Casey Farrow of Jackson placed second in the junior division of the state 4-H Horse Judging Contest recently at the University of Missouri.
Farrow, a Cape Girardeau County 4-H member, was among the 260 competitors who tested their ability to evaluate the characteristics of individual animals in six breed classes at the MU Extension event.
The 126 junior division competitors, ages 8 to 13, also took part in a judging clinic where they learned to evaluate the traits of specific breeds.
"Judging is one of 4-H's most successful methods to teach decision making and critical thinking," said Ben Gallup, an MU Extension 4-H youth specialist. "Convincing kids that it's OK to get up at 4 a.m., plus give up a Saturday, to learn a life skill is a tough sell, so we have contests."
Competitors compare four horses in each class based on desirable breed traits and rank animals from least to most desirable, during the contest. Horse judging has components of public speaking, reasoning and decision making and helps 4-H members to learn to think on their feet when they explain their rankings to the judges.
More than 3,500 young people participate in Missouri 4-H equine science projects.