Road to the Horse 2023 Judges

Road to the Horse strives to bring together the best of the best — colt starters, colts, entertainment and judges. Judging the world’s best colt starters at horsemanship’s most prestigious event, is the responsibility of five individuals who are often as unique as the event itself. Each judge on the panel is an expert in their discipline. This year’s judging lineup comes with a unique blend of talent that stretches from the show pen to the round pen and even to the rodeo arena.

With an emphasis on building a solid foundation, each judge critiques every step — from beginning to end — as competitors work to build a trusting partnership with their colt. The five talented judges chosen to judge at the Road to the Horse 2023 are:  Lari Dee Guy, Punk Carter, Eric Hoffman, Jesse Westfall. The Road to the Horse 2023 judging panel will gather at the Kentucky Horse Park on March 23-26 to determine which competitor will walk away with the title.

Lari Dee Guy

Lari Dee Guy is a roping industry legend, with 10 Women’s Professional Rodeo Association World titles across every roping event. She’s qualified for all three National Finals Breakaway Roping since the event’s inception. She’s credited by King of the Cowboys, Trevor Brazile, for starting and solidifying the training on some of his best horses, including the famed Real Cool Dual, better known as “Texaco.”  Guy’s horse, American Greed, became the top-earning team roping futurity horse with Brazile’s jockeying in 2021, going on to win numerous titles in ProRodeo and open team roping competitions.  A member of the Texas Cowboy Hall of Fame and the National Cowgirl Hall of Fame, Guy makes her home in Abilene, Texas, where she teaches and trains on her family’s working cattle ranch.

Punk Carter

Punk Carter is a cutting horse industry icon and one of its most respected members and activist. He is a past President of the NCHA, and has been an NCHA Director for over 30 years. He was inducted into the NCHA Members’ Hall of Fame during the Futurity in 2002, and also the TX Cowboy Hall of Fame in 2018. Punk has been featured in a number of national television and magazine advertisements for NCHA, Strongid, and other products he endorses or created, including his own BBQ sauce. For Punk, cutting is literally all in the family. His family, including six generations, claim cutting as a beloved hobby, and 3 are in the family business. Punk’s father, John Carter, (NCHA Riders Hall of Fame, NCHA AAAA Judge) who Punk credits as one of his biggest mentors, and his brother, Roy and daughter Caimey, are all successful cutting horse trainers.

Eric Hoffmann

Eric Hoffmann is the Director of Horsemanship Education and head horsemanship instructor at the Montana Center for Horsemanship and the University of Montana Western. He has taught horsemanship classes at MCH and Montana Western since 2008.  Hoffmann holds an A.A.S. in Equine Management and Training from Laramie County Community College and has earned a B.S. and M.S. degrees in Agriculture Education from the University of Wyoming and Montana State University.  Eric previously served on the Ranching Heritage Committee for the AQHA. Eric coached the University of Western Montana Colt Starting Team to a championship at the Road to the Horse Days of ’47 Colt Starting Competition in Salt Lake City in 2021.

Jesse Westfall

Jesse Westfall grew up watching western shows with his grandpa and knew early on that he wanted to ride horses. Through the years, Jesse has accumulated a record to be proud of including multiple NRHA and AQHA year-end awards, and as well as being a two-time Reserve Champion at the All American Quarter Horse Congress. Jesse served as an NRHA judge for 14 years and presided over shows in the United States, Canada and Australia. He has a strong interest in bloodlines and breeding, and is responsible for breeding horses that have won 11 All American Quarter Horse Congress Championships. He is in his seventh year as the trainer in residence at Asbury University where he teaches training classes. He is constantly refining his skills and striving to be the best possible horseman that he can be. Jesse’s passion for horses is definitely a result of his passion for life. He serves as a constant inspiration to his wife, Stacy, and is a dedicated father to their three sons.

Jeff Williams – Head Judge

For more than 40years, Jeff Williams has been starting colts for numerous longtime clients that include the Haythorn Land & Livestock, King Ranch, Beggs Ranch, Matador Ranch, Espuela Ranch, and the Muleshoe Ranch. Many of the colts he starts bring top bids at prestigious ranch horse sales. Jeff is also a Ranch Horse Association of America event judge. Not only does Jeff have an in-depth and lifelong understanding of the elements that create a perfect foundation for a developing colt, he is a cowboy who lives every day in the saddle. Road to the Horse 2022 will mark Jeff’s sixth year as a Road to the Horse judge.