University of Florida

Significant Changes for Area and State
4-H Horse Shows

This page highlights the significant changes to note about the upcoming Area and State 4-H Horse Show season. What is listed here is general explanation, not exact rules. The rulebook will have the 'official' rules that will take precedence. Counties may continue to adapt their own rules so they are tailored for their local programs.

Changes for 2019

A major change for 2019 is the restructuring of the Horse Show qualifying Areas. The previous six Horse Show Areas are now redrawn to four Areas - North, South, East, and West. Visit this page to see the new 2019 Areas.

Classes added to the regular qualifying class list:

Rule and procedural changes:

  • When entering 5 classes, Showmanship does not have to be one of them. Entrants may enter any five classes. However, the following existing limits still apply:
    - May enter only one Halter class.
    - May enter only one Showmanship/Ground Handling class.
    - To be eligible for a division's Showmanship/Ground Handling class, entrant must enter at least one riding class in that division.
  • Horse substitution requests before Area shows must be made by County Agents by noon on the Friday a week before that Area show.
  • Every effort will be made to have a uniform online registration method and scoring program for all Area shows.
  • State Show registration paperwork will be drastically reduced. No copies of Coggins tests, breed registration papers, participation forms, nor rulebook receipt forms.


For reference, the history of previous major changes is listed below


Age Change for 2016

Recognizing that Florida has many excellent younger horse show exhibitors who have not previously been eligible to qualify for Regionals; beginning 2016 there will be an avenue for Intermediates to compete along with Seniors to qualify for Regionals. Read more about the rule and explanation here.

Changes from 2014

Among the highlights of changes for 2014 are a new Ranch Division with two new cattle classes, a "Ground Handling" class in place of Showmanship in the Ranch & Speed Event Divisions, and a new approach to the State Show schedule. Please see this pdf for the full list of chages for the 2014 Area & State 4-H Horse Shows. The new class list and proposed State schedule are below.


Changes from 2013

Class changes include:

  • Pony Mare & Gelding halter classes will be combined in both the Western division and Hunter division.
  • Ranch Riding is split into Jr./Int. and Sr.
  • Training Level Dressage is split into Jr./Int. and Sr., while First Level Dressage remains open to all ages. Riders may enter only one Dressage class.
  • Showmanship classes are added to the Speed Event Division. (Note the Showmanship class entry rule below.)
  • There will be no Grand & Reserve Champion halter classes.

Rules/Procedures Changes

  • "Horses" eligible for Area & State 4-H Horse Shows include horses, ponies, miniature horses, and mules. Donkeys and mini-donkeys are not eligible.
    *Please note: Donkeys may be used as project animals in the Horse project and leased with the 4-H Horse Lease Form. Counties may also choose to allow donkeys in their local or County shows. The rule above applies solely to the Area and State shows.
  • Bits and equipment sections of the rulebook will be rearranged so that all information for a division is in one place. Rules may be revised and/or re-written for clarity. (Details will be posted once confirmed.)
  • Showmanship class entry: To be eligible to compete in a division's showmanship class, an exhibitor must show in at least one of that division's performance (riding) classes (unless they are only showing in in-hand classes).
  • A specified list of showmanship maneuvers that may be asked will be added to the rulebook (similar to lists for Horsemanship and HS Equitation).
  • Horsemanship maneuvers - "Extended gaits" will be added to the list of options for Jr./Int. youth.
  • Western Trail at the State show will have a regular 'order of go'.
  • Speed event riders will be able to touch barrels or poles without penalty or disqualification.
  • Fence heights for Hunters will be given as a range, and some max heights will be lowered.
    • Working Hunter/Handy Hunter
      Horses, 2'9" to 3'0"
      Large ponies, 2'3" to 2'6"
      Small/Medium ponies, 2'0" to 2'3"
    • Jr./Int. Equitation Over Fences
      All 2'0" to 2'3"
    • Sr. Equitation Over Fences
      Horses, 2'9" to 3'0"
      Large ponies, 2'3" to 2'6"
      Small/Medium ponies, 2'0" to 2'3"

Changes from 2010

Scoring for Western Trail

Before 2010, the first & second cumulative refusals were a 5-point penalty, and the third cumulative refusal was disqualification. Now, all refusals are a 5-point penalty, no matter how many are accumulated. Riders will be asked to move to the next obstacle after the 3rd refusal at a single obstacle, but will not be disqualified. This will also be the procedure for the new Ranch Trail class.

Added in 2011 - 15 point penalty for any obstacle that is attempted, but not completed.

2010 Class changes

You will notice the following differences from previous years:

  • No "Open" Division. All classes are listed under the four main divisions. Classes are also renumbered so all classes in a division are together, as opposed to all the halter, then all the showmanship, then all the mounted classes.
  • Trail is now Western only. By removing the Open Division and moving Trail into the Western Division, all entrants will show in Western tack and attire.
  • Western pony height is 14.2 hands. Previously Western ponies were 13.2 hands; now they use the same definition as Hunter.
  • Western and Hunter Halter classes have the same splits: pony mares, pony geldings, horse mares, horse geldings.
  • Western Pleasure and Hunter Under Saddle have the same splits: pony, Jr/Int. rider, and Sr. rider.
  • All Speed Events are split to Jr/Int. and Sr.
  • Saddle Seat and Gaited Performance Division. Classes and rules were redefined to allow for gaited horses to show in Western, Hunter, or Dressage tack instead of only Saddle Seat. Gaited horses (regardless of riding style) and Saddle Seat trotting horses are still in the same overall division.
  • New Ranch classes! These new classes are governed by the same tack & appointments rules as the Western Division. However the intent is a more natural turnout suitable for actually working on a Ranch as opposed "show" tack, attire, and turnout. Click each class name for the full set of rules as they will be in the rulebook.
  • Ranch Riding. Judged on quality of gaits, response to the rider, manners, and disposition as the horse performs as a means of conveyance from one stock horse task to another.
  • Ranch Trail. Shows the horse‚Äôs ability to navigate and cope with the various situations and obstacles encountered in everyday ranch work. Should use realistic and natural obstacles and terrain. Notable differences from Western Trail are the required obstacles of roping a simulated steer and dragging a log.

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