Skip to main content

NC State Extension

Horse Bowl Contest

March 9, 2019

Riddick Hall

NCSU Campus


The Horse Bowl Contest is designed to offer an opportunity for youths interested in horses to display the knowledge they have gained in a competitive and friendly atmosphere. Additionally, it is designed to encourage youths and leaders to study and obtain a more thorough and complete knowledge of horses and related subject matter. Youths will gain confidence in their horse knowledge and be rewarded and recognized for their achievements. Local club, county, or inter-county competition is encouraged whenever feasible. Finally, the Horse Bowl Contest is designed to always provide an enjoyable educational experience for participants and spectators.

State Contest Motel Accommodations

Holiday Inn & Suites: Raleigh-Cary (I-40 @Walnut St)
5630 Dillard Drive
Cary, North Carolina 27518

Double Rooms Available for $84.00 per night (plus tax).

Link to book rooms online

Forms and Schedule

2019 NC State Horsebowl Online Entry Form (online form must be completed by 2/20/19)

2019 Horsebowl & Hippology Contest Schedule

2019 Map to Riddick for Horsebowl & Hippology


District Horse Bowl Contest Dates

Southeast District Date: January 26, 2019, University of Mt. Olive Contact: Eileen Coite, Sampson County Extension Director,


South Central District Date: January 26, 2019, Gray’s Creek High School Office Contact: Claudia McCauley, Cumberland County 4-H Volunteer,  Email:

North Central District Date: February 9, 2019, Guilford County Extension Office Contact: Morgan Manness, Rockingham County 4-H Extension Agent, Phone: 336-342-8230, Email:

Northeast District Date: February 9, 2019, Wake County Extension Office Contact: Heather Schaffer, Wake County 4-H Extension Agent, Phone: 919-250-1093 Email:

West District Date: February 9, 2019, Burkel County Extension Contact: Shannon Coleman, Cherokee County 4-H Extenstion Agent, Phone: 828-837-2210 Ext. 4 Email:

Please contact your county extension agent for more information. In order to participate in District Horsebowl contests, each county must have submitted 40 questions to EHH by January 2, 2019.

2019 Horsebowl Questions Memo

2019 County Submitted Horse Bowl Questions Instructions

Preparing for Horsebowl Competitions (information on submitting and writing questions and studying for competitions)


Each contestant must be an actual 4-H club member approved by his or her county Extension office and horse club leader. Participants are not required to own a horse to participate. Each team must have four eligible members. All team members must be present at the team seeding. All members of a Junior team may not have reached age 14 as of January 1 of the current year. All members of a Senior team must have reached age 14 but not age 19 before January 1 of the current year. It is strongly encouraged that mixed division teams consist of at least two Junior members and two Senior members. (A mixed team must contain at least two Junior members and one Senior member seated in competition at all times and may not have more than two Seniors seated at any time.)

Any entry form not completed in its entirety will be returned to the sender. If the entry form is resubmitted after the deadline date it will be assessed a late fee of $10 per team. In the event that late entries are prohibited, no late entries will be accepted.

Contestants may participate in only one division and on one team in a given year. Members of 4-H are not eligible to participate in a regional or state contest if they have completed a secondary education course (college, community college, or technical school) related to Horse Bowl Contest subject matter. An All-Star Team composed of the high-scoring Senior individuals from the Senior and Mixed Division, in the NC State 4-H Horse Bowl Contest will be tested to determine the state team and will represent North Carolina in National and Regional competition. In the event a high Senior Horse Bowl individual also is a high individual in the State Horse Judging Contest or Hippology Contest within the same year, that individual will have one week after completion of the State Horse Judging Contest to declare in which event(s) he or she wishes to represent North Carolina at national contests.

The State Extension specialist will designate the next high-ranking individuals in the other contest(s) to represent North Carolina at nationals. Members of the champion team in the Senior, Junior, or Mixed divisions who were not selected to participate on the state team, will be eligible to compete on future teams in that division as long as they meet the age and educational eligibility requirements. Members of the state team selected from the Senior and Mixed divisions and participating at the National 4-H Roundup or Quarter Horse Congress will be ineligible to participate as members on any future county horse bowl teams. The winning state team from the previous year will be eligible to assist as scorers and doorkeepers in the Junior or Mixed divisions of the current year at a regional or state contest.

