The Maryland State 4-H Horse Program provides opportunities for youth to learn about equine science and horsemanship by providing important opportunities to interact with fellow equine enthusiasts and partners through fairs and shows and through a variety of equine-focused educational programs. Ownership of a horse is not required! Maryland offers several competitive events throughout the year, including Horse Judging, Hippology, Horse Bowl, Communications, and Art and Photography. In addition, 4-H offers a variety of equine-related educational clinics and webinars. Through these opportunities, youth learn important horsemanship and equitation skills, including equine safety practices. However, personal development and the opportunity to learn and practice other life skills are also key features of 4-H.
Contests, Events, Resources
Horse Project Record Books
What is a 4-H project?
A 4-H project is a subject or a topic that each 4-Her learns more about by attending 4-H club meetings and educational workshops, and by working with adult leaders and other 4-H members. Selecting the horse as a project allows a 4-H'er to learn more about how horses are properly cared for and ridden.
Why do I need to complete a project record book?
A record book is a useful tool to help a 4-H'er learn more about the horse. Project records allow an individual to organize and maintain vital information about their horses including veterinary and farrier records, feeding, deworming, and immunization programs, related expenses, training history, and showing achievements. The record book also helps 4-Her's recognize just how much they've accomplished with their horse project over the last year. Completion of the 4-H horse project record books is often a requirement prior to participation in some county, state, and national events.
How do I prepare a record book?
Your annual 4-H record book has three main components: a summary record, a 4-H story, and your project record. The summary forms are universal to all 4-H clubs in Maryland and track your project accomplishments, awards, offices, community service activities, and other club participation over the years you are an active member in Maryland 4-H. The story introduces your personal life and is a way for you to express your goals and growth over the course of the year, from your own point of view. Finally, the project record is specific to animal/activity--in this case, horses. This record contains a detailed description of your animal(s), a pre-year plan, financial, training, and health management records, and a progress summary at the end of the year. This project reflects good standard business management practices and recordkeeping skills for any horse-related organization.
Horse and Pony Project Record Book and record book guidelines and other publications, from Maryland 4-H.
Project listings and resources, from Maryland 4-H.
To find out more information about 4-H record books, contact your county 4-H Extension Educator.
Equine Showmanship and Equitation Standards
*Effective January 1, 2020, the Maryland 4-H Horsemanship Standards program is no longer in use. The program is replaced with the NEW Maryland 4-H Equine Showmanship and Equitation Standards program.
The Maryland 4-H Equine Showmanship and Equitation Standards are designed to help 4-H members progressively develop horsemanship skills throughout their Maryland 4-H Horse Project participation. The Standards have been developed to foster learning for individuals who may or may not have access to horses regularly and for those who ride English or Western disciplines.
The Maryland 4-H Equine Showmanship and Equitation Standards are divided into Knowledge and Handling/Riding components in Four (4) Tiers. The Knowledge Tiers are designed to help members develop proper horse management and husbandry skills, emphasizing horse safety, care, and riding. Completion of the Knowledge Tiers does not require the use of a live animal by the 4-H member. The Handling/Riding Tiers encourage members to become safe, effective, and confident riders with a sound knowledge of equipment and tack. 4-H members must have access to a horse by owning, leasing, borrowing, or sharing a horse to participate in the Handling/Riding Tiers. While not required, members are encouraged to become familiar with all riding disciplines. Completing certain Tiers may be required for participation in State and/or County 4-H Horse programs and events. Completion of Tiers is required for participation in the Maryland State Fair 4-H Horse Show and most Maryland County 4-H Horse Shows (See the Program Framework below).
