University of Maryland Extension

The Maryland 4-H Horsemanship Standards


The Maryland 4-H Horsemanship Standards are designed to help 4-H members progressively develop knowledge of horse care, horse management, and horsemanship skills. The Horsemanship Standards are divided into Knowledge, English Riding, and Western Riding Standards each containing six levels. The Riding Standards encourage members to become safe, effective and confident riders with a sound knowledge of equipment and tack.  The Knowledge Standards develop proper horse handling and husbandry skills.  While it is realized that not every 4-H member would want to master all levels, the first two levels of the Knowledge and Riding Standards require 4-H members to learn the basics of horse safety, care, and riding.  Also, certain levels may be required for participation in state horse programs and events in the future including the state fair show.  

For more information, please contact Chris Anderson

All Horsemanship Standards documents were updated in 2010, unless otherwise noted. Please review the following memo for helpful information in regards to the changes and updates.

Information on the Horsemanship Standards:

Horsemanship Standards Manual 
(Updated 6/7/12)

**please note, Appendix G, H, I, J, and N have been revised (pages 94-97 and page 101 in the Manual) to reflect changes in 2011 USDF Dressage Tests and Level 5 Gridwork

**please note, pages 49, 51, 53, and 56 have been revised in the English Riding Levels section to reflect changes in Dressage Tests

Written Tests for Knowledge Levels Testing

Written tests for Knowledge Levels 1-4 are distributed to County 4-H Educators at the beginning of each calendar year. Volunteer leaders or Approved Examiners hosting/coordinating a Horsemanship Standards Knowledge Testing should contact the County 4-H Educator well in advance of the testing to receive copies of the written tests and keys.


Study Materials

In an effort to provide training materials to all individuals interested in becoming examiners or to those interested in furthering their knowledge of the Horsemanship Standards, information has been provided below:
Horsemanship Standards Overview 

How To Organize a Horsemanship Standards Testing 

Horsemanship Standards Knowledge Levels 1 & 2 

Horsemanship Standards Knowledge Level 3 

Horsemanship Standards Riding Levels 1 & 2 

Horsemanship Standards Riding Level 3


Testing Participation Fees

Each 4-H member will be required to pay a testing participation fee for each test taken, excluding levels 1 & 2 Knowledge and Riding as well as Level 3 Riding since these are required to participate at various county and state activities. There will be a separate fee for both the knowledge and riding test taken at each level. See the Testing Participation Fee Form for more details.

These testing participation fees will help provide funding for the educational trainings for youth and adults, expenses for statewide examiner and 4-Her testings for Levels 4-6 as well as other operating expenses related to the program.


Level 5 and 6 Testings

Testing for Levels 5 and 6 of the Knowledge and Riding Horsemanship Standards will be offered when the demand is present. Dates will be set at the beginning of the calendar year. Please also see our page for Horsemanship Standards Prep Clinics for 4-Hers.

How Do I Become An Examiner?

Examiners MUST be a UME Volunteer.

The following forms must be turned in to verify your UME volunteer status:

Examiner Volunteer Status Form Levels 1-3

Examiner Volunteer Status Form Levels 4-6

To become an approved Maryland 4-H Horsemanship Standards Examiner for Levels 1-3, individuals must complete and pass an online training consisting of several learning modules and online tests. The tests may be taken as open-book tests. Maryland 4-H approved references for State contests and for Horsemanship Standards, and the Horsemanship Standards themselves may be used during the test. At no time may any individual taking this test receive assistance from another individual.

Candidates must earn a grade of 80% or higher (Levels 1 and 2) or 85% or higher (Levels 3) to pass the test.

To request the link to online training and testing, or for more information, please e-mail Jennifer Reynolds ( or call her at 301-405-1547.

To become an approved Maryland 4-H Horsemanship Standards Examiner for Levels 4-6, Examiners will be evaluated by a panel of three individuals using set evaluation criteria for that specific level. Evaluation criteria will be posted on the Maryland 4-H Horsemanship Standards website. Dates and evaluation criteria for each level can be viewed by clicking on the Examiner Level Testings link.

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