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Youth demonstrate specialized equine knowledge in state contest

GALVA, Ill. – Youth from around the state demonstrated their specialized equine knowledge at the Illinois 4-H State Horse Judging Contest on Feb. 19.

In this contest, youth judge six classes of horses, at least two being halter classes and youth 14 years of age and older may also choose to participate in oral reasons following the classes.

“Horse judging competitions not only allow participants to demonstrate their understanding of the evaluation criteria important in each different class judged that day, but it also hones participants’ observation and decision making skills while providing an opportunity for participants to engage deductive reasoning and incorporate practical considerations in a positive manner,” says Deb Hagstrom, University of Illinois Extension equine specialist. “This contest provides a competitive setting where attitudes of friendliness and fairness are at the forefront.”

Through 4-H, young people with a passion for horses can participate in education contests related to the equine industry regardless of whether they own a horse. These education programs enhance members’ knowledge of horse health, breed characteristics, management, and feeding.

The top placing youth in the Reasons Division include: Talisa Thomas, Whiteside County; Ava Kilburn, Knox County; Grant Alexander, Knox County; Bailey Callahan, Rock Island County; Lindsey Scherer, Macon County; Elizabeth Ellis, McLean County; Ellis Rogers, Knox County; Sydney Woodard, Monroe County; Maya Woodard, Monroe County; and Madelynn Mohr, Monroe County.

The top placing youth in the Non-Reasons Division include: Desiree Reid, Mercer County; Megan DeLille, Henry County; Samantha Fender, Rock Island County; Emma Steiger, Rock Island County; Emma Quinton, McLean County; Thalia Jimenez, Knox County; Sophie Deany, McLean County; MacKenzie Olson, Henry County; Chloe Jansen, Jasper County; and Grant Fulton, Jasper County.

In Team Performance, the top placing counties include: Jasper County, followed by Rock Island County (Green Team), Knox County, Henry County, and DeKalb County.

The top performers in the Reasons division qualified for the next step in determining the 4-H State Horse Judging Team that will represent Illinois at a national contest in Fall 2022.  These individuals will receive invitations to participate in a second judging contest during the Illinois Junior Horse Show at the Springfield State Fairgrounds in July.  Following that invitational contest, the four-member 4-H state horse judging team will be determined.

About Illinois 4-H: Illinois 4-H is the flagship youth development program of University of Illinois Extension and administered through the College of Agriculture, Consumer, and Environmental Sciences. 4-H grows true leaders, youth who are empowered for life today and prepared for a career tomorrow. The hands-on approach in 4-H gives young people guidance, tools, and encouragement, and then puts them in the driver’s seat to make great things happen. Independent research confirms the unparalleled impact of the 4-H experience, demonstrating that young people are four times more likely to contribute to their communities; two times more likely to make healthier choices; two times more likely to be civically active; and two times more likely to participate in STEM programs. 

About Extension:  Illinois Extension leads public outreach for University of Illinois by translating research into action plans that allow Illinois families, businesses, and community leaders to solve problems, make informed decisions, and adapt to changes and opportunities. 

Source:  Deb Hagstrom, Extension Equine Specialist,

Writer:  Carissa Nelson, Media Communications Manager, 4-H State Office,