Policies and procedures

Missouri 4-H Horse Shows

4-H horse shows are more than competition; they’re another tool we use in youth development. The purpose is to give members the opportunity to demonstrate what they know, to learn new skills and to develop friendships and memories that will last forever.

There are many opportunities for youth to engage in competition with their horses from local saddle club fun shows to national level breed competitions.  4-H is about skill development, sportsmanship and leadership, not about winning.  You as the project leader/ parent are the key to instilling this philosophy; if you believe so will your member/child.  If your attitude is “Be the best you can be” and “make the best better” the member will have a fun learning experience.

The following are the guidelines for participation in 4-H horse shows.

  1. Each member must be in good standing and meet any other guidelines as set by their county 4-H council).  To demonstrate good standing you must bring your 4-H Project Horse Enrollment form, which was completed and sent to your Extension office by May 1 to the show.  You must have both your club leaders and project leader’s signature updated through the month that you are showing.
  2. You must provide a current (within one year) Coggins test result form for each horse you will exhibit.  This is a state law.


State Fair Sponsored 4-H/FFA Horsemanship Show

The State Fair Sponsored 4-H/FFA Horsemanship show is not a 4-H sponsored show it is an affiliated show which is sponsored by the Department of Agriculture, State Fair Division and open to 4-H/FFA members.  4-H and FFA members are currently the only youth organizations eligible to participate.  In 2001, FFA petitioned for participation and it was granted to allow them in to the show in 2002 by the SF Director.  4-H eligibility to show in this opportunity is consistent with current 4-H rules which means they must be in good standing.  This includes turning in their horse member enrollment form by May 1 and including a copy of the signed form with their entry.  Members can’t participate if they are under age 8.

When this show became open to both 4-H and FFA it was decided to use a combination of rules readily available to both organizations, not just the 4-H State guidelines. Those include:  those rules listed on page 24 of the State Fair catalog, USA Equestrian for Pony Cart and Saddle Seat, American Quarter Horse Association for Western and Hunt Seat Classes.  Additionally they follow the 4-H Showmanship at Halter guide sheet.

While this show does not specifically follow 4-H State horse show guidelines, none are violated.

Show fees paid by exhibitors recover the show expense including staff, judges, ribbons, plaques and facilities.  The Department of Ag, SF Division contracts with the show superintendent, judges and staff.  The SF also contracts with 3 EMT’s to be at the shows in case of personal injury.  If animal health issues arise, it’s the responsibility of the exhibitor to contact veterinarians and pay for treatment.  SF has phone numbers to call for vet services.  This animal health policy is consistent for all of the SF shows including the livestock shows held during the fair.  While there is often a State Veterinarian on grounds, they inspect animals in a regulatory capacity.

The superintendent has a committee of show assistants that meet annually to review the rules and classes.  As a way to obtain feedback for improvement, a suggestion box is available in the show office during the event and suggestions may be emailed or called into the show superintendent any time.  


Sample Missouri 4-H Horse Show Guidelines

Mission Of 4-H

The Mission of 4-H Youth Development Programs is to create environments in which young people are valued, contributing members of their communities.


4-H horse shows in Missouri are designed for the development of the boy and girl; therefore, it is intended that they provide opportunities for 4-H members to:

  1. Develop leadership, initiative, self-reliance, sportsmanship, and other desirable characteristic traits.
  2. Have fun and enjoy the recreation provided by riding and showing horses.
  3. Learn skill and horsemanship.
  4. Achieve knowledge of breeding, feeding, training, and management of horses.
  5. Develop an ability to judge horses.
  6. Increase awareness of safety precautions to prevent injury to themselves, others, and their mounts.



Each exhibitor must be enrolled by May 1 of the show year in a 4-H horsemanship project. Exhibitors must have a Project Horse Enrollment Form for each horse to be shown on file at the County Extension office by May 1.  Members are to keep a copy of this form in their possession.

Each exhibitor must be a member in good standing within his or her local program.  Each member is to provide proof of eligibility in the form of a Project Horse Enrollment Form with the appropriate signatures when registering at a 4-H show.  Failure to provide this form along with the Coggins report can result in refusal by the show management to allow participation.


Each exhibitor must have passed his or her eighth birthday and not have passed his or her nineteenth birthday before January 1 of the current year.  The age on January 1 is the age for the entire year.

Ownership, Training and Management

Exhibitors must own or lease all horses they are showing beginning not later than May 1 of current year. Horses, which are not owned by the 4-H member(s), must have a lease agreement on file (on the back of the Project Horse Enrollment form).

Horses shall not receive professional training, showing or handling after May 1 of the current year. Riders may receive professional riding lessons; however the trainer/instructor is not to train the horse.  Training is defined as schooling the horse, not as assistance in clipping, loading into the trailer or assistance with potentially dangerous situations.  Safety is of the utmost importance and the 4-H program recognizes that members will need occasional assistance.  Ongoing behavior problems that require trainer assistance are considered training and will result in disqualification as a 4-H project horse. Parents/guardians and the member should determine the extent a member shares “with the family” showing, management and care for their horse project based on the member’s age, available time, family resources, riding ability, physical limitations, etc.  Please consult and follow “day of the show” management rules. 

