For Mercer County High School students Holly Darnall, Casey Host, Kaylee Russell and Braden Young, winning state has become a common thing. The four girls recently won the Kentucky Horse Judging Competition, which helped them qualify for the Southern Regional Horse Judging competition in Raleigh, N.C.
Darnall, Russell and Young have been a team for eight years, competing as early as 9-years-old, and the trio has multiple state championships to show for their hard work. With the addition of Host a year ago, the quartet added another state championship to their total.
Although the group had won multiple state championships, they waited until this year to go to the Regional competition, because teams are only allowed to go once during their careers. Their wait proved to be a smart decision as they placed eighth overall.
Teams are evaluated on three things individually, including: Halter Judging (when a horse is walked by an exhibitor), Performance Judging (when a horse is ridden by an exhibitor) and Reasoning (when the teams get a chance to explain why they judged the way they did). After the individual evaluation, the scores are added, together to make the teams final score.