4-H Fitting and Showmanship
The purpose of the 4-H Horse Fitting and Showmanship program is to encourage members to fit and show their animals properly, and to maintain high standards of horse management and responsibility toward their project.
All 4-H horse project members should demonstrate their ability to fit and show their horse properly. At horse shows, exhibitors should plan to show in a Fitting and Showmanship class.
It must be remembered that it is the exhibitor's effort and work which are judged in Fitting and Showmanship classes. The breed, type, and conformation of the horse are not being judged.
Some 4-H horse project members do not take their horses to 4-H shows. Instructions on fitting and showmanship are as valuable to these members as to the members who regularly participate in horse shows. Competence in fitting and showmanship greatly adds to the member's pride of owning a horse or pony. Whether a club member exhibits his horse "in hand" competing for ribbons at a show, or exhibits his horse in the yard for his leader, friends, relatives or a prospective buyer, the principles are the same.
4-H Fitting and Showmanship Contests
A. Appearance of Animal 40
1. Condition 15
2. Grooming 15
3. Trimming and Braiding 5
4. Tack 5
B. Appearance of Exhibitor 10
C. Showing Animal in the Ring 50
1. Leading 15
2. Posing 15
3. Showing Animal to Best Advantage 10
4. Poise, Alertness & Attitude 10
Explanation of Items on 4-H Fitting and
A. Appearance of Animal - 40 points
1. Condition -15 points
a. Condition is the result of proper care in feeding and exercise. The condition of a horse is determined by the amount of flesh, as well as the quality of the hair coat and muscle tone. The coat should be smooth and soft to touch, muscles hard and firm, and sufficient flesh to keep the ribs covered but not so much that the animal "rolls in fat".
The animal must not show evidence of lameness or impairment of wind to such a degree that its health and welfare would be endangered when given light work or put to its intended use. Any recent injury shall not be penalized provided it shows signs of being cared for properly. A horse blind in both eyes would not be considered useably sound.
2. Grooming - 15 points
a. A clean, well-groomed horse is a healthy horse. The coat should be perfectly clean and free from stains and sweat marks. The eyes, nostrils, lips, inside of ears, dock and underneath the elbows should be clean. The part of the neck under the mane should be free from dandruff.
b. Thoroughly cleaning manes and tails from the roots outward often prevents rubbing and always adds beauty to the horse. Manes and tails should be free of dust, grease and dandruff, and each hair should hang separately without tangles.
c. Hooves must show ample evidence of good care by the exhibitor. They should be clean and indicate proper care of sole and frog. Hooves long overdue for shoeing should be penalized. Hoof dressing and blacking may be used, but careless and untidy application will be penalized.
3. Trimming and Braiding - 5 points
a. The interior of the ears may be clipped, but no penalty shall result from unclipped ears provided excess or protruding hairs have been removed. The head should be made as attractive as possible by trimming excess or long hairs with special emphasis under the jaw and in the "bridle-path" area. Clipped areas will appear smoother if trimming is done 3-4 days prior to a show. Trim according to breed or type resemblance.
b. It is better to eliminate braiding if the final result is not neat. If braiding is to be done, it should be of the type fitting the horse, i.e., a hunter is to be braided in the accepted hunter fashion, a gaited horse with the accepted braids in the mane and foretop. Western riders should use the same neatness principle when banding manes.
4. Tack - 5 points
a. Western horses shall be shown in well fitted halters with a lead of proper length to insure safe handling. Chain shanks may be used in a humane manner but never through the mouth.
All English horses are to be shown in a properly fitted bridle. English type horses should be shown with a snaffle bit. If a pelham is used, handle the horse with one rein. Exhibitors with saddle seat apparel should use the rein on the curb bit removing the snaffle bit and rein from the bridle.
To protect the mouth for future biting, weanlings may be shown in well fitted halters. Yearlings may be shown in halter or bridle.