Ideally, as the parents, project leaders, members and extended family work together with the project; the primary emphasis is to help the member improve leadership and sportsmanship skills; have fun and enjoy the recreation provided by riding and showing horses; learn work skills while achieving knowledge of breeding, feeding, training, and management; increasing awareness of safety precautions to prevent injury to themselves, others, and their mounts. 

  • First Example:  Joe 4-Hers parent rides little Joe’s horse in circuit shows on weekends and little Joe rides the same horse in 4-H.  Who decides if this is the best management practice to help develop the member’s skills in training, feeding, showing, etc., the 4-H Youth Development Staff or the parent?  Answer:  The parent.  
  • Second Example:  4-H County X has a rule that members must warm up their own horse the day of the show.  A parent has been riding all spring in circuit shows and for safety reasons, decides to tune up the spirited horse on the fair grounds the day of the show for his 12 year old.  Is this allowed?  NO!  The local rules say members, not parents, are allowed to warm up horses the day of the show while on the grounds.  A 4-H leader once commented to me, “if the parent has to warm up the horse for it to be safe for the child to ride, it’s not a safe horse for the member.  Those parents need to get another horse the member can handle and do some soul searching about their motives for being in the project!  Is this about you or your child”?   
  • Third Example:  A first year member and his grandpa are lunging the horse the day of the show.  Grandpa starts off holding the lunge line and passes it to the inexperienced member.  While the rules say members must warm up their own horse there has to be common sense used to find the balance between helping and teaching a child and doing all the work for them.  Should the committee disqualify grandpa for assisting an inexperienced member?  NO. 
  • Fourth Example:  4-H parent Marion calls with a concern that trainer Marvin, who also has kids in the 4-H program, is riding/training little Marvin's horse and it's after May 1.  The rule says, "Horses shall not receive professional training, showing or handling after May 1 of the current year".  This is a gray area and ultimately parents will have to decide their course of action.  Program tip:  Parents need to assist their children without doing the work for them.  As parents, you decide when you cross the line.  Think about this, if you were a professional cake decorator would it be right for you to make the cake for your child to show at the fair?  If you do all the work, what will the child learn?
  • Fifth Example:  Barb is a professional trainer and she and her daughter Mindy co-show a horse in the breed horse circuit.  Can Mindy ride the horse in 4-H even though it has been ridden by a professional.  Yes, because being a parent supersedes being a professional trainer.  Can a 4-Her co-ride a horse with a professional trainer who’s not a part of the immediate family?  No, you can take lessons and receive help from a professional but it’s not fair to everyone else to have a professional trainer showing your horse.  Honestly, this is the toughest of all the situations to find a black and white answer.  Again, parents, it’s going to be your call to do the right thing to help your child.  Regardless that you are a professional trainer or not, if you are doing the lion’s share of the training while your child is inside watching TV, there might be a problem.

Closing thoughts:  Parents, there are important life lessons when members get the ribbon they earn, even when it’s a white.  "Good judgment comes from experience, and a lot of that comes from bad judgment".  Will Rogers.  Helping kids sometimes means we have to let them fail and then talk about what could be done to improve next time.  Remember, in 4-H we strive for blue ribbon kids, not blue ribbon horses!

  1. Warming up or training of horses by anyone other than the project member enrolled on that horse is prohibited on the show grounds. Violations of this rule are subject to disqualification from the show.
  2. A project horse may be shown by more than one family member, at County and Regional Shows, as long as that horse is enrolled as a project horse for each member.  Check the State Fair Horse Show rules, they may have different requirements.


The 4-H Project Leader has the responsibility of certifying that membership; age and management requirements are met.

General Rules

Infraction of any rule is subject to disqualification from the show.  The show committee's decision is final.

Concerns about infractions of the rules should be addressed in writing to the show committee. Concerns that cannot be resolved should be submitted in writing to the State 4-H Specialist in charge of 4-H Horsemanship Programs who will either make a decision based on the rules, or refer the complaint to the grievance committee.

  • Missouri 4-H does not condone the use of illegal and/or performance altering drugs, mechanical devices or artificial appliances or inhumane treatment of animals at 4-H sanctioned events.  For complete information on what is considered inappropriate behavior, refer to AQHA rule 441 on Prohibited Conduct.  Each member and/or parent is responsible for reading this rule and complying with it in all 4-H sanctioned events.  Infractions of this rule may result in disqualification from the current and all future 4-H horse shows.
  • A pony is defined as being 56" and under.  A horse is defined as being over 56 inches.
  • Stallion Colts may be shown only in the calendar year of their birth. 

4-H Walk Trot Rider/Green Horse (Novice) Guidelines

  • Applicable for 4-H members 8 – 19 not Clover Members
  • Walk Trot classes can be designed for members in the Horsemanship project.  “Green horse” (Novice Horse) classes can be designed for young horses that have little or no show experience. 
  • Your county horse committee will decide your local policy.  As a starting point, here are some sample guidelines. 
  • Horse project leaders must identify and affirm a members “walk trot” status as well as a “green” horses’ eligibility to be in the optional green horse division if the local committee chooses to offer this class.  It is recommended that members stay in walk/trot for one or at maximum two years.  There are exceptions and the project leader should match the rider’s skill level, taking into account the horses’ maturity and training, with the appropriate class in the show.  Again, children’s safety, skill level, physical, mental and emotional development should be the driving issues underpinning their move to advanced classes.

