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Extension > Youth Development > Minnesota 4-H > Projects > Animal Science > Horse > Horse Judging Contest

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Horse Judging Contest

In this event, you will make a careful study of a horse, measuring it against an accepted ideal. Horse judging is an art in which a knowledgeable person expresses her opinion of a class of animals by placing them in ranking order. A horse judge should be able to orally defend the order of placement.

Being on a 4-H judging team teaches youth the skills to become an authoritative person. The commonly accepted ideal type and performance should be learned for each of the various breeds (Arabian, Morgan, Quarter Horse, Paint, etc.) by practices held by the coach. Learn the parts of the horse, blemishes and unsoundness, and conformational faults. After learning the background on breeds, learn to evaluate and compare animals in a class of four (Quarter horse mares, Arabian geldings, etc.). Taking notes to weigh the differences in faults and blemishes assists young judges in making the decision on how to place the class.

At a contest, participants have 15 minutes to evaluate one class and then defend their placing orally. To do this, you must understand the various breeds and know the terminology for the attributes of each breed. It is important for coaches to know the basics of oral reasons so that the 4-H'ers learn this important skill. Oral reasons are the most demanding part of being on a judging team, or judging at a real show defending your placing to horse show parents! Coaches will prepare you to give a flowing comparison and contrasting set of reasons. You should be able to describe the placing of the class in two minutes or less. Practicing beforehand is vital.

Anyone in 4-H can be on the horse judging team; you needn't be in the horse project. Coaches are experienced in judging and giving oral reasons. Judging teams can form anytime, and the earlier you start the better off you will be. Contests are usually held in the summer and fall. To find information on horse judging you can go to your local extension office. You may form a team with 4-H'ers from other counties.


To get educational material you can write to your various breed registries. The Arabian and Quarter Horse associations put out wonderful judging material.

There are no regional contests required to compete at the state horse judging contest. The state contest is held each year at the Minnesota State 4-H Horse Show in September. Registration is due with your county's other state show registration forms.


Lynette Whittier

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