Horse Judging

Join the educational and fun experience of judging horses with AQHYA.

competitive horse judging contestants judge a halter horse class

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Competitive horse judging teams are offered through senior and junior colleges, as well as through 4-H, FFA and AQHA state affiliate youth associations. Participants evaluate a variety of four-horse halter and performance classes and give four to six sets of memorized oral reasons depicting their placings. At contests, professional judges determine an official placing for each class. Participants' scores are calculated based on how close their placings are to the officials' placings. Each class and set of reasons is worth 50 points. The competitor who drops the fewest points wins the contest.

Horse Judging Resources

AQHA Horse Judging Manual

The AQHA Horse Judging Manual is a guide for developing a successful horse judging team. This manual includes the following chapters:

  • Coaching the Team
  • Developing a Set of Reasons
  • Conformation
  • Halter
  • Western Pleasure, Hunter Under Saddle
  • Reining
  • Western Riding
  • Trail
  • Hunter Hack
  • Horsemanship, Equitation
  • Connective Terms


AQHA Horse Judging Contests

AQHYA World Championship Show Horse Judging Contest

Join AQHYA, 4-H and FFA judging teams from around the nation at the AQHYA World Championship Show Judging Contest. Interested coaches should contact their AQHYA affiliate youth advisor, state horse extension specialist or state FFA advisor for qualifying rules.

The judging contest consists of eight classes with four horses in each class. Two to four halter classes, composed of geldings and mares, and four to six performance classes selected from the following: western pleasure, reining, trail, western riding, western horsemanship, hunter under saddle, hunt seat equitation, hunter hack, and ranch riding. A total of four sets of reasons will follow class judging and will be given on at least one halter and at least one performance class.

  • Find more information on the Youth World Show Horse Judging Contest here


AQHA World Championship Show Collegiate Horse Judging Contest

AQHA is pleased to host the 2023 AQHA World Championship Show Collegiate Horse Judging Contest in Oklahoma City at the Nutrena AQHA World Championship Show: November 2, 2023. 

2023 AQHA World Championship Show Collegiate Horse Judging Contest Entry Form Click here.

2023 AQHA World Championship Show Youth Audit Registration Form – Click here.

2023 AQHA World Championship Show Collegiate Horse Judging Contest Rules

For full results from the 2022 AQHA World Championship Collegiate Horse Judging Contest, click here