Learn more about the AQHA open division.

George C Merada and John WoldIf you have a current AQHA or AQHYA membership, you are eligible to show your American Quarter Horse in open competition. Open competition is usually for the most experienced exhibitors, trainers and professional horsemen but many amateur and youth members can be tough competitors as well.

Open classes can also be divided according to the age of the horse.

  • 2-year-olds
  • Junior horses (5 years of age and under)
  • Senior horses (6 years of age and older)

How It Works

Within the open division are levels: Rookie, Level 1, Level 2 and Level 3. These are based on the horse's achievements.

For open division halter and cattle events, classes are leveled by the exhibitor's record. Those levels are: Rookie, Level 1, Level 2 and Level 3.

To learn more about these levels, determine your specific level and find out how the levels group horses and riders with similar skill and experience levels for competition, visit www.aqha.com/leveling.


If you are a paid professional and you are ready for a higher level of competition, then the AQHA open division is for you!

Through youth and amateur competition, you have the opportunity to learn new skills and grow at your own pace in new events. You can even try a new event as an open limited rider and still show in youth or amateur if you have earned enough money to graduate out of a Level 1 class!

As an amateur competitor, you must meet ownership requirements if you plan to compete in an open class. If you are a youth competitor, you can show another person’s horse in the open division but showing in this division could jeopardize your future amateur status. Check the AQHA Official Handbook of Rules and Regulations for complete ownership regulations.