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If you say “That’s a horse of a different color” to a group of 4-H members, they’re likely to tell you what breed the horse is based on those colorings. In 4-H, learning about horses means much more than learning to ride. Through 4-H, young people with a passion for horses can participate in educational contests related to the equine industry regardless of whether they even own a horse. These educational programs enhance members’ knowledge of horse health, breed characteristics, management, and feeding.

The primary objective of these contests is to provide an opportunity for youth to demonstrate their knowledge of equine-related subject matter in a competitive setting where attitudes of friendliness and fairness prevail.

In the State 4-H Horse Judging Contest youth will judge six classes of horses, at least two being halter classes. Youth 14 years of age and older may also choose to participate in oral reasons following the classes. For those not participating in the oral reasons class, one question class will be required. AQHA Ranch Riding has been added to the list of possible performance classes to be judged. Top-placing youth will be invited to participate in an invitational judging contest where the national team will be determined. 

Check the resources below for the horse judging registration card. Cards must be signed by your local Extension staff.


The contest is open to all 4-H members; one does not need to own a horse or be enrolled in a horse project to participate. Participants must bring signed horse judging cards signed by the Extension office staff, with them to registration.

Required Document

Contact for More Information:

U of I Extension Equine Specialist
Debra Hagstrom
Extension 4-H Animal Science Specialist
Dan Jennings

Event Information