersShallowest BodiedNarrowest ChestedAlso StraightShouldered , toedin on right frontHigher QualityLonger, cleanernecked, moreparallel in her lines2RoanWide set, cleareyes, well muscledgaskinsLowest quality,poorest balance,Over reachesSplints on frontendUsing these notes, here is an example set of reasons.The words that are highlighted in green are transition phrases that are to be used in every set of reasons.These transition phrases help you move from box to box in your notes.I placed the class of Aged Quarter Horse Mares: 4, 1, 3, 2. I started with the high quality, highly fit attractivemare. When compared to 1, the sorrel mare with the left rear sock is more evenly balanced, more feminineand has a sound structure. She is longer strided at the trot and lope. 1 is the most like the class winner from astandpoint of muscling. But the sorrel with the star, stripe, and snip is coarse and straight in the shouldergiving her a short, choppier stride. So she’s second.In the middle pair of mares I placed 1 over 3. The sorrel mare with the star and stripe had a wider chest andmore prominent withers. She travels straight and true.Both mares were steep in the shoulder but the bay was toed-in on the right front causing her to roll at theshoulder when traveling. She’s third.Quality places 3 over 2 in the bottom pair. She has a longer cleaner neck, parallel in her lines and morebalanced when compared to the roan. 2 had the lowest quality and poor overall balance as well as a potentialunsoundness, splints. She also overreached as she traveled, so I left her last.
Terms and TransitionsGeneral AppearanceGoodMore balancedSmootherMore RefinedMore athleticMore broodmare potentialTies in more correctlyBadPoorly BalancedRoughPlainBunchy-muscledHead & NeckGoodCleaner cut about the headSharper, chisled features about the headWider set between the eyesA head that tapers to a finer muzzleCleaner through the neck and throatlatchNeck sets higher on to shoulderBadCoarse-headedLong, mule earsPig-eyedParrot-mouthedEwe-necked, Swan-necked, cresty neckedNeck does not blend smoothly to the shoulderShoulder & ChestGoodMore sloping shoulderMore powerfully muscled shoulderWider chestDeeper chestMore prominent VBadSteep shoulderLight muscled shoulderNarrow chestToo wide in chestNo V musclingRibs, Heart-Girth, Topline, Underline, MiddleGoodDeeper heart-girthMore spring of foreribShorter topline in relation to longer underlineSmoother underlineMore prominent withersLonger croupDeeper flankedBadLacks depth of barrelSlab sided, straight sidedLong back, sway backShort underlineThick over the withersSteep croupWasp-waisted, tucked-upRear QuarterGoodWider through the stifleHeavier muscled quarterLonger more athletic muscling through rear quarterSmoother and cleaner over the hips viewed from the rearBadLight-muscledApple-rumped, goose rumped,Not tied inRough over the hip
Feet and LegsGoodSet squarer on feet and legsBadStands too close in front/behind, stands too wide in front/behindPinched between front legs, knock knee; sickle hock, straight hockCamped under, camped out; calf-kneed, buck kneed, knee sprungBog spavin, thorough pinBase-narrowLacks substance of bone, coarse boneSplints, ringbone, sidebone capped elbow, wind puffsToe crack, seedy toe, club footWider in frontHigher quality of boneCleaner/flatter boneLarger, rounder footActionGoodMoves out freer and easierMoves truer behindShows more flexion in knees and hocksLonger, farther reaching strideLighter on the forehandBadChoppy stridePaddles in front/behindLameForgesHeavy on the forehandUnsoundness vs. BlemishUnsoundness: Affects or has the potential to affect the performance and usability of thehorse. (Example; Ringbone, pigeon-toed, founder, hoof cracks)Blemish: Affects the appearance, but not the performance of the horse. (Example; Scars)Connective TermsGrantsI realizeI admitI agreeI sawTransitional TermsPlusBesidesAlsoAction WordsExhibitedDisplayedShowedPresentedOpening PairsComing to the bottom pairMoving toIn closing I preferred toIn the top pair
Your Notes and Thoughts
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animal. Say the good qualities of the 2nd place animal over the 1st place animal. List why the 2nd place animal does not win the class. (bad qualities) Say why 2nd place animal beats 3rd place animal by stating only the good qualities of the 2nd place animal. Say the good qualities of the 3rd place animal over the 2nd place animal.
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Fat horses are in body condition score of 7, 8 or 9. Horses in between are body condition score of 5 or 6. Several situations can make accurate body condition Table 1. Body Condition Scoring System for Horses scoring more difficult, including horses with long hair coats, angular horses with high withers, horses with hay bellies and very .
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Horse judging contest classes will have four (4) horses per classes. Each horse should be evaluated on its own merit and in relation to the rest of the class. Typical judging procedure for a halter class at a horse judging contest is as follows: 1. Side View (Profile) 2. Front View 3.
Animal Welfare Guidelines for Horses, Donkeys and Ponies 3 ** The term horses in this guide is used to include all domestic equine species; horses, ponies, asses (donkeys), hinnies and mules. Reference is generally made to horses, but should be similarly construed for other equids. Specific reference is only made to donkeys where considered .
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