Clicking on the above link will take you to YouTube video
4-H Equine Helmet Requirement
Effective October 1, 2011, a properly fitted ASTM/SEI (American Society for Testing and Materials / Safety Equipment Institute) or BSI (British Standards Institution) approved equestrian helmet must be worn by:
all Horsemanship Level 1, 2 and 3 members while mounted and
all 4-H members born in 2000 and later while mounted.
Members involved in Vaulting are not required to wear a helmet.
It is highly recommended that all other riders wear a properly fitted ASTM/SEI (American Society for Testing and Materials / Safety Equipment Institute) or BSI (British Standards Institution) approved equestrian helmet.
For more information on helmets, select one of the linked items below:
- Equestrian helmet discussion
- Safety Up on Equestrian Helmets factsheet
- Questions and Answers about the 4-H Helmet Policy
- Equine Helmet Letter from Alberta 4-H Council
- How to Choose a Helmet
- Policy 6.06 Equine Project Policy
- Policy 7.05 Alberta 4-H Rodeo Policy
- Biosecurity - Keeping your Horse Healthy
4‑H Horse units are set up in a progressive learning format. Members acquire an understanding of horse management through the experience of owning, caring for, training, riding and maintaining records on a horse project.
NOTE: the following are additions/addendums to the Horse Reference Manual to improve the usability of the resource.
Recommended Tack Guidelines for 4-H Equine Projects
Horse Project Leader Resouce Manual
Welcome to teaching our most important resource - our young people. We are excited that you have chosen to become involved in the 4-H Horse Program. We hope you have a great time working with you 4-H members as they make new friends, take part in 4-H activities, work with their horses and learn more about being a responsible horse owner.
This is a supplemental resource to the Horse Reference Manual. It outlines the equine project plus provided some teaching hints and techniques that you can use.
Welcome | General Leader Techniques
Your Challenge | Horse Handling | Where Should I Stand | Leading Your Horse Safely | Good Hands Game | Grooming and Care | Movement | Leads | Deviations of Travel | Footfalls | Feeding
Horse ID | Body Bingo | Height | Stations | Facilities | Psychology | Tack | Tacky Games | Tack Race | Bit Severity Lab | Non-Leverage Bits Lab | Leverage Bits
Health | Parasites | Deworming | The Digestive System | Safety | Sight | Tying
Horse Winter Projects (Leader Guide)
Winter projects are an important part of the 4-H program because many of the meetings take place when the weather does not favor outdoor activities. The following is a sample of projects that you may do with your members. Difficulty varies from project to project. For some projects, for example the saddle stand, leaders and parents may be required to direct every step. You and your members should select a project that they will be able to complete, and will be useful for the level they are participating in.
The winter projects you do should not be limited to the projects in this book. Many clubs have suitable projects that they or neighboring clubs have developed.
Introduction | Horse Feeders - Grain Bin, Hay Bins, Hay Net | Club Banner
Horse WinterProjects 2 (pg 7-9)
Horse Winter Projects 3 (pg 10-19)
Saddle Stand - Saddle Stand #1, Saddle Stand #2, Saddle Stand #3
Horse Winter Projects 4 (pg 20-25)
Saddle Pads - Western Saddle Pad #1, Western Saddle Pad #2
Horse Winter Projects 5 (pg 26-36)
Tack Covers - Halter Cover, Additional Tack Covers | Cooling Sheet | Leg Wraps - Leg Wrap 1, Leg Wrap 2 | Tail Guard
Horse Winter Projects 6 (pg 37-55)
Braiding Reins - Round Braiding, Split Reins, Round Braiding, Rommel Reins, Braiding Snaffle Bit or Training Reins | Mineral and Salt Feeder | Cavaletti | Hunt Seat Pads - Double Pad, Pad With Facing
Horse Winter Projects 7 (pg 56-69)
Making A Horse Halter - Flat Braiding, Round Braiding, Constructing the Rope Halter | Tack Box - Small Tack Box, Large Tack Box | Project Evaluation
Horse Reference Manual
We are excited that you have chosen to become involved in the 4-H Horse Project. We hope you have a great time this year making new friends, taking part in 4-H activities, working with your 4-H project and learning more about being a horse owner.