Walk Trot Riders 

  • Walk Trot riders are usually in their first or second year* in the horsemanship project.  (*Project leaders may authorize members to continue in walk trot classes past two years if circumstances warrant).  Walk Trot riders should be expected to try advanced classes after they have participated in a walk trot county class for more than two years and here’s why:
    • First, competition in the walk trot classes is supposed to be comparing members who really don’t ride well enough to lope their horses.  In other words, the playing field is fairly level.  Allowing a member with advanced level skill competence to compete against youth of lesser skills needs to be avoided because of the effect it has on the outcome of the class and subsequent motivation of the other participants.  When outcomes are known, members tend to not try as hard.
    • Second, encouraging members to move into a more advance level is encouraging them to “stretch” their own sense of self-improvement.   Like real life, self-improvement often involves facing new and difficult challenges, which young people will more likely feel better after the process than during.  It’s our role as leaders to move young people along at their pace all the while supporting and nurturing them throughout the process.   
  • Having received a blue Danish ribbon or 1 – 10 placing ribbon in a Walk Trot class at his/her county 4-H show will not disqualify a member from the Walk Trot classes in the State Fair 4-H/FFA Horse Show.
  • Members identified as Walk Trot, are encouraged to try advanced level classes but, if advanced levels are beyond their skill and safety levels, they may return to Walk Trot classes for the remainder of the year.  Avoiding an accident by considering the child’s riding skill and maturity level is of utmost concern.
  • Walk trot members are not eligible for classes where the patterns require the horse to canter.  

“Green (Novice) Horses”

  • Experienced (advanced) riders may enter “green” horses in special classes.  Again, the local horse committee may want to create one or more additional “green horse” class. 
  • Green horses, generally speaking, are horses that don’t have a lot of show experience.  One way to define a “green” horse is they have NOT won a 1st blue or 2nd red placing ribbon in “advanced level” performance event in any other horse show.  One fallacy of this logic happens in really small shows with limited class opportunities and relatively few horses being shown.  While the horse may have received a ribbon in a small show scenario, they may not be ready to bump up to advance level performance classes.  Since there are lots of possible exceptions to a hard and fast green horse definition, the goal for this program is to encourage members to invest riding time in their horse that, in a reasonable amount of time, would improve the horses skill levels to the point they could enter advanced level performance classes.  We are counting on the common sense of the local leader to help decide the horses’ that should be shown in “green” classes.
  • Experienced riders may show a mature/trained horse in advanced divisions and still be eligible to show a green horse in walk trot class.
  • There is no maximum number of years limiting a member from showing green horses in “green horse” classes.
  • The 4-H program is trying to develop blue ribbon kids first and blue ribbon horses second.  For all our efforts to infuse character education and youth development into the program, there will be some who choose to measure success only by the number of ribbons on the wall and trophies in the case.  There are even examples where adults fraudulently misrepresent members and horses skill levels with no other reason than to win.  Our saying, “when you get the ride, the ribbons will come”, relates to how we approach our life too!  Enjoy your horse.  Enjoy the time you spend getting to know your project leaders and peers.  And most of all, find enjoyment in knowing you can make a difference in the world if only you try.



All decisions of the judge are final.

Any question or complaint of the judge's decision or procedure shall be directed to the attention of the ringmaster.  The ringmaster shall act as a mediator between the judge and the exhibitor.  It is considered improper to approach the judge before or during a show; but one may discuss matters with the judge after the show if the judge is willing and has the time.

The judge shall be guided by the current AQHA rules for Western and Hunt Seat classes and AHSA rules for all other English classes.

The judge, at his or her discretion, may refuse entry into the arena or remove an entry from a class for improper attire, equipment, and/or an unsound animal.


Attire/Personal Appointments

All exhibitors are required to wear appropriate boots in all classes as well as long sleeve shirts, pants, and hats.

A hat must be on exhibitor's head when he or she enters the arena.  ASTM-SEI Equestrian approved helmets are required for the speed and game events and are optional for all other events.  Clothing and personal attire must be clean, workmanlike, and neat.


Western Classes and Timed Events

REQUIRED:  Western hat or ASTM-SEI Equestrian approved helmets, boots, long sleeve shirt, and pants or jeans.

OPTIONAL:  Chaps and gloves.

ASTM/SEI Equestrian approved helmets required for all game classes and optional head attire for all other classes.


English Classes

HUNT SEAT REQUIRED:  Hard hunting cap either black, brown, or dark blue or ASTM-SEI Equestrian Approved Helmet; choice of breeches, high English boots or jodhpurs shoes; shirt and collar with stock tie or choker; and coat made of any tweed or Melton (conservative wash jackets in season) in solids, conservative pinstripes or plaids.

  • Color of Breeches:  Traditional shades of buff, gray, rust, canary, wine, dark blue, or hunter green.
  • Color of Boots:  Black or brown.

SADDLE SEAT REQUIRED:  Derby or soft hat; Saddle Seat Coat, jodhpurs in conservative colors; shirt; tie; and Jodhpur boots.

Gloves are optional for both Hunt Seat and Saddle Seat.

Pony Cart Classes

Hat, coat, tie, and slacks for men, skirts for women, or Western Attire.   Gloves are optional.

If a short skirt is worn, a lap robe is required.


