The Rundown: Congress Time

The All American Quarter Horse Congress in Columbus, Ohio, is more than just the largest single breed open show – it’s a whole lot of fun.

By Tara Christiansen
The American Quarter Horse Journal
September 23, 2011

Laura Schoeller won the freestyle reining at the 2010 All American Quarter Horse Congress

Laura Schoeller mimics a jockey's winning stance as she receives a standing ovation for her freestyle reining routine at the 2010 All American Quarter Horse Congress on Pickup Chic. (Journal photo).

It’s almost that time of the year again: Congress time. The All American Quarter Horse Congress in Columbus, Ohio, is right around the corner – October 7-30 to be exact.

Before Congress gets here, there are some things that you should know. To help you out, The American Quarter Horse Journal has compiled a quick guide:

  • Masters Classes: The Congress Masters program began with one class – western pleasure – but quickly expanded to include hunter under saddle, weanling halter fillies and weanling halter colts/geldings. Slot owners purchase their class slot for life, but each year they must pay nomination and sustaining fees to maintain ownership of their slot. Current slot owners may lease their slot if they do not have a horse to show for the current year or, if they choose to, they may sell the slot.
  • Freestyle Reining: The freestyle reining competition is one of the big spectator draws at Congress. Riders choreograph their own reining pattern and set the performance to music. More often than not, riders and their horses are dressed in costume. Because the class is so popular, tickets must be purchased prior to the event for $25 per seat. 
  • Cuttin’ at Congress: Three cutting events will run back to back at Congress: the Mercuria-National Cutting Horse Association World Series of Cutting, the Congress Cutting Shoot-Out and the Cinch Bridleless Cutting. The top three high-scoring horses that do not make the finals of the Mercuria-NCHA World Series of Cutting in both the open and non-pro divisions will be eligible to compete in the Cinch Bridleless Cutting.
  • At the Races: If you’d like a change of pace (to a much faster one), Beulah Park in Grove City, Ohio, is a short 12 miles from the Ohio Expo Center. At Beulah Park, you’ll find racing trials for the Congress Futurity, Derby and Maturity races, with the finals held on October 29. Transportation will be provided from the Ohio Expo Center to Beulah Park and vice versa. All you need for free admission to the track is your AQHA membership card.
  • Get Educated: Congress boasts a full schedule of lectures and demonstrations. The lecture series includes such topics as “How to Improve Your Cutting Score,” “Evaluating Hay Quality” and “Dress for Success: Tips for Coordinating Perfect Show Ring Attire.” Visit the Congress website for the full list and schedule of lectures and demonstrations.
  • And … the Shopping: Seven acres of shopping especially for equine enthusiasts? And that’s just the indoor shopping? Congress offers more than 250 commercial exhibits in its trade show, from show clothing to tack to towing vehicles and trailers to equine art, jewelry and furniture. Make sure you check out the AQHA booth while you’re there, too.