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Horse Project Information and Forms


Species Superintendents -

Hannah Capannari, 

Heather Alden, 

For complete Livestock Rules and Fair Participation Requirement Information refer to the 2024 HCCFair Rulebook



The following is a suggested order in which horse projects should be completed.

Horseless Horse (Member does not exhibit horse at fair. Only complete Project Commitment Form, no additional Horse Paperwork required)

Beginning Horse Management (Recommended to be taken for 2 years)

Light Horse Selection (Recommended to be taken for 2 years)

Horse Training, Learning to Jump, Draft Horse, Small Equine, Standardbred Horse, Gymkhana, Roping, Trail Riding, Dressage, and Self-determined Horse Projects


  • Possession Dates – All project animals must be in the possession and care of the Junior Fair participant by the following dates

    • April 1st of the current year for horse projects, including ponies, donkeys, and mules

  • Registrations - All horse projects must meet the following registration deadlines. Late or missing paperwork will make the participant ineligible to compete in the current year at the Hamilton County Community Fair.

    • 4-H Enrollment Form deadline – March 1st

    • Project Commitment Form deadline – May 7th

    • Horse Registration Paperwork deadline – May 7th (All forms are submitted online, including vaccination records, exhibitor health forms, Horse Show class entry forms, etc.  Examples of these forms are in Appendix G of the Rulebook) - ALL HORSE PAPERWORK MUST BE SUBMITTED BY THIS DEADLINE IN ORDER TO PARTICIPATE IN THE HORSE SHOW AT FAIR. – If there is a problem, please contact the Species Superintendent PRIOR to the deadline.

  • All horses participating in the Hamilton County Community Fair must be vaccinated for tetanus, influenza, Encephalomyelitis (E & W), Rhinophneumonitis, and rabies and have a negative Coggins test. All required vaccinations MUST be given by a licensed veterinarian

  • If a horse will be transported to the fair across a state line, contact the species superintendents prior to the paperwork deadline to see if additional paperwork is required.

  • ​If a project horse becomes sick the week before the fair, please contact the species superintendent. Do not bring a recently sick horse to the fair without notifying the Species Superintendent.

  • The Junior Fair participant must be providing the riding training to the project horse

    • Professional trainer is defined as someone who makes their living from training horses, giving lessons, or from some combination of activities in the horse industry

  • Horses with stalls are required to stay at the fair for the duration of fair. If a Junior Fair participant does not want the horse to stay at the fair, he/she may haul his/her horse in for the shows, but the horse will not be given a stall and may not use one of the stalls.

  • If a participant is showing more than one horse, only one may stay at the fair. The other horse must be trailered in for the show.

  • If there are not enough stalls for all those wanting to keep their horse at fair, a request will be made for volunteers to Move-in for the shows. If there are not enough volunteers, the Walk/Trot participants will be required to Move-in. If there are still too many horses, Junior participants will be required to Move-in. If needed, a lottery will be used to determine which participants in these categories will be required to Move-in.

  • Horses using stalls MUST be checked into the Fairgrounds on Animal Move-In day and will NOT be released until the Animal Release Day except on the recommendation of the official Hamilton County Community Fair vet in the case of a sick horse. The Junior Fair participant is to ensure horse transportation is available for the designated release time.

  • If a healthy animal is removed from the fairgrounds without proper permission from the fair vet AND notification to a Species Coordinator or Community Fair Association Executive Board Member, participation in the following year's fair will be revoked.

  • When arriving at the fairgrounds for Move-in, youth must check in with the Species Superintendent and/or their assistant. Youth need to bring the check in form and the horse. The Species Superintendent/Assistant will compare the horse to the registration paperwork and take the horse’s temperature. If a horse presents with a fever, the Species Superintendent will consult with the Fair Vet. The horse may NOT be put in a stall until it has been fully checked in and cleared.

  • There will be a Bit Check during Animal Move-in. ALL Horse Show participants must bring all bits being used for the Horse Show and the Fun Show to this Bit Check during Animal Move-in. This includes participants who are hauling in for the shows.

