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NC State Extension

Horse Judging Contest

2020 NC State 4-H Virtual Horse Judging Contest

April 16-21, 2020


Judging Location: Online Contest

UPDATE AS OF MARCH 16, 2020: Due to current university restrictions regarding public gatherings, the NC 4-H Horse Program 4-H Horse Judging Contest will be held via an online contest at 8 a.m. on Saturday, April 18. This event will not be held in a live format this year due to the coronavirus outbreak. We will be hosting a live online information session on Wednesday, March 18, at 1 p.m. with the opportunity for live Q & A regarding this new format and how to best prepare for this contest. If you are unable to make this meeting live, it will be recorded and posted. Following this session, the link for registration will be made available. Thank you for your patience and understanding with us during this time.

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.

2020 NC State 4-H Horse Judging Contest Entry Form DEADLINE TO ENTER IS APRIL 5

Link to March 18 Zoom Session on Judging Contest Procedures

The NC State 4-H Virtual Horse Judging Contest will be held via an online testing format that will be open April 16-21. Login details will be sent to the email address provided in the contestant information section of this form. There will be a separate site for each division. Coaches will also have a site where they can access all the recorded Zoom sessions, practice lessons, and sample classes that are posted on each site’s page. There is no entry fee for this contest.

The top 15 individuals in each division will receive awards. Also, the senior and junior high individuals in halter, reasons, and performance will receive a prize. Belt Buckles will be awarded to the high junior and senior individuals. Cloverbuds will receive participation ribbons and medals.

Contestants and their coach will be emailed login information for the contest Moodle within 5 days of registration. We encourage everyone to register early so they have access to practice and sample content that will be posted pre-contest. 

Contest Format


  • 12 online video classes 
    • 4 halter
    • 8 performance
  • Place the class and enter placing via a multiple choice question (given all possible placing options)
  • Answer 5 questions about the class
    • Ex. Which horse broke gait at the canter? Which horse was pigeon toed? 
  • Upload a set of written reasons as indicated for your division for specific classes. Junior Rookies- 1 halter; Senior Rookies- 1 halter and 1 performance; Juniors- 1 halter and 1 performance; Seniors- 2 halter and 2 performance


  • 6 online video classes 
    • 2 halter
    • 4 performance
  • Place the class and enter placing via a multiple choice question (given all possible placing options)


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 fifteen awards. Senior Rookie contestants are not eligible to try out for the state team to be considered for national contests. Participating in the 2020 virtual contest will not cause a Rookie to forfeit their Rookie status for future, in-person judging contests.

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.