Did you know the Florida 4-H Horse Program offers horse shows, horse judging, Hippology, public speaking, demonstrations, illustrated talks, quiz bowl, horsemanship schools, and even scholarships?
January kicks off the new year of the Florida 4-H Horse Program, and now is the time to get involved! The Florida 4-H Horse Program consists of all the programs mentioned above, and only a few of those events actually requires owning a horse. The horse program has something for everyone, and the best part is that you get involved with youth focused, horse loving community. Below, we will introduce you to each part of the program, but if you have more questions, be sure to reach out to your county agent. For this article, we will look at programs where you do not need to own or lease a horse, and programs where you do. So let’s get started!
Horseless Programs (No horse needs to be owned or leased)
About: In horse judging, youth are presented classes of horses, and they are asked to evaluate each class, place them, and present oral reasons. This competition teaches youth to look at horses and evaluate the based on both confirmation and function. To watch a short video outlining the details of the competition, click here.
February 8, 2020: Florida State Fairy Horse Judging Contest, Tampa, Florida
April 4, 2020: State 4-H and FFA Horse Judging Contest, Gainesville, Florida
For More information, please visit the UF 4-H Horse Judging Website.
About: Quiz bowl is a trivia style contest with both individual and team components. Topics range from practical hands on knowledge to horse industry knowledge. To learn more about these events, watch a short video here.
June 1, 2020 – State Entry Deadline
June 20, 2020- State 4-H Horse Quiz Bowl Contest, Gainesville, Florida
For More information, please visit the State 4-H Horse Demonstrations and Public Speaking.
Youth visiting a local veterinary office for a tour.
About: Hippology includes all aspects of horse knowledge and covers topics ranging from judging to feedstuffs identification. Hippology includes practical horse management knowledge combining it with the experience and knowledge from all the other contests (Judging, quiz bowl, public speaking, etc.). To watch a short video outlining the details of the competition, click here.
April 4 & 5, 2020: State 4-H Contest, Gainesville, Florida
For More information, please visit the UF 4-H Hippology Website.
Public Speaking/Demonstrations/and Illustrated Talks
About: In these events, youth get to explore an area of interest as it relate
Tucker Padgett gives a public speech at the 2020 Escambia County 2020 County Events.
s to horses, then create a presentation to share it with others. These events have a county, district, and in some cases a state level. To learn more about these events, watch a short video here.
Most counties have a qualification process, that differs across the state. Check with your county agent for the specifics on the county and district qualifying events.
June 1, 2020 – State Entry Deadline
June 20, 2020- State 4-H Horse Demonstrations and Public Speaking Contest, Gainesville, Florida
For More information, please visit the State 4-H Horse Demonstrations and Public Speaking site.
About: The Florida 4-H Horse scholarship program aims to reward youth who are demonstrated an intense passion and advancement in the Florida 4-H Horse Program. These scholarships have their own specific requirements and awards. For More information, please visit the Florida 4-H Equine Scholarships Summary here.
To watch a short video outlining the details of the opportunities, click here.
June 1, 2020- Scholarship Applications are due
*Be sure to work closely with your county 4-H agent to ensure this process goes smoothly.
Project Horse Programs (A horse must be owned/leased by youth)
Area and State Horse Shows
About: Each year, Florida 4-H hosts Area Shows to qualify for the State 4-H Horse Show. To learn more about these shows watch this short video which introduces the Florida 4-H Horse Shows.
Important Dates and Information:
If you want to compete at your Area Horse Show, you need to be aware of the following items:
- December 31, 2020- The Florida 4-H Horse Certification Form should be submitted to the county 4-H on or before December 31, 2020 to qualify to pa
Youth displaying ribbon after placing in a horse show class at the 2019 Area North Horse Show.
rticipate in the Area North Horse Show and the State 4-H Horse show. This form must be completed each year, even if you are using the same horse as a previous year. A youth should do this for each horse they intend to show or use to participate in 4-H shows with.
- Find the form here: Florida 4-H Horse Certification Form
- December 31, 2020- A Horse Lease Form should be completed and submitted if a youth wants to participate with a horse that is not owned by the youth. Even if you are borrowing the horse without a fee, youth must have a Horse Lease Form on file with the local county 4-H office.
- Find the form here: Horse Lease Form
- The Florida 4-H Horse Project Record Book is a great way to track and demonstrate your growth throughout the year.
- Find the project book here: Florida 4-H Horse Project Book
Each county has their own specific guidelines and requirements. Please be sure to check when your county offices are closed for the holidays as they may not be open on the final day the form is due. Contact your county office if you have any questions or concerns regarding county specific requirements. For more information about Florida 4-H Horse Project opportunities visit the State 4-H Horse Events site.
