The purpose of Road to the Horse is to identify the superior colt starter who accumulates the highest score across three days during the competition. Judging focuses on the competitors and the effectiveness of their horsemanship methods as they communicate, educate and build a partnership with their colt. These scoring methods and guidelines keep the long-term respect of the horse at the forefront of our mission, inspiring horse owners to reach a higher level of horsemanship and develop unity with a horse based on trust, not fear. The first priority is always the horse.

Our system works on a basis of 0 to 5 points, which increase in half-point increments. With the 0 to 5 scoring scale, judges will mark a competitor on individual scoring elements throughout the rounds based on 0 being the lowest level of difficulty and 5 being the highest. Those scores for each individual scoring element will then be tallied and totaled at the end of each round of competition. At the end of competition, the competitor with the highest composite score will be crowned the champion.

In Round 1, competitors will be judged on 20 categories: catching and haltering, saddling preparation, saddling, introduction of rider, obstacle preparation, groundwork, general interaction, timing-reward and release, forward motion, willingness to guide/steer, progression of the colt’s softness-yields to pressure, clarity of message, overall horsemanship — reading of the colt, clinician’s conduct/demeanor, clinician’s confidence and understanding, clinician’s ability to build confidence in the colt, clinician’s ability to adjust to the colt’s needs, clinicians ability to build a solid foundation, appropriate use of pen wrangler, and the colt’s demeanor at the end of the session.

When competitors move to Round 2, all the same categories will be judged as they were in Round 1, with one replacement: obstacle preparation is replaced with use of obstacles.

The Final Round — which is comprised of four components: saddling pen, rail work, obstacle course and overall riding — also received updated scoring components broken down into more concise categories reflective of the process.


Event Overview – Max Total Score 1,260 Points:






Round One

Round Two Round Three – The Finals
Saddling Pen Rail Work Obstacles

Overall Riding

Round Pen

Round Pen Round Pen Rail Work Obstacles & Mystery Obstacle Overall Riding, Bonus Obstacle, Freestyle
Max Score: 300 Max Score: 300 Max Score: 150 Max Score: 180 Max Score: 180

Max Score: 150

Total Time:
3 HR

Total Time:
1 HR 45 MIN
Total Time:
20 MIN
Total Time:

35 MIN

Work Time:
2 HR 30 MIN(MIN 60 minutes with each colt)
Work Time:
1 HR 30 MIN
Work Time:
20 MIN

Work Time:
35 MIN

30 min
Mandatory Rest

15 min
Mandatory Rest
No Mandatory Rest Time: Components Ran Consecutively
Tack and 2 Choice Items Permitted Tack and 2 Choice Items Permitted

Tack Only. No Choice Items Permitted.

Freestyle props may be brought into arena during Freestyle portion by Pen Wrangler.

Pen Wrangler Assist Time: 20 MIN

Pen Wrangler Assist Time: 10 MIN No Pen Wrangler Permitted
Saddle Horse Permitted with no time restriction. Saddle Horse Permitted with no time restriction No Saddle Horse Permitted
No Outside Riding Permitted Outside Riding Area available. May use up to (2) 10 MIN intervals No Penalty for early exit from Round Pen

4 Competitors compete in individual Round Pens. 2 Colts per Competitor.

4 Competitors compete in individual Round Pens. 1 Colt per Competitor.

Competing Individually with 1 Colt. Lowest Score goes first.