Definition of Western Stock and Non-Stock (Saddle) Horses Rev 4/07

Exhibitors should show their horse in the most appropriate division for their breed or type of horse. These divisions should take into consideration the breed differences in head carriage and animation. Stock-type horses will have a lowered natural head carriage with flat knee action for the jog and lope. Stock-type includes Quarter Horse, Appaloosa, Buckskin, Palomino, and Paint. Non-stock (Saddle) type horses will have a natural high head carriage with breaking knee action in the trot and canter. Non-stock (Saddle) type includes American Saddlebred, American Show Horse, Arabian, Morgan and Thoroughbred. Exhibitors showing mixed breed horses should select the division most closely fitting the horse's head carriage and animation. It is in the exhibitor's best interest to enter the appropriate division.



  1. Tie-downs, draw reins, martingales, and running martingales are prohibited.  Tie-downs, excluding those above the eyes are permitted in timed events.  Metal of any kind, regardless of how padded, is prohibited above the eyes.
  2. Saddle type riding pads are prohibited in all classes.
  3. Saddles, with appropriate stirrups are required for all classes unless otherwise stated.
  4. Bats, Crops, and Whips
    1. Humane bats, whips, and crops are permitted in English Equitation.
    2. The judge, at his discretion, may disqualify a contestant for excessive use of bat, crop, whip, or rope.
  5. Spurs
    1. Roweled type spurs are permitted in Western classes.
    2. Unroweled or blunt spurs are permitted in English classes.
    3. Locked rowel, sharp points, or sharp edges are prohibited.
  6. Boots or protective gear of any type on the horse's legs are prohibited in all classes except speed events and reining classes.
  7. Chains (except approved curb chains and lead straps), irritants, sedatives, stimulants, artificial appliances, tail sets, excessive long hoofs, or gingering are prohibited.
  8. Silver equipment will not be given preference over a good working outfit.
  9. All tack must be neat, clean, and in good repair.
  10. Tying or securing a rider into a saddle in any manner is prohibited.  Rubber bands on boots are prohibited.

Western Tack/Equipment

  1. Halters and Leads:  Leather or nylon permissible.  Leads with chains are permissible under the chin.
  2. Bridles, Hackamore, or Bosal: (Must meet AQHA specifications)
  • Bits:  Half-breed, spade, snaffle, or curb.
  • Reins:  All classes - split or romal reins.  Game classes - also closed reins.
  • Hackamore, if used, must be either a rawhide braided, leather braided, or rope bosal.
    • Permitted on junior horses (5 and under) in all classes.
  • Mechanical hackamore permitted in game classes.
  • Bosals, including cable core, are permitted in game classes.
  • Curb Chains and Straps 
    • Standard curb chains or straps (leather or nylon) are permissible, but must be at least 1/2 inch in width and must lie flat against the jaw (not twisted) and allow for the comfortable insertion of at least one finger between the jaw and the curb chain.
    • Wire curbs, regardless of how padded or covered, will not be permitted.
    • Saddle:  May be slick or swelled fork having a high or low cantle, but must definitely be sized to the exhibitor.
    • Breast collar, hobbles, and rope or riata are optional.
    • Nosebands or cavessons are prohibited.

English Tack/Equipment


  1. Hunt Seat:  Approved bits are English snaffle (no shank), Pelham (double reins), Kimberwick, and/or full bridle with cavesson noseband and plain leather brow band.  Any deviation from regulation bits is prohibited.
  2. Saddle Seat:  Use bridle that is appropriate for breed of horse being shown.


  1. Hunt Seat:  Hunting or forward seat or close contact.
  2. Saddle Seat: Cut back or Flat saddle.
  3. Must be sized to fit rider.

Breast plate is optional in hunt seat.

Pony or Driving Class Tack/Equipment

Ponies or driving horses are to be shown hitched to a suitable two or four-wheel vehicle, type which is optional.  To be shown at a flat foot walk, slow trot and a fast trot, both ways of the ring.  Should stand quietly and back readily.  Manners and quality of performance will be judged.

Type of harness is optional.  A snaffle bit with over check or Liverpool with side cheek will be considered proper.  Bridles with over check or blinkers are optional.  All equipment is to be clean and in sound condition.  Running martingales are optional.  Artificial appliances are not to be used.  English or western attire will be considered proper.  If a female exhibitor is attired in a short dress, a lap robe is required.  A lap robe is not required if an exhibitor is in long dress or pants.


Class Routines

Horsemanship and Equitation Patterns

For those classes requiring a pattern, the judge or show management shall post the pattern that will be asked for at least one hour prior to the commencing of the class.  The pattern will count for 75% of the score, rail work 25%.

The judge will ask each rider to work individually.  These individual workouts will be any of the maneuvers that the judge feels are necessary to determine equitation ability of the rider.

  1. Judging of the individual work will begin at the indication of the judge, and it stops at the end of the 30-second time period indicated by a signal from the ring steward or timer.  Exhibitors shall leave the arena at the signal, regardless of whether or not they have completed work prescribed by the judge.
  2. Failure to complete the pattern will not be a disqualification, but shall be scored accordingly.
  3. Selected riders may be required to work on the rail.
  4. The Horsemanship/Equitation class is to determine the riding ability of the rider, and the judge will bear this in mind at all times.


Only showmanship to be judged.  The horse is merely a prop to show the ability of the exhibitor.

