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Talawanda/Butler Tech FFA equine team competes in Tulsa
By Celeste Baumgartner
Ohio Correspondent

OXFORD, Ohio – Equestriennes Cecilia Guenther, Kayla Lightfield, Anna Moeller, and Elle Moeller, from Talawanda/Butler Tech FFA , qualified to travel to Tulsa, Okla., for the National Arabian Horse Judging competition. The funny (and challenging) thing is none of them owns an Arabian. Fifty individuals and 11 teams took part in the 4-H/FFA competition.
The Talawanda team came home with shining belt buckles and a plethora of ribbons of all colors, individual and team. They were overall Reserve Grand Champion Hippology Team, placed second in High Team Performance and fourth in High Team Reasons.
“It started last spring when they qualified as top-10 finalists in the Equine Career Development Event (CDE) judging teams competition,” said Kari Beckner Roberts, their FFA adviser. “Ohio FFA sends the top seven teams to national contests.”
Those top seven teams each go to a different national event. The Talawanda team went to Tulsa, Beckner Roberts said. Talawanda/Butler Tech supports them in covering travel expenses for the four students and their adviser.
“The first day was hippology and that is a multi-station event where they do a group project together and then they do individual stations such as tack identifications, defining different qualities of hay, all different stations,” their adviser said. “The next day is their contest judging day.”
For that day the individuals judged eight classes, English and Western disciplines, and then had to give oral reasons to the judges for their decisions in four of the classes, Anna Moeller said.
“The biggest thing is being able to give the oral reason to judges,” Anna said. “That’s a nerve-wracking thing. You have to judge all the classes, then you have to hold onto your notes and after your classes are over the judges will tell you what classes you have to give oral reasons on; you have to write a set of oral reasons and memorize them.”
Anna, a freshman at Wilmington College majoring in ag education and ag business, came away with High Individual in Performance and Reasons.
At home, she shows quarter horses in Western pleasure, showmanship, bareback, and halter.
Lightfield has three horses and she trains horses, but has never worked with Arabians. She also was stressed over the judging and giving oral reasons for her opinions.
“It is difficult to judge horses and tell a judge why you judged them that way because it is opinion-based,” Lightfield said. “One judge might like a horse more than you do. So, it is hard to get the placings right or maybe your reasonings. It is really challenging but I like a challenge like that.”
Lightfield hopes to go to college for a business degree so she can start her own business training horses and doing massage therapy and chiropractic.
Cecelia Guenther hopes to always have horses in her life but not as a career. After she graduates, she is joining the U.S. Air Force.
“I have had horses my whole life,” she said. “I do a lot of ranch riding, which is Western, and trail riding. It was hard to switch from quarter horses to judging Arabians.
“It was a lot of fun to be able to travel to Tulsa,” she said. “We had a lot of different experiences outside of the contest but inside of the contest it was intense considering it was at the national level.”
Elle Moeller, Anna’s sister, agreed with her teammates that the presentation of oral reasons was challenging.
“We can take as many notes as we want during the classes, things like coat color, or like really defined characteristics about each horse, which is helpful because if you have to remember those details,” she said. “I get nervous, I get stage fright so trying to remember a whole set of reasons without being able to look at a piece of paper and then speak to someone I had never spoken to before, it was difficult. But I felt good about myself after I did it.”
She rides a thoroughbred she rescued from the track. She had plans to jump him and worked with a trainer for a while, but then switched to riding ranch type disciplines and is enjoying that.
Her plans? She is looking into being a welder because women welders make a lot of money and that could support her horse habit.
Elle echoed the thoughts of the whole team when she said, “I am thankful that I had this opportunity and I probably wouldn’t have if it hadn’t been for our amazing FFA chapter and advisers.”
Those advisers are Beckner Roberts and Chyann Kendel.