Florida 4-H Horse Program
General Info, Project Materials & Help
Philosophy and Goals
The purpose of the 4-H horse program is to provide young people an opportunity to participate in a series of activities designed to improve citizenship, sportsmanship, horsemanship, character, competitive spirit, discipline, and responsibility while creating an atmosphere for learning and awareness of the life about us.
If one takes time to study this statement, the goals and implications are awesome. It is not anticipated that a child would progress at the same rate for all these objectives; it is expected that given the proper motivation and provided good leadership by leaders, parents, and agents, there would be improvement in all areas. Many times the recognition by the 4-H'ers that they could improve in these areas is a significant accomplishment.
Most 4-H'ers electing this project will already have a significant interest in and even a passionate love for the animal. It is the leaders' responsibility to utilize this interest to accomplish the project objectives. Though the objectives may be arranged in a different order, you will notice the first objective is not horsemanship. Horsemanship, in the broadest sense, is an important facet of the 4-H horse program, but it should be understood that the horse is but a tool to be used in the development and education of the child. There are over fifty major project areas available in 4-H and all of them have as objectives to make better citizens of these youth, to increase their knowledge in a particular subject matter area, and to inspire them to explore other areas.
Horse shows are not the major objective of this program, and any leader or agent that professes this, either out of actual belief or to persuade someone to join a 4-H club, is certainly in error. In doing this, they would most certainly be setting themselves and the club up for disappointment and possible failure. This is not to minimize the importance of horse shows in helping to achieve our goals, but it must be understood we are in the business of education. There are many opportunities to show elsewhere and, also, it is quite possible there will be many youth in a club that are not interested in showing. They may be interested in one or more of the many forms of trail riding, rodeoing, breeding and production, or other activities involving the use of a horse.
When thinking about the horse program and its objectives, one should certainly realize the potential that participation in horse judging, public speaking, and method demonstrations has in helping to achieve said goals. Participation in these activities can help a youth improve in many areas, as well as gain a better education.
In summary, there is a need for all aspects of the current 4-H horse program, and it is hoped that you as leaders and agents will encourage participation of your club in all these areas.
E. L. Johnson
Horse Events Overview
4-H Horsemanship School is 5 days of concentrated courses in horses and in beginning and intermediate Western and English Horsemanship. Approximately 5 hours per day are spent on horseback with riders grouped according to ability. Riders must be able to groom, tack and mount their horse on their own. Educational topics include general health care, feeding, tack selection and care, fitting/grooming, and safety.
Horse Demonstrations & Public Speaking
Presenting speeches and demonstrations to share knowledge with others is the heart of the 4-H Program. Any State-level Demonstration/Illustrated Talk or Public Speaking speech in the "Horse" category will be presented at the State Horse Events in Gainesville in June, separate from 4-H Congress. The State competition qualifies youth for Regional and National events.
In Horse Judging, youth learn to evaluate a horse's form as it relates to function, and compare it to the ideal as well as to other horses. The added benefit is that it gives youth the opportunity to sharpen their decision making skills and their ability to defend those decisions.
Horse Quiz Bowl
The State 4-H Horse Quiz Bowl is a quiz contest made up of questions pertaining to horse topics. Pairs of four-person teams compete against each other responding to questions asked by a contest moderator. This contest offers horse club members the opportunity to demonstrate their knowledge, compete head to head with other teams, and earn the right to represent Florida at the Regional and National competitions.
The term "Hippology" comes from the Greek "hippo", meaning horse, and "ology", meaning "the study of". Participants will be able to demonstrate their experience and knowledge gained in horse judging, quiz bowl, speeches, and practical horse management. Phases of the contest include a written exam, identification of items shown on slides, placing and/or ID of feed tags or feedstuffs, judging, ID stations, and team problems.
Each year 4-H clubs across the state hold countless local and county horse shows. In the spring, each of the six Areas has a qualification show to determine who will be able to participate at the State show. Only a top percentage from each Area qualify to go to the Florida 4-H State Horse Show. The State show typically has up to 300 entrants. Of those, the 70 highest point-earning Seniors (and Intermediates who show as Seniors) qualify for the Regional horse Show.
