Preparing for 2024 Horsebowl Competitions

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Buzzer and Bonus Card
What is the best way to study for Horsebowl? Where are the best places to find Horsebowl questions to study? These are questions that we are often asked by coaches, leaders and 4-H’ers when preparing for 4-H Horsebowl contests. There are several methods that can be used to prepare and each group and/or team should use what works best for them and their situation.

Submitting Questions

The first step in preparing to compete in NC District and State 4-H Horsebowl is to submit 40 questions to NCSU Extension Horse Husbandry by the deadline date (January 2, 2024). Questions must be submitted in the County Submitted Questions Excel Template (2024 County Submitted Questions Excel Template) or Google Sheet that is provided and only come from the approved references. Be sure to include the page number for each question. The first tab on the spreadsheet file has detailed instructions on how to type in your questions and save and submit your file.

2024 Horsebowl Questions Memo

Link to Horsebowl Contest Page

Writing Questions

When you write your questions, please write your questions in progressing difficulty (think round 1 through round 9) and also include bonus questions (questions requiring answers of 3 or more parts). Please try to write them in a way that is new and different. There is not a lot of new content, so original wording is needed. Question writing and difficulty level have to do with the verbiage or stem of the question. Lower rounds ask questions that are more about remembering and knowledge. Questions usually begin with, “What is…” and “Where is…” and “List 2…” Here are some sample questions that might be heard in Rounds 1-3:


Q:    What term describes a horse that does not want to leave the barn?

A:    Barn Sour

Source:  BH (10)


Q:    What is the term used to describe an abnormality that does NOT affect serviceability?

A:     Blemish

Source:   AYHC 1st (230-1)


Q:    What are the color of the eggs of the nose bot fly?

A:    Black

Source:   AYHC YL (200-3L)

As the rounds progress, so do the difficulty of the questions, and more of the question stems focus on understanding and comprehension of the material. Questions will include those that ask for “explanation” and “differentiation,” instead of just recall of a particular term. Here are a few examples of Round 4-6 questions:


Q:    What would cause a horse to have an unresponsive mouth and sides to its rider?

A:    A rider who constantly jerks on the horse’s mouth or kicks it in the ribs.

Source:   BH (9)


Q:    What is the purpose of a flank cinch on a roping saddle?

A:    To prevent the saddle from flipping forward over the horse’s head when the rope is pulled tight by a fighting steer or calf

Source:    AYHC YL (B108-2L)


Q:    When referring to a chestnut horse what does the term tostada describe?

A:    A red-colored horse with darker red colored points

Source:   GRIFFITHS (41)

The closing rounds of the contest will include questions that require contestants to apply the information within the question itself or analyze given information to draw a conclusion or derive an answer. For example, questions might ask “What would happen if…” or “Identify ______ based on the following description” or “Provide pros and cons of _______.”  Here are some sample questions that might be heard in Rounds 7-10:


Q:    Name the disease from the following description: This disease is a worldwide problem. It is a potentially fatal viral infection that can also occur in humans. It is usually associated with a bite from an infected animal.

A:    Rabies

Source:   GRIFFITHS (178)


Q:    An excess of phosphorus in the equine diet decreases calcium absorption which can cause what condition?

A:    Big-head disease

Source:    GRIFFITHS (135)


Q:    An exhausted, not physically fit horse may lose control over the contractions of his diaphragm and suffer from what debilitating condition that occurs in rhythm with atrial depolarization of the heart?

A:    Thumps

Source:   Evans2 (110)

Embedded within every round are bonus questions. During bonus questions, team members have 10 seconds to confer and discuss their answers to the question, which typically has multiple parts or asks for multiple answers. Since these questions are worth 3 points each, more information and recall is expected. Just as the toss-up questions within rounds increase in difficulty, so do the bonus questions. Expect the information in the round 9 bonus questions to be of a much higher and complex level than round 1 questions. Here are some example Round 3 bonus questions:


Q:    What are the four purposes of saddle blankets or pads?

A:    Protect horse’s back, absorb sweat and moisture, protect saddle, help the saddle fit better

Source:   H&H2001 (33)


Q:    Name three (3) types of western saddles.

A:    Pleasure, trail, endurance, equitation, reining, gymkhana, cutting, roping, barrel racing

Source:    AYHC 1st (1100-4)


Q:    Name four (4) of the trace minerals required in a horse’s diet.

A:    Copper, iron, selenium, manganese, iodine, cobalt, zinc

Source:   LEWIS 2nd (19)

Studying and Preparing for Competition

Just like studying for a test in school, the best way to prepare for Horsebowl is going to vary from person to person and team to team. Some teams meet face-to-face on a weekly basis, and essentially hold mock contests, practicing questions on buzzers. Other groups have a “theme” or topic that they focus on at each practice. For example, meeting/practice topics can follow the suggested category list for Horsebowl questions:

  1. Anatomy
  2. Physiology and reproduction
  3. Breeds and breed organizations
  4. Psychology, training, and vices
  5. Diseases and unsoundness
  6. Parasites
  7. Genetics
  8. Tack and equipment
  9. History and evolution
  10. Trivia (limited to a maximum of two questions per round)
  11. Nutrition
  12. Judging and conformation
  13. Showing, show procedures, and other mounted activities

If face-to-face practices are not as feasible due to distance between team members or lack of a suitable practice location, coaches can request an NCSU Zoom login from their County Extension Agent or meet on Skype, or Google Hangout or any other preferred online collaboration method.

We are often asked, “Where are the best places to find old questions to study?”  Our website does have a page where old questions from past contests have been shared. Other states have similar pages where they have shared their old contest questions. However, caution must be exercised when studying questions you did not personally write. Some sources are no longer used for competition (How to Be Your Own Veterinarian Sometimes) and some sources have undergone major revisions and updates (Horse Industry Handbook and Horse Smarts). It is important to be familiar with the current source list and not spend time learning material from questions that are outdated or incorrect.

A great way to develop your own “database” of questions is to assign each team member a particular topic or reference book and have them write several questions to share with the team. Use an online tool, such as Google Docs, to share information in real time. Also, online tools such as are a handy way to upload information (you can import questions and answers from existing spreadsheets) and turn Horsebowl questions into quizzes and flashcards for mobile learning and studying.

Some youth prefer to write questions on flashcards to help them remember because they learn best by re-writing the material. Some youth learn best by simply reading reference books. Coaches should encourage youth to try different methods until they find what works best for them.

Written By

Lori Stroud, N.C. Cooperative ExtensionLori StroudExtension Asst. - Horse Husbandry Call Lori Email Lori Animal Science
NC State Extension, NC State University
Updated on Nov 29, 2023
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