District Qualification

Two state qualification procedures may be used at regional contests:

  1. District Elimination System
    • District contests will use a double-elimination system to select the state qualified teams.
    • A total of 12 Junior, 12 mixed and 12 Senior Division teams are eligible to compete in the State 4-H Horse Bowl Contest
    • The number of teams per division and region eligible for the State 4-H Horse Bowl contest will be selected on a quota system based on the current year’s participation. The number of teams per division and region will be determined by the state Extension horse specialist based upon a percentage of the total entries received two weeks before the contest deadline date. Entries will not be accepted after the advertised deadline date.

The State 4-H Horse Advisory Board will annually determine and announce the type of regional Horse Bowl qualification system. Team members, including alternates registered on a given team at the regional event, cannot be substituted before or during the state contest. The same team members, including alternates who are entered at the regional event, must compete at the State Horse Bowl Contest.


An appropriate device will be used that will provide a clear indication of the first participant to respond to a question. A stopwatch or other appropriate timing device will be required. Two devices will be needed for scorekeeping. One, such as a chalkboard, flip chart, or electronic light display, will be used to maintain team scores. It will be visible to the participants and, if possible, to the spectators. A second device will be required to maintain a record of individual participant scores. Equipment Failure:

  1. It shall be the responsibility of each participant to assure that all equipment is operating correctly at the start of the match.
  2. If failure occurs during a match, the following rules apply:
    • If the device being used ceases to function during a match or is believed to be malfunctioning, a time-out may be called by any participant, the moderator, or either coach.
    • If, after checking, it is determined that there is an equipment malfunction, the faulty part or parts will be replaced and play will be resumed.
    • Scores accumulated up to the point of the time-out shall stand, and all further points awarded during the remainder of the match will be added to or subtracted from this total.
    • If both referee judges or one referee judge and the moderator deem it advisable, points awarded for the two questions asked immediately before the determination of equipment failure may be recalled, and two additional questions used.
    • Under no conditions, shall there be a replay of a match in which equipment failure occurred.

Sources of Questions

Restrictions placed on the sources of materials used for developing questions for the Mixed or Senior divisions, dictate that all questions be drawn from the references located on the 4-H Horse Program Webpage. It should be clearly understood that this listing does not constitute an official endorsement of these materials. The publications are typically marketed by veterinary supply companies. Club leaders and team coaches are strongly urged to submit four new questions, answers, and question sources each year for each of the following categories:

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

All questions shall be arranged in game packets consisting of 32 total questions per match. Toss-up questions will be worth one point at all times. In Senior Division competition, the one-­on-one competition will be held during the first half and followed by the toss-up section. Bonus questions will be used with toss-up questions during all matches at the state contest. BONUS QUESTIONS will be worth three (3) points. They are attached to a correctly answered toss-up question, in the open part of the match. When multiple answers are required, three (3) points will be awarded if ALL of the required answers are correct. No points will be awarded or taken away if there is less than the required number of answers, or if there are no correct answers.  No part of the bonus questions will be repeated, nor will any additional information be given to the contestants relative to the question. These points will count toward team scores only. Bonus question points will not be included in individual scores.


The moderator shall assume complete direction of the game, ask all questions, designate participants to answer questions, and accept or reject all answers unless the questions or the answers are challenged. The moderator shall indicate when a participant has exceeded the allocated time for a question. The moderator will declare the game winner and shall be in control of the games at all times. The moderator must be an adult, older than age 19. At least two referee judges shall be used. Referee judges must be knowledgeable horsemen with strong backgrounds in management, training, nutrition, physiology, showing, or veterinary medicine. The referee judges may rule individually or jointly on the acceptability of any question or answer. In cases of challenges to questions or answers, either both referee judges or one referee judge and the moderator must agree on the acceptability or rejection of any question or answer. The judge must be an adult who is older than age 19. At least one individual shall be used to indicate to the moderator the expiration of the time allowed to respond to a question. A referee judge may serve as timekeeper. At least two individuals shall be used as scorekeepers to keep score for each contest. The individual maintaining team scores shall do so in such a manner that all points awarded or taken from each team may be checked and that the scores are clearly visible to the moderator and to the participants. The second scorekeeper shall be used to maintain a record of the individual from each team that answers a question correctly.


