Talawanda-Butler Tech FFA chapter wins big at national Arabian Horse contest

Members of the Talawanda/Butler Tech FFA chapter who took second in a national horse judging contest are, from left, sophomore Kayla Lightfield, senior Olivia Zaenkert, junior Olivia Demoret and sophomore Cecilia Guenther. CONTRIBUTED

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Members of the Talawanda/Butler Tech FFA chapter who took second in a national horse judging contest are, from left, sophomore Kayla Lightfield, senior Olivia Zaenkert, junior Olivia Demoret and sophomore Cecilia Guenther. CONTRIBUTED

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A National Arabian Horse Association representative, left, presents the second-place team award to the Talawanda/Butler Tech team. Members are, from left, sophomores Cecilia Guenther and Kayla Lightfield, junior Olivia Demoret, senior Olivia Zaenkert and Butler Tech Agriculture Innovative Teaching and Learning coach Heather Campbell-Lieberman, who traveled with the team. CONTRIBUTED

A National Arabian Horse Association representative, left, presents the second-place team award to the Talawanda/Butler Tech team. Members are, from left, sophomores Cecilia Guenther and Kayla Lightfield, junior Olivia Demoret, senior Olivia Zaenkert and Butler Tech Agriculture Innovative Teaching and Learning coach Heather Campbell-Lieberman, who traveled with the team. CONTRIBUTED

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A National Arabian Horse Association representative, left, presents the second-place team award to the Talawanda/Butler Tech team. Members are, from left, sophomores Cecilia Guenther and Kayla Lightfield, junior Olivia Demoret, senior Olivia Zaenkert and Butler Tech Agriculture Innovative Teaching and Learning coach Heather Campbell-Lieberman, who traveled with the team. CONTRIBUTED

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Talawanda sophomore Cecilia Guenther was the Talawanda/Butler Tech chapter’s top judging team member at the National Arabian Horse Association competition. She earned a $750 scholarship to any college of her choice as well as an embroidered jacket as her prize. CONTRIBUTED

Talawanda sophomore Cecilia Guenther was the Talawanda/Butler Tech chapter’s top judging team member at the National Arabian Horse Association competition. She earned a $750 scholarship to any college of her choice as well as an embroidered jacket as her prize. CONTRIBUTED

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Talawanda sophomore Cecilia Guenther was the Talawanda/Butler Tech chapter’s top judging team member at the National Arabian Horse Association competition. She earned a $750 scholarship to any college of her choice as well as an embroidered jacket as her prize. CONTRIBUTED

While members of the Talawanda/Butler Tech FFA chapter were in Indianapolis collecting awards and recognitions for the chapter, four of their members went farther west and turned in a strong performance in a horse judging event.

The four members flew to Oklahoma to compete in the National Arabian Equine Judging Contest finishing, as a team, in second place in the nation.

They also racked up 11 individual awards among the four Talawanda participants.

Senior FFA Chapter president Olivia Zaenkert was one of the four making the five-day trip to Oklahoma. She explained they earned the invitation to the National Arabian Equine Judging Contest with their seventh-place finish in the state judging contest in April.

Others on the team were junior Olivia Demoret and sophomores Kayla Lightfield and Cecilia Guenther.

Overall, they earned second place in the contest as a team with a strong showing in all four of the judging categories. They placed first in Performance Judging and took second in both Hippology and Halter Judging. They took fourth place in Reason.

Zaenkert said everyone competed in the three main areas – hippology, halter and performance – and then had to provide reasons for their evaluations.

“We looked at 39 horses and gave reasons on the classes,” she said. Individual prizes were then awarded and scores accumulated from each team’s members to determine team scores. “We had to look at each horse and place them in order, rate the good and bad. In placing we were reserve champions. You get a buckle for that.”

She said she has several horses at home and all four of them ride competitively at the Butler County Fair. She added Lightfield even does mounted shooting on horseback.

It was the first trip to Oklahoma for all four them with Zaenkert adding, “For all of us, it was our first time on a plane.”

Guenther came home with an individual first place award for overall with seconds in individual judging and individual halter judging, while also getting a sixth-place award in individual performance judging and a ninth in individual reasons.

That first place earned her a $450 scholarship and a jacket.

Another individual first place for the team went to Lightfield in individual performance judging.

Demoret had five individual awards – fourth in individual judging, fifth in halter judging, seventh in individual overall, eighth in reasons and tenth in performance judging.

FFA Advisor and vo ag teacher Carley Snider praised the work of the four in preparing and for maintaining composure during the days of judging.

“It was a big experience for all of them. The cost was free. They earned it,” Snider said.

Zaenkert was impressed with the setting for the contest, including decorated barns with television and couches.

“It took forever with the history and knowledge of Arabian tack identification and identifying gaits,” she said. “It was fun.”

FFA Advisor and Vocational Agriculture teacher Kari Roberts gave special thanks to Scott Telford, who worked with the four students to help them prepare to give their oral reasons at the judging contest.

“Scott has helped prepare many local 4-H and FFA Horse Judging Teams over the years,” Roberts said, adding, “Otherwise, they prepped as a team to prepare for this contest.”

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