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Colt Challenge FAQ

Updated: Sep 29, 2022

We're ready to start applications for the 2023 Colt Challenge. Check out answers to some common questions below. The application link will be live October 3, 2022 and open until October 28, 2022.

Image from Senior Halter class at the 2021 Colt Challenge.

What is the Devil's Garden Colt Challenge?

California 4-H and FFA youth have the opportunity to take home and train a Devil’s Garden Wild Horse. This year, weanlings and yearlings will be available. All horses were gathered in September and October 2022 and there is a limited number of horses available. Youth trainers are given a 6 month training period with additionally check in challenges, and then culminates in a live horse show where participants can show their horses progress through various show classes. Although the program is called the “colt” challenge, mares and geldings are available.

What are the Devil’s Garden Wild Horses?

The Devil’s Garden wild horses live on a high volcanic plateau in Modoc County in northeastern California. Today’s population is descended from the working horses of local farms and ranches, and cavalry mounts from the area. However, their current population is 5-10 times the appropriate management level of 206-402 horses. As with any other overpopulated species, this abundance of horses has led to a negative impact on the ecosystem through riparian habitat damage, annual grass conversion, and jeopardizes the rural economy. The U.S. Forest Service has gathered horses starting in 2016 to provide wild horses for adoption and sale to the general public. For more information check out the U.S Forest Service page on the Devil's Garden at .

When is the Colt Challenge?

The Colt Challenge will be held in June 2023, exact date is still to be determined. Below is a general timeline of events although subject to change as we work with our partners.

10/3 Applications Open

10/28 Applications Close

11/14 Notification and Horse Lottery Opens

11/25 Horse Lottery Closes

12/14-1/8 Horse Pick-Up

Spring Progress Update

6/17* 2023 Colt Challenge

Where will the Colt Challenge be held?

The Colt Challenge horse pick up will be held at the Double Devil Wild Horse Corrals located outside of Alturas, CA. The Colt Challenge horse show will be held at the Alturas Livestock Complex in Alturas, CA.

How much is the Colt Challenge?

There is a $25 application fee for enrollment in the program. If you are not chosen, the fee will be refunded. There is no additional fee for the competition. Youth are responsible for all other costs associated with transportation, owning, and training their horses.

Who can participate in the Colt Challenge?

Any California youth enrolled in 4-H or FFA. You must be between 9 - 19 years of age. If enrolled in 4-H, you must also be enrolled in a horse project. To find your local 4-H club check out the 4-H website at

What information is needed to apply?

Basic contact information such as name, address, phone number, another other questions on 4-H and FFA Club/County, available facilities and horse experience, and check or credit card information for payment.

What are the progress updates?

The progress update includes different challenges and opportunities for participants to show off the progress their horse has made so far. Youth are invited to participate in local shows to prepare for the colt challenge and have “meet ups” with other participants. The Video Challenge is a voluntary opportunity which takes place about four months after picking up your horse and highlights the progress the horse has made in a creative video format. Check out last year's Video Challenge winning video here:

What classes are at the Challenge?

At the Colt Challenge in June, participants will be divided into Senior, Intermediate or Junior and compete in a Showmanship, Halter, and Obstacle Course classes. Prior to competing, participants will be given a more detail of what is to be expected in each class.

Brief overview of what to expect from each class:

Halter - Looks at participants ability to lead horse through a variety of tasks in order to evaluate their health, grooming, and behavior. Mainly focusing on tangible horse skills such as being able to pick up feet, halter lead ease, and reaction to new environments.

Showmanship - Looks more at how well the trainer is able to show and set up their horse, while recalling basic general horse care and knowledge.

Obstacle Course - Focuses on desensitization, basic ground skills, and horse maintenance including picking up feet and loading into a trailer. Horses may have to weave around barrels, maneuver over ground poles and a tarp, and walk through colorful hanging pool noodles.

Participant leading their colt through pool noodle obstacle at 2021 Colt Challenge

What kind of prizes are available to win at the Colt Challenge?

There is a wide variety of prizes available to win from cash, grooming supplies, horse feed, buckles, ribbons and more! The 2022 Colt Challenge had over $3,000 in cash and prizes to award.

How does the lottery work/can I pick my horse?

Youth are asked to rank their top ten favorite weanling horses. Then youth are randomly assigned a number and horses are selected for them based on their top ten ranking.

Can I pick up more than one horse?

Devil’s Garden weanlings are reserved for the youth program but after all the youth have been assigned their horses, additional weanlings will be available through the Modoc National Forest adoption or sales program. Additional older horses are also always available for adoption or sale.

How does ownership work?

After the lottery, youth are given a time period to pick up their horses. After pick-up, youth are contacted to check on progress and if everything is going well, youth will receive title in the mail for their horse.

What kind of health check is provided?

All weanlings are given health checks at the Double Devil Wild Horse Corral which includes vaccinations and deworming. Additional information can be found by contacting the Double Devil Corrals at 530-233-8738 or

Who can I contact for more information?

You can contact the Modoc County Farm Advisor at (530) 233 – 6400 or email Also check the Devil’s Garden Research and Education Facebook page for updates!


Thank you to our partner organization the Modoc National Forest, UCCE, and all the judges, volunteers, and participants that make the Colt Challenge possible!

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