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Husker Horse Judging Team reins in success amid pandemic

By Chandra Spangler
IANR Media

LINCOLN, Neb. — The University of Nebraska Lincoln Horse Judging Team galloped through the season, reining in much success despite the current pandemic.

Coach Kathy Anderson said that over the past few years, the team has not always had enough students to compete as a full team of five. The addition of Brooke Parrish, a graduate student and assistant coach, has been a huge asset, Anderson said. Parrish has focused on recruiting team members and increasing competition participation.

Though the COVID-19 pandemic has interrupted many facets of competition, Anderson said this team maintained its grit. Competitions continued, abiding by the guidelines of social distancing.



Still, with the cancellation of the All American Quarter Horse Congress in October due to COVID-19, there was going to be a long gap between competitions. Students could have easily become bored. However, Parrish’s creativity kept the team’s spirits up. She arranged a mock horse judging contest at the university’s R.B. Warren Arena that even drew a group from Cloud County Community College in Concordia, Kan. The event gave students a chance to gain feedback in a contest setting.

The hands-on opportunity and practice yielded the team success at the National Reining Horse Association and American Quarter Horse Association World Show contests. The team placed eighth overall at the NHRA contest. In the World Show contest, the team earned fourth overall and fourth in performance. In the open division, Kathlyn Hauxwell, a senior animal science and pre-veterinary medicine major from McCook, placed third in performance and fifth overall. Hannah Wiese, a junior elementary education major from Papillion, placed 17th in performance. Ali Klapal, a freshman animal science and pre-veterinary medicine major from Omaha, was 19th in halter. Alyssa Waits, a senior animal science major from Tryon, received third in performance, third in halter, sixth in reasons and third overall in the limited division.



Other team members include: Jenna Glidden, a sophomore animal science and pre-veterinary medicine major from Valley; Claire Goetschkes, a sophomore animal science and pre-veterinary medicine major from Bellevue; Kristianna Muller, a junior veterinary science and pre-veterinary medicine major from Papillion; and Payton Schiller, a freshman animal science and pre-veterinary medicine major from Scribner.

Wiese was able to hone her reason-giving skills this season.

“The motivation to do better and try harder really motivated me,” she said. “I was trying my best to be a good role model.

“The best thing I’ve gotten out of it is the relationships that I’ve built with my teammates. And being on the trips, we meet a lot of different trainers or people in the industry, so that’s cool.”

Anderson said her favorite part is seeing students grow and evolve, especially when they realize how much they’ve learned and the impact being a part of the team has had on them. And she’s thankful to the College of Agricultural Sciences and Natural Resources for even making the season possible.

“We appreciate the support and everything, particularly through this tough year, of being able to travel and go because I know it was hard and it wasn’t normal,” she said.