October 31, 2006

Young SIUC horse judging team does well

by K.C. Jaehnig

CARBONDALE, Ill. -- Southern Illinois University Carbondale's tenderfoot, eight-member horse judging team entered its first competition Oct. 13 and walked away with 19 ribbons.

Coach Stephanie Speiser said she was "pleasantly surprised" by how well the team did.

"I believed in them, but realistically, it was their first time, we only had six weeks of preparation time, and most of them had no judging experience," she noted.

"I didn't tell them this before, but it was kind of like they were 'The Bad News Bears.'"

College of Agricultural Sciences Dean Gary L. Minish had suggested putting together a team under the Department of Animal Science, Food and Nutrition because of that unit's equine science specialization.

"It was a trial to see if there was student interest — and there was," said Speiser, a graduate of the program herself.

"The students did this on their own. There was no grade, there was no credit."

Two days each week before their first event — the 2006 Grand National Morgan Horse Show in Oklahoma City — Speiser taught her eight novices how to assess a horse's physical conformation to accepted breed standards, how to evaluate its gait and how to rate the fine points of various riding styles. Team members practiced judging by looking at still photographs and videos and by visits to SIUC's Horse Center, where they could hone their skills on genuine horseflesh.

Once at the horse show, they pitted their newly minted knowledge against that of teams from other universities. Professionals in the industry judged them both on how often their assessments mirrored those of the pros and how well they explained the reasoning behind their calls.

"That's the really hard part of judging," Speiser said.

"You have to be able to organize your thoughts and present them in a professional manner. It's like a course in public speaking."

Speiser sent two teams of four to the Morgan show, with Team Maroon taking fourth place and Team Gray winning fifth in overall points. In judging conformance, Team Gray came in second overall, while Team Maroon placed seventh. In judging performance, Team Maroon won second overall, while Team Gray took sixth.

Karen M. Pospisek, a junior animal science major from Downer's Grove (5619 Webster St.), achieved the contest's fourth highest individual score. A member of Team Gray, she is the daughter of Leone Pospisek.

Kimberly L. Durham, a senior in animal science from Varna (505 Pine St.) and a member of Team Maroon, scored fifth highest overall. Her parents are Brenda Durham and Sparland resident Michael Durham.

Team Maroon member Lindsay E. Stallard, a senior in animal science from Barrington (155 Hilltop Ave.), placed seventh overall. She is the daughter of Wayne and Diane Stallard.

Team Maroon member Kate E. Talcott, a junior in animal science from Loraine (1374 N. 2900th Ave.), ranked twelfth overall. She is the daughter of Monte and Kelly Talcott.

Other team members are: freshman Amy Casali (Team Maroon), an animal science major from Lemont (14723 W. Hickory Ave.) and the daughter of Fred and Kathy Casali; senior Rebecca L. Baldridge (Team Gray), a biological sciences major from Waterloo (4482 Shilliday Lane) and the daughter of Joseph and Patricia Baldridge; junior Elizabeth J. Johnson (Team Gray), a junior in animal science from Dieterich (3228 N. 110th) and the wife of Jay Johnson; and sophomore Iga N. Opanowicz (Team Gray), an animal science major from Poland and the daughter of Wlodzimierz and Elzbieta Opanowicz.

Speiser is the daughter of Witt residents John and Connee Speiser (17178 N. 17th Ave.).


Young SIUC horse judging team does well

Horse sense — Fresh from
their appearance at the
2006 Grand National Morgan
Horse Show in Oklahoma City,
Okla., Southern Illinois
University Carbondale’s
neophyte horse judging team
members show off the 19
ribbons they brought home.
Download Photo Here