Each team shall consist of four participants and an alternate:

  1. The alternate shall not be seated at the panel, nor may the alternate participate in the questions and answers unless:
    • The moderator deems it impossible for one of the regular members of the team to continue in the contest; or
    • The captain or coach of a team requests the replacement of a team member with the alternate.
  2. If an alternate is seated following the removal of a regular participant, the team member removed becomes the alternate and becomes ineligible to return to that particular game. The team member removed and the alternate remain eligible to participate in further games. The use of an alternate is strongly recommended.
  3. The alternate, if not used as a competing member of the contest, shall be considered eligible for future contests.

Upon completion of a match, team members, and coaches must remain in the match room until the completion of the round or go directly to a designated, supervised holding area. After completion of a round, team members and coaches must remain in the designated holding area until their match or lunch break. Each team member and coach participating in the state competition will receive an identification tag indicating his or her name, county, and team name. Counties with multiple team entries in the same age division cannot be matched against each other in the first round. County teams with conflicts must redraw for seeding. In the event teams are unable to redraw for seeding, the contest coordinator will modify the original seeding order accordingly.

Procedures of Play

Order of Team Play

  1. Team captains will randomly draw numbers to be seated in the contest. A predetermined modified bye system may be used in determining the regional representatives for the state finals.
  2. The highest scoring losing team from the preceding round will be used when necessary to fill brackets in succeeding rounds. If a tie exists in selecting the highest scoring losing team, the team with the smallest losing margin will be used.
  3. Double-elimination brackets will be used in all divisions.
  4. Spectators, team members, and coaches who have heard the questions being used in a given round may not consult with teams that will be participating in succeeding games in that round. Using cameras, video recorders, tape recorders and writing questions are prohibited during a match. Photographs will be permitted only before and after a match. No cell phones are allowed in the competition area. Cell phones will be confiscated. Holding rooms will be for the team and coaches only– no parents in the holding area.

Match Procedures (for Senior divisions only)

  1. Each match will be divided into two halves based on numbers of questions. Rounds will consist of 32 questions.
  2. During the open portion of the match, all regular and toss-up questions will be worth one point; and all bonus questions will be worth three points. During the one-on-one portion of the match, only one member of each team will be eligible to respond to a question. This eligibility will rotate with each question, beginning with the number 1 participant on each team and passing to the number 2, 3, and 4 participants of each team, respectively, until all the remaining questions have been asked, it is suggested that each team member be given an opportunity to respond to the same number of questions.
  3. The point value of a correct response to a question during the one-on-one portion of the match will be as follows:
    • Correct response = 2 points (individual and team)
    • An incorrect response = loss of 1 point (individual and team)
    • If both participants to whom a question is addressed fail to signal an intent to attempt an answer in the 5 seconds allowed, neither participant nor team shall lose or gain any points.
    • If the buzzer is activated and an answer is not started within the 5-second allowable time, there will be a minus two (-2) point penalty imposed against the contestant who activated the buzzer and their team.
    • If any participants other than the two designated participants respond, that individual will lose 2 points; and the team of that individual participant will lose 2 points.
    • If any participant responds more than twice to questions directed to another participant, he or she will be replaced at the panel by the alternate. If no alternate is available, the remainder of the match will be played with less than the full team, and all questions normally addressed to the eliminated participant will be addressed only to the opposing participant.
  4. During the first 12 questions of the match, only one member of each team will be eligible to respond to a question. This eligibility will rotate with each question, beginning with the number 1 participants on each team and passing to the number 2, 3, and 4 participants of each team, respectively, until all the remaining questions are asked.

