4-H Horses

Fair | Clip
Aug 14, 2023 | 4 min

4-H students from across Iowa compete with their horses during the 2023 Iowa State Fair 4-H Horse Show.


[Woman] The 4-H Horse Show has a long tradition of being here and this year we have 196 horses entered and about 168 exhibitors. Over 98 of those are seniors, the 9th through 12th graders. And about 67 of those kids are the junior age group. Today in our livestock Pavilion we have the 5th through 8th graders, so we have the junior age group kids who have to be 10 years old to about 13 or 14. That's the age group we will look at. Most practice every day. It's a lot of time and effort. It's hard and it gets very stressful when they start to show.

[Sarah Schobert] In terms of first impression for the exhibitors it will depend on what class we are judging. Some of the classes will be showmanship, walk/trot, hunter under saddle and equitation. For showmanship, for instance, those exhibitors will be with their horse in hand. They will be walking on the ground. It's all about their ability to handle and control their horse at halter. I am looking for someone who looks confident because that is the first thing I want somebody to think about as they come into the ring with a 1200 pound animal. That they look like they are in charge of their horse and then after that I look at their ability to perform a pattern of directions specifically and correctly. That the horse gets along easily and quickly and that they are basically having a conversation together that looks invisible to me. 

We'll be judging English walk/trot. We are looking at the horse at this class. The horse's ability to perform all the gates that the judge calls. Some other things we will be looking at is the horse's brokeness. Are they easily controlled? Do they have a lot of manners? Then, we'll look at consistency. Do they stay at the same pace the whole time within their gate that they are shown as well as their frame? Is their frame always in the same spot? That will be their head and neck carriage and where they are staying between the reins? Finally, we'll consider the horse's quality of movement at those certain gates that we are judging on. Are they long strided or do they cover a lot of ground at the trot which is going to make them more athletic?

In the pony English walk/trot today it will be really similar to the English walk/trot. The same criteria. The difference is we will have horses that are 14.2 hands or shorter. A hand is four inches. They are smaller packaged horses, labeled as ponies. We still look for athletic ponies. Ponies that have a lot of manners that can easily suit their riders, but still a long length of stride since this is an English-based class.

The Hunter Under Saddle today will move the horses up into a canter. This will be kind of like a slow gallop for the horse. It will be a faster gait than what you will see in some of the other classes like the walk/trot and so that is one asking for a higher degree of difficulty from the riders to sit a faster gait but also the horse is to perform a harder task that is more athletic. The canter is an important gait for English horses. Eventually that will be the gait they show if they will jump courses and fences.

[Woman] It's never going to go away. What little kid doesn't love horses? You can do lots of things besides ride it. Show it. Some of us still use a horse to work cattle. It's a really great bond and Iowa loves their horses so these kids work hard with their projects. They love them. They come back here year after year.