I’m excited to announce the launch of the HorseWise® Horsemanship Buckle for 4-H Youth Groups!

The Horse Wise Horsemanship Buckle will reward junior equestrians for learning good ground work techniques, becoming more aware of their horses’ physical signals and understanding how to prepare their horse for performance work.

It also gives participants with green or less experienced horses an opportunity to win a buckle (while giving their horse more training during the show season).

Best of all, it’s FUN – and encourages camaraderie, sportsmanship and good horsemanship!

Here are the details about the Horse Wise buckle points, requirements and show standards:

Buckle Requirements

A. Participants will study and then demonstrate following concepts and exercises:

1. Exercises to do on the ground with your horse (per Horse Wise standards)

  • Lateral flexion (standstill) without treats
  • Hindquarter yield and drift
  • Bring front quarters across (moving shoulders)
  • Backing up on the ground with horse in good balance
  • Back ½ circle in each direction with horse in good balance
  • Go by in circle in each direction (starting with correct foot); smooth transitions between walk, trot and stop; different speeds at walk and trot
  • Moving each foot three times (without moving other feet at same time) with just halter and lead rope
  • Simple jaw flexion

2. Preparing your horse for performance and athletic work

  • Awareness of your horse: observing body language, movement patterns and behavioral cues that show the physical and mental readiness of your horse
  • Understanding when a horse is processing and when to release the horse
  • Footfall at walk and why it’s important
  • Concept of “stuck foot” and how to help your horse with it
  • Understanding the concept of “Do less sooner”
  • Understanding the concept of “Waiting on your horse” while he is learning a new movement or aid

B. Buckle points, participation and assignments

1. Study work

  • Participate in at least two Horse Wise 4-H teaching sessions (group or individual)
  • Horse Wise assessment of your horse for project selection
  • Pick something to help your horse with over the course of season
  • Watch assigned videos (3 min or less) and ask one question from each

2. Judging requirements for buckle points

  • Participation in Horse Wise competition classes at 4-H shows
  • How horse starts and ends each show and/or practice – demeanor, relaxation and willingness will be given highest points
  • Overall improvement of horse and rider (as a team) in the Horse Wise assignments and overall 4-H participation
  • Sportsmanship, patience and commitment consistently displayed by the rider with their horse during 4-H activities.

C. Prizes

  • Horse Wise winner receives a buckle and $100 cash award.

How to Offer the Horse Wise Horsemanship Buckle

Sound like fun? If you are running a 4-H program and would like to offer a Horse Wise Horsemanship Buckle for your youth group, here is the process:

  1. You will need to provide a written request to Horse Wise to use the Horse Wise name and buckle requirements (we have a trademark for Horse Wise name).
  2. You will agree to use our standard ground work exercises, judging requirements and point system for the buckle. We will give you free (and fun) curriculum and judging guidelines (plus simple training videos).
  3. You will agree to use the Horse Wise logo in the buckle design (we will help make this as easy as possible by sending you artwork files for your buckle production company). You will pay for the buckle but we can help you find sponsors for part of the buckle cost (depending on your geographic location).
  4. Horse Wise will sponsor the $100 cash prize to the buckle winner for your club. We will also provide a podcast interview to the winner!
  5. Horse Wise will provide online mentoring, coaching and instruction services to the buckle competitors, judges and 4-H club managers. We will do this free of charge (as part of our commitment to youth education)