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Philosophy and Goals of the Florida 4-H Horse Program
The purpose of the 4-H Horse Program is to provide young people an opportunity to participate in a series of activities designed to improve citizenship, sportsmanship, horsemanship, character, competitive spirit, discipline, and responsibility, while creating an atmosphere for learning and awareness of the life around us.
If one takes time to study this statement, the goals and implications are awesome. It is not anticipated that a child would progress at the same rate for all of these objectives; it is expected that, given the proper motivation and good leadership by leaders, parents, and agents, there would be improvements in all areas. Many times, recognition by the 4-H’er that they could improve in these areas is a significant accomplishment.
Most 4-H’ers electing this project will already have a significant interest in, and even a passionate love for, the animal. It is the leaders’ responsibility to utilize this interest to accomplish the project objectives. Though the objectives may be arranged in a different order, you will notice the first objective is not horsemanship. Horsemanship, in the broadest sense, is an important facet of the 4-H horse program, but it should be understood that the horse is only a tool to be used in the development and education of the child. There are over 50 major project areas available in 4-H, and all of them have as objectives to make better citizens of youth, to increase their knowledge in a particular subject matter area, and to inspire them to explore other areas.
Horse shows are not the major objective of this program, and any leader or agent that professes this, either out of actual belief or to persuade someone to join a 4-H club, is in error. In doing this, they would most certainly be setting themselves, and the club, up for disappointment and possible failure. This is not to minimize the importance of horse shows in helping to achieve our goals, but it must be understood we are in the business of education. There are many opportunities to show elsewhere, and it is quite possible there will be many youth in a club who are not interested in showing. They may be interested in one or more of the many forms of trail riding, rodeoing, breeding, and production or other activities involving the use of a horse.
When thinking about the horse program and its objectives, one should certainly realize that participation in horse judging, hippology, quiz bowl, public speaking, and demonstrations is extremely helpful in achieving said goals. Participation in these activities can help a youth improve in many areas, as well as gain a better education.
In summary, there is a need for all aspects of the current 4-H Horse Program, and it is hoped that you as leaders and agents, will encourage participation of your club members in all these areas.
Age Division: Senior (14–18)
Age (as of September 1 of the current 4-H year):
Grade in School:
Years in 4-H (including this year):
Years in 4-H Horse Project:
Name of Club:
4-H County Extension Agent:
Project Start Date:
Project End Date:
End of Year Signatures
Member Statement: I have personally kept the records on this project and have completed this record book myself. To the best of my knowledge, the information included in it is correct.
4-H Member Signature:
Parent/Guardian and Leader Statement: I have only helped the member as needed to complete this record book. I am familiar with this work and, to the best of my knowledge, the member completed this record book and the information included in it is correct.
Extension Agent: I confirm that the participant is a current 4-H member in good standing.
Extension Agent Signature:
4-H Horse Record Book
Pages with R in the corner have more “how to” Reference information online here: https://animal.ifas.ufl.edu/extension/youth/horse/horse-record-books/
- Read through this record book before you start recording information. This will help you become familiar with the layout of the book and what is expected.
- Discuss this record book with your parent(s) and your leader(s).
- Understand what each section is asking for before you begin to record information. Read ALL instructions, and if you have questions, ask for help from other members, your parent(s), leader(s), or county 4-H staff.
- When you start your project, complete the basic beginning information through page 4 (personal information, project goals, and project planning).
- Keep your records up to date by recording information as it occurs. Consider setting aside specific times during the project when you will work on your record book. You may want to keep a “draft” version and then copy the information into the final version to submit.
- If you do not have any information for a section, indicate so by “N/A” (not applicable).
- If something particular to your situation does not fit into the records as asked, do your best to include it as logically as possible and add notes explaining what you did and why.
- This is a record of your experiences, so it should reflect your personality. Be creative, make the record book interesting, and add your own personal touch.
- This record book may be used for one or more animals in your 4-H horse project. A horse does not have to be shown or exhibited to be part of your educational project.
- Any chart may be copied and attached if more space is needed for what is asked.
If you are planning to show at Area and State 4-H shows, make sure to turn in your county’s Horse Project Certification form by your county’s deadline, but no later than January 1.
Why keep an equine record?
A record book is not meant to be a chore. Instead, it is designed to be a tool to help you learn valuable life skills, such as financial management, record keeping, staying organized, and effective communication. It can also show how hard you have worked, how much you have learned, and what you have done throughout the project. Your record book:
- Makes you accountable for project goals and achievements.