Class to be judged as follows:

Appearance of Horse: (40 Points)

  1. Condition and Thriftiness (15 Points)
  2. Grooming (15 Points)
  1. Hair coat clean, well brushed.
  2. Mane and tail free of tangles and clean.
  3. Hoofs trimmed properly.  If shod, shoes must fit properly and clinches should be neat.
  4. Blackened hooves are not given preference over clean hooves
  1. Trimming (5 Points)
  1. Quarter type horse's manes may be roached, but foretop and tuft over withers must be left.
  2. Inside of ears may be clipped.
  3. Long hair on jaw, legs, and pasterns should be clipped.
  1. Tack (5 Points)


Appearance of Exhibitor (10 Points)

Suitable clothes for the type of horse being shown.


Showing Horse In Ring (50 Points)

1.   Leading (15 Points) (Follow the posted pattern)

  1. Enter ring-leading horse at an alert walk in a counter clockwise direction unless otherwise directed by judge or ring steward.
  2. Walk on horse's left side, holding lead shank in right hand, near halter.  The remaining portion of lead is held neatly and safely in left hand.  (A tightly coiled or rolled lead shank will be considered a fault.)
  3. Horse should lead readily at a walk or trot.
  4. After judge has lined up the class in front of spectators, he will call on each exhibitor to move his or her horse individually.  When moving the horse individually, be sure the judge gets a clear, unobstructed view of the horse's action.  Allow sufficient lead so that he can move freely and in a straight line.  Lead the horse from his left side the required distance, stop, and turn to the right around the horse.

2.  Posing (15 Points)

  1. When posing your horse, stand toward the front facing the horse, but not directly in front of the horse and always in a position where you can keep your eye on the judge.
  2. Pose quarter type horses with their feet squarely under them.
  3. Pose Arabian, Saddlebred, or Foxtrotter horses in a position indicative of their breeding.  Use a bridle, if appropriate, for the breed being shown.
  4. Do most of the showing with lead strap.  Never kick horse's leg into position.
  5. Do not crowd the exhibitor next to you when in a side-by-side position.  Do not crowd the exhibitor in front of you when lined up head to tail.
  6. When judge is observing other horses let your horse stand if posed reasonably well.
  7. Be natural.  Over showing, undue fussing, and maneuvering are objectionable.

3.  Poise, Alertness, and Merits (20 Points)

  1. Keep alert and be aware of the position of the judge at all times.
  2. Show horse at all times, not yourself.
  3. Respond quickly to requests from the judge or officials.
  4. Be courteous and sportsmanlike at all times.
  5. Recognize quickly and correct faults of your horse.
  6. Keep showing until the entire class has been placed and has been excused from the arena.


English Equitation:  Saddle Seat and Hunt Seat

The equitation class is to determine the riding ability of the exhibitor.  The judge will bear this in mind at all times.

Horses are to be shown at a walk, trot, (or optional gait if appropriate)  and canter - both ways of the arena.  Horses may be required to back.

Class to be judged on the following:

  1. Appointments
  1. Personal:  See Attire/Personal Appointments
  2. Tack:  See Tack/Equipment
  3. Class Routine:  The judge will ask each exhibitor to work individually. These individual works will be posted at least one hour prior to the beginning of the class.

Individual workouts are 75% of the score; rail work 25%

Western Horsemanship

  1. The horsemanship class is to determine the riding ability of the exhibitor, and the judge will bear this in mind at all times.
  2. Exhibitors will be judged on seat, hands, ability to control, and showing of the horse.
    • Results as shown by performance of the horse are not to be considered more important than the method used by the exhibitor in obtaining them.
    • Consideration will be given to suitability of horse to the rider.  Rider size should be proportional to horse size.  Rider should be in control of horse at all times.
  3. Class to be judged on the following:  (Due to a variety of reasons many county shows often mix saddle type in with quarter type horses the horsemanship classes.  If it helps make the judging process fair, the local horse committee has the option to instruct the judge to consider breed standards in the judging process.)
    • Appointments:
    • Personal:  See Attire/Personal Appointments.
    • Tack:  See Tack/Equipment.
    • Class Routine:  The judge will ask each exhibitor to work individually. These individual works will be posted at least one hour prior to the beginning of the class.
  4. Individual workouts are 75% of the score; rail work 25%

