Show Levels Approved by AQHA Executive Committee

In late July, the American Quarter Horse Association Executive Committee approved the AQHA competition leveling plan, which was developed and recommended by the ...


In late July, the American Quarter Horse Association Executive Committee approved the AQHA competition leveling plan, which was developed and recommended by the AQHA Blue-Ribbon Task Force that has met numerous times since September 2010 to address AQHA’s show structure. Full implementation of the plan will take place in 2013.

Leveling program changes include more and different levels, including new Rookie and Intermediate showing levels; more and different awards; and two novice championship shows.

Leveling involves these new levels:

— Rookie (based on the exhibitor and horse’s experience/points combined and designed to be the true entry into AQHA competition)

— Novice (based on the exhibitor’s experience)

— Green (based on the horse’s experience)

— Intermediate (based on the exhibitor’s experience)

— Progressive (based on the horse’s experience)

— Open

“It’s exciting, and what I really love is that it’s definitive,” said AQHA Executive Director of Shows Patti Carter-Pratt. “Every sport has a handicapping system, and this is AQHA’s handicapping system.”

This year, AQHA tested Rookie classes at 10 AQHA-approved shows to much success. In 2012, the Rookie horse and exhibitor level will officially be implemented, and Rookie classes within shows will be another option for show organizers to consider when planning their 2012 schedules. Rookie classes can be offered in open, amateur and youth.

Two other new levels are based just on the rider or just on the horse. The Intermediate level will be tabulated on exhibitor points, while the Progressive level will be based on a horse’s points. And the Intermediate and Progressive points will count toward AQHA world show qualification, year-end high-point awards and the AQHA Incentive Fund. These levels will be implemented in 2013.

Throughout 2012, AQHA will be testing the leveling program by running scenarios on shows that have been held and in some instances, testing both exhibitor and horse leveling at various shows. Two such leveling test-pilot shows are the Prairie Classic in February in Oklahoma City and the Silver Dollar Circuit in March in Las Vegas.

Testing allows the show department to make any needed modifications before full implementation. The testing period was the primary reason AQHA’s Executive Committee opted for the phased-in approach rather than full introduction in 2012. As with any new program, there will be modifications that are inevitable and Carter-Pratt said they want to identify as many of those before the entire leveling program goes live.

“The goal is to have six or seven test-pilot leveling shows,” Carter-Pratt added. “These shows will be carefully analyzed to make sure the system works the way it’s intended and for show managers to have the chance to become familiar with the new formats.”

The overall goal of the new show leveling program is to get more new people involved in showing their American Quarter Horses and drive the showing market in a strong direction. If you have questions about the show leveling program, contact the AQHA competition department at (806) 376-4811.

AQHA is scheduling show manager workshops throughout the fall and into 2012. A show management workshop was held in Amarillo, Texas, on September 1. Another workshop is slated for October 15 in Columbus, Ohio, in conjunction with the All American Quarter Horse Congress. A third workshop will take place in Dallas in mid-December. Dates for 2012 workshops will be announced this fall. To sign up for one of the workshops, visit