Level I

Level I

Level I is designed for riders who have little or no experience around horses. Leaders should emphasize correct and safe handling and riding principles. Instructors should help develop the members' confidence concerning their ability to ride and guide a horse. The rider's balance, correct seat and use of hands' should be stressed. To pass Level I youth will need to complete the following Level I items:


Youth will need to complete a club demonstration in order to pass Level I. Demonstration should be 10-20 minutes in length and focus on points listed or mentioned in the Skills Test and Study Guide. Suggested demonstration topics include:

  • Basic horse handling
  • Horse safety, on the ground and/or while riding
  • Bridling and saddling
  • Riding courtesy
  • Parts of the saddle and/or bridle
  • Basic horsemanship
  • Care and storage of saddle and bridle
  • Basic horse feeding
  • Daily grooming routine

*A different demonstration must be done for each horsemanship level.

Written Examination

A written examination must be completed with a minimum grade of 80%. This examination is available through your local Extension office and/or club leader.

Skills Test

A Skills Test demonstrating the 4-H'ers proficiency of basic horsemanship, horse handling, and care must be completed. The 4-H'er must complete each and every portion of the Skills Test with at least an 80% to pass Level I. Youth will need to:

  • Demonstrate and/or explain the correct procedure to approach and catch a horse
  • Demonstrate the correct and safe procedure to halter a horse
  • Demonstrate the proper and safe way to lead a horse with a halter
  • Demonstrate safety precautions when working around a tied horse
  • Demonstrate and discuss a typical "daily" grooming routine to prepare a horse to be ridden
  • Demonstrate the proper and safe methods and adjustment for saddling and bridling a horse
  • Demonstrate correct and safe methods to mount and dismount
  • Demonstrate the principles and correct use of seat and balance
  • Demonstrate the proper use of hands and reins
  • Demonstrate basic control and correctness of position of upper body and legs when riding at several gaits
  • Explain the proper and safe methods to pass other horses while riding in a group on the rail

Once a section has been passed, it need not be repeated. However, if a member fails to pass a section of the level test, that entire section must be repeated (i.e. retake the written exam, or retake the entire Skills Test). Each section may be repeated as many times as necessary for successful completion.

Record Sheet

Once a section has been successfully completed youth and their club leader will need to complete that section of the record sheet.