B. Appearance of Exhibitor - 10 points
All styles of riding clothes are permitted, but they must be suitable to the type of horse being exhibited. Emphasis will be placed on cleanliness and neatness. Boots with a heel are required and should be shined. The exhibitor's hands and face should be clean and the hair neatly arranged. Gum chewing is a breach of etiquette and will be severely be penalized.
C. Showing Your Animal in the Ring - 50 points
Once a horse has been properly prepared for the ring, the exhibitor must show the animal to its best advantage, in a safe manner, to both the judge and his fellow exhibitors.
1. Leading -15 points
a. Walk on the animal's left side near the shoulder, not in front of the head. The right hand controls the horse and should be four to twelve inches from the bit or halter depending on the ease with which the horse can be controlled. The remainder of the reins or lead should be carried in the left hand. It is an unsafe practice to wrap the reins or lead around the hand; therefore, it will be penalized.
b. Enter and circle the ring counter-clockwise allowing the judge to view both the exhibitor and his horse. Using this direction prevents the exhibitor from being pinned against the fence. When leading around the ring, stay at least one length in back of the horse in front of you. If this becomes difficult, you may pass a slower animal without being penalized. You will make the best impression if you keep your horse or pony at an alert walk.
c. The animal should lead readily at the walk and trot. This should be done briskly as the judge directs, with the animal's head carried at a
height appropriate to the type or use of the horse.
d. The judge in a Grooming and Showmanship Class will not be interested in whether the horse uses its legs and feet correctly, but will be interested in how well the exhibitor places and moves the horse so that these things can be seen.
e. When working individually, unless otherwise directed by the judge, the animal should be brought to within about 10 feet of the judge, turned and moved on a straight line away from and back to him. Allow enough distance so that the judge can easily see what he is looking for and so that the animal has enough space to perform smoothly.
f. When making a turn, the horse should pivot or walk in a comfortable clockwise direction. The exhibitor should always walk around the horse. If asked to trot back to the judged, be sure the turn is completed before the animal starts to trot.
g. For the sake of safety to the exhibitor and his animal, and the safety of others in the ring, as well as good sportsmanship and courtesy, crowding should always be avoided. When standing side by side, give yourself and your fellow exhibitor sufficient space to take care of emergencies. While walking or lined up in a head-to-tail position, maintain at least one length (approximately 10 feet) between your horse's head and the horse in front.
h. When changing position in line:
1) Lead animal straight forward far enough so as not to disturb the horse on either side of you before making a turn.
2) Return to the line by moving around the end of the line and leading forward either to your
original position or to the place directed by the judge. Try to avoid cutting through a line.
3) Avoid leading your animal between the judge and the animal he is observing.
a. Exhibitors will pose their animal according to the horse's type and use. The exhibitor should be in a position to see all four legs and the head of the horse and at the same time glance at the judge wherever he may be. Thus, the safe and correct areas for the showman are on either side but not directly in front of the animal. In this position, the exhibitor will be able to see and correct immediately undesirable movements or positions of the feet or legs of the animal.
b. The exhibitor will be expected to move from side to side as the judge moves about your horse. You should never stand between the judge and your animal. Always give the judge an unobstructed view of your horse or pony.
c. When posing your animal, do most of the showing with the reins or lead. Never kick your horse's legs into position. Proper use of hands or voice is accepted. Your horse or pony should be trained to stand quietly and properly before the show. You should never punish your animal in the show ring.
d. If you are asked to pose your horse during an individual workout, stop about 10 feet away from him and pose the animal so the judge has a 3/4 side view. Always keep in mind the slope of the ground and the correct way of turning. Always pose your animal as quickly as possible without undue fussing. Keep your horse in position until the judge has excused you.
e. The horse should be alert and stand squarely on all four feet. Many horses will attempt to rest a
hind leg which drops his hip. This should be corrected immediately.
f. Show your animal at all times, not yourself. Be careful not to "overshow" your animal. Excessive fussing may upset the animal and try the patience of the judge. Pushing and tugging should be avoided.