The Equestrians with Disabilities AQHA-approved competition is open to people with physical or cognitive disabilities and love competing with the American Quarter Horse. AQHA teams with Alliance Partner Professional Association of Therapeutic Horsemanship International to provