Four young ladies from Ralls High School have been working hard together all spring to prepare for their area FFA horse judging competition. The team is made up of three juniors and one senior, including Rebekah Claxton, Hannah Cavazos, Andrea Zermeno, and MaKayla Arthur. And they all agree that FFA is fun, even though their membership and experience levels cover a large range.
"I just started this year, and horse judging was basically my first event, and it was pretty fun," Rebekah Claxton said.
"I've been in FFA since I was in third grade. I started off showing animals, pigs and then I've just kind of grown from there. Once I hit high school I just expanded a little bit more," Hannah Cavazos said.
"I started FFA my freshman year, agriculture has been a huge part of my life since I was a baby. My dad is a farmer, my grandparents are farmers, that's where I got started," Andrea Zermeno said.
"I got involved in FFA when I was in fifth grade, in junior FFA, and agriculture has been a part of my life for forever. My dad is I think a fifth generation farmer," MaKayla Arthur said.
Practicing nearly every day together as a team was a big part of their preparation for the competition. And Ralls ag student teacher True Burson even arranged a very special field trip for the team for some extra practice.
"We went to the 6666 ranch and we went to Texas Tech some," Zermeno said. "I think this year was a year that we were most prepared for horse judging. We did a lot of practicing, we watched a lot of videos, we pretty much did everything we could to prepare ourselves."
"They happen to all be in an animal science class, and so nearly every day we were watching horse judging videos, and we had the opportunity since we have a student teacher who has a relationship with some people at the 6666 we got to go out there and look at some halter classes," Josh Stewart said. "We also went to Texas Tech to the equestrian center and looked at some halter classes there and were able to watch some performance classes also."
The actual area contest itself was hosted at Texas Tech University earlier this month. Out of the entire area 2, the Ralls team ended up fifteenth overall.
"We judged eight classes, three halter and five performance classes, we answered two sets of questions, five questions in each set and one generally about the performance class and one about the halter class.," Arthur said.
"We judged reining, western pleasure, and trail. I think for me trail was the hardest," Claxton said.
And Ralls ag science teacher Josh Stewart knows that the hard work and dedication these FFA members put into their team work will pay off for years to come. Getting kids exposed to new learning environments through agriculture helps shape strong young people.
"I think one of the best things about the FFA program and most ag programs in our area is the hands on learning is so important," Stewart said. "The opportunity for those individuals to get their hands on the animals, to get involved in situations where they have the opportunity to learn things that are going to benefit them down the road."
And our four horse judging team members shared a few of the lessons that they've learned.
"I've never done horse judging before, so I didn't know really what to expect or what I was getting myself into, but we worked on it pretty much every day in class and it was a learning experience, so I definitely learned a lot," Cavazos said.
"Just decision making and leadership, being a leader," Zermeno said.
"Hard work and dedication pays off," Claxton said.
"Probably the biggest lesson I've learned through FFA is leadership and I guess public speaking," Arthur said.
Congratulations again to this week's Ag Students of the Week, the Ralls FFA horse judging team. To help us meet more hard working young people involved in 4-H or FFA, please email us at AgDay@fox34.com .