An Illinois teen placed fifth overall at the Eastern National 4-H Horse Roundup Judging Contest held Nov. 4 at the North American International Livestock Expo in Louisville, Ky. Cali Pontnack of Morgan County competed against 90 national competitors.
The teen took third place in the conformation division of the contest, ninth in performance, and 11th in reasons. Teammate Rylee McKinney of Shelby County missed a top ten performance division rating by three points. Shelby County 4-H member Hallie Horsman also competed.
“4-H has motivated me to set goals and work hard to improve to reach those goals,” said Pontnack. “I have gained decision-making skills and the ability to verbally defend my decisions.”
Paul Rogers of Quincy coaches the Illinois 4-H horse judging team. Debra Hagstrom, University of Illinois Extension equine specialist, provides leadership to all aspects of the Illinois 4-H horse program, including the state contest which determines the national team. The Illinois 4-H Foundation provides financial support to the team in national competition.
The team placed fourth overall, just five points out of the reserve champion spot in tight competition, Hagstrom said. It earned a fourth place in the oral reasons and performance divisions and a seventh place in the conformation division.
“The Illinois 4-H horse judging program has given me many amazing judging opportunities over my entire 4-H career,” Pontnack said. “I am thankful to everyone involved for their time, effort, and continued support.”
She added, “The best part of 4-H is the lifelong friends I have made. I can’t imagine my life without them.”