*Introduction Sheet: Previous Program Levels to New Program Tiers
Information for 4-H Members and Volunteers
Maryland 4-H Equine Showmanship & Equitation Standards Handbook
II. References and Resource Materials
III. MD 4-H Equine Showmanship and Equitation Standards Advisory Committee
IV. General Requirements
V. Scoring the Test
VI. Responsibilities of the 4-H Member
VII. Responsibilities of the Examiner
VIII. Reasons to Excuse Horse or Rider From Testing
IX. How to Organize Horsemanship Standards Testing Session
X. Rider Turnout Checklist
XI. Required Apparel
XII. Horse Turnout Checklist
Guide to Knowledge Exam Topics
How do previous Maryland 4-H Horsemanship Standards Levels transfer to the new Maryland 4-H Equine Showmanship & Equitation Standards Tiers?
For more information, contact Becca Gunderson at email@example.com
Information for Examiners
How do I become an examiner?
To be an approved Maryland 4-H Equine Showmanship & Equitation Standards Examiner, individuals MUST be a certified UME Volunteer. Individuals must complete the required training sessions and pass the required exams (80% or above)*. Training sessions will be conducted using various methods which may include webinars, online, and face-to-face sessions. Examiner tests will be completed online. Examiner tests may be taken as open-book tests. At no time may any individual taking this test receive assistance from another individual.
NOTE: All previous Maryland 4-H Horsemanship Standards Examiners must participate in a NEW Program Orientation session and pass an exam about the new program.
Become a certified UME Volunteer. [link to https://extension.umd.edu/4-h/volunteers]
Examiner Training Dates (Examiners must participate in a Maryland 4-H Equine Showmanship & Equitation Standards Webinars and pass an exam)
Maryland 4-H Equine Showmanship & Equitation Standards REPORT
Knowledge and Handling/Riding Scoresheets
For more information contact Becca Gunderson at firstname.lastname@example.org
Horse Judging Clinic
The primary objective of the Maryland 4-H State Horse Judging Clinic is to provide an opportunity for Maryland 4-H youth, Maryland 4-H volunteers, and UME Educators to acquire skills and knowledge about the conformation and judging of horses. Individuals receive classroom instruction and participate in live horse judging of conformation and performance classes. Participants learn valuable information they can use when showing their horses and in horse judging competitions. Adults interested in coaching judging teams are also encouraged to enroll in the Coach/Volunteer track. This clinic is offered bi-annually.
We’re back! Revamped for in-person learning, the Maryland 4-H Horse Judging School is BACK and better than ever!
Please join us for a fun-filled day of all things Horse Judging! Participants will learn the latest judging techniques from industry professionals with special attention to conformation, performance, and oral reasons! Participants will gain valuable information to increase their horse judging knowledge and learn preparation skills needed for the 4-H Horse Judging and Hippology contests. Lunch will be provided, and every participant will receive a horse judging manual!
- Date: Saturday, December 3, 2022
- Start Time: Check-in at 9:30 am, Clinic begins promptly at 10:00 am
- Location: University of Maryland Animal Science Building: 8127 Regents Dr, College Park, MD 20740
- Fee: $20.00 per youth or adult participant. Includes lunch and a horse judging manual.
- Registration Closes: November 18, 2022
This clinic is open to 4-H youth members and volunteers interested in learning more about Horse Judging. Complete information and rules can be found on the Maryland 4-H website.
How to Register
Registration for this event is through 4-H Online. To access the registration, log in to your 4-H Online family profile and click on the Events tab. You can find an Event Registration “how to” guide on the Maryland 4-H website.
All event registrations must be submitted by 11:59 pm on 11/18/2022. Contact State 4-H Equine Coordinator Rebecca Bittner at email@example.com or visit the Maryland 4-H website for more information.
The Maryland 4-H Horsemen's Party
History of the Maryland Horsemen's Party
Now in its 35th year, the Maryland Horsemen's party serves as the primary fundraiser for the Sallie Robertson Memorial 4-H Horse Endowment Fund. Sallie Parlette Robertson was a native of Howard County, a 4-H Alumna and owner of the famous Ship's Quarters Farms in northern Carroll County.
When Mrs. Robertson died in 1984, 4-H leaders from Carroll County and Howard County, who had known her as a personal friend, started an endowment fund with the Maryland 4-H Foundation in her memory.