Reining Class

  1. Check your show rules for Reining Patterns. 
  2. Each contestant will perform the required pattern individually and separately.  All horses will be judged immediately upon entering the arena and judging will cease after the last maneuver.  Any fault incurred prior to the commencement of a pattern will be scored accordingly.
  3. To rein a horse is not only to guide him, but also to control his every movement.  The best-reined horse should be willfully guided or controlled with little or no apparent resistance and dictated to completely.  Any movement on his own must be considered a lack of control.  All deviations from the exact written pattern must be considered a lack of,  or temporary loss of control, and therefore faulted according to severity of deviation.  Credit will be given for smoothness, finesse, attitude, quickness and authority in performing the various maneuvers while using controlled speed.
  4. Scoring will be on the basis of 0-infinity, with 70 denoting an average performance.
  5. The following will result in no score:
    1. Abuse of an animal in the show arena and/or evidence that an act of abuse has occurred prior to or during the exhibition of a horse in competition;
    2. Use of illegal equipment, including wire on bits, bosals or curb chains
    3. Use of illegal bits, bosals or curb chains
    4. Use of tack collars, tie downs or nosebands
    5. Use of whips or bats
    6. Use of any attachment, which alters the movement or direction of or circulation to the tail
    7. Failure to provide horse and equipment to the appropriate judge for inspection
    8. Disrespect or misconduct by the exhibitor
  6. A rider may untangle excess rein, where excess rein may prevent the rider from continuing the pattern, where said excess can be straightened without affecting the performance of the horse, during hesitations, or when settling a horse; rider's free hand may be used to hold romal in the normal fashion.
  7. The following will result in a score of 0:
    1. Use of more than the index or first finger between reins
    2. Use of two hands (exception is Snaffle Bit or Hackamore classes designated for two hands) or changing hands
    3. Use of an illegal romal (see AQHA 443 (e))
    4. Failure to complete the pattern as written
    5. Performing the maneuvers other than in specified order;
    6. Inclusion of maneuvers not specified, including, but not limited to:
      1. Backing more than two strides
      2. Turning more than 90 degrees
    7. Equipment failure that delays completion of pattern
    8. Balking or refusal of a command where pattern is delayed
    9. Running away or failing to guide where it becomes impossible to discern whether the entry is on pattern.
    10. Jogging in excess of one-half circle or one-half the length of the arena
    11. Over spins of more than 1/4 turn
    12. Fall to the ground by horse or rider
    13. Neither a no score or a 0 are eligible to place in a go round or class.
  8. The following will result in a reduction of 5 points
    1. spurring in front of cinch
    2. use of free hand to instill fear
    3. holding saddle or touching horse with free hand
    4. blatant disobedience including kicking, biting, bucking and rearing
  9. The following will result in the deduction of two points
    1. failure to go beyond marker on stops or roll backs
    2. break of gait
    3. freeze up in spins or rollbacks
    4. on walk in patterns, failure to stop or walk before executing a canter departure
    5. on run in patterns, failure to be in a canter prior to the first marker
  10. Starting or performing circles or eights out of lead will be judged as follows:
    Each time a horse is out of lead, a judge is required to deduct one point. The penalty for being out of lead is cumulative and the judge will deduct one penalty point for each quarter of the circumference of a circle or any part thereof that a horse is out of lead. A judge is required to penalize a horse one-half point for a delayed change of lead by one stride.
  11. Deduct 1/2 point for starting circle at jog or exiting rollbacks at jog up to two strides.  Jogging beyond two strides, but less than 1/2 circle or 1/2 the length of the arena, deduct two points.
  12. Deduct 1/2 point for over or under spinning up to one-eighth (1/8) of a turn; deduct one (1) point for over or under spinning from one eighth to one-fourth (1/8-1/4) turn.
  13. A 1/2 point penalty deduction will be given for failure to remain a minimum of 20 feet from the wall or fence when approaching a stop and/or roll back.
  14. Where a change of lead is specified immediately prior to a run to the end of the arena, failure to change leads by one stride-1/2 point; failure to change leads beyond one stride, but where lead changes is completed prior to next maneuver -one point; lead is not changed prior to next maneuver -two points; in patterns requiring a run around, failure to be on the correct lead when rounding the end of the arena will be penalized one point.  Failure to be on the correct lead prior to the center point of the arena will be a two-point penalty.
  15. A judge may require any contestant to repeat his performance of any or all of the various parts of the pattern.
  16. Faults against the horse to be scored accordingly, but not to cause disqualification:
    1. Opening mouth excessively when wearing bit
    2. Excessive jawing, opening mouth or head raising on stop
    3. Lack of smooth, straight stop on haunches-bouncing or sideways stop
    4. Refusing to change leads
    5. Anticipating signals
    6. Stumbling
    7. Backing sideways
    8. Knocking over markers
    9. Faults against the rider to be scored accordingly, but not to cause disqualification
      1. Losing stirrup
      2. Any unnecessary aid given by the rider such as unnecessary talking, petting, spurring, quirting, jerking of reins, etc.
      3. Failure to run circles or figure eights within the markers is not considered a fault depending on arena conditions and size; however failure to go beyond markers on rollbacks and stops is considered a fault.
  17. All reining horses six years old and older must be shown in bit; horses five years old and younger may be shown in bit, hackamore or snaffle but at the discretion of the exhibitor.
  18. While horse is in motion, rider's hands shall be clear of horse and saddle. 
  19. Pattern Information
    The judge shall indicate with markers on arena fence or wall the length of the pattern.  Markers within the area of the pattern are not permitted. 


Costume Class

Attire of an exhibitor may be complementary to the costume of the horse.  Hats, boots, and long sleeve shirt not required.  Class judged on originality of costume.  The horse may be ridden, lead or driven.  Shown only at a walk, open to all age groups eligible for other classes.