- Measures growth and progress.
- Makes you aware of many facets of horse management and their associated finances.
- Documents information that can be used for scholarship and award applications.
- Helps you appreciate the importance of record keeping—not just for financial management, but also for tracking health care routines and emergencies.
- Gives you a chance to look back on your year and help you decide what you want to change for next year.
- Provides a way to share your project accomplishments with others.
The beginning of the 4-H year is a good time to think about what you would like to do with your horse or learn about horses during the year. Identify goals you would like to achieve by participating in this project and an action you will need to take to accomplish those goals. In addition, think of challenges (i.e., problems) or potential limitations that may get in the way of achieving your goals. Goals should be realistic and achievable, but don’t be afraid to push yourself! Use the table below to write your goals, actions, and challenges.
- When you first purchased, acquired, or leased your project horse(s), what factors helped you to select your project horse(s) and why (purpose, breed, age, cost, location of animal, etc.)?
- Describe the facilities where you keep your horse(s), including paddock/pasture and shelter available. If boarding, include what features helped you select the facility.
- List any professional help or expert advice you have available and expect to use (could include vet, farrier, barn manager, trainers, club leader, 4-H agent, etc.).
- When you take on responsibility for an animal, it is important to have an idea of the financial commitment you are taking on as well. With that in mind:
- How much do you expect it to cost to feed your horse(s) (bagged feed, hay, etc.) for the project year?
- How much do you expect to spend on lessons and/or training during the project year?
- How much do you expect to spend on health care for the project year (hoof care, preventative and curative vet care, etc.)?
After completing the Goals & Planning pages, show them to your 4-H leader for confirmation by January 1. Your County’s Horse Project Certification form is also due to the county office by your county’s deadline, but no later than January 1.
Project Horse Information
Identify all project animals used during the project that will be documented in this record book. Copy page if needed.
(1) Beginning Horse(s) Value, TOTAL $_________ (A) Ending Horse(s) Value, TOTAL $_________
Horse Care & Management
A horse project requires regular care and management. In this section, you may list what you typically do to maintain your project horse(s).
Average daily routine (with horse or at barn)
- If horse is kept at home, include feeding, care, turn-out, and riding schedule.
- If boarding or leasing off-site, in addition to outlining riding time, include time spent on health care, grooming, cleaning stalls/barn, etc. that you might also do at the facility.
- Please be as specific as possible, including time frames and durations (round to the quarter hour).
- Some of the things that might be included:
- Feeding and watering practices
- Grooming (clipping, trimming, hoof care, etc.)
- Health practices (preventative as well as ongoing medications)
- General management (cleaning stalls, paddocks, barn, etc.)
- Riding or exercising (training, conditioning, lunging, trail riding, lesson time, in-hand work, etc.)
Time spent on horse project, but not with horse
- In a typical month, list time spent on activities that support your horse project that do not involve the horse.
- This could include tack cleaning and repair, watching educational videos, reading educational books, researching feeds or products, etc.
Tack, Equipment, Supplies
Include things needed to handle/ride/train/show your horse. Barn items do not need to be listed (hose, buckets, barn, etc.), but you may include items to care for your horse when traveling. Items may be grouped instead of listing everything separately. For example “Western Showmanship outfit” instead of “showmanship shirt, vest, pants, boots, belt, gloves” listed separately. Also, “grooming equipment” instead of “brush, comb, curry, sweat scraper, hoof picks” listed separately. Add new items as they are purchased.
Beginning Value/Purchase Cost: The value you would have to pay if you purchased each item at the beginning (in its current condition). Also include items purchased during the current 4-H year at their purchase cost.
Ending Value: Because wear and tear occurs on equipment used year to year, items will depreciate. Consider this when putting a dollar value on each asset. If unsure of ending value, 10% is a standard depreciation to use. Many products are bought & used completely during the year. Therefore, they would have a purchase price, but an ending value of $0. If an item is sold, indicate with “(sold),” and list the final value as $0 here, and list it with the sale price in the income section (pg. 16).
Because this project record might span less than a whole calendar year, it may not reflect your complete health care program. Explain the details of your horse’s health care routine below.
- Describe your deworming program (rotation, fecal egg counts, etc.).
