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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

  • 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 for the 2019/2020 4-H year is October 1, 2020.

    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
  • General Information

    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 (See more information) 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.

    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.

    4-H Horse Project Certification Form

    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

    Horse Project Book (pdf) - Current version of 4HHSR02, which should be in use now.

    Horseman of the Year (pdf) - the Florida 4-H Portfolio process has detailed procdures for the new online application. Review the page thoroughly, and also be sure to look specifiaclly at this Equine Scholarship Summary for the additional requirements!

    Area & State 4-H Horse Show Rules

    State 4-H Advisory Board Members

    Minutes from September 22, 2020 meeting
    Minutes from April, 2020 meeting

    - Next meeting, Spring 2021, April 7, 9am, via Zoom.

    Florida Helmet Law and how it affects 4-H programs

    Setting County 4-H Horse Show Policies

  • Horse Events Overview

    Horsemanship School

    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.

    Horse Judging

    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.

    Horse Shows

    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 the top 55% from each Area qualify to go to the Florida 4-H State Horse Show. The State show typically has ~300 entrants. Of those, the 50 highest point-earning Seniors qualify for the Regional horse Show.