About 300 Texas FFA students qualified for the state horse judging contest alone. And Dr. Jane Bagley and the Texas Tech horse program worked hard to put on a quality contest which would test the teams hard work and ability.
"We had 78 teams at the state FFA judging contest. That's from all over the state of Texas," Bagley said. "They had to qualify at the area contests, and those were last week and the week before, so they've actually only had about a week to prepare for this contest after area."
The factors that go into a good contest are lots of good horses and lots of good help. Riders brought their show horses to perform in several classes including reining, horsemanship, and halter.
"We've been fortunate to have the area contest here and so we had some practice and we also hosted a national collegiate contest a few weeks before that, and so our students were very organized and helped as group leaders and horse holders and helped with bringing horses also," Bagley said.
Although only one horse judging team earned the title of state FFA champions, all of the students took away good experience and gained knowledge, including those that qualified for other state contests as well.
"Probably the most important thing with any kind of judging is the critical thinking and learning to make decisions," Bagley said. "The students have to make some organizational notes with having to answer the questions at the end of the class and just making those decisions and having some consequences associated with those decisions is very important. We're hosting almost all of the state contests I believe for the FFA, we're hosting a livestock contest, we're hosting a dairy contest, poultry contest, and most of those are on campus."
And Dr. Bagley's college students know first hand the opportunities that can come out of judging. They recently visited several ranches in North Texas to start thinking about careers down the road.
"We just got back from a trip from Whitesboro where our students got to go to horse country USA and see the top horses in the halter and in western riding and trail," Bagley said. "And so it gives you a different outlook on what is going on in the horse industry and what some opportunities might be in the horse industry for the future and for different jobs."
The state horse judging contest went by without a hitch and Hondo FFA walked away with the state championship title.