Growing entries cause rare Congress schedule change

For the first time in its history, the All American Quarter Horse Congress has had schedule changes after the schedule has been published.For the first time in its history, the All American Quarter Horse Congress has had schedule changes after the schedule has been published.

Story originally posted by Horsecity.com Staff

For the first time in its history, the All American Quarter Horse Congress has had schedule changes after the schedule has been published.

An explosion in entries in some of the novice youth events at the 2004 Congress caused the Novice Youth Showmanship and Novice Youth Horsemanship classes to be moved to different arenas and different times in order to avoid having the show run until the wee hours of the morning. In addition, the Novice Youth Western Riding class will be held in a new location on Saturday to lessen conflicts with the 13 & Under and 14-18 AQHA Western Riding in other arenas. Show management is hoping for good weather to allow the class to be held in an outside arena. Their decision will be announced later. None of the affected classes changed dates.

"We knew that our novice youth events would see an increase this year, but we just could not predict how big," says Denny Hales, Congress show manager. "There are two main reasons for the increase. First, AQHA revised its eligibility for novice events into various categories, so more people were eligible for various novice classes than in the past. Second, the Congress is recognizing awards for a 13 & Under youth category and a 14-18 category in all novice youth classes for the first time this year. Although age divisions for novice youth events are not recognized by AQHA, the concept has been well received, as you can see by the number of entries."

Novice youth showmanship was the class with the largest number of entries at the 2005 Congress, with 328 youth showing in 17 splits of approximately 20 exhibitors. The show schedule estimated the class would take approximately ten hours to complete, but a short pattern, close direction by the show staff and the cooperation of the exhibitors helped the splits to be completed in a little more than eight hours total.

Each Congress novice youth class has been divided into splits with 13 & Under youth going first, then splits are held for 14-18 youth. For the Novice Showmanship class, one finals was held from which 13 & Under, 14-18 and the AQHA (all-age) Novice Youth results were pinned. The Novice Youth Showmanship finals was held at 4:00 p.m. to allow exhibitors who were competing in the Novice Youth Horsemanship to ride and complete their splits and finals between 10:30 a.m. and 3:30 p.m., and then return if called back to the Novice Youth Showmanship finals. Judges were instructed to ignore sweat marks on the Showmanship horses.

"The exhibitors were extremely cooperative and ready to go when called. They did their part to help us accommodate everyone," said Bob Geesaman, Congress assistant show manager.

The most dramatic increase in entries came in Novice Youth Western Riding, which went from 48 exhibitors in 2004 to 175 youth in 2005. Novice Youth Trail also had a similar increase from 86 entries to 124 youth in 2005. With such an increase in the number of exhibitors doing individual work patterns, the estimated time to complete the classes in the order published would have taken the end of the day's classes to 4:00 a.m., prompting the move to a new location.

"The two classes with the largest increases really reflect AQHA's change in novice eligibility," said Hales. "The majority of novice youth would have reached their maximum novice points in the western pleasure/hunter under saddle category, and that makes the trail and western riding more attractive."

Hales noted that scheduling Congress youth classes is to say the least, challenging. "We basically have five or six days to fit in all of the youth classes to our show schedule, while trying to avoid conflicts and trying to keep the classes as close as possible to the weekend so that the youth do not miss very much school. With our other events, we have about ten to 14 days to fit them into the schedule. No matter how we do it, there will be a conflict."

Nine additional AQHA judges were contracted, basically at the last minute, to judge all of the novice events at this year's Congress.

For more information: http://www.oqha.com

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