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Dressage

Find out how to compete in dressage with your American Quarter Horse, plus earn AQHA points, awards and Incentive Fund money.

AQHA began recognizing dressage competition in 2010. AQHA dressage competitors earn Incentive Fund payout for Level 1 and above, year-end awards and AQHA points in Category X. 

Dressage emphasizes longevity by systematically developing horse and rider together to create a harmonious team. It encourages riders to take their time and develop correct horsemanship skills as they progress through each level of training. See Frequently Asked Questions

Interesting Facts About Dressage

AQHA dressage (Credit: courtesy of Robin DeGraff)
  • Dressage is similar to riding a long pattern, called a “test”
  • Riders can have a reader call the test in competition through fourth level
  • Ride times are posted in advance for show times
  • Exhibitors compete against a national standard for a score
  • Each maneuver offers a description of what is being judged
  • Judges score and offer comments for each test element
  • Exhibitors take a copy of their test results home  

The term “dressage” means “training.” As a discipline, dressage develops the horse through systematic and progressive training aids that are used by riders of all backgrounds – from barrel racing to reining and horsemanship.  

Tests are prescribed series of movements that sequentially follow a horse’s training level. Tests are the means by which the horses and riders are judged in dressage competition. Riders choose the level and test they present and are able to move back and forth from one level and test as they choose. 

Eligibility Requirements

Riders must comply with AQHA, United States Equestrian Federation and United States Dressage Federation requirements for proper registration and licensing.

  • Horses must be registered with AQHA
  • Exhibitors must be members of AQHA and horses must hold an AQHA dressage competition license       
  • Must hold current USEF and USDF memberships
  • Horses must a lifetime horse registration with USDF 

Dressage Competition License | Register a Horse | Join AQHA

Finding a Show in Your Area

AQHA dressage (Credit: courtesy of Robin DeGraff)Dressage may be offered at an AQHA show or special event and must be judged by a licensed USEF/USDF judge.

  • Available as special event at GMO’s or current USEF event
  • Available at AQHA shows
  • See www.aqha.com/showschedule to find a show

Awards and Points

AQHA points earned in dressage count towards Register of Merits, Superiors and other AQHA awards. Certificates are awarded to American Quarter Horses qualifying in regional and national shows each year. To find out what awards your horse can earn, visit www.aqha.com/awards

  • Points based on percentage scoring
  • Number of horses in a class does not determine points earned
  • Points accumulate toward AQHA records and awards
  • Incentive Fund eligible for Level One and above

Dressage High-Point Champions

Annually, AQHA recognizes the top point earners in each division of every AQHA-approved event, and the year-end high-point award winners are honored in the April issue of The American Quarter Horse Journal

More About AQHA Dressage

Watch The American Quarter Horse Journal for continued articles about dressage and how it can be used with your current program. Look for continued updates on the addition of western dressage in AQHA. And don’t forget to ask your local show management to host an event in your area and join other dressage enthusiasts in competition.