The goal of the Sallie Robertson Memorial 4-H Endowment Fund is to support 4-H equine educational programs, and the annual trip for 4-Hers representing Maryland at the Eastern National 4-H Horse Round Up in the areas of horse judging, hippology, horse bowl, demonstrations and public speaking. The fund may also provide scholarships for 4-H volunteers and members to attend leadership conferences, equine-related workshops and National 4-H Congress.
2023 Horsemen's Party
Horse Judging Contest
The Maryland 4-H State Horse Judging Contest tests the 4-Her's knowledge of horse conformation and way of going. The contest has a mixture of halter and under saddle (or in harness) classes with 4 horses to judge in each class. After placing the classes and enjoying a short lunch, contestants are required to defend their placings for classes by giving "oral reasons" to the judges. Awards are granted in the senior, intermediate, and junior divisions to the top County 10 teams, top 10 overall individuals, top 10 individuals in reasons. In addition, the top 10 senior individuals compete for one of the four spots on the Maryland State Horse Judging Team that competes at the Eastern National 4-H Horse Roundup.
2023 Maryland 4-H State Horse Judging Contest:
Date: Saturday, June 10, 2023
Location: Howard County Fairgrounds
Contact: Contact: Rebecca Bittner firstname.lastname@example.org OR Chris Anderson at email@example.com
Rules and Regulations: MD 4-H State Horse Judging Contest Rules-2023
Horse Hippology Contest
Hippology, directly derived, means "the study of horses." The state hippology contest rigorously tests the 4Her's intimate knowledge of horses and horse-related items. There are two parts at the junior and intermediate levels: a written exam and an identification table. As of last year, the senior level added a slide section to the other two parts to emulate the national program. Awards are given for individuals and teams, and the top four individuals qualify to compete at the Eastern National Horse Roundup.
2023 Hippology Contest:
Date: Saturday, June 10, 2023
Location: Howard County Fairgrounds
Contact: Contact: Rebecca Bittner firstname.lastname@example.org OR Chris Anderson at email@example.com
Rules and Regulations: MD 4-H State Horse Hippology Contest Rules-2023
Maryland 4-H Horse Jamboree is a program designed to give 4-Hers the chance to learn about horses, share their existing horse knowledge, learn new skills, and share ideas with other horse-crazy Maryland 4-Hers and adults.
The focus of 4-H Horse Jamboree is learning and FUN! Highlights of the Jamboree include workshops about equine topics, horsey crafts and games, and Ponypalooza! The Horse Jamboree is not “BYOH” (Bring Your Own Horse), and there will be no riding or showing events. Horse Jamboree is open to ALL Maryland 4-Hers who want to learn about horses, not just those who own or ride horses. Horses and ponies will be brought to the Center by workshop presenters and activity leaders, and 4-Hers will have the chance to interact with them during Jamboree events.
Plans for a 2021 Horse Jamboree 'like' event are currently being discussed. Stay tuned for more details!
Horse Activities Continued
Horse Communications Contest
The Maryland 4-H Horse Communications Contest provides an opportunity for youth enrolled in 4-H to demonstrate their public speaking skills and knowledge of the equine-related subject matter in a competitive setting where attitudes of friendliness and fairness prevail. This contest provides an educational experience for both participants and spectators.
The Communications Contest will be held Virtually.
Three categories are offered for this contest, including:
- Individual Presentation,
- Team Presentation, and
- Individual Public Speech.
Awards are offered in three age divisions:
- Junior (ages 8-10),
- Intermediate (ages 11-13), and
- Senior (ages 14-18).
Top Senior individuals will be eligible to represent Maryland 4-H at the Eastern National 4-H Horse Roundup in Louisville, KY.
2023 Maryland 4-H State Horse Communications Contest:
The 2023 Horse Communications Contest will again be held virtually. Registration for the contest will be open from April 3-17th. Members must submit their recorded presentations between those dates.
