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Virginia 4-H State Horse Program


4H-570NP (4H-1007NP)

Authors as Published

Sandy Arnold, Animal and Poultry Sciences, Virginia Tech

An educational organization for youth, ages 5-18, for those who love horses. Horse ownership not required!

4-H is the nation’s largest positive youth development organization, empowering six million young people across America, supported by a collaborative effort of the USDA, the Cooperative Extension System, land grant universities and local government entities. The VA 4-H Horse Program is supported by our committed, caring adult volunteers and Extension agents in 95 counties. The horse program is selfsupported by sponsorships, grants and fund raising efforts. Visit our website to find a club near you by contacting your local Extension Agent.

Horse Shows

State 4-H Championship Show

Held annually in September at the Virginia Horse Center in Lexington, VA the 4-H State Championship show hosts hundreds of qualified riders, ages 9-18.

  • Disciplines include Western, Hunters, Jumpers, Dressage, Ranch, Driving, Miniatures, Gymkhana, Drill Team, and Gaited horses. This is the qualifying event for the Southern Regionals 4-H Championships.

  • Horseless contests include Hippology, Horse Bowl, Horse Judging, Art and Photography Contests, and Portfolio and Project Book Contests. Premiums are awarded in Portfolio and Project Book competitions.

  • Scholarships and additional awards are available. Activities include Cloverbud Camp, vendor and Silent Auction shopping, and enjoying the ice cream social.

Qualifying 4-H Horse Shows & Clinics

  • District level horse shows and clinics offer opportunities for youth to prepare their animals and Qualify for the State Show during the spring and early summer months.

Virginia State Fair

  • The Hippology Contest, open to 4-H and FFA members, is a popular event and provides scholarships to top winners. Youth enjoy a day at the fair afterwards.

Educational Contests

We offer horseless educational contests, including EquiSmartz, a three-day state event for ages 9-18, held annually in the spring. Top teams and individuals move forward to represent Virginia at Southern Regionals and Eastern Nationals.


This is a multi-phase contest where teams of three or four club members or individuals are tested with a multiple choice written exam, stations exam, slideshow exam and a team problem, plus judge classes of horses.


Club members may compete in Individual Presentations, Public Speaking or Two-person Team Presentations.

Horse Bowl

Teams of four or five club members compete in quiz rounds with another team, answering equine questions, buzzing in with the fastest and correct response.

Horse Judging

Teams and individuals place classes of four horses according to a learned standard. Winning individuals have the opportunity to travel and compete nationally with the Virginia State 4-H Horse Judging Team.

Horse Camps

Camps are held throughout the state at 4-H centers and at the local levels in the summer months. Horse camps are a great way to learn more about daily horse care and improve on riding skills. Youth are exposed to a concentration of hands-on experiential equine lessons and crafts.

Future Leaders

The 4-H program trains and mentors leaders for future generations. While Cloverbuds (ages 5-8) are not allowed to be in sole control of the horse, we encourage our teens to teach these aspiring young horse lovers with adult leader supervision.

More than just horses…

The 4-H program proves to be incredibly valuable to 4-Hers that have invested years in their club and community. We encourage 4-Hers to diversify and expand upon their own personal growth, exploring all of their gifts and passions beyond excellence with horsemanship. Our program grows industry leaders through additional program opportunities which teach life skills, community service, public speaking, and leadership, making the best better!

  • Becoming an All-Star is the highest state level recognition awarded to ages 15 and older, who have had a well rounded 4-H career through the state, district, and national level programs.

  • Horse Ambassadors represent all areas of Virginia, speaking and teaching on behalf of the 4-H horse program with an exceptional sense of confidence, drawing from their lifelong successful 4-H career and experiences.

The 4-H Pledge

“I pledge

My Head to clearer thinking My Heart to greater loyalty

My Hands to larger service, and My Health to better living

For my club, my community, my country and my world.”

Virginia Cooperative Extension materials are available for public use, reprint, or citation without further permission, provided the use includes credit to the author and to Virginia Cooperative Extension, Virginia Tech, and Virginia State University.

Virginia Cooperative Extension is a partnership of Virginia Tech, Virginia State University, the U.S. Department of Agriculture, and local governments. Its programs and employment are open to all, regardless of age, color, disability, sex (including pregnancy), gender, gender identity, gender expression, national origin, political affiliation, race, religion, sexual orientation, genetic information, military status, or any other basis protected by law

Publication Date

December 1, 2022