Starting the Contest (Junior, Mixed, and Senior divisions)

  1. Teams are assembled and seated at their respective panels, and each participant is given the opportunity to check the equipment. Each participant must have a visible tag denoting their name and team title. It is recommended that team members introduce themselves to the scorekeeper(s).
  2. A team captain is designated and shall be seated nearest the moderator. One coach per team will be designated as the match coach. Additional coaches will not be eligible to communicate with the moderator or judges during protests.
  3. The question packet is opened by the moderator.
  4. At the signal of the moderator or as the first question is started, time begins.
  5. The moderator reads the first toss-up question (as with all succeeding questions) until the completion of the reading of the question or until a participant activates a buzzer. The point value of all bonus questions will be announced before the accompanying toss-up question is read.
    • If a buzzer is activated during the reading of any question, the moderator will immediately cease reading the question; and the participant activating the buzzer shall have 5 seconds to begin his or her answer based on that portion of the question read. The answer given must correctly answer the complete written question.
    • If the answer given is incorrect, the correct question and answer will be given for educational purposes.
    • All participants must wait for verbal acknowledgment from the moderator before answering a question. Failure to wait for verbal acknowledgment after activating the buzzer will result in an automatic incorrect answer and subsequent reduction of points.
  6. At the completion of the reading of a question or when a buzzer is activated, 5 seconds are permitted in which to begin an answer.
    • Any member of either team is allowed to activate the buzzer and attempt to answer the toss-up questions.
    • It shall be the responsibility of the moderator, timer, and referee judges to determine if any actual answer is started within this 5-second period.
  7. If the time in which to answer a question elapses without a participant activating a buzzer, the question is discarded. The moderator will announce the correct answer for educational purposes.
    • There shall be no loss of points if neither team attempts to answer the question by activating the buzzer.
    • If a bonus question is attached to an unanswered toss-up question, the bonus question is transferred to the next possible toss-up question to which no bonus question is attached.
  8. If the answer to a toss-up question has begun during the 5 seconds allowed, but the answer is incorrect, that team loses the points associated with that toss-up question.
    • If a team activates a buzzer and an answer has not been started within the 5 seconds allowed, the team activating the buzzer will be penalized the value of the toss-up question.
    • If a bonus question is attached to an incorrectly answered toss-up question, the bonus question is transferred to the next possible toss-up question to which no bonus is attached.
  9. If the toss-up question is answered correctly within the 5 seconds allowed, that team scores 1 point.
    • If a bonus question is attached to the correctly answered toss-up question the team should allow the moderator to read the complete question. The team will be given ten (10) seconds to confer. The moderator will call time at the end of ten (10) seconds. The team captain or designee must then start giving the required number of answers within five (5) seconds. Team members may give answers to the captain/designee during the 30-second answering period.
    • Failure to answer a bonus question results in no penalty (loss of points) to the team.
  10. There will be no consultation among the team members nor will there be any coaching permitted by team members on toss-up questions. Failure to follow this rule will result in a 5­-point penalty to the team committing the offense plus an automatic incorrect answer for that question (total of -6 points).
  11. In order to encourage full team participation, bonus points will be awarded to the first team of a match to have each team member correctly respond to at least one toss-up question. This bonus shall be worth 4 points in the Junior and Mixed divisions and 2 points in the Senior Division. Senior teams may be awarded bonus points as many time as possible. Junior and Mixed participants may be awarded one set of bonus points.
    • To obtain these bonus points, each member of the team seated at the time must have correctly answered a toss-up question. If a team member who, already having answered a question correctly, is replaced by an alternate, it will be necessary for the alternate to also answer a question correctly before the bonus points may be awarded. After awarding team bonus points, all cards from both teams are collected, and both teams proceed clean.
    • Team bonus points will not be included in individual scores.
  12. Either the team captain or the moderator may call for a time-out for clarification of a rule, to permit the alternate to participate, or to allow for unexpected problems. These time-outs may be called only after a question has been answered and before the start of the next toss-up question.

Completing the Contest:

  1. The moderator will continue reading toss-up questions and bonus questions if applicable (Junior and Mixed divisions) or one-on-one questions (Senior Division) until all questions have been asked.
  2. If a question is thrown out either because of poor reading by the moderator or a decision by the referee judges, it will be replaced by another question so that the same total number of questions will be asked.
  3. Following the final questions, the team with the highest number of points shall be declared the winner of that game.
  4. In the event of a tie in the Junior or Mixed divisions after all toss-up questions have been read, seven additional toss-up questions will be asked. If a tie still remains after two overtimes of seven questions each, a packet of three questions will be read; and the team ahead after these three questions have been read and answered will be declared the winner.
  5. In the event of a tie in the Senior Division after all toss-up questions have been read a match tie it will be broken with five (5) tie breaker questions. If a tie remains the first team to earn a point (or because of a loss of a point by the other team, has a (1) point advantage) will be declared a match winner based on the scores.
  6. Tie Breaker points do not get added to individual, team, or team bonus scores. They are used to break match ties only.**

