So tell me what could be more exciting to a 14 year old than to spend three activity-packed days on a college campus learning about horses from a world champion collegiate horse judging team, being fired up by the yell leaders, learning to say “Howdy!”, having the team girls show you around, ag professors to talk to you, tours of the campus, getting to touch your toes down in the plush grass of the famous Kyle field, t-shirt shopping at the college bookstore, and getting some first class instruction from one of the top horse judging coaches in the world?
Well, nothing according to Morgan and the other 55 or so lucky campers who had the awesome opportunity to attend Texas A&M’s horse judging camp July 6-8.
When we arrived on Wednesday morning, I was immediately impressed by the turnout, and that the actual A&M horse judging team girls would be helping to teach and put on the camp. There was an hour long orientation for the parents and students covering the schedule, activities, dorm assignments, and then, of course, a history lesson/brainwashing session about the college- complete with yell leaders who taught the young influential minds many of the traditional A&M yells.
Fired up? Yep. They were all more than primed and ready for a great time. But the session also made very clear that the camp would be an intense- no-nonsense time for learning- an information packed, high speed college-level introduction to the art of horse judging.
I wouldn’t be doing it justice if I didn’t mention that the coach of this team is more than amazing, and more than generous to have put together such a fabulous resource for these pre-college kids. I did get a great picture of Morgan with Dr. Cavinder (aka “Rockstar”):
I was also pleasantly surprised to find out that my very own horse science professor from K-State, Dr. Sigler, (who had been the K-State horse judging team’s coach as well- but I wasn’t on the horse judging team when I was a college student) was now a very active part of the equine program at A&M and plays a huge part in the 4-H horse project. It was cool to talk to him and introduce Morgan to him. She texted me after his lecture and said it was really great!
Morgan really took away a tremendous amount of information, experience, and memories from the camp. She shared the experience from the time we picked her up through the full four and a half hour trip home, and has continued to talk about it into this week.
She attended the advanced lectures to get the full benefit of Dr. Cavinder’s lectures, which were labeled “intense” by many. But Morgan didn’t agree, saying that she wished they could have continued longer. As the campers were able to spend time talking to and asking questions of the A&M horse judging team girls, Morgan said they agreed that the lectures were pretty similar to college lectures, and much of the info was the same as the beginning college horse judging class lectures. Morgan really loved it, and took great notes. I’m so happy that she was able to take good notes and engage in and enjoy the lectures! She attended the beginning reasons lectures, as she hasn’t had any instruction in giving reasons to this point except what she has picked up on her own. She got a lot of good information and was really impressed by the personal experience and tips the A&M judging team girls were able give. What an awesome experience!! She is really excited to share what she learned with her team mates.
She also enjoyed the tour of the campus, and spending time getting to know many of the other campers. She particularly enjoyed playing basketball with the other campers and was thrilled that Dr. Cavinder had joined in the game. She also loved putting her toes in the grass of the famous Kyle field.
The last day the students participated in a full out judging contest among themselves. I was so impressed that they put this together for the campers on this level, as the work that it takes to put on a contest is incredible.
We arrived to pickup Morgan early as they had told us we could if we wanted to be there for awards and to hear the winners of the judging contest. We were so excited when they announced that Morgan won third place in the contest! She won an A&M Horse Judging Team metal water bottle.
It was apparent that the campers had all had a great experience together as they all cheered for each other. It will be really cool for Morgan to run across her fellow campers when we go to judging contests this year!!
Next year both girls will be able to attend, as it will only be a week away from Taylor’s 12th birthday and Dr. Cavinder said that would be fine as long as she can listen and pay attention. I’m not sure how many 4-Her’s we will have for our judging team next year, as many have lost interest, but I’m hoping at least a couple of our senior team will be able to attend the camp next year. It’s really an awesome opportunity and blessing!!