Horse Judging

All 4-H members are encouraged to learn how to evaluate horses. Judging knowledge provides foundation for training, showing, buying, selling, and producing quality horses. This knowledge establishes the basis for the development of qualified horse show judges. Judging contests provide 4-H’ers with additional opportunities for achievement and recognition. Judging promotes decision-making, justification of thoughts, self-confidence, and public speaking.

Horse judging teams are made up of 3 or 4 participants. Participants will judge two to four halter classes and four to six performance classes. Three or four sets of oral reasons are required – one or two halter and two or three performance.

Halter classes will be chosen from the following breeds: American Paint Horse, American Quarter Horse, Appaloosa, and Palomino.

Performance classes will be chosen from the following: trail, western pleasure, western horsemanship, western riding, reining, showmanship at halter, hunter under saddle, hunt seat equitation, hunter hack, stock horse pleasure, and ranch riding. One or more of the classes in this contest may be presented via electronic methods such as video or DVD.

Classes will be judged according to current AQHA Handbook of Rules and Regulations and the American Stock Horse Association Handbook (Stock Horse Pleasure only). Contestants will NOT be allowed to carry or review a rule book during the contest. Blank paper is to be used for taking notes. No preprinted material will be allowed.

If you are interested in participating in the horse judging project, please let the Extension Office know. We have a volunteer who is willing to help get the project going and we would like to see if there is any interest.


In horse judging, you will compete on a team as you learn to be the judge of a horse show! You will learn all the body parts of a horse, the ideal characteristics of how a horse moves, and determine how to score horses in competition. And to explain how you decided on your scores. You will learn decision-making and public speaking skills. When you get to the senior level of this activity, you could compete in national competitions. State competition is held during Texas 4-H Roundup. County teams must qualify at county and district to advance to state.

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Texas A&M AgriLife Extension, along with TAMU Horse Judging Team and Animal Science faculty, host and provide instruction on horse evaluation (halter and performance) and oral reasons at the Aggiefest Horse Judging Workshop in the Fall and the TAMU Horse Judging Camps in the summer.

Aggiefest Horse Judging Workshop gives youth an opportunity to practice horse judging in a comfortable, learning environment. The workshop includes what to look for when judging performance classes and halter and how to develop effective and accurate reason presentations. English and western classes and an optional halter class are provided for youth to judge. Placings, cuts and critiques are discussed following each class with ample opportunity to address participant questions.

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