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AQHA Competition Rules

Brush up on the AQHA competition rules that go into effect January 1.

American Quarter Horse Association
December 13, 2013

2013 AQHA Region Seven Championship

If you've participated in an AQHA show within the past two years, you will automatically receive a printed copy of the 2014 AQHA Official Handbook of Rules and Regulations in the mail. (Journal photo)

With the new show season right around the corner, AQHA competitors need to be aware of changes coming to the show pen.

Among the rule changes you will find in the 2014 AQHA Official Handbook of Rules and Regulations are:

  • Leveling Program: The levels within the AQHA leveling program have been renamed – Rookie, Level 1, Level 2 and Level 3. The eligibility rules governing those levels have also been modified. Visit www.aqha.com/leveling to learn more about the changes.
  • Introductory Shows: An exhibitor who has placed in the top 10 in a class at an AQHA world championship show in the past five years is not eligible to compete at an introductory show in that particular class, per modified Rule SHW108.10.8.
  • Hard Hats: All exhibitors in English classes at the 2014 Built Ford Tough AQHYA World Championship Show will be required to compete in an American Society for Testing and Materials/Safety Equipment Institute-approved hard hat with harness. Starting in 2015, youth exhibitors will be required to wear an ASTM/SEI-approved hard hat with harness when competing at any AQHA-approved show in an English class, including flat and over-fences classes. Continue reading to learn more about the hard-hat rule change.
  • Handy Hunter: Show management will have the option to offer either a traditional working hunter course or a handy-hunter course in the junior, senior, amateur and youth divisions. 
  • Dressage: Dressage may be offered at an AQHA show or special event and must be judged by a licensed United States Equestrian Federation/United States Dressage Federation judge. 
  • Hunter Under Saddle: The hand gallop will be a required gait for finalists in hunter under saddle at AQHA world championship shows. 
  • Ranch Horse Pleasure: Show management will now be able to offer junior and senior ranch horse pleasure for the open division, as well as Level 1 (formerly Novice) for youth and amateur. The 2014 AQHA Handbook will clarify that posting at the extended trot and/or holding the saddle horn will be acceptable riding techniques in ranch horse pleasure, and the handbook will also clarify the gaits called for in ranch horse pleasure, with a specific emphasis on what judges are looking for in each gait. New ranch horse pleasure patterns will be added in 2014, as well. Read more about the 2014 ranch horse pleasure rule changes. 
  • Versatility Ranch Horse: Several clarifications regarding Versatility Ranch Horse competition will be included in the 2014 rulebook – posting at the extended trot and/or holding the saddle horn will be acceptable riding techniques; a new working ranch horse pattern will be added; in all working ranch horse Level 1 classes, exhibitors may box the cow on the end of the arena for 50 seconds; and a hot-quit in ranch cutting will be considered in the run content.

Request the 2014 AQHA Handbook:

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