To complete a yearly 4-H horse project, you must:
- Complete a record book for each project.
- Take part in at least 70 per cent of designated club activities.
- Take part in Achievement Day.
- Enroll in one of the projects available and work on the assessments required for that project. You are not required to finish a project in one year, nor are you required to finish a level in a year. Your yearly project qualifies as long as you have been working on the skills and knowledge for the project in which you have enrolled.
- Have fun!
The 4-H Horse Project gives members an opportunity to:
- Acquire an understanding of horse management through the experience of owning, caring for, and maintaining records on a horse project.
- Develop the skills, patience and understanding of the handling practices essential in working with horses.
- Develop an appreciation of the horse industry and its importance in the local community, the province and the country.
Selection and Buying
Conformation & Evaluation
|Parts of the Horse
Horse Project Record Book
Records must be kept on a project animal for 180 days prior to the Achievement Day event. A member can only have one project animal per project, with the exception being Rodeo. If a member enrolls a horse in more than one project, they must include project goals specific to that project (Project Goals, page 7) and write one story with separate paragraphs for each project (page 39). A record book must be kept on each project animal and only project animals for which a record book has been kept may compete in a 4-H sanctioned event. The only exception would be if the project animal has to be replaced by another animal because of heath reasons, and if that replacement has been approved prior to the event.
The following record book and individual pages of the record book have been created as fillable and saveable PDF forms. Download the pages to your computer then you can fill them out and save as you go. You can still print the record book or individual pages directly from here and write in the information as needed.
Table of Contents
Do you have questions how to fill out your record book? Click here to see a sample of how to fill out the Horse Record Book
- sample pages - 8, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14, 35, 36, 37
Horsemanship Assessment Tools
To aid in finding horse assessment tools information in the Horse Reference Manual check out the Dismounted Assessment Page Numbers
The assessment tools you are about to work through with your leader will give you a better idea of where you are needing to work with your horse for the project year. Regardless of your age and experience, you should work through these tools from the start. New members and experienced riders alike should make certain that all the skills listed have been mastered. The levels have been set up to ensure safety for the horse and rider and to build a strong foundation for your future in riding, wherever it may take you. One of the project goals is to ensure riders are safe and effective in groundwork and riding skills as well as knowledge of their horse and equipment used. Your love for horses and the skills you gain through your project work will be of great benefit to you for your whole life.
How to use your Assessment Checklists
Keep your checklists up-to-date. Review each level with your leader to determine which skills you have already mastered and highlight the ones you are working on. Keep going back and reviewing the lists. This will be a useful tool to move you to the next level of Horsemanship. Happy riding!
Levels 1 – 3 of the horse program are mandatory for all horse members before they can branch out to any of the other projects offered.
Level 1 Mounted and Dismounted
Level 2 Mounted and Dismounted
Level 3 Mounted and Dismounted
Level 4 Mounted and Dismounted
Level 5 Mounted and Dismounted
Level 6 Mounted and Dismounted
Level 7 Mounted and Dismounted
(must have completed Level 3 Horsmanship)
Welcome to the 4-H dressage project!
Congratulations on having successfully completed the mandatory Horsemanship Project Levels 1-3. You now have basics that will be important for successful completion of the Dressage Project. We hope you will have a fantastic year developing new skills and teaching your horse new things as you continue to develop your horse knowledge and experience.
What is Dressage?
Dressage is simply the French word for “training”. With the aid of this manual you will learn about the dressage competition and basic dressage training concepts. At the completion of this project you should be ready for competing at a dressage show, either in an open or “schooling” show or at one of the EC (Equine Canada) recognized dressage shows which are held throughout Alberta. Whether you choose to compete or not, you will have fun learning, your horse will become better trained, and whatever skills you develop, you can use them to continue your pursuit of horsin’ around!
