Southern FFA Horse-Judging Team Wins Big at Virginia Invitational

Southern High School’s Future Farmer’s Association (FFA) Horse Judging Team recently traveled to Blacksburg,VA for the Virginia Tech Invitational Horse Judging Contest.

There were 78 teams and 216 contestants participating in four divisions of the contest. Southern’s seven member team performed exceptionally well, placing second in the team division and first in the individual category.

Pictured from left to right, back row: Abbey Bolander, Sierra Criste, Raymond Duvall; front row: Michaela Pyles, Brooke Catterton, Kelly Poe, Carter Duncan. Photo courtesy Joshua Rice.

Southern’s Horse Judging Team is a part of the school’s FFA program, administered under the Agriculture Sciences curriculum. The program prepares students for careers in the science, business and technology of agriculture.

Horse Judging team members included: senior Raymond Duvall; juniors Michaela Pyles, Brooke Catterton and Carter Duncan; sophmore Kelly Poe and freshmen Abbey Bolander and Sierra Criste.

At the invitational, students were charged with judging a horse and rider under saddle in  the “Performance Division.”  In addition, the teenagers were required to judge a horse’s confirmation in the “Team Halter” category, evaluating its bone structure, breed characteristics and reproductive ability.

Junior Brooke Catterton won first place in the individual competition and freshman Abbey Bolander took 7th place. In the team competition, Southern’s A team took second place overall and the B Team placed fifth. A summary of Southern’s wins is provided below.

The team is run by Dr. Joshua Rice, Southern’s Agriculture Science Department Chair. Rice’s wife Andrea is the coordinator for the New Farmers Project at the University of Maryland.

The group meets every Wednesday night from 7 to 9 p.m. and on weekends when they travel to local barns to practice judging on real horses.

The team’s next meet is in April at the State FFA Horse Judging Contest at the University of Maryland. The winning team will travel to Louisville, KY to compete in the 86th National FFA Convention.

“We are very proud of our team,” Rice said. “The students worked extremely hard for the wins in Virginia and are now ready to take on the state competition.”

Along with the horse and livestock judging team, FFA members also engage in public speaking events and attend state and national leadership conferences.

 Results from the Virginia Tech Invitational Horse Judging Contest

Team Halter              

  • 2nd Southern B
  • 5th Southern A

Team Performance    

  • 1st Southern A
  • 10th Southern B

Team Reasons

  • 1st Southern A
  • 6th Southern B

Team Overall

  • 2nd Southern A
  • 5th Southern B

Individual Halter

  • 6th Raymond Duvall
  • 10th Michael Pyles

Individual Performance

  • 1st Brooke Catterton
  • 3rd Abbey Bolander
  • 8th Kelly Poe

Individual Reasons

  • 2nd Brooke Catterton
  • 4th Kelly Poe
  • 8th Sierra Criste

Individual Overall

  • 1st Brooke Catterton
  • 7th Abbey Bolander
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About Cynthia Giorgio

I'm Cynthia Giorgio, co-founding editor of South River Source. I love to write about the people, places, news and events in South County. Send story ideas to or call me at 301-906-4767.


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