Area and State 4-H Horse Show Age Divisions
AREA AND STATE 4-H HORSE SHOW AGE DIVISIONS
The Area and State 4-H Horse Show age divisions are:
- Juniors are 8-10 as of September l of the current 4-H year.
- Seniors must be 14 years old on or before September l of the current 4-H year.
- Intermediates (11-13 as of September l of the current 4-H year) have the option of competing in either the Junior or Senior division. Intermediates may qualify for Regionals provided they compete and qualify in the Senior Division in both the Area and State shows. Intermediates who do not wish to compete for potential qualification for Regionals should enter the Junior division at the Area show.
See this page for a full explanation about how Intermediates should start planning before the Area Show if they want to be eligible to qualify for Regionals.
Beginning of the Year Forms - Lease, Horse Certification, Project Book
Hose Record Book
Visit this page for the current Horse Record Books and supporting information.
Leasing a Horse
4-H Horse Project Certification Form
As stated in the Area/State rulebook:
- A County Extension Agent must certify the eligibility of the 4‐H member as having met minimum project requirements and ownership, age, sex, and registration status of each horse. This information must be on file at the respective County Extension Offices by January 1.
- Participant must manage at least one horse of any age or breed as a 4‐H horsemanship project. The horse must be owned or leased by the 4‐H member, the member’s parents, brother, sister, or legal guardian and certified as a 4‐H project by January l of the current 4‐H year.
This is not an "Official State Form" that must be used. Counties may use their own custom versions to incorporate other rules, info, etc. that are unique to their programs. This linked certification form may be used if a county does not have one, or as a starting point to customize it for the County's needs.
Rules, Policies, Advisory Committee
Area & State 4-H Horse Show Rules
- Rulebook - Go to this page for the rule book for the Area and State 4-H Horse Shows. The Rulebook page also has links to other materials such as bit rule explanations, rulebook jargon definitions, age division policies, etc.
- Helmet use - For a review of Florida 4-H's helmet policies and Florida's helmet law, go to Florida Helmet Law and how it affects 4-H programs
- County policy - Counties and clubs may or may not follow the Area and State rulebook verbatim. For full explanation and examples, go to Setting County 4-H Horse Show Policies.
FL 4-H State Horse Advisory Committee
The State Horse Advisory Committee consists of 2 Agents and 3 Volunteers from each of the four Areas. Agents serve terms as decided by their Area, and Leaders serve three year terms. The terms for the Leaders are staggered so someone new is starting each year (or reappointed to start the 3-year term again).
State 4-H Advisory Board Members, 4-H year 2023-24
- Next meeting, Spring 2024, March 11, 10am (T), via Zoom
Horseman of the Year Scholarship
Each year, the Florida 4-H Horse Program recognizes an outstanding Horseman of the Year, as well as the top two runners up. The Horseman of the Year receives an $800 scholarship, with cash (gift card) awarded to the top three. The purpose of the scholarship is for the Florida 4-H Horse Program to recognize and promote the total involvement and development of the 4-H Horse Club member in all aspects of the Florida 4-H program. It will not be an award strictly for show activities. To be eligible, members must have completed at least junior year of high school and have completed at least two years in the Horse project including current year. All applicants are limited to two years of eligibility/participation.
Applying for the Horseman of the Year scholarship is the same process as applying for other Florida 4-H scholarships. The Florida 4-H Scholarship Application process has detailed procedures for the online application. Review the page thoroughly, and also be sure to look specifically at this Equine Scholarship Summary for the additional requirements!
Check the Animal Sciences Youth calendar for the date of virtual interviews of finalists.
Elaine Kier Memorial Outstanding Volunteer Leader Award
Nominate an outstanding Horse Program volunteer leader for this state-wide award. The winner will be Florida's nominee for the National AYHC Volunteer of the Year Award.
Refer to this form for nomination procedures. The deadline to nominate a Leader each year is June 10.
Previous award recipients are:
- 2014 – Elaine Kier (posthumously); selected as AYHC National recipient
- 2015 – Barbara Nagle; selected as AYHC National recipient
- 2016 – Colleen Martin
- 2017 – Liz Jet
- 2018 – Terry Stout
- 2019 – Anne Peterson
- 2020 – Rene Burks
- 2022 - Dorothy Blair; selected as AYHC National recipient