Introduction | Objectives | Requirements | Overview of Dressage | Dressage Ring | Dressage Tests | Dessage Levels | Dressage Competition | Equine Canada | Dressage Basics
Dressage Part B (pages 29-55)
Basic Riding Position | Common Dressage Terminology | School Figures
Dressage Part C (pages 56-77)
Bibliography and Appendix
In these Levels you will work through the basic skills that you will need to jump. These skills are very important because good clean jumps are the product of good flatwork and the complete understanding of both horse’s and rider’s biodynamics, jump construction, the ground underfoot and riding techniques.
A lot of the basic information has already been given to you in the Horse Reference Manual and the Dressage manual, so it will not be repeated here. This project is about learning to jump. There are several different types of jumping competitions which you could enjoy.
Jumping manual (2020kb)
Part A - pages 1-4 (177kb)
Part B - pages 5-10 (237kb)
Part C - pages 11-15 (182kb)
Part D - pages 16-19 (239kb)
Part E - pages 20-22 (129kb)
Part F - pages 23-29 (473kb)
Part G - pages 30-38 (241kb)
(must have completed Level 3 Horsmanship)
Cattle Events Member Project Guide
The Cattle Events project is for 4-H members who want to train horses and ride in Cutting, Team Penning and/or Working Cow Horse competitions. It is recommended that members and their horses have some advanced riding skills and lots of experience before enrolling in this project. Horses used in this project should be athletic, having a willing attitude and an instinct for working cattle.
It is important for Western riders to develop the ability to ride properly with one hand and to use a leverage bit correctly. Members are encouraged to develop the ability to ride with one hand using a transitional bit then a leverage bit. Levels 1 and 2 may be completed with two hands with either a snaffle or transitional bit. By Level 3, they should be using a transitional bit and begin using one hand, though some maneuvers (such as lateral movements) may still require two hands (depending on the training of the horse). By Levels 4 and 5, members should be performing all of the assessments with one hand using a leverage bit. This is not a strict requirement, as it will depend on both the horse and the rider. In some instances it is better to complete a task well with two hands than to complete a task poorly using one hand. This requires some discretion, but with recognition of the importance of Western tradition using one hand.
Packing Member Project Guide
Horses were used to carry loads long before they were used to carry people. Horse packing as we know it was developed hundreds of years ago. Genghis Khan is believed to have first used horses as pack animals 700 years ago. Horse packing provides opportunities to enjoy nature in a way that is otherwise difficult to achieve. It requires a great deal of basic skill and knowledge. To achieve these skills and knowledge, it is necessary to study, to pay attention to details and to practice. Packing has developed to the point where it is a combination of art and science. Packers take pride in their animals and in their ability to pack them in a professional manner. The art of packing is not learned overnight, but takes many hours of study, practice and actual packing.
The goal of this program is to provide an opportunity for 4-H members to learn:
- the types of equipment available and packing equipment needed.
- to handle, care for and pack the mature equine,
- what to take on a pack trip, how much and what makes for a successful pack trip,
- to accept the results of your work and how to use these in planning goals and future endeavours.
- to develop skills and knowledge which can be used for a lifetime as a means of enjoyment and/or a career.
- to share knowledge gained with others.
Ranch Horse Member Project Guide
The 4-H Ranch Horse Project is for 4-H members who are planning to follow in their parent’s footsteps and help out on the ranch, as well as those aspiring to become ranch hands. What better way to learn these skills than through experience? This project is designed to compliment Horsemanship Levels 4 - 7.
To be good ranch hands, riders must have good horsemanship skills. Likewise, a working ranch horse should be considered an athletic machine that must be cared for properly to accomplish it’s job.
Ranch horses must be safe and sane, and they must have more reining ability or “handle” than the average horse. They must walk and jump out and move when necessary. They must possess “cow savvy” (ability to out think a cow).
These horses also need to have good stamina or “bottom”, and be extremely sure-footed.
The Ranch Horse project brings together aspects of a trail horse, a reining horse, a working cow horse or cutting horse, and a rope horse. In addition, those enrolled in the project will learn the basics of cow psychology.
Reining Member Project Guide
The reining horse project is for 4-H members who want to train horses and ride in reining competitions. It is recommended that members and their horses have some advanced riding skills and lots of experience before enrolling in this project. Horses used in this project should be athletic and have a willing attitude combined with training so that it allows a rider to handle it, controlling all of its working parts. Reining patterns are made up of very specific components that the horse and rider will be expected to do.