This class will be judged on the performance of the horse over obstacles, with emphasis on manners, response to the rider and attitude





  1. Credit will be given to horses negotiating the obstacles with style and some degree of speed, providing carefulness is not sacrificed, and to horses showing the capability of picking their own way through course when obstacles warrant it, and willingly responding to rider's cues on more difficult obstacles.
  2. Horse shall be penalized for any unnecessary delay while approaching the obstacles.  Horses with artificial appearance over obstacles should be penalized.
  3. Except for junior horses shown with hackamore or snaffle bit, only one hand may be used on the reins, except that it is permissible to change hands to work an obstacle.  While horse is in motion, rider's hands shall be clear of horse and saddle.
  4. Horses must not be required to work on the rail.  The course must be designed, however, to require each horse to show the three gaits (walk, jog, lope) somewhere between obstacles as a part of its work and will be scored as a maneuver.
  5. Gait between obstacles shall be at the discretion of the judge.
  6. The course to be used must be posted at least one hour before scheduled time of class.
  7. No horse that deviates from the pattern in any way as it is written in the posted course shall place above any horse that completes the pattern as written.
  8. The following will result in a no score on a particular obstacle but does not mean disqualification from the class.
    1. Doing an obstacle differently than described on the pattern
    2. Missing or not attempting an obstacle
    3. Failure to complete an obstacle
    4. Failure to be in the prescribed gait or on the correct lead
  9. The following will result in disqualification from the class:
    1. Not doing the obstacles in the prescribed order
    2. Illegal equipment
    3. Willful abuse
    4. More than one finger between the reins, except when changing hands to work and obstacle.
    5. Obviously cueing the horse on the neck to lower the head.  Major disobedience--rearing, schooling
  10. When the distances and spaces are measured between all obstacles, the inside base measurement of each obstacle considering the normal path of the horse, should be the measuring point.  Enough space must be provided for a horse to jog (30 feet) and lope (at least 50 feet) for the judges to evaluate these gaits
  11. If disrupted, the course shall be reset after each horse has worked.  In the case that a combination of obstacles is used, the course cannot be reset until the contestant finishes the entire course regardless of where any disruption occurs.
  12. At least six obstacles must be used, three of which must be form the mandatory list of obstacles and at least three different others selected from the list of optional obstacles
  13. Mandatory obstacles:
    • Opening, passing through and closing gate.  (Losing control of gate is to be penalized.)  Use a gate that will not endanger horse or rider.
    • Ride over at least four logs or poles.  These can be in a straight line, curved, zigzag or raised.  The space between the logs is to be measured and the path the horse is to take should be the measuring point.  The space for walkovers shall be 15-24"; trot-overs, 3' to 3'6"; lope overs, 6' to 7'.  Walkovers may be elevated to 12" and should be minimum of 22" apart.  The height should be measured from the ground to the top of the element.  Trot overs and lope overs cannot be elevated.
    • Backing obstacle.  To be spaced a minimum of 28".  If elevated, 30" spacing is required.
      • Back through and around at least three markers
      • Back through L, V, U, straight, or similar shaped course.  May be elevated no more than 24".
  14. Optional obstacles, but not limited to:
    1. Water hazard (ditch or small pond).  No metal or slick bottom boxes will be used.
    2. Serpentine obstacles at walk or jog.  Spacing to be minimum of 6" for jog.
    3. Carry object from one part of arena to another.  (Only objects that might reasonably be carried on a trail ride may be used)
    4. Ride over a wooden bridge.  (Suggested minimum width shall be 36" wide and at least 6'  long.) Bridge should be sturdy and safe
    5. Put on and remove slicker
    6. Remove and replace materials from mailbox
    7. Sidepass (may be elevated to 12" maximum)
    8. An obstacle consisting of four logs or rails, each 5' to 7' long laid in a square.  Each contestant will enter the square by riding over a log or rail as designated.  When all four feet are inside the square, rider should execute a turn as indicated and depart
    9. Any safe and negotiable obstacle, which could reasonably be expected to be encountered on a trail ride and meets the approval of the judge, may be used.
  15. A combination of two or more of any obstacle is acceptable
  16. Unacceptable obstacles:  tires, animals, hides, PVC pipe, dismounting, jumps, rocking or moving bridges, water box with floating or moving parts, flames, dry ice, fire extinguisher etc.  Logs or poles elevated in a manner that permits such to roll, ground ties.


Western Pleasure

  1. Horses six-years-old and older must be shown in bit.  Horses five-years-old and younger may be shown in either bit, hackamore or snaffle bit.
  2. This class will be judged on the performance and conformation of the horse at the discretion of the judge.  Entries will be penalized for excessive speed or being on wrong leads.
  3. Horses to be shown at a walk, jog and lope on a reasonably loose rein without undue restraint.
  4. Horses must work both ways of the ring at all three gaits to demonstrate their ability with different leads.  Horses shall not be asked to extend the lope, but at the discrimination of the judge, they may be asked to extend the jog.  Horses are required to back easily and stand quietly.
  5. Horses are to be reversed to the inside (away from the rail).  They may be required to reverse at the walk or jog at the discrimination of the judge, but shall not be asked to reverse at the lope.
  6. Judge may ask for additional work of the same nature from any horse.  He is not to ask for work other than that listed above.
  7. Rider shall not be required to dismount except in the event judge wishes to check equipment.
  8. A good pleasure horse has a stride of reasonable length in keeping with his conformation.  He has enough cushion to his pastern to give the rider a pleasant, smooth ride.  He carries his head in a natural position, not high and over-flexed at the poll or low with the nose out.  The horse should be relaxed but alert and ready to respond to the rider's commands without excessive cuing.  When asked to extend the jog, he moves out with the same smooth way of going.
  9. For horses shown with a hackamore or snaffle the reins shall be held with both hands on reins, reins may or may not be crossed.  The rider's hands should be carried near the pommel and not further than 4 inches out on either side of the saddle horn.  Rider's hands must be steady with very limited movement.  For horses shown with a bit only one hand may be used on the reins.  Hand is to be around the reins, index finger only between the reins is permitted.  When a romal is used hands should be around reins, no finger between the reins is permitted.
  10. Faults, to be scored accordingly, but not necessarily cause for disqualification:
    1. Changing hands on reins.
    2. Two hands on reins, except when showing with hackamore or snaffle bit.
    3. More than one finger between reins.
    4. Being on wrong lead.
    5. Excessive speed (any gait).
    6. Excessive slowness (any gait).
    7. Breaking gait.
    8. Failure to take the called-for gait when called for.
    9. Touching horse or saddle with free hand.
    10. Head carried too low or too high.
    11. Nosing out or flexing behind the vertical.
    12. Opening mouth excessively.
    13. Stumbling or falling.
    14. Use of spurs or romal forward of the cinch.

