|Four AAEC students and Equine Science and Horsemanship teacher Candace Zeier, left, from Arizona Agribusiness and Equine Center charter high school in Prescott Valley, will compete in a horse judging contest at a national Arabian show in Tulsa, Okla., this week. Students are, from left, Peyton Cass, Aimee LeQuesne, Julia Tone and Whisper Setzer.|
Trib Photo/Sue Tone
A group of four students and one teacher left Prescott Valley yesterday for Tulsa, Okla., where they hope to capture some trophies, scholarships and maybe even a prize saddle at the U.S. National Arabian & Half-Arabian Championship Horse Show.
Candace Zeier, equine science and horsemanship teacher at Prescott Valley's Arizona Agribusiness and Equine Center charter school, said the students would be participating in the horse judging contest.
"Right now, we are focusing on Arabians because of the competition, but we judge all breeds," she said.
Two weeks ago, students traveled to WestWorld in Scottsdale to the Arabian Breeders Finals and compared their judging aptitude with the five official judges' determinations. The Finals offered $113,000 in prize money to owners and attracted horses - and judges - from all over the world.
Using the Finals as a practice, they watched each class, and gave "oral reasons" for their scoring on four of the ten classes. They described what they saw in each horse, listing what they liked and didn't like, and picked out the best qualities during a 2-minute presentation to an official.
"I did good with the first class, but was completely off in the second," said Julia Tone, sophomore. "The horse I liked went first with only one judge."
Aimee LeQuesne, sophomore, judged similarly. The students found themselves at a disadvantage because they viewed the horses from the railing and could not gain a better perspective by walking around each horse.
"I didn't see some points on conformation, so I placed the other horses higher," LeQuesne said.
Sophomore Whisper Setzer said her first choice finished as second in the first class; however, she was spot on in the second class.
The AAEC students, all members of FFA, have an ace in the hole - their teacher was an official judge at a national competition this past year. Zeier teaches them what to expect and what to look for, and they prepare by watching videos and visiting live shows like the one in Scottsdale. Plus, the rule book is required reading, students said.
LeQuesne said she plans to own a horse ranch in the future, and learning about conformation and riding performance of horses will help her make good choices when purchasing animals.
Two other students, Setzer and Peyton Cass, AAEC junior, are studying to become veterinarians or large animal surgeons, and will use their skills to identify horses' strengths and imperfections. Tone would like to judge shows part-time to supplement her income while she builds her own diesel mechanics business.
Zeier said the trip would cost about $4,000 with each girl reimbursing the school for her share. They are actively fundraising and the school also accepts tax credit donations, which help support after-school activities and field trips for all students.