About: Horsemanship school is a week long program geared at teaching and equipping youth with the knowledge and tools needed to be successful and grow as horseman. There are three program offerings: Western week, English week, and Cowboy Camp (male 4-H youth). To watch a short video outlining the details of the opportunities, click here.
Youth at Horsemanship School in Niceville, Florida before camps were moved to Gainesville.
May 31-June 5, 2020 – Cowboy Camp, Gainesville, Florida
June 7- 12, 2020 – Western Week, Gainesville, Florida
June 14-19, 2020 – English Week, Gainesville, Florida
For more information, please visit the UF Horsemanship School website.
The Florida 4-H Horse program is abounding in opportunities, so come join our community of horse loving youth and adults focused on “making the best, better”!
If you have any questions or concerns, please feel free to reach out to us!
You can find your local county 4-H office here.
*Photo Credits belong to:
Julie Andrews Photography, 2019 Area North Horse Show, Clay County, Florida.
Anne Peterson, Escambia County 4-H Volunteer
Aly Schortinghouse, Escambia County 4-H
*All Photos were taken prior to COVID-19 lockdown and policies.
Photo credit: Evie Blount, UF IFAS Gadsden County
Are you sad about the North Florida Fair being canceled this year? Well we are too! Even though we are all going to miss the rides and the fair foods (especially the funnel cakes) we don’t have to miss out on all the fair activities! The Consumer Choice, Horticulture Identification, and Agricultural Judging Contest will all still be taking place on November 14th. They will all be virtual, and they are open to Florida 4-H members ages 8-18.
Judging contests are a great way for youth to learn skills to prepare them for work and life, such as decision making, teamwork and public speaking! To help youth prepare for the virtual ag judging contest, we will have a workshop on November 5th at 5:30PM eastern. Registration for this workshop and the contest are available in 4Honline. Once you register, you will be provided a secure link to join. The deadline to register for the workshop and contest is November 5th. For the contest, there is a small entry fee of $5.00 per participant.
If you have any questions, please email Evie Blount (email@example.com) or Chris Decubellis (firstname.lastname@example.org). We had so much fun creating this contest virtually and are super excited for youth all over the state to participate!
Check out these blog posts about how judging contests teach life skills:
Watch our webinar on judging contest basics:
For livestock judging study materials, check out these links:
Livestock Judging Guide (Kansas)
Livestock Judging Explore Guide (Texas)
Livestock Judging EDIS Factsheet (Florida)
A 4-H family gathered together at a show.
Are you looking for another way that you can aid your child in becoming a healthy well-adjusted adult? You help can them by allowing them to enter a relationship with a horse. Most kids are naturally drawn to horses and may benefit greatly in what they can gain from them. Some life skills learned from caring for equine are character building, healthy living, leadership skills, and responsibility, just to name a few. Plus, if your child is out at the barn caring for their horse, they are less likely to be stuck on their phones on the couch. Therefore, their physical health will benefit from doing chores and riding as well. Horseback riding offers many aerobic-exercise benefits such as building muscles, boosting balance, and increasing coordination and flexibility. Lifting saddles, water buckets, and cleaning require physical movement as well as gives a sense of self accomplishment of “I can do this all by myself.” When youth are responsible for the care of a horse, it teaches them to put others needs above their own and they learn empathy.
Emily, 4-H member, sitting on her horse, Slyder.
Did you know 4-H has a horse program? The goal of the program is to teach and provide young people with an opportunity to participate in activities that foster the love for the animal and achieve their goals. The activities are designed to improve citizenship, sportsmanship, horsemanship, character, competitive spirit, and discipline while making youth aware of life around them. When thinking about the 4-H horse program, there is the potential for participation in horse judging, public speaking, demonstrations, hippology and quiz bowl. Participation in these activities can help a youth improve in many areas to gain a better education and they don’t have to necessarily have a horse. There is also horse showing for those who own a horse. Showing equine will connect youth from all over the world as horse family while teaching them to prepare, build the courage to compete, enjoy the rewards and deal with disappointments. Hopefully, the disappointments will drive them to succeed and work harder while furthering their leadership skills. Afterall, taking control of a thousand-pound animal to work through challenging tasks will require skills that promote a child’s self-competence.
If you are looking for something new to spark an interest in your child, consider the 4-H equine project. Horses are fun, help teach great life skills, and kids adore them. They will keep youth positively engaged during their difficult years from pre-teen and into adulthood. If you are unsure of what your county has to offer in the way of equine 4-H programs, give your local UF IFAS County Extension Office a call and they will help you or connect you with someone in the field or visit http://florida4h.org.