It is important for Western riders to develop the ability to ride properly with one hand and to use a leverage bit correctly. Members are encouraged to develop the ability to ride with one hand using a transitional bit, then a leverage bit. Levels 1 and 2 may be completed with two hands with either a snaffle or transitional bit. By Level 3, they should be using a transitional bit and begin using one hand, though some maneuvers (such as lateral movements) may still require two hands (depending on the training of the horse). By Level 4, members should be performing all of the assessments with one hand using a leverage bit. This is not a strict requirement, as it will depend on both the horse and the rider safety first!! In some instances it is better to complete a task well with two hands than to complete a task poorly using one hand. This requires some discretion, but with the recognition of the importance of Western tradition using one hand.
Rodeo Project Guide
Rodeo has always been an integral part of Alberta’s history. Modern day rodeo is both an admired athletic event and a popular form of entertainment. The professional rodeo contestants of today are athletes, who have superior horsemanship skills, physical conditioning, and knowledge of their sport. This rodeo project, together with the first three levels of the Horsemanship Project, will help you on your way to becoming a successful rodeo contestant.
The 4-H Rodeo Project is an extension of the 4-H Equine Program, offering an educational focus on rodeo as an event. It involves members, competitive horses and rodeo livestock. The activity portion of the sport also includes the skills required to organize a rodeo (including jobs such as stock contractor, secretary, announcers, judges, and timers).
There are no substitutes for rodeo clinics and good hands-on training. The skills of rodeo can be learned through many hours of study, practice and actual competition. Simulated training situations, encouraging fun in a safe learning environment, will also develop skills and confidence. Members will never forget the excitement of competition, the need for courage and determination when things get tough, or the satisfaction of meeting other contestants.
The 4-H Rodeo Project strives to provide an opportunity for 4-H members to learn:
- New horsemanship skills and challenge existing ones.
- An appreciation of rodeo as a healthy and enjoyable form of family recreation.
- In a safe environment, develop the physical skills necessary for competition in rodeo events.
- Safe handling of livestock.
Develop citizenship and community responsibilities through teamwork and support of local rodeo projects and activities.
And how to organize and conduct their own rodeo.
4-H Rodeo Project Guide - complete version, quite large (3,169kb)
4-H Rodeo Project Guide - pages 1-14 Introduction | Objectives | How the 4-H Rodeo Project Works | The Assessment Tools | Alberta 4-H Rodeo Project Rules | Approved 4-H Rodeo Event Rules
4-H Rodeo Project Guide - pages 15-50 Assessment Tools | Dismounted Assessment Tools | Glossary of Terms | Rodeo Log Income Worksheet | Rodeo Log Expense Worksheet
Steer Daubing Assessments
Rodeo Instructors Resource Manual
Young Horse Option
Congratulations on having successfully completed the mandatory Horsemanship Project Levels 1-3. You now have basics that will be important for the successful completion of the Young Horse Project. We hope you will have a fantastic year developing new skills and teaching your project horse new things as you continue to develop your horse knowledge and experience.
What is considered a ‘young horse’?
This project is here to help you teach and train the horse that has had no real ‘schooling’. The young horse project is developed for a weanling, yearling or two to three year old animal.
This manual should guide your training of the young horse so that both you and your horse have a successful year.
Alberta 4-H Standardbred Project
Deadline: Nov 1
The 4-H Standardbred Horse Project is a partnership with the Alberta Standardbred Horse Association (ASHA) and Alberta Standardbred breeders.
Participants care for a Standardbred weanling through winter months and prepare it for the Standardbred Yearling Sale in the fall. The breeder maintains ownership of the weanling and reimburses the member for all expenses.
Who Can Apply?
Open to 4-H members who are 12 years of age or older and have completed Rider Level 3 Dismounted who have the permission of their parent(s) and a recommendation from their 4-H leader. Participants must be a member in good-standing of a 4-H club. Applications must demonstrate adequate stabling, feeding and grazing facilities. Applicants will be expected to have horse experience, knowledge and adult assistance.
