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AYHC Quarterly Newsletter


The AYHC Research Committee is gathering research articles on the impact of youth and horse activities. Articles will be summarized here with a link to the full research content for further exploration. If you have a research project to share, please email

Anderson, K.P. & Karr-Lilienthal, L. (2011). Influence of 4-H Horse Project Involvement on Development of Life Skills. Journal of Extension (On-line), 49 (5), Article 5IAW2. Available at:

This study surveyed 4-H horse project members who competed in non-riding horse contests of Horse Bowl, Demonstrations, Public Speaking and Art at the Nebraska 4-H Horse Stampede.  Of the youth participating, 44/90 (nearly 50%) completed an online survey, responding to a variety of questions on a five-point Likert scale and which included demographic information such as age, gender and years in 4-H.  Questions were categorized to determine the influence participation in the 4-H Horse project had on development of life skills, increased general horse knowledge, and future educational plans.  Eighty-six percent of respondents moderately to strongly agreed that their life skills were enhanced.  The life skills that appeared to influence the most included handling pressure, respecting officials, sportsmanship, goal-setting, self-motivation, and leadership, respectively. Eighty percent indicated that they moderately to strongly agreed in realizing some relationship and benefit to their college plans as a result of participating in the contests.  Youth participating in non-riding horse contest utilized the horse to enhance their life skills and increase their science-based knowledge to make them more productive young people.

Evans, P.A., & et al. (2009) University Students May be Better Prepared for Life after Working with Horses.  North American Colleges and Teachers of Agriculture Journal, 53(3), 37-43. Available for download at

This research study looked at how an equine behavior and training course effected students’ perceptions of their own life skills.  Students at six different universities were given a survey prior to taking an equine behavior and training course which collected demographic data as well as asked the students to rate their own life skills.  The same survey was administered after the course to see if the students perceived any noticeable difference in their abilities.  Skills assessed included assertiveness, patience, body energy, non-verbal communication, social confidence, authority, and self-awareness.  The results were then calculated to see if there was a statistical difference in the rating as well as any correlation to gender, age, university, previous horse experience, or particular life skill.  The study found that in general there were positive shifts in the results after taking the course.  Males perceived a significantly higher gain in verbal communication skills.  People who had more experience with horses or were older seemed to have less gains in life skills ratings.  The study concluded that with this course life skills may have been strengthened and enhanced, especially for students initially lacking in high level of said skills.

Nadeau, J., McCabe Alger, E., & Hoagland, T. (2007). Longitudinal Study of the General Knowledge of 4-H Horse Members. Journal of Extension, (On-line) 45(5), Article 5RIB6. Available at:

This was a 3 year study in which the questions in a general knowledge exam given at the Eastern States Exposition 4-H Horse Show were randomized and categorized in order to determine the strengths and weaknesses of 4-H youth.  Youth were from the six New England states (Connecticut, Massachusetts, Maine, New Hampshire, Rhode Island and Vermont) and approximately 100 took the test each year.  Performance peaked in youth with 6 years of attendance, followed by youth with three years of attendance.  The highest mean scores were in the categories of health and disease, breeds, colors and markings, and anatomy and physiology.  The lowest mean scores were in nutrition, reproduction, and history and evolution, indicating that these are areas with the most room for improvement by participants.  The authors state that this system may have potential for inclusion in the national hippology contests due to its simplicity and potential benefit to coaches, Extension educators, Extension specialists, and 4-H youth.  This seems to be an effective method of tracking growth of an individual 4-H member as well as the success of targeted program planning in states.

Saunders-Ferguson, K., Barnett, R.V., Culen, G. and TenBroeck, S. (2008). Self-esteem assessment of Adolescents involved in horsemanship activities. Journal of Extension, 46(2), 10.

This study was designed to determine if participation in horsemanship activities was associated with change in self-esteem, personal horsemanship attributes (including responsibility, confidence, motivation, anxiety and mood), and physical competence and physical self-acceptance of adolescents.  The study surveyed 122 adolescents from 12-18 years old in the Florida 4-H Horsemanship School, a 6 day residential horsemanship program, in summer 2005 through the use of pre and post questionnaires.  All participants cleaned stalls, fed horses, haltered and lead horses, groomed and saddled horses and rode horses.  Each student worked with his or her horse for 5 to 7 hours per day. Riders were placed in groups based on ability and style of riding with experienced riding instructors.  The questionnaires used a 5 point Likert scale.  There was a small but significant change in self-esteem as a result of participation.  There were no statistically significant changes in any of the personal horsemanship attributes between pre and post testing, so participation in the program did not increase participants’ personal horsemanship attributes.  There was no significant change in physical competence or adolescent physical self-acceptance and horsemanship activities between pre and post test.  Study authors also found that if a youth’s personal horsemanship attributes were high, it could be predicted that the youth’s self-esteem level would also be high. There is a need for further research in this area.


The AYHC Quarterly Newsletter is always looking for great pictures of kids connecting though horses. If you have a photograph you’d like to share please send it to 1104 Gemini Circle, Portales, NM 88130, or email to along with the AYHC release form.

 Games and Resources

Take Me Riding- an all breeds "edutainment experience" for children ages 5 to 9
- The online solution to all your animal-related record-keeping needs
My Horse University Equine Farm Safety Training - Learn how to be SAFE at the barn with this free online safety course 
eXtension HorseQuest – Discover the answer to your horse questions
University of Kentucky's Agripedia  – Learn more about agriculture, including horses
Equine Science 4 Kids - Play Rutgers Equine Science Center's new game Exercising Horsepower

Some of these resources may require an additional fee for portions of their site or educational product
Horse Lover's Math - Understanding math through horses

 Submit your own!

If you have a good resource that you feel should be shared with other members of AYHC please submit it to Executive Director Danette McGuire at 

Affiliated Links

The following educational institutions, associations and corporations partnered with AYHC to better serve the equine industry and its youth.

Alaska 4-H
Alberta 4-H Equine Advisory Committee
American Horse Council
American Association of Equine Practioners
American Morgan Horse Association
American Paint Horse Association
American Quarter Horse Association
American Saddlebred Horse Association
American Vaulting Association
Animal Welfare Council
Appaloosa Youth Association
Arabian Horse Association
Blaze Magazine
Braid Pal
Chariot Riders
Central Florida Community College
Certified Horsemanship Association
Circle C Equestrian Center
Colorado Horse Development Authority
Cornell University
Double L Stables

eXtension Horse Quest
Florida 4-H Foundation
Georgetown College
Girl Scouts of Detroit - Innisfree Equestrian Center
Harness Horse Youth Foundation
Horsemen's Council of Illinois
Horse of the America's Registry
Idaho Youth Horse Council
International Buckskin Horse Association
Junior Master Horseman
Kentucky Thoroughbred Association
Michigan State University
Minnesota 4-H Horse Association
National High School Rodeo Association
National Reining Horse Association
National Western Stock Show
New Jersey Horse Council
North American Equine Ranching Info Council (NAERIC)
North Carolina State University
Paso Fino Horse Association
Penn State University
Pony of America's Club
Purdue University
Purina Mills
Rutgers University
Tarleton State University
Tennessee Walking Horse Association
Tennessee 4-H Foundation
United States Pony Club
United States Equestrian Federation
United States Trotting Association
University of Florida - 4-H Foundation
University of Louisville
University of Maryland
University of Nebraska at Lincoln
Virginia Horse Council
Virginia Tech University

Walking Horse Owners Association
Western Horseman
Wisconsin 4-H Horse Association
Wisconsin State Horse Council
Youth Beats Magazine



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