  • All bits will be checked to ensure it complies with the rules. Once they have been marked as satisfactory, no other bits may be used in the show. You may only present 1 bit per discipline being shown. For example, if you are showing Western and English, you can have 1 bit checked for Western and 1 bit checked for English flat classes for total of 2 bits. Because Contesting has different bit rules than Western according to State, we will be counting it as its own discipline. A second bit may be presented for Jumping classes.

  • No clip-on reins will be allowed in the Junior Fair Horse Show or the Horse Fun Show. Buckle-on reins will be allowed.

  • All horse participants must attend a MANDATORY horse meeting at fair.

  • Youth MUST ALSO attend the Mandatory Fair Meeting for all Fair participants in addition to the Mandatory Horse Meeting

  • Helmets must be worn at all times when a Junior Fair participant is mounted on his/her horse or seated in a cart. No exceptions - this is an Ohio State University Extension rule.

  • NO FLIP-FLOPS OF ANY SORT SHOULD BE WORN when handling or riding horse(s).

  • Horses must be led with a lead rope or bridle.

  • No one besides the participant or an adult immediate family member is allowed to ride the project horse at the fairgrounds unless approval is obtained in writing from the Species Superintendent.

  • The Junior Fair participant is responsible for taking care of his/her own horse.

  • Be sure that the barn aisle is kept clean and free of clutter.

  • Riders may not ride alone at the fairgrounds or ride anywhere but in the warmup ring or arena. All riders must always have an adult present. Riders may not be mounted on a horse unless they are in the warmup ring or the arena. No mounting between the stalls and the arena.

  • Be sure to pick up after the horses on the fairgrounds.

  • Please wash project horses in the designated area only.

  • Families will be required to sign up for at least one 2-hour barn shift while the fair is open to the public. During the shift, families will stay stationed in the horse tent to answer questions and to make sure no one from the public is trying to feed horses.

  • If a horse becomes ill or injured, a replacement horse will only be accepted if it meets the same requirements as the original horse. The Junior Fair participant must consult the Species Superintendent as soon as he/she becomes aware of an issue and the superintendent will determine if the replacement horse meets the original criteria.


  • The fair participant must have the horse under lease by April 1st.

  • See Appendix G of Rulebook for further information on leases

  • The fair participant must provide regular “hands on” care of the horse from April 1st through the Hamilton County Community Fair.

  • The Junior Fair participant must be providing the riding training to the horse.

  • The horse may be ridden by other riders during the lease but may not be schooled with a professional trainer as the rider after April 1st.

    • Professional trainer is defined as someone who makes their living from training horses, giving lessons, or from some combination of activities in the horse industry.

  • The horse may be shown by someone other than the Junior Fair participant from April 1st until fair, but only if the Junior Fair participant is present and showing at the show. The only exceptions are PAS and State Fair.

  •  A horse may be shared by multiple participants if one is showing walk/trot and the other is a junior or senior.

Please remember the spirit of these rules is to allow kids, who may not otherwise be able to participate, to lease a horse. The Hamilton County Community Fair wants competition to be fair, reasonable, and fun for all involved. If the Junior Fair participant is planning on competing at the State Fair, it is STRONGLY ENCOURAGED that the State Qualifying Rules are read in entirety because the Hamilton County leasing rules are more lenient than state's.



  • Standard Western, English or Easy Gaited horse show attire should be worn depending on the discipline the Junior Fair participant has chosen to show. If you need help with this, please contact the Species Superintendent.


  • Horse Show participants are required to be familiar with and comply with Uniform Rules for 4-H Horse Shows (4-H 179) which may be purchased from the 4-H Extension office. Be particularly careful that the bit and tack used by the Junior Fair participant comply with the rules.

  • A participant may sign up for no more than 8 classes including Showmanship.

  • All patterns for the Showmanship, Horsemanship, Equitation, Trail, and Jumping classes will be posted the day of the show at the horse arena.

