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Sunday, December 10, 2023

Ocala woman wins national horsemanship quiz challenge

A 20-year-old woman from Ocala claimed victory in a national horsemanship quiz that tests knowledge of horse anatomy, conditioning, health, nutrition, management, and other areas of equestrianism.

Ruthie Ruhl won the 2023 United States Hunter Jumper Association Horsemanship Quiz Challenge, which was hosted from November 10 to 12 at the University of Findlay in Ohio.

Ruthie Ruhl (middle) claimed victory at this year's 2023 USHJA Horsemanship Quiz Challenge Nationals (Photo: United States Hunter Jumper Association)
Ruthie Ruhl (middle) claimed victory at this year’s 2023 USHJA Horsemanship Quiz Challenge Nationals (Photo: United States Hunter Jumper Association)

Ruhl is no stranger to the event, having attended the finals five times prior beginning in 2018. In her first year, Ruhl earned a top-four placement in the written exam, according to a story published by the USHJA.

The national contest consists of a written exam, a horsemastership (identification) exam, and a final practicum that requires participants to demonstrate their mastery of practical horsemanship knowledge.

As the winner of HQC Nationals, Ruhl received a a $2,000 training and education grant from the USHJA Foundation, a SmartPak gift card, and an internship with Spy Coast Farm in Lexington, Kentucky, according to USHJA.

“This win means a lot to me. I have worked a very long time studying and reading the materials,” said Ruhl, according to the USHJA’s story.

Ruhl says she is a full-time college student and has worked freelance for several barns around the area. According to USHJA, she aspires to be a “top professional groom or stable manager.”

After her victory, Ruhl posted an impassioned speech online about how much she has cherished and appreciated the experience:

I have been so blessed to know an incredible group of young women through the years. There is nothing like the camaraderie in the horsemanship quiz challenge. I have been lucky to come to this program, participate in the clinics and compete for the last 5 years. The people I have met and the connections I have made, changed my life. It has taught me new skills and brought me back into the sport when I wanted to quit. My friend Audrey Aberle shared a quote with me on Thursday when I was having doubts, that carried me through this weekend, “only successful people have impostor syndrome.” I encourage anyone who is on the fence, to take the leap and take the test, you never know where it will take you. There are also travel grants available in your zone to help cover the cost of competing.

Leave your words of congratulations and encouragement for Ruthie Ruhl in a comment below.

For more information on this year’s event, visit the 2023 USHJA Horsemanship Quiz Challenge Nationals.

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