Video Recording: There are multiple free platforms to record your presentation: Phone, Video Camera, Zoom (https://zoom.us/ent?zcid=2582), Skype (https://www.skype.com/en/), or other recording programs.
NOTE: Team Demo participants should use technologies that enable them to comply with current health and government guidelines when preparing their recorded presentations. For example, two separate recordings can be edited together, or a Zoom session can be recorded in which the two members pass the presentation back and forth as needed. Participants should contact Becca Bittner or Chris Anderson if they do not have access to this technology or need assistance finding a recording platform to use.
Horse Bowl Contest
In 4-H Horse Bowl, two teams of three to four players face off in front of a panel of judges and the moderator who asks questions during the matches. Each match consists of One-on-One questions, which are limited to one player from each team to answer, and Open questions, which may be answered by all players of each team. Players must be quick on the buzzer to earn the chance to answer the questions. Correct answers score points for the team. Both teams and individuals compete for respective awards, and the top four Senior individuals qualify to compete at the Eastern National 4-H Horse Roundup.
2023 Horse Bowl Contest:
Date: The 2023 Horse Bowl Contest will be held Saturday, March 11, 2023
Location: In person at the Plant Science Building in College Park, MD on Saturday, March 11, 2023
Rules: Horse Bowl Rules for 2023
Contact: Rebecca Gunderson firstname.lastname@example.org
National Youth Horse Contests
Eastern National 4-H Horse Roundup
The Maryland 4-H horse program sends its champion teams and individuals from the Horse Bowl, Horse Judging, Hippology, Individual and Team Demonstrations, and Public Speaking State Contests to compete at the Eastern National 4-H Horse Roundup held the first weekend in November at the North American International Livestock Exposition, Kentucky Fair and Exposition Center in Louisville, Kentucky. Maryland's 4-Her's are among the tough competition with over 600 4-Her's from 28 states entered in the contest
State Fair Horse Show
The Maryland 4-H State Fair Horse Show is four days of exciting and competitive English and Western riding held at the Maryland State Fairgrounds in Timonium, MD. Competitors from all around the state come to show off their 4-H horse projects that they have trained and ridden for countless hours over the years. Spectators are welcome!
State Fair Horse Show Information
2023 Horse Show Dates:
Thursday, August 24, 2023 - Sunday, August 27, 2023.
Specific Age/Discipline Days:
- August 24: SR Western
- August 25: JR & INT Western
- August 26: JR & INT English
- August 27: SR English
All shows begin promptly at 9 am.
Superintendent: Rebecca Bittner at email@example.com and Jennifer Reynolds at firstname.lastname@example.org
Announcer: Bob Shirley
Secretary: Beverly Abbott
Virtual Art and Photography Contest!
Previously associated with the Horse Jamboree, the primary objective of the Maryland State 4-H Horse Virtual Art and Photography Contest is to provide an opportunity for youth to demonstrate their artistic ability and showcase their equine-related subject matter in a virtual setting.
Age Divisions (As of January 1, 2022)
- Junior: 8-10
- Intermediate: 11-13
- Senior: 14-18
Divisions and Classes
- Fine Arts: Entries must be original works of art. No cartoon or copyrighted characters, figures, logos, etc., may be used—no paint by numbers, scratch art kits, etc.
- Photography: Photographs must be equine-related and taken in the past 12 months. Photos may be color or black and white.
- Visual Arts: Posters/Infographics must be equine-related. Posters may be of any medium and may be oriented horizontally or vertically.
Youth contestants must register themselves for the contests via their family 4-H Online profiles. Registration opens July 1, 2022, and will close July 18, 2022.
How to submit art/photography:
Youth contestants will submit their art and/or photography pieces via 4-H Online when they register for the event, so make sure to have those ready. The portal accepts jpeg, png, and gif file types. However, jpegs are recommended as the preferred option.
Once you submit, your registration is final, and you cannot go back and change your art/photography piece.
Winners from the 2022 Contest