**Please note these changes are to match National Rules for 2008. Protests of Questions or Answers

  1. If an “official” protest is acknowledged, play will be stopped, and the designated officials will consider the protest and make a decision. A (-1) point penalty will be assessed if the protest is not upheld. Any protests of questions or answers to questions may be made either by one of the team captains or the coach of either team only at the time a particular question is read or the answer is given. There will be only one coach recognized for each team. The moderator and the referee judges will consider the protest, and their decision in all cases is final.
  2. If a question is protested and documented evidence (from a suggested reference) can be produced within 1 minute, a protest cannot be rejected. But the question can be thrown out or the protest accepted.
  3. If a protest is sustained, the moderator will take one of the following actions as is deemed appropriate:
    • A question is protested before an answer is given and the protest sustained-discard the question: No loss or gain of points will result for either team.
    • An answer is protested (either correct or incorrect): At least one of the referee judges and the moderator or both referee judges determine the validity of the protest. Points will be added or subtracted as appropriate.
    • A question is protested after an answer is given (correct or incorrect): At least one referee judge and the moderator or both referee judges determine the validity of the protest. The question may then be discarded at no loss of points, or the question may be allowed with the appropriate gain or loss of points.
  4. Abuse of protest provisions may result in one or more of the following:
    • Dismissal of team coach from the contest area.
    • Dismissal (or replacement) of the team captain.
    • Dismissal of entire team with forfeiture of any points or standing.
  5. Spectators, parents, and visitors may not protest any question, answer, or procedure during the course of play. They may, however, submit in writing to the contest officials any suggestions, complaints, or protests at the conclusion of the contest. Unseemly behavior, unsportsmanlike conduct, or any actions that are generally accepted as detrimental to the contest may subject the violators of such actions to dismissal from the immediate area of the contest.


  1. The rank of teams will be determined on the basis of their own win/loss ratio, with the exception of the championship match where the teams will be awarded as champion and reserve champion team. In the event of a tie, their accumulated points for the entire contest. The top six Junior, Senior, and mixed division teams will receive ribbons. The top team in each division will receive an award.
  2. Individual awards. Individual awards will be presented to the first through tenth highest Junior, Mixed, and Senior Division participants at the State contest. Only those participants who have participated in three or more matches in the Senior, Junior and Mixed divisions will be consid­ered for the top individual awards. The three highest match scores for each individual will be used to compute a total score in cases where individuals participate in more than three matches. Ties for individual awards will be broken according to the following order of priority:
    1. High average score for the entire contest.
    2. High individual round scores.
    3. Total number of points earned in the contest.

Summary of Horse Bowl Scoring

Action Point Value
Correct answer—open question +1
Correct answer—toss-up question +1
Correct answer—one-on-one question (Senior Division only) +2
Correct answer—bonus question– All required answers required +3
Senior Team participation—Four correct answers; each team member has correctly answered one question. +2 (awarded as many times as earned in a match)
Junior Team participation—Four correct answers; each team member has correctly answered one question. +4 (awarded only once per match)
Incorrect answer -1
Incorrect answer—bonus question (No part of the answer is correct.) 0
Response penalty—No answer started in 5 seconds. -2
Response penalty—Contestant not acknowledged. -1**
Response penalty—out of turn -2
Response penalty—out of turn for second time in same match -2**
Response penalty—out of turn more than twice in the same match -2 and elimination from match
Response penalty—out of turn third time in contest -2 and elimination from the contest**
“Official” protest not upheld -1

**Please note these changes are to match National Rules for 2008.

Please thoroughly read the Horse Bowl Contest section in the NC 4-H Horse Program Rulebook (updated annually) for additional information on contest rules, regulations, order of play, etc.

All valid references for the Horse Bowl Contest are listed under Educational Materials. Please remember that references differ for Junior, Mixed and Senior level teams! ONLY the sources listed on the NC 4-H Horse Program website will be considered valid for the contest.