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Colorado Dominates National Championship Horse Judging Contest

The Colorado Arabian Horse Club (CAHC)/Region VIII Arabian Youth Horse Judging Team was represented by two teams at the U.S. Arabian & Half-Arabian National Championship Youth Judging Contest in Tulsa, Okla. The contest was hosted during the national championship show on Friday, October 28, 2022. Team members competed in both team and individual categories. The Junior Arabian Horse Association (AHA) division is for local affiliate club members under the age of 18 while the Senior AHA/Collegiate division is for 19-23. There is also a 4-H/FFA division and a hippology contest.


The junior CAHC/Region VIII team earned the national championship by an astonishing 252 points while the senior CAHC team dominated by 158 points earning national champion trophies, champion buckles and scholarships. Both national champion teams also boasted the high individual of each division with Mattea McQueen of Berthoud, Colo. and Mackenzie Berkland, now at West Texas A&M, each earning scholarships from the Arabian Horse Foundation and national champion jackets. Mackenzie’s scores also earned her the title of high individual of the entire contest. With those honors, she brought home a custom saddle, an entry into the Arabian Horse Association Professional Judges School and was invited into the championship show arena to judge a class with the official panel.


Other junior team members included Clara DeSouza of Erie, Colo., Anna Thomas of Longmont, Colo. and Audrey Wright of Erie, Colo. Mattea was second in halter, second in performance and third in reasons to help her win the overall title. Clara was first in halter, third in performance, first in reasons and finished as the reserve high individual, earning a scholarship from the Arabian Horse Foundation. Anna was fourth in halter, first in performance, second in reasons to earn her third place overall. Audrey was eighth in halter, fifth in performance, sixth in reasons and sixth overall. All junior members are also 4-H members who compete on the Boulder County 4-H Horse Judging Team.


The senior team was composed of Mackenzie, Kylie Carson, now at University of Wyoming, Amy D’Epagnier, now at Oklahoma State University, Jessica Jacobucci, now at Aims Community College and Madeline Williams, now at West Texas A&M. Kylie was ninth in performance and eighth in reasons. Amy was fourth in performance and sixth overall. Jessica was third in halter, first in performance, third in reasons and third overall. Madeline was fifth in reasons. Amy, Jessica and Madeline are previous Boulder County 4-H Horse Judging Team members. Mackenzie and Kylie were both active 4-H members in their respective states, competing on 4-H judging teams as well.


The two teams combined for two national championships, two high overall individuals, one reserve high individual, 29 individual awards, one custom saddle and $4,250 in scholarship monies.


The junior AHA national championship marks the 21st win for the team since 2000 (reserve national champions in 2008) and the first in the senior AHA division. The contest is organized by the AHA in conjunction with the U.S. National Arabian and Half-Arabian Championship Show. More information and results:


Colorado was well represented with El Paso County 4-H (Colo.) finishing third in the 4-H/FFA division, Colorado State University earning a reserve national championship in the senior AHA/collegiate division and El Paso County 4-H winning the national championship in the hippology contest.


The CAHC/Region VIII teams are coached by Rachel LeClere of Severance, Colo. and Kendra McConnell of Longmont, Colo. Both coaches were successful as youth and collegiates 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.


Contestants from 4-H, FFA, Arabian Horse Association (AHA) affiliate clubs and collegiate teams from across the U.S. and Canada competed in the day-long contest split into three divisions totaling 14 teams and over 70 individuals. They evaluated ten 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.


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 two 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 on Wednesday, January 25, 2023. Anyone is welcome to attend a fun potluck at the Boulder County Fairgrounds to learn more about the team and competitive horse judging plus fulfill the 4-H judging requirement. Enrollment in the 4-H horse project is not required. For more information, find the team on Facebook @Boulder County Horse Judging or email

L-R: coach Rachel LeClere, Clara DeSouza, Anna Thomas, Audrey Wright, Mattea McQueen, Mackenzie Berkland, Madeline Williams, Kylie Carson, Jessica Jacobucci, Amy D’Epagnier and coach Kendra McConnell

Colorado representation L-R: CAHC/Region VIII junior team, CAHC senior team, Colorado State University and El Paso County 4-H all team members and coaches

Junior and senior CAHC/Region VIII judging team members

Overall High Individual Mackenzie Berkland judging a championship class with the official panel from center ring.

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