4-H is for Horses

The Nassau county horse program has been steadily growing these last few years and we hope to continue this trend. If your family is involved with horses then you already know there are endless opportunities…so what makes 4-H different?

The purpose of the 4-H horse program is to provide young people an opportunity to participate in a series of activities designed to improve citizenship, sportsmanship, horsemanship, character, competitive spirit, discipline, and responsibility while creating an atmosphere for learning and awareness of the life about us.

E. L. Johnson

We focus on education, not ribbons.

We use horses as a pathway to teach goal setting, communication, leadership, record keeping, and more. We believe true horsemen and women have knowledge and skills that surpass riding ability alone. We center on a whole-horse approach for well-rounded youth to expand not just their riding knowledge but also their knowlege of anatomy, health, care, management, behavior and so on. We understand that each youth is on their own journey and encourage growth over competitive success. For those that are competitive, we offer opportunities to master their skills, teach peers, and find connections for collegiate or career tracts. At the end of the day working with horses should be fun!

Showing is not a required component of the program. We have many riders that are not interested in showing but would rather hone their overall horsemanship skills and enjoy their equine partner. We have many riders that only walk/trot and we have experienced riders pursuing a career in showing. All of our local clinics are tailored to all riders, whatever their skill or interest level may be.

If your rider is interested in competing, qualifying for the big Area Show is based on participation, not just skill. Qualification forms are due 3/31 with record books. These forms ask what events your 4-H’er has participated in to ensure they are getting the full benefits from 4-H… and not just showing. NC Area Horse Show Qualification Form.

What We Offer
  • Ongoing horseless education (Hippology) with a State Contest
  • 2-3 local riding clinics each spring
  • 1-2 out of county riding clinics
  • Potential for county-level horse show
  • Pre-Show Workshops (horseless) to go over rules and other preparations
  • The Area North Show (Always Mother’s Day Weekend)
  • State Horse Show
  • Regional and Nationals for Qualifying Seniors
  • A library of resources for check out
  • Summer Horsemanship Schools in Gainesville
  • A friendly riding community with enforced good sportsmanship
What Else Should You Know?

Age Categories

  • Juniors – 8-10
  • Intermediates- 11-13
  • Seniors- 14-18

Intermediates show as either Junior or Senior. They may qualify for Regionals, provided they compete and qualify in the Senior Division in both Area and State shows. Intermediates who do not want to attend Regionals should enter the Junior division at the Area show. Juniors and Intermediates competing at Junior level can compete up to State level only.

General Rules:

  1. To participate in riding events like clinics or shows you must have that horse on file with Ms. Kelsey by 12/31 Annual HP Application-NC.
    • Horse substitutions can be made if a vet deems animal unsound.
    • Horses must be in fit-riding condition, including a healthy Body Conditioning Score.
  2. Riders must wear helmets at all times and practice safe horsemanship. No abuse will be tolerated.
  3. We encourage the youth to do as much of the grooming, care and tacking up as possible.
    • Adults may of course help if needed, especially with a fractious horse
  4. We follow the state rule book. We will have hard copies in office but there is also a digital version HERE.
  5. We do not offer lessons or horses for lease.


How to Join

Joining the county program is easy!

All applicants must be an enrolled, paid, and active member of Nassau County 4-H. You can be a part of any club, even if it’s not horse specific.

Annual forms are due by 12/31 to Ms. Kelsey. Annual HP Application-NC. You can drop them off, email, or scan them to her.

If you do not own your horse, there is a Horse and Pony Lease form that we can notarize in-office for you.

Everyone participating in the horse program must complete a Horse Record Book by 3/31 if competing in the Area show or 6/1 with all other project books.

There are no breed restrictions.

Riders can choose English (Hunter), Western (Ranch, Pleasure, Trail), Saddleseat/Gaited, or a combination of disciplines.

If you are unsure about what classes are or judged on, visit this blog for more insight.

We encourage that all riders attend hippology classes, but it is not required to compete in the state contest.

We are so thankful to have a network of amazing youth, clinicians, barn owners, trainers, and adults that work hard to ensure the Nassau County 4-H Horse program is impactful. Consider saddling up with us!


Posted: December 10, 2019

Category: 4-H & Youth, Clubs & Volunteers
Tags: 4-H, Horses, Nassau County

Subscribe For More Great Content

IFAS Blogs Categories