Hunter Under Saddle

  1. Hunters under saddle should be suitable to purpose.  They should move in a long low frame and be able to lengthen their stride and cover ground, as in traversing hunt country following hounds.  They should be obedient, alert, and responsive to their riders.  Quick, short strides should be penalized.  Horses, which move in an artificial frame and are, over-flexed and behind the bit should also be penalized.  Horses should be serviceably sound.  Judges should emphasize free movement and manners.
  2. Horses to be shown under saddle, not to jump.
  3. Horses to be shown at a walk, trot, and canter both ways of the ring.  Horses should back easily and stand quietly.
  4. Horses may change gaits at the flat-footed walk or the trot at the judge's discretion.  Light contact with the horse's mouth is recommended.
  5. At the option of the judge, all or just the top eleven horses may be required to hand gallop, one or both ways of the ring.  Never more than eleven horses to hand gallop at one time.  At the hand gallop, the judge may ask group to halt and stand quietly on a free rein (loosened rein).

Pony Cart:  Ponies 56" and Under

  1. A pleasure driving class in which entries are judged primarily on the suitability of a horse to provide a pleasant drive.
  2. To be shown both ways of the arena at a walk and slow trot and fast trot.  To stand quietly both on rail and while lined up and to rein back.
  3. All entries chosen for a work out to be worked both ways of the arena at any gait requested by the judge and may be asked to execute a figure eight.
  4. To be judged 70% on performance, manners, and way of going.  Judged 20% on the condition and fit of harness and vehicle and 10% on neatness of attire.
  5. Appointments:  See Attire/Personal Appointments


General Rules for Speed Events

  1. ASTM-SEI Equestrian approved Helmets are required for the Speed Events
  2. In the event of a tie, the exhibitor declared the winner in the run-off must re-run the pattern within two seconds of his/her original time or the run-off must be held again.  Penalty time will not apply to the two-second rule, but will apply to the final run-off time.  Failure to run pattern correctly or any other disqualification shall not apply to the two-second rule, but shall apply to the final run-off time (resulting in a no time for the re-run).
  3. Failure to run a pattern correctly shall disqualify an exhibitor.
  4. Exhibitors must walk or trot into the arena, no running in and out of the gate.
  5. An exhibitor crossing the finish line before completing a pattern shall be disqualified.
  6. The judge, at his discretion, may disqualify a contestant for excessive use of a bat, crop whip, or rope in front of the cinch.
  7. Western type equipment must be used.
  8. A rider will be disqualified if the helmet is not on the exhibitor's head for the entire time the exhibitor is in the arena.
  9. Under no circumstance is a rider to be secured or tied to a saddle, including rubber banding the feet to the stirrups.


Barrel Race  

In this timed class, the exhibitor will run a cloverleaf pattern around three barrels.  The exhibitor will start by running to barrel #2, pass to the left of it and go around it; then go to barrel #1, pass to the right of it and go slightly more than 360 degrees around it; then go to barrel #3, pass to the right of that barrel, go around it and then sprint home.  (Be sure to go between barrels #1 and #2 when running for the finish line.)  Pattern may be run by starting with barrel #1 and passing to the right of that barrel.  Balance of the pattern to be run accordingly.  For each barrel knocked over, a five second penalty shall be added to the exhibitor's time.


Pole Bending

This timed class consists of six poles set 21' apart with the first pole 21' from the starting line.  Exhibitor may start either to the left or right of pole #1 and then run the remainder of the pattern accordingly.  Exhibitor will run down one side of the pattern; turn around pole # 6 and weave through poles #5-#1; turn around pole #1 and weave back down to pole #6; turn around pole #6 and then run for the finish line down the side opposite from which the pattern was started.  For each pole knocked over, the exhibitor will receive a five second penalty.


Flag Race

Contestant crosses the starting line running toward a barrel stationed at the far end of the arena, they must pick up the flag and continue around that barrel.  Run back to the barrel closest to the starting line and toss the flag into the barrel, failure of the flag to remain completely in the barrel is a no time.  Crossing the starting line prior to depositing the flag is off pattern and no time.  Completely circling (360 degrees) either barrel is off pattern and no time.  Pattern may be started on either side of the first barrel.


Therapeutic Horsemanship

This special class is conducted to allow 4-H members with personal handicaps to participate at the state level.  Riders will be asked to ride at their personal "best".  In no case will safety be disregarded.  Riders will be afforded whatever assistance is necessary including "side holders", "leaders", signing for auditory impaired, etc.  Each rider will be judged on individual ability.