- Describe your horse’s vaccination schedule (which diseases, how often, what time of year, etc.).
Add lines 3 + 4 = TOTAL HEALTH CARE EXPENSES (5) $
Feed and Hay Description
Complete this page to describe the forage (pasture and hay) and concentrate (grain, pellets, sweet feed, etc.) fed to your horse. Work with your parents, barn manager, and/or leader for help with the details if needed.
What is the dominant type of grasses in your pastures?
Where your horse is kept, how many horses graze per acre?
Do you practice rotational grazing?
How many hours will your horses typically be on pasture to graze per day?
Fall: _____________ Winter: _____________ Spring: _____________ Summer:
How is water provided to your horse in the pasture?
Do the horses have shelter in this pasture? ___________ If so, what type:
Who does the majority of the pasture maintenance (mowing, fertilizing, spraying, etc.)
Hay Visual Analysis
Give a visual analysis of a cutting of hay that you are currently feeding your horse by answering the following. You may attach additional copies if you check your hay each season and/or when you change hay types or suppliers.
Date of visual analysis: __________________
Type of hay (Bermuda grass, peanut, orchard, alfalfa, mixed, etc):
Maturity and leafiness (bloom, amount of seedhead shown, and stems vs. leaves):
Color (describe a shade of greens, yellows, or browns):
Odor and condition (describe the smell, dust-free, moisture, temperature):
Foreign materials (other plants and weeds—note what is found):
You may attach additional copies if you change or add feeds during the year.
Feed format: □ pelleted □ textured (sweet feed) □ whole grain
Purpose: For what equine production level is this feed designed? (maintenance, growth, performance, etc.)
Guaranteed analysis: What is the percentage of:
Feeding instructions: What are the feed label’s recommended feeding instructions for your project horse?
Calculate Monthly Cost of Feeds
Use this as a worksheet to calculate the monthly cost for concentrate feed (i.e., pellets, sweet feed, grains like corn, oats, etc.), hay, and supplements. This approach is especially helpful if other horses are sharing the feed supply with your project horse(s). Carry the monthly Concentrate and Hay costs forward to the following page to calculate the annual cost of feeding your horse(s). These amounts could vary with grazing seasons, equine nutritional needs (workload, condition, etc.), and/or hay or concentrate feed changes. Therefore, use copies of this worksheet to recalculate totals as changes occur and for additional horses. Even if feed is included in your board, you should still complete this exercise to understand how your horse is fed and the associated costs.
Concentrate (pellets, sweet feed, corn, oats, etc.)
Cost of a bag of feed: $ ___________÷ ___________lb in the bag = $ ___________per lb
Amount fed: ___________lb per day × ___________$ cost/lb (calculated above) = ___________$/day
Monthly cost of grain: $ __________(Cost / day of grain) × 28(29), 30, 31 (days in month)=cost/February, cost/30 days, cost/31 days
Cost of a bale of hay: $ ___________÷ ___________lb per bale = $ ___________per lb
Amount fed: ___________lb per day × ___________$ cost/lb (calculated above) = ___________$/day
Monthly cost of hay: $ __________(Cost / day of hay) × 28(29), 30, 31 (days in month)=cost/February, cost/30 days, cost/31 days
You will be asked to list supplements by their purchase cost in an upcoming table, but completing this portion of the worksheet will help you get an idea of the daily and monthly cost of those supplements. Please note that the monthly totals you calculate here are for your own information and are not carried into the upcoming tables. Copy for additional supplements.
Supplement (if applicable)
Cost per container of supplement: $ ___________÷ ___________oz in container = $ ___________per oz
Amount fed: ___________oz per day × ___________$ cost/oz (calculated above) = ___________$/day
Monthly cost of suppl.: $__________(Cost / day of suppl.) × 28(29), 30, 31 (days in month)=cost/February, cost/30 days, cost/31 days
List consumption/cost for each project horse (copy and attach for each additional horse). If expenses are included in board or lease, list amounts but not costs (indicate with board or lease). *Calculate monthly costs on previous page.