*“Please note pictures were taken prior to our challenges with Covid-19 and we remind people to social distance and wear a mask for the personal safety of self and others.”
Each year in Northwest Florida, 4-H hosts a 4-H Chick Chain Project. During this project, youth select their birds, raise their birds, attend educational workshops, and show their birds at a final show. With the recent COVID-19 pandemic placing a new emphasis on fresh from the farm food products, the 4-H Chick Chain project is a great way to launch into raising chickens or to start a new project. This year, the project is going one step further than previous years by adding more opportunities for youth to share about their projects through a demonstration or illustrated talk and the chance to explore building a business through an entrepreneurship challenge.
Demonstrations and Illustrated Talks
4-H youth, Tucker Padgett, posing with her show bird at a show.
Participants will have the chance to share a demonstration or illustrated talk focusing on their chicken related experiences at the 4-H Chick Chain Competition. The best part is that presentations made at the Chick Chain event can be perfected and carried on to other competitions such as County Events, District Events, and 4-H University. Through a demonstration, youth will show the judges how to do something, while with an illustrated talk, youth are explaining a situation or topic while using a visual aid such as a poster, PowerPoint, or physical object. The best part of this opportunity is that youth are encouraged to talk about their chickens and chicken experiences. After all, it is the 4-H Chick Chain Project.
This new experience is designed to walk participants through the documentation and setup of a business plan focusing on chickens, over multiple years. Each year, participants focus on a different aspect of owning and operating a business. At the Chick Chain show, participants will present their plan to judges. For youth who are interested in the entrepreneurship challenge and more similar opportunities, youth are encouraged to check out the Florida 4-H Gator Pit which offers educational workshops and the chance to interact with entrepreneurs throughout Florida.
Try it Out
Chickens pecking at feed offered in a feed pan.
This project is open to Florida 4-H youth in Northwest Florida. Registration will be open October 1, 2020 through 4-HOnline with the show taking place on March 20, 2021. Interested in getting involved? Visit FL 4-H Chick Chain or ask your local UF IFAS County Extension Office where to get started. This project offers a chance for every level of youth to stretch their comfort level focusing on one of the best topics out there… Chickens! So join us, learn something new, teach us something new, and make some awesome chicken loving friends.
Youth grooming a horse. UF/IFAS Photo: Sally Lanigan.
Across Florida, 4-H clubs have adopted creative ways to stay connected while social distancing
practices are in place. The Wakulla 4-H Bits and Bridles Horse Club, like other 4-H clubs across Florida, ceased in-person activities in mid-March. During the regular program year, the Wakulla 4-H Bits and Bridles Club met monthly for a club meeting that included activities focused on equine science, leadership development, and hands-on skill building. While horseback riding was not a part of every club meeting, most club meetings included some sort of hands-on activity with horses. Club leaders who already had an active Facebook group for their club families, considered how to stay engaged in the face of a prolonged pause in hands-on, face-to-face meetings.
In Wakulla, the 4-H Bits and Bridles Horse Club has established a welcoming, inclusive environment for both youth with and without horses of their own. After the pause on in-person programming went into effect, Bits and Bridles volunteer leader, Julie Dennis, communicated with youth members and their families via email, sending the following message: “Given the current need to promote safety in our community, we’ll be taking a pause from in-person Bits and Bridles Meetings. Don’t worry though, as soon we can, we’ll get back to our monthly meetings. In the meantime, let’s use our Facebook group as a way to stay connected!”
Julie’s communication was followed by a series of video and photo sharing by adult volunteers and youth members in the private Facebook group for the club, including a challenge to demonstrate a horse-related skill with or without a horse at home. Youth were asked to post, with parent permission or assistance, at least one thing to the Facebook group that they were doing while at home to learn more about horses. The instructions urged youth to post a picture or video engaged in an activity to learn more about horses.
Group members responded by sharing videos demonstrating how to practice several skills with items they had at home: roping livestock and how to use different types of tack. Other youth shared videos demonstrating how to properly care for horse hooves and how to groom a horse. Several youth demonstrated riding activities.
Four Ideas to Stay Engaged with 4-H at Home
Activity ideas were provided to parents to share with youth members. The ideas below were collected by club leader, Julie Dennis, and reviewed by 4-H Agent, Rachel Pienta. Each activity is shared below using language close to or similar to what was shared with 4-H families via email.
Learn a new drill or pattern.
