Colorado horse judging team earns national championship

-Boulder County Horse Judging Team

The Colorado Arabian Horse Club/Region VIII Arabian Youth Horse Judging Team dominated the U.S. Arabian & Half-Arabian National Championship Youth Judging Contest on Nov. 14, 2020. The contest is typically hosted during the national championship show held at Tulsa Expo Square, Tulsa, Okla., however this year it transitioned to a virtual format. The team members competed in both team and individual categories. As a team, they finished second in halter, first in performance, first in reasons and first overall, winning the National Championship by a significant margin. Team member Lily Thomas was named the Reserve High Individual Overall.

Contestants from 4-H, FFA, Arabian Horse Association affiliate clubs and collegiate teams from across the U.S. and Canada competed in the day-long contest split into three divisions totaling 23 teams and over 100 individuals. They evaluated 10 classes of Arabians and Half-Arabians then delivered four sets of memorized oral reasons defending their placings in select classes which are scored on accuracy, terminology and presentation.

CAHC/Region VIII team members included Madalyn Gabel of Lafayette, Colo., Jessica Jacobucci of Brighton, Colo., Moriah McQueen of Berthoud, Colo., and Lily Thomas of Longmont, Colo. Ava Wright of Erie, Colo., competed as an individual. Gabel was ninth in halter, fifth in performance, first in reasons and fourth overall. Jacobucci was seventh in halter, eighth in performance, sixth in reasons and seventh overall. McQueen was third in performance, fifth in reasons and third overall. Thomas was fourth in halter, first in performance, third in reasons and reserve high individual overall. Wright was fifth in halter, seventh in performance and fifth overall. The team won the Junior AHA division and was named the National Champion team by 61 points. As reserve high individual, Thomas earned a $250 scholarship from the Arabian Horse Foundation. The four team members were awarded championship Montana Silversmiths buckles. This national championship marks the 19th win for the team since 2000 (reserve national champions in 2008). The contest is organized by the AHA in conjunction with the U.S. National Arabian and Half-Arabian Championship Show. More information and results can be found at

The team is coached by Rachel LeClere of Firestone, Colo., and Kendra McConnell of Longmont, Colo. Both coaches were successful as youth at the U.S. Arabian & Half-Arabian National Championship Youth Judging Contest many times as well as other national level competitions such as the Scottsdale Arabian Show, Paint World Show, All American Quarter Horse Congress, Quarter Horse Youth World Show and the 4-H National Roundup. They also coach the Boulder County 4-H Youth Horse Judging Team.

Competitive horse judging offers an exciting and challenging opportunity for youth to further their knowledge of horses. Team members learn to evaluate horse conformation and performance, while developing skills such as critical thinking, public speaking and team building. Contestants are scored based on how close their placings of mock classes of four horses are to the official panel. They are then asked to deliver a 2 minute, memorized oral defense of their placing of certain classes.

The Boulder County 4-H Horse Judging Team will host a kickoff for the spring season in early January. Anyone is welcome to attend and learn more about the team and competitive horse judging. Enrollment in the 4-H horse project is not required. For more information, find the team on Facebook @Boulder County Horse Judging or email

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