Teaching Reasons – How to help youth to memorize reasons and visualize the animals: Part 2

If a youth gets distracted, it is easier to get back on track if they are visualizing the class vs. just saying memorized words that were on a piece of paper.

Visualizing a class that a youth is judging is very important when giving reasons. If a youth gets lost in his or her train of thought or gets distracted, it is easier to get back on track by visualizing the class rather than just saying memorized words on a piece of paper. If a youth gets lost in the middle of a memorized speech he or she will often have to return to the beginning to get back on track. If that same youth is utilizing visualization, the youth can usually pick up from where he or she left off.                                           

One way to do this is to come up with a way to remember a particular horse right from the start using a name and description. Have the youth look at the overall class for just a few seconds before he or she starts judging and take the time to put the animals into memory with a name and description. For example, Horse 1 is black, thin, not shiny and not much to look at, so you may remember her as the Black Mare that was like Black Beauty after she was sold a couple of times and worked hauling the coal cart. Other examples could include: the paint that has a sweet eye and lots of loud color that looks like the one Tanto rode on the Lone Ranger, the sorrel that looks like the type of horse I would love to ride or, the grey that looks like the old grey mare stereotype.

The important thing is for the youth to look for something that will help them remember each horse when they are referring back later and write that on their paper for their description, such as; Old Grey Mare, Black Stallion, Sorrell I want to ride, Bad attitude Bay, Long legged Chestnut and Arnold the Muscles Palomino.

This approach may also work for the entire class if, for example, there was an obvious bottom pair and an obvious top pair. If a youth looks at the entire class for a few seconds and realize they are all bays, but two are very small and young while the other two look stronger and older, he or she may come up with a description that helps to recall that later. This technique can also really save the day if they have to judge a day’s worth of classes and the horses become more and more similar.

Ideally, you want the youth to write an outline on the horses, and present his or her findings through visualization and recollection. Realistically, most youth do not develop that skill until they have been judging for a while, so memorization is important when they are first starting out. However, the goal is to eventually get them to visualize and recall a class without writing out the entire set of reasons.

Here are some helpful tips I have used as a Michigan State University Extension educator to help youth memorize their reasons. First take the youth out into a park or around the barn and have them point out an object, name it, and then go to another object and name that while restating the first object.

For example:

Youth 1 states, “Along our walk in the park I found a dirty, stinky, green trash can without a bag.”

Continue your walk, Youth 2 will carry on stating, “Along our walk in the park I have found a green pine tree that reminds me of Christmas and a dirty, stinky, green trash can.”

Going on Youth 3 could say something like, “along our walk in the park I have found a cute puppy digging a hole, a green pine tree that reminds me of Christmas and a dirty, stinky, green trash can.”

Have each youth say the items to themselves even when it is not their turn. After taking turns through the park and putting together 12-15 items, the youths should be able to recount each item, in reverse order, along with the description. You may also keep the items in order by restating each item before adding the new item. This helps the youth to develop their memory and while using the descriptions to help recall things.

For an actual set of reasons have the youth perform the following:

  1. First, write your reasons in the format you have been taught.
  2. Take your printed notes into a quiet room (ex: top of the stands, back hall, bathroom) and minimize all distractions.
  3. Look at the first sentence in your notes and read it out loud. Then, close your eyes, imagine the class and say the sentence without looking at it. Then open your eyes looking straight ahead trying hard to not let your eyes focus on anything and say it again.
  4. Repeat the step above, this time with the first two sentences.
  5. Next, try it with three sentences. Then four. Repeat until you have memorized every sentence in your notes while visualizing the horses and class. It is best to break the reasons into sections, so that if you get lost it is easy to start out at the top of a section rather than the top of the entire set of reasons. Your sections should include: placement, opening, top pair, middle pair, bottom pair and closing.

As the youth get more experienced have them work on saying their reasons from an outline instead of a completely written-out set of memorized reasons. Youth should come up with a few different formats with which they are really comfortable that use the same transitions, opening and closing. Then it is as simple as putting the horses and terms into their chosen format. Having a consistent outline will cut down on the memorization and will give them confidence because they will not have to learn that piece. Once they visualize the horses and have their outline in their heads, they can give a strong set of reasons by plugging it into their format as they present it to the judge.

Related article:

Teaching reasons – How to start teaching reasons with youth: Part 1.

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