  • The Species Superintendents have the right to disqualify a participant from the rest of the show for any of the following behaviors:

    • Being out of control on a horse

    • Not following show rules

    • Abusive behavior toward an animal

    • Unsportsmanlike conduct toward a fellow competitor or show personnel.

  • Three rings will be used for the show.

    • The Show Ring is the large part of the arena where all classes happen.

    • The Holding Area is the smaller fenced off part of the arena (this is a waiting space and not for warming up).

    • The Warmup Ring is the fenced off grassy area.

  • Once a class has been called as “Up Next”, all participants should make their way to the Holding Area.

  • Participants in each class will be called in the order on the show bill. The following terms will be used to notify participants of where they should be.​
    • Up Next” means the participant should be walking into the Show Ring as the exhibitor

    • On Deck” means the participant should be standing by the entry gate to the Show Ring (this is the only time you are allowed on your horse outside a ring).

    • “In the Hole” means you should be waiting in the Holding Area

  • Once your name has been called as “Up Next” you have two minutes to enter the arena before you will be scratched from that class.


    • Walk/Trot classes are intended for beginning riders or green horses. A 4-H member may show Walk/Trot more than one year. 

    • Participants showing Walk/Trot are not eligible for Showman of Showmen or Top Exhibitor Awards.

    • Please see Appendix G of Rulebook for a full description of the Walk/Trot (Novice) Division


  • For a description of Showmanship see the Beginning Horse Management project book and the Special Contests and Awards section of the Rulebook.

  • Showmanship classes will be divided into Senior, Junior, and Walk/Trot divisions. If there are enough participants, these divisions will be further divided into English and Western Showmanship classes. If the divisions are divided into English and Western, then the first place winner in each class will continue to a Championship class. For example, the first place winner in Senior English Showmanship and the first place winner in Senior Western Showmanship will compete in the Senior Championship class to determine the overall Senior Showmanship winner. Once a Junior and Senior Showmanship champion have been determined, these two winners will compete in a Species Champion Showmanship class where the show judge will pick the best showman of the species. This person will be invited to participate in the Showman of Showmen Contest.

  • If there are less than 2 participants in either Senior or Junior Showmanship, these classes will be combined. The combined class will be used as the Showman of Showmen Run-Off.

  • Senior Showmanship

    • Open to all horse exhibitors 14 – 18 years old (as of January 1st of the current year)

  • Junior Showmanship

    • Open to all horse exhibitors 8 – 13 years old (as of January 1st of the current year)

  • Walk/Trot Showmanship

    • Open to all Junior Fair participants showing in the Walk/Trot division. This class may or may not be divided into a Junior and Senior level depending on the number of participants.  


  • See Appendix G of Rulebook for a complete listing of the Horse Show classes with explanations.

  • There are English, Western, Walk/Trot, Easy-Gaited, Trail, Dressage, Jumping, and Driving classes.

**The Species Superintendent is not required to hold any class that has less than 3 participants. Under these circumstances, classes may be combined as the superintendent deems appropriate.


  • Ribbons will be given to 3rd place in each class.

  • 1st Place trophies will be given in each class. 

  • Top Exhibitor and Reserve Top Exhibitor Awards will be given for both Junior and Senior divisions. These winners will be the Junior Fair participants who have the two highest combined scores from the four project program areas: Project Judging, Skillathon, Showmanship placing, and Class placings.

  • To qualify for Top Exhibitor Awards the participant must participate in EACH of the four project program areas and receive a minimum score of 80% on Project Judging and Skillathon.

  • Top Exhibitors will receive a monetary award. Top Exhibitor Awards are given at the Awards Ceremony. 

  • Exhibitors showing in Novice Showmanship are not eligible for Top Exhibitor Awards.

  • Exhibitors showing in Walk/Trot (Novice) Showmanship are not eligible for Top Exhibitor Awards.



  • For information on these events, see the Rulebook


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