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What the judge looks for in the horse:

The way a horse travels - how the horse performs while in motion.

Good conformation which means the form or outline of an animal - the symmetrical arrangement of its parts. A proportionately well-built horse is symmetrical and smooth; each component part blends into other parts to give over all balance, style, and beauty.

Depending on breed, color may be important. Some breeds for which color is important are Paint, Pinto, Palomino and Appaloosa.

What the judge looks for in the show ring:

A good exhibitor is polite and courteous to other exhibitors and pays attention to both the animal and to the judge at all times.

Showmanship includes general appearance, especially cleanliness of the animal and the exhibitors ability to lead and pose the animal in the ring.

In halter classes, the horse is judged on conformation depending on its breed's ideal characteristics.

In performance classes, the horse and rider are judged. Some types of performance classes are based on the different gaits or various speeds a horse is put through.
Some other performance classes are: jumping, driving (with carts or buggies), trail and cattle classes (team penning, cutting, etc.).

Timed or running events are some of the more exciting classes in horse shows. In these classes the fastest entry wins. Some timed events are barrels, cones and pole bending.

Some horse shows include cattle classes. These classes test the horse and rider's ability to control cattle, whether it is to cut one calf from a herd of calves or to select a designated calf or group of calves from a herd and pen them.


Stallion: an adult male horse

Mare: a female horse

Gelding: a castrated male horse

Foal: a male or female under 1 yr of age

Test your Knowledge...

Match the facts about horses on the right with the correct terms on the left.

  1. Hunter Hack
  2. Hunter Under Saddle
  3. Halter Class
  4. Western Riding
  5. Pleasure Driving
  6. Reining
  7. Western Pleasure
1.A) Horse is shown at a walk, jog & lope, both ways of the ring.
2.B) Horse is judged on quality of gaits, change of leads, response to the rider, manners, disposition & intelligence.
3.C) Horse is shown at a walk, trot & canter, both ways of the ring.
4.D) Horses are required to jump two fences, 2' to 2'.6" & are shown at a walk, trot &
5.E) To guide and control every movement
6.F) Horse is judged on balance, structural correctness & breed characteristics.
7.G) Horse is judged while pulling a cart.

You give it a try and see how your placings compare to the judges (fill in the exhibitors number):

Your Choice

1st place

2nd place

3rd place

4th place

Judges Decision

1st place

2nd place

3rd place

4th place
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