Add lines 6 through 9 = TOTAL FEED-RELATED EXPENSES (10) $
Boarding and Stabling
Add lines 11 + 12 = TOTAL BOARDING & STABLING EXPENSES (13) $
Training and Event Expenses
Add lines 14 + 15 = TOTAL TRAINING & EVENT EXPENSES (16) $
Add lines C + D = TOTAL SERVICES, SALES & AWARD INCOME (E) $
Year-End Financial Summary
Many youth select 4-H Horse Projects as a hobby or for fun, as opposed to as a business seeking profit. All projects will incur expenses, while only some will have significant income. Do not worry if your project did not make money! Your Horse Project is about learning and having fun. It is more important to keep true, accurate records than to exaggerate ending values to make it appear as though there was a profit.
If you earned more money than you spent, then your project made a profit. If you spent more than you earned, then your project experienced a loss. To find out if you made a profit or experienced a loss, you subtract your total expenses from your total income. If the result is positive, then there was a profit. If negative, then there was a loss.
- Explain how your actual feed, health, and training expenses compared to what you estimated at the beginning of the project? (See page 4, #4)
- If you have done this project for two or more years, how has your ability to estimate expenses changed?
Show/Event Experience & Progress
For each show, clinic, Horsemanship School, organized trail ride, or similar type of mounted horse event attended, describe things that you and/or your horse did better than at a previous event. This could be during the actual competition or anything related to it (packing, travel, barn work, warm-ups, handling nerves, sportsmanship, etc.). Then identify what you still want to do better next time. Significant Accomplishments could include notable placings, high points, next level qualifications, how you helped, etc. (Copy as many pages as needed.)
4-H Horse Activity Participation
Check off your participation level (if any) in State 4-H Horse Program events. Then list your additional nonmounted competitive, noncompetitive, and community service events related to the Horse project and the level of involvement. Significant Accomplishments could include notable placing, next level qualifications, leadership role, organizational assistance, etc. If not enough space for accomplishments at multiple levels, use any empty lines as needed.
Use photos that show you actively engaged in care/management, schooling/showing, or other learning experiences. Include captions which describe what you are doing or trying to show the viewer. Be as creative as you would like with how they are presented. Attach at least two pages, but no more than four pages. (Quantity of photos will not be given more credit than quality.)
Tell the story of your project in a narrative format. In the spirit of “Learn by Doing,” share what you’ve learned by doing this project. The story should personalize, expand, and fill in the gaps of the project record section, not merely repeat what has been already documented.
The story should include at least the following:
- In regard to your goals set at the beginning of the project, describe your progress and achievements towards those objectives. Were they reached? How did you accomplish them? If you were to do it again, what would you do differently (if anything)?
- Describe what you have learned and new skills you have gained this year in 4-H. Include how the professionals and experts you listed as available contributed to this growth (if applicable). Did you learn from other unexpected sources?
- How did you help or teach others?
- Relate how your 4-H experience and the life skills you have learned in 4-H will benefit you outside of 4-H (school, home, family, friends, etc.).
Other examples that you may consider writing about include:
- Yourself! Tell about your family members, other animals, hobbies, why you joined 4-H and participated in the Horse project.
- Unforgettable experiences such as something that happened that was funny, sad, scary, exciting, etc.
- Activities that you had the most fun participating in and activities that you liked doing the least.
- How you have changed and grown as a result of your project work.
- What your biggest challenges were, and how you overcame them (or how you plan to continue to work through them).
- Your journey with your horse; what working with horses has done for you as an individual.
The Project Story should be 3 pages and may be typed or handwritten and then attached. If typed, it should be in 12-point font and double-spaced.
- DOI: doi.org/10.32473/edis-4H418-2021
- Program Area: Youth development
About this Publication
This document is 4H418, one of a series of the 4-H Youth Development Program, UF/IFAS Extension. Original publication date September 2021. Based on 4H HSR 02/4H180, Florida 4-H Horse Project Record Book, by A. Huff and E. L. Johnson. Visit the EDIS website at https://edis.ifas.ufl.edu/ for the currently supported version of this publication.
About the Authors
Wendy T. DeVito, academic program specialist II, MS; Saundra H. TenBroeck, associate professor and state Extension horse specialist, Department of Animal Sciences; Shane T. Michael, county Extension director and Extension agent III, MS, 4-H Youth Development program, UF/IFAS Extension Seminole County; Megan N. Brew, county Extension director and Extension agent II, MS, UF/IFAS Extension Lake County; and Alyssa M. Ohmstede, graduate student, Department of Animal Sciences, and UF Horse Judging Team coach; UF/IFAS Extension, Gainesville, FL 32611.
- Sarah Hensley
- Saundra TenBroeck