Shallowater FFA horse judging team brings home first national title

Published: Nov. 7, 2022 at 10:34 PM CST
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LUBBOCK, Texas (KCBD) - The Shallowater FFA horse judging team has brought the first national title to its hometown, winning the National Championship in Indianapolis in October. Senior Gracie Potter placed 2nd, senior David Kendrick placed 4th, college freshman AJ Kendrick (who was a senior when the team qualified), placed 6th, and sophomore Lana Brickey was a silver-rated individual.

“Being able to hear 2nd place getting called and then just kind of like looking at each other and being like oh my gosh we just did this. It was, it was really, really cool,” Potter said.

“I don’t think this has ever happened before, which is crazy, and I’m so thankful to be part of it,” Brickey said.

The victory was made that much sweeter by a fire truck escort on the way back into town.

“We just kind of took it as another competition, but coming back through town with those escorts and with that support, it gave us the realization that hey, this is kind of a big deal like we won the national contest and not everybody gets to do that,” Potter said.

The Shallowater Mustangs judged some mustangs in the contest, evaluating their balance, structure, quality, and muscling. It’s one of the FFA’s career development events. The team says it took a lot of hard work and countless hours of practice to beat more than 1,400 teams across the state, and 45 teams at nationals.

For David, all that time at practice meant more moments for him to cherish with his team.

“Even though we’re practicing for 8 hours a day, we’re still having fun and we’re learning together. But, we’re also able to make jokes and have fun while we’re in those practices,” David said.

The team members have been judging horses since joining 4-H in 5th grade, then stuck together when it came time to join FFA in high school. This was David’s brother AJ’s final youth competition.

“It’s been really cool, just kind of growing up with each other and judging and all the memories and all this success that we had. And it was really cool to be able to end my FFA career on a pretty high note with some really cool teammates,” Kendrick said.

Along with the career events, the FFA members compete in leadership development and speaking contests. All give members practical skills to become the industry’s next generation of leaders.

“There’s a lot of opportunities that we, as youth, can take moving forward. A lot of us have those opportunities to get scholarships through colleges that will further our careers and we are able to judge at the college level. Beyond that, we can go on to be a carded judge through organizations like APHA, so that we can actually judge an actual show. So, it definitely has brought us here and given us everything that we need to go on into the future and give back to our industry,” Potter said.