Chatting with the judge: Jo Ann Kosanic

Michigan 4-H horse show judge Jo Ann Kosanic shares her personal perspective on her favorite classes, pet peeves and best piece of advice she’s been given.

Jo Ann Kosanic receiving the 2012 winner of the Dodge Miner Friend of 4-H Judges Award. Photo credit: Desiree Whipple
Jo Ann Kosanic receiving the 2012 winner of the Dodge Miner Friend of 4-H Judges Award. Photo credit: Desiree Whipple

I’m excited to continue a series of Michigan State University Extension interviews with some of your favorite horse judges from around Michigan. I spent some time with one of these industry professionals recently, Jo Ann Kosanic, and here’s what Jo Ann and I chatted about.

Taylor: What's your favorite class to judge and why?

Jo Ann: I enjoy officiating the speed/gymkhana classes in areas of the state where skills are really stressed. I do not like officiating in areas where they feel speed is the only perquisite to winning. Those shows are very dangerous and scary.

Taylor: What are your favorite things in that class that help the top exhibitors shine for you?

Jo Ann: Riders that work on control, position, consistency and speed are very exciting to watch. I also enjoy watching a horse that stands relaxed outside the arena, walks into the arena willingly, does his job and walks out calmly. Those riders have done their training right. Not every horse is cut out to be a pleasure horse or speed horse and I see so many kids struggling to make a square peg fit into a round hole. It's fun to see a horse and rider that have found their niche and are enjoying their work. 

Taylor: What trend in the show industry would you like to see leave anytime?

Jo Ann: Of course the most offensive thing for me is the alteration of the horse’s natural gait. Horses that can't ride off the rail because they are so canted. It looks so unnatural it's actually difficult to watch. I do believe that this trend to some extent is already leaving.

I am also not a fan of the overpriced tack and clothing because at this point it has become a beauty pageant instead of a skills test. It actually sends the wrong message about what is taking priority in a judge’s selection. If more people knew how little these items mean to a judge I'm sure they would not waste so much of their money. I would rather see a rider in a more workmanlike outfit with a glow of confidence instead of flashy crystals.

Taylor: What is the best piece of advice (in regards to the equine industry) that you've ever received?

Jo Ann: Don't practice until you get it right, practice until you can't get it wrong. You can never be too prepared.

Thank you so much, Jo Ann, for spending a bit of your time with me. I loved hearing some of your thoughts!

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