If you have a horse, work on riding in a circle and just the same steps every time at a walk, trot and then collected lope. Dirt lots make a great place to do this because you can retrace your steps and see where your horse has been. Once you master this exercise, work on a serpentine or start by making a small circle and then gradually get bigger. For ideas, get your parents to help you use Pinterest and type in “Horse Drills.” The possibilities are endless. Get someone to take a video and share with us on Facebook!
If you don’t have a horse, you can participate too! Now is the time to get that barrel pattern down. This website has a great summary of the barrel pattern. You can also try your hand at the pole bending pattern. Find some objects at your house (rocks, chairs, whatever you can find outside) and set up these patterns. Then run them yourself & ask a parent to take video for you!
Learn how to clean your tack while practicing the parts of a saddle.
Dry leather can get cracked and brittle.
Spring cleaning! Break out your tack with some good saddle soap and get to cleaning. Remember, this is an important part of being safe when you ride. Dry leather can get cracked and brittle. Anyone who has been around horse shows long enough has seen what happens when an off billet strap breaks. You wind up in the dirt! Not only is this a safety hazard but it can cost you an otherwise very nice run. These are two very good reasons to make sure your tack stays clean.
If you don’t have a horse – there are still ways to learn! There are videos that you can learn from online. Ask a parent to help you search for videos on YouTube.
Start your 4-H Horse Project Record Book!
Now is the time to start on horse projects. A very popular and great project for all kids whether or not you own a horse, is to complete the 4-H Horse Project Record Book. This can be downloaded online. If you don’t have a horse, you can still participate. Make up your horse’s name and then research the information you’ll need to complete each section.
In the case of our club youth, members were encouraged to use online resources to research prices for supplies. Youth without a horse were offered a match with a 4-H Bits & Bridles mentor.
Youth coloring a horse diagram activity sheet.
Build Horse Curriculum into Homeschooling.
The National 4-H program has great curriculum available for all age ranges online. Try building in one horse lesson a week and then keeping a journal about what you’ve learned. This activity can be a great way to keep learning through the summer too!
For more information about 4-H clubs and activities in your community, or to volunteer with 4-H, please contact your local UF/ IFAS County Extension Office.
*“Please note the picture was taken prior to our challenges with Covid-19 and we encourage people to social distance and wear a mask for the personal safety of self and others.”
Madison standing in front of some of her award-winning efforts in 4-H
Madison Fendley joined Santa Rosa County 4-H in 2010 at the age of eight. In the beginning, her passion was showing rabbits and chickens. As she grew up, her interest in raising livestock grew as well. After raising show-quality dairy goats for many years, Madison had been in the show ring numerous times. With this experience, Madison shared her knowledge with youth that were new to showing livestock. She could always be seen in the show prep area, working with youth that were inexperienced and nervous. Madison became one of Santa Rosa County 4-H’s best mentors for youth, new to the showing world.
Madison has learned a lot about hard work and dedication through her 4-H goat project. Thinking back, Madison stated, “I feel accomplished for growing my goat herd from just a few brush goats when I started over ten years ago to nearly a completely registered show quality herd now.” She said she always enjoyed helping grow the goat show at the Santa Rosa County Fair and helping teach other youth about showing goats.
“I’ve loved working with the younger kids in our club and watching everyone grow and branch out.”
Madison and her livestock project
Madison has made a difference in the Santa Rosa County 4-H program. Many 4-H day camps had the opportunity to utilize Madison’s leadership skills as she served as a counselor. She has worked very hard while raising livestock and even received Reserve Champion Steer at the Santa Rosa County Fair. She has also received Grand Champion Homegrown Heifer two years in a row. Madison recalls, “4-H has been an excellent opportunity to learn leadership and step out of my comfort zone sometimes. I would say I’ve come a long way since I first joined from showing chickens and rabbits to goats and now cattle.” When asked about her biggest lesson she has learned from 4-H, Madison replied, “I’d say one of my biggest accomplishments in 4-H, that nearly brought me to tears, was placing 1st in Steer Showmanship at the fair because it was the first year I showed cattle and the first show I’d been in with that steer.”
Madison plans to attend the University of West Florida and complete her Associate in Arts degree. She will pursue a degree in an agricultural or animal science-related field. Madison, we thank you for your many years of service to Santa Rosa County 4-H and the Santa Rosa County Fair & Youth Livestock programs. We
To find out more information about 4-H programs that can offer essential life skills such as independence, organizational skills, and goal setting, to your children or to volunteer with 4-H, please contact your local UF/ IFAS County Extension Office.
*Please note Madison’s pictures were taken prior to our challenges with Covid-19 and we encourage people to social distance and wear a mask for the personal safety of self and others.*