Performance Standardbred Project
Deadline: Nov 1
Introducing a new opportunity for 4-H equine members. A joint project of Performance Standardbreds and the Provincial Equine Advisory Committee (PEAC).
The Standardbred is one of the most versatile breeds by far. By age three, there are many already starting their second careers. Throughout their early years, the foundation has been established and now it's onwards and upwards for these athletic, sturdy, sensible horses. Jumping, dressage, endurance, and competitive trail - there really is no limit to what they can accomplish!
Recognizing the potential of and the need to give these horses no longer able to race new lives, Performance Standardbreds promotes the breed in a new and positive light.
PEAC and the Alberta Performance Standardbreds have joined forces to give 4-H members the opportunity to really see how versatile these horses are.
Up to six 4-H members per year will be given the opportunity to work with a horse who is freshly retired from the race training. They will get the chance to develop the horse into a pleasure riding and driving horse.
Who Can Apply?
4-H members who age 12 and older and who have completed rider level 3 can apply to take on this project. A newly retired horse will be assigned to a 4-H member who will care for the horse and also work with it to train it to be ridden and/or driven for pleasure. There are challenges in training these horses—one of which is training them to lope or canter, but you will be given assistance from knowledgeable horse people who have successfully trained other horses.
Most regions have a Regional 4-H Horse Show and there are many horse shows throughout the province that 4-H members may want to participate in.
The following will provide you with some basic information about what is generally expected at horse shows and for some of the more common classes. Please be aware that each region has their own rules regarding the specifics of their shows and it is important that you become familiar with them before you attend the show.
If you are planning to enter an open horse show or a breed show, you should check with that show for the rules that they use.
Not all regions offer all of the classes described here and some regions may offer classes that are not described in this document.
Horse Showing (complete resource, individual sections listed below)
Please note that these sport events do not have supporting 4-H project material. Clubs are responsible for researching and obtaining the necessary information to safely explore these sports from the websites provided. The following equine sports are ones that some 4-H horse clubs are exploring.
- Polocrosse Canada would like to show you how to play Polocrosse. We will come to your facility with experienced players, videos, racquets & Balls, and written materials. We will work with your leaders to ensure that your clinic is a positive experience. Click here to see more.
- Polocrosse Project
What is Polocrosse?
As the name implies, Polocrosse is a combination of polo and lacrosse. It is played outside, on a field, on horseback. Each rider uses a cane stick to which is attached a racquet head with a loose thread net in which the ball is caught and carried. The ball is made of sponge rubber approximately 4” across. The objective is to score goals by throwing the ball between your opponent’s goal posts.
Polocrosse is a fun game and has been described as being a bit like hockey on horseback. The game provides good, healthy, outdoor competition where teamwork and cooperation are highlighted. The game emphasizes horsemanship, ball skills and strategy.
At the elite level, it is a fast-paced, skilful, exciting game. It presents an incomparable athletic challenge involving speed and stamina, demanding lightning quick reflexes of both horse and rider.
- Polocrosse Project
- Drill Team - At the current time we don't have drill team project material available. The United States Equestrian Drill Association (USEDA) has a manual available for sale on their web-site which may be used. Clubs wishing to obtain a copy may do so directly from USEDA through their web-site: http://useda.us/ If you would like to preview the manual, there is one available on loan from the Stettler 4-H office (403-742-7547).
- Young Riders
- Drill Team
- Endurance Riding
- Polocrosse Canada is willing to assist 4-H to learn about the sport of Polocrosse
- Horse Fun and Games
- Alberta Morgan Horse Club
- Alberta Paint Horse Club
- American Saddlebred Horse Association of Alberta
- Appaloosa Horse Club of Canada
- Brand Farms
- Canadian Horse Breeders Rocky Mountain District
- Canadian Registry of the Tennessee Walking Horse
- Icelandic Horse Farm
- Icelandic Horses Tolt Away Farm
- Parkland Welsh Pony & Cob Association
- Peruvian Horse Club of Alberta
- Sunset Marchadors
- Western Canadian Miniature Horse Club
Please note, items not available here can be obtained by contacting the Provincial 4‑H Office.