Quarter Horse Congress more than just a show
COLUMBUS, OHIO — Senior
4-H’ers Jennifer Gannon, 18, of Ruthsburg, and Adrianna Disilvestro, 17, of Easton, both members of the Pony Express 4-H Club in Queen Anne’s County, were members of the Maryland 4-H Horse Judging Team to compete at the 52nd Annual All-american Quarter Horse Congress Youth and Collegiate Horse Judging competitions on Oct. 16 and Oct. 17 in Columbus, Ohio.
Both Jennifer and Adrianna had competed at Congress before. Jennifer was a member of the 2017 Maryland 4-H Hippology Team that placed in the Top 5 out of more than 20 teams from around the nation. Adrianna was a member of the Delaware QHA National Youth Activity Tournament Team in 2016, competing in Barrel Racing.
Jennifer’s competing in 4-H Hippology last year spurred her on to try something different this year, becoming a member of the state 4-H Horse Judging team. Put simply, Hippology is like “It’s Academic” on equine topics. The Hippology team is judged on four different categories related to equine, one of those horse judging. Each category is scored individually and totaled to get a team score. Last year, Jennifer placed fourth as an individual in the horse judging category out of more than
100 other 4-H competitors. She wanted to try out for the 4-H state horse judging team to see how that experience might go.
Jennifer said, “Doing horse judging we spent a lot more time watching/judging horses than we ever did in Hippology. It was horses two days non-stop! We certainly went into more depth in learning about judging horses in different classes. In the Hippology 4-H judging, we didn’t have to give reasons, we just placed them and turned our cards in to be evaluated. This time, reasons were required for all classes we judged.”
Jennifer said she feels, based on her experiences, that she will stay involved in some aspect of the horse industry all of her life.
Adrianna was encouraged by Jennifer to try out this year for the horse judging team too. Of the experience, Adrianna, who is currently serving as Pony Express club president, said, “I learned so much. It opened my eyes to all the possibilities that exist in the horse industry. I was amazed at the amount of top quality horses that were at the AAQHC. I got to see a portion of Congress that’s not me performing in the horse show ring. Regardless of what you compete in at Congress, it can be intimidating, and humbling at the same time. Being on the horse judging team allowed me to step back from riding and see showing horses from a different view — trying to be a judge and learning what to look for. It gave me a different perspective, that’s for sure! The experience will definitely make me a better rider.”
Besides barrel racing, Adrianna has done Eventing, and other types of horse jumping. She’s looking forward to competing in “Ranch Riding” classes (which have been growing in popularity in recent years).
Jennifer and Adrianna were joined by senior 4-H’ers Cheyanne Van Echo of Frederick County, and Lesley Porterfield of Calvert County. The four-member team was coached by Maryland 4-H equine specialist Rebecca Gunderson, who is also a “carded horse show judge.”
With 22 teams competing in the 4-H division, Maryland placed ninth overall as a team, ninth in reasons as a team, 10th in performance class judging and 10th in halter class judging, placing the team in the Top 10 at this year’s Congress.
There is also a Horse Bowl competition and a Public Speaking competition. All of these competitions are coordinated by Dr. Kimberly Coles through Ohio State University. The individual Chairmen for each are: Horse Judging — Dr. Dave Mcdonald and Don Recchiuti Sr.; Hippology and Horse Bowl — Ruth Somnitz; and Communications (Public Speaking) — Kristine Nagey.
Coles said, “We had over 350 youth participate in all these competitions from 25 states.”
These competitions are intended to promote citizenship skills as well to encourage youth at the 4-H, FFA and collegiate levels to consider professions in the equine industry. The Allamerican Quarter Horse Congress is the largest single breed horse show in the world. This year it began on Oct. 2 and finished up on Oct. 28. But again, there are many more competitive events that take place there each year that are not in the show ring.
Senior 4-H’ers Adrianna Disilvestro, 17, of Easton, left, and Jennifer Gannon, 18, of Ruthsburg, at the 52nd annual All-american Quarter Horse Congress in Columbus, Ohio, where they were members of the Maryland 4-H Horse Judging Team. The team placed ninth overall, judging nine different equestrian performance and three different halter classes.
The 2018 Maryland 4-H Horse Judging Team shown here at the52nd annual All-american Quarter Horse Congress in Columbus, Ohio. The Horse Judging team placed ninth overall among22 teams from around the nation. From the left, teammates Cheyanne Van Echo of Frederick County, Lesley Porterfield of Calvert County, Coach Rebecca Gunderson, Jennifer Gannon of Ruthsburg, and Adrianna Disilvestro of Easton. Jennifer and Adrianna are both members of the Pony Express 4-H Club in Queen Anne’s County.
Dottie Gannon, left, stands beside her daughter, Jennifer Gannon, 18, of Ruthsburg, following Jennifer’s medaling at the 51st annual All-american Quarter Horse Congress 4-H Hippology Contest held in Columbus, Ohio.in 2017, Jennifer was the only member of the Hippology team from the Eastern Shore. This year, Jennifer went as a member of the Maryland 4-H Horse Judging team, which won three medals in that competition.
Senior 4-H’ers Jennifer Gannon, 18, of Ruthsburg, and Adrianna Disilvestro of Easton were among the collegiate (left side) and 4-H student (right side) horse judges filling the stands Tuesday, Oct. 16, inside the Coliseum at the All-american Quarter Horse Congress in Columbus, Ohio. Here they were judging Western Trail Riding, among other equestrian riding and halter disciplines.