Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)


Youth Development and Agricultural Education

Committee Chair

Kathryn Orvis

Committee Member 1

Colleen Brady

Committee Member 2

Sean Brophy


A standardized procedure for how and why professional equine judges approach their practice in a specific way has yet to be documented. Learning the background, approach, processes, and procedures taken by professional horse judges when engaged in stock-type halter classes is important for establishing a training protocol that can be used in coaching and/or training situations.

This study applies cognitive task analysis to the concepts, processes, and principles of professional horse judges in stock-type halter classes to develop a teaching and learning resource for novice and trainee judges of various ages. Specifically, an action and decision chart that details the ‘if’, ‘then’ scenarios that professional horses judges expressed being engaged in when judging a stock type halter class. This study was framed using the theory of cognitive constructivism, and the theory of multi-media learning in an effort to keep the learning outcomes congruent with potential incorporation of technology in future applications. The action and decision chart document the information gathered from professional horse judges through task prompting following cognitive task analysis, using the approach of seeking the concepts, processes, and principles. The resulting tasks and action decision chart was further expanded into cognitive and procedural elements that professional horse judges take during their analysis of stock-type halter classes.

The results of this study indicated four main cognitive applications and three main procedural actions that support the action and decision chart, which provided context and detail to the practices used in the horse show pen. The cognitive applications found are: (1) first impressions, (2) elements of conformation: structural and overall, (3) conformational fault significance, and (4) defined order of preference. The procedural actions found are: (1) initial procedure(s), (2) consistent procedure(s), (3) assigned procedure(s). The results surrounding the tasks that judges practice, supported by detailing their cognitive and procedural elements taken during the judging process provides a substantial platform for universal judging practices to be taken by professionals and trainees alike, as well as to potentially be developed using further technology-based learning modules.