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Horse Judging Contest

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2021 NC State 4-H Horse Judging Contest

April 10, 2021


St. Andrews University Equestrian Center

9167 Hasty Rd, Laurinburg, NC 28352 

Check-in: 8:45-9:15 Contest starts: 9:30

The Horse Judging Contest is designed to teach participants good conformation (structural correctness, balance, and muscling), breed character, and performance ideals in different breeds of horses. Additionally, the Horse Judging contest will teach participants how to evaluate horses based on knowledge and fact, make a decision, and defend it. The Contest will teach participants horsemanship terms that can be used in a logical, systematic way to defend placings and will help participants gain confidence in their ability and use of the English language by giving oral reasons to a judge while learning to speak clearly, decisively, and convincingly through the use of oral reasons.

2021 NC State 4-H Horse Judging Contest Details

2021 NC State 4-H Horse Judging Contest Entry Form

NC 4-H Virtual Horse Judging Academy Registration

NC 4-H’ers, coaches, leaders, and parents are invited to register for the NC 4-H Virtual Horse Judging Academy. This is a set of online, self-paced modules that focus on how to prepare for horse judging contests. How to organize and deliver oral reasons will be covered, along with multiple example sets of oral reasons that are delivered by former horse judging team members. In addition, there are several practice classes and presentations on how to judge Halter, Hunter Under Saddle, Western Pleasure, Ranch Riding, Gaited Pleasure, and Country English Pleasure.

The cost to register is $15. These modules will be open and available for review until December 31, 2021. You can access the page as frequently as you wish. Registered 4-H’ers that wish to compete in the April 10 State 4-H Horse Judging Contest will not have to pay a registration fee to compete in the contest (a registration form will still need to be submitted).

When you register you will also have the option, at an additional fee, to have a copy of the new NC 4-H Horse Program Horse Judging Manual sent to the address provided! This manual has been updated for 2021 and contains details on notetaking, criteria for judging and scoring classes, organizing reasons, terminology, and sample sets of reasons. This resource is designed to be helpful to both coaches and contestants at all levels.

Educational Event Donors Needed! If you would like to sponsor the horse judging contest, please complete this form: NC State Educational Contest Sponsorships

The top 10 individuals in each division will receive awards. Also, the senior and junior top ten high individuals in halter, reasons, and performance will receive awards. Belt Buckles will be awarded to the high junior and senior individuals. Cloverbuds will receive participation ribbons and medals.


Any Junior or Senior 4-H member is eligible to participate in the 4-H horse judging contest. Members are not eligible, however, to participate in a contest if by the date of the contest they will have competed or participated in a post-secondary judging program. Senior state winning judging team members who do not make or choose not to compete at Eastern Nationals are eligible to participate again as a team member in that division while age-eligible. Junior state winning team members may continue to compete on a county team in that division in future contests while age-eligible. A Senior judging member who competes on a state-winning team is not eligible to compete again as a team member in that age division; however, a Junior or Senior high overall individual is eligible to return and compete on a team or as an individual in that age division.

Senior Rookie and Junior Rookie competitors are eligible only for overall top ten awards. Senior Rookie contestants are not eligible to try out for the state team to be considered for national contests. Participation in the 2020 virtual contest will not cause a Rookie to forfeit their Rookie status for the 2021, in-person judging contest.

The state team, which will represent North Carolina in regional and national competition, will be selected according to the following procedures:

  1. The selection of team members will be restricted to the top fifteen Senior individuals at the North Carolina State 4-H Horse Judging Contest. The top fifteen individuals will receive an invitation to try out for the state team. After tryouts, the top eight individuals will form two four‑member teams and will represent North Carolina at the Southern Regional Horse Judging Contest in August. The teams will be coached by the coach of the high Senior individual at the State 4-H Horse Judging Contest and by the Extension horse specialist, who will oversee the travel arrangements.
  2. The team representing North Carolina in the national contests will be selected by the Southern Regional team coach and the Extension horse specialist after the Southern Regional contest. The national team will consist of four members. Team members who actually participate in national competition will lose state eligibility. Individuals who judged at the Southern Regional Judging Contest but were not selected for the national team will be eligible to represent their county at future state horse judging contests. In addition to the Southern Regional contest, national team members will also judge at the Quarter Horse Congress and the Eastern National 4-H Horse Judging Contests. The team will also be eligible to compete in other contests, but the members must furnish their own transportation and travel money. The state office will assist in the acquisition of travel funds.


Junior & Senior Oral Reasons Scorecard for State Contest

ROOKIE Oral Reasons Scorecard for State Contest

Please thoroughly read the Horse Judging Contest section in the NC 4-H Horse Program Rulebook (page 171-174 ) for additional information on contest rules, regulations, potential classes, etc. NEW RULES ARE HIGHLIGHTED IN YELLOW.

Additional training aids for the Horse Judging Contest are listed under Educational Materials. Please feel free to use these sources to help assist in training youth horse judging teams.