4-H members riding horses in a showring

These events have been canceled!

Due to concerns surrounding the spread of COVID-19, we have decided to cancel the 2020 District 4-H Horse Shows. For this year, all youth may participate at the State 4-H Horse Show. Please stay tuned for updates.

The District 4-H Horse Shows are opportunities for youth to demonstrate their skills and abilities with their horse at district level competition. There are five shows held across the state and youth may participate in any one of the five regardless of their county 4-H enrollment or residence.

The 2020 District Shows include:

Monday, June 15 Scottsbluff Jana Schwartz
Tuesday, June 16 Burwell Steve Niemeyer
Wednesday, June 17 Columbus Aliesha Meusch
Thursday, June 18 Lincoln Kate Pulec
Friday, June 19 McCook Donna Kircher

Click on the date above to see the flyer for each district horse show.(flyers coming soon)

District shows are held at the representative fairgrounds and start at 9:00 AM with check-in between 7:30 and 8:00 AM. For more information about daily schedules, see the district horse show schedule.

4-H'ers must have passed Horsemanship Advancement Level II  by May 8 in order to participate at a district show. District classes are held as qualifiers for corresponding classes at the State 4-H Horse Expo. District show classes include Hunter Under Saddle, Western Pleasure, Hunt Seat Equitation, Western Horsemanship, Reining, Barrels, and Poles.

Entry Instructions

Youth will need to enter both the district shows and the state show using the same entry form. The entry deadline is May 8. See entry procedures for more information.

District Show Procedure

At the beginning of each District 4-H Horse Show, individual works for both Pleasure and Horsemanship/Equitation will be conducted. Senior individual work will be first, followed immediately by junior individual work (before any group work is held). If less than 10 entries in a district class then individual group work may not be held and individuals will start directly with group work.  Once all individual work is completed, group work will be done. Exhibitors must complete the group work to get an "official" ribbon placing and to be eligible to compete at the State 4-H Horse Expo. Youth must get a blue or purple to be eligible to compete at the State 4-H Horse Expo. All Hunter Under Saddle and Hunt Seat Equitation competition will be held and completed, prior to Western Pleasure and Horsemanship. Hunter Under Saddle and Hunt Seat Equitation will be the very first classes of the day.

Individual Work

The arena will be set up with markers along each rail designating the gait the rider is to perform at each marker. Markers will be identified as Walk, Trot, Lope, Stop and Back.

After a random working order is determined, each rider works alone before the judge for 20-30 seconds. For these shows to be the most educational, the judge should discuss the performance publicly. The rider enters the ring and goes to the designated starting point on the rail.

  • Walk 10 yards 
  • Trots or jogs 20 yards 
  • Lopes/canters from the jog or trot at least 30 yards, stops and backs the mount about one horse length (Hunt Seat riders may collect the horse before cantering).

Visible rail signs and markers should be easily seen by the rider. As the rider is performing, the judges may discuss the performance publicly and immediately classify the completed performance as a preliminary blue or red ribbon group. Contestants need to look to the judge following the stop and back to receive the preliminary ribbon placing. When the rider completes the Pleasure individual work, the judge will award them into the preliminary red or blue group

Contestants who are also in Horsemanship/Equitation will work individually on opposite rail. The judge will award them into the preliminary red or blue group.

Youth only in Pleasure may exit the arena following the individual Pleasure work.

Contestants only in Horsemanship/Equitation will enter only in Horsemanship/Equitation rail and exit following the individual Horsemanship/Equitation work.

Changing Horses

Contestants needing to change horses between Pleasure and Horsemanship/Equitation should notify show officials and exit following the Pleasure individual work to change horses. Then enter the Horsemanship/Equitation rail.

Group Work

After all contestants have worked individually, the red ribbon preliminary group enters as a group to work the standard Pleasure rail routine. After this group workout, those still performing at a red ribbon level are awarded their final placing. Some exhibitors may be lowered to the white ribbon group. However, some that have performed well in the red group would remain in the ring and perform with the preliminary blue ribbon group. After the blue ribbon group work, exhibitors are either awarded a blue ribbon (final award), some may move down to the red ribbon group, or they may be moved up to a new purple ribbon group with the resultant class winner. The final class winner may have started in any preliminary ribbon group and progressed upward as their ability developed. Purple ribbon winners may or may not be asked for additional work to determine the class winner. If no purple ribbons were awarded, first place may be chosen from the blue ribbon group.

In the Horsemanship/Equitation classes, all preliminary red ribbon riders will work as a group on the rail. All Horsemanship/Equitation riders should be familiar with the Horsemanship/Equitation pattern that was previously posted. Following the rail work, the judge may select individuals to move into the preliminary blue ribbon group. All preliminary blue ribbon riders will work a pattern individually (previously posted) and then be asked to perform on the rail. Exhibitors will be awarded one of the following: Lowered to the red ribbon group, awarded a blue ribbon, or moved up to a purple ribbon. Purple ribbon winners may or may not be asked for additional work to determine the class winner. If no purple ribbons were awarded, first place may be chosen from the blue ribbon group.

When class sizes are small, group work may be combined for preliminary red and blue ribbon groups. Additionally, junior and senior group work may be done together, but riders still qualify in their designated age division.

State Qualification

All final awards of blue and/or purple ribbons qualify for the State 4-H Horse Show. Qualifiers for the State 4-H Horse Show will be automatically entered into the State Horse Show classes.

For questions about this program or the information on this page, please contact: