The 25th European Championship of American Quarter Horses kicked off last week in Kreuth, Germany, with some 500 horse-and-rider teams competing for the chance to earn a European champion title.
Hosted by the Federation of European Quarter Horse Associations, the nine-day event brings together competitors and horses from more than 15 countries to compete for a shot at one of the 60 coveted titles. New for 2014 was the chance for Novice amateur and Novice youth riders to compete for European champion and circuit champion titles.
“The European Championship demonstrates the worldwide love people have for this great breed,” said AQHA President Johnny Trotter. “The quality of competition in Europe rivals that of anywhere else. The Europeans continue to improve the quality of their horses, and the riders just keep getting better and better. It really shows in the level of competition at the European Championship.”
On the opening night of competition, a welcome reception was held for participants. Exhibitors were encouraged to bring food and beverages from their home countries to share with fellow competitors. Everything from chocolates to wine and Swiss cheese to Italian salami and pepperoni graced the tables of the East Bavarian Hall at the Gut Matheshof facility where exhibitors spent time getting to know one another.
The European Championship comprise two preliminary go-rounds where, depending on the number of entries in those go-rounds, as many as 15 horses and riders can make it to the finals and the chance to be crowned a European champion. So far, champions have been crowned in halter, working cow horse and cutting. Finals for all other classes begin August 15.
Judging the event this year are AQHA judges Sylvia Katschker of Austria; Pierre Ouellet of Italy; Lyle Jackson of Canada; and U.S. judges Mario Boisjoli of Washington, Tracy Willis of Missouri and Chris Thompson of South Carolina.
The European Championship is Europe’s premier American Quarter Horse event and one of Europe’s major shows. Competition wraps up August 17.
To keep up with all the action at the European Championship, including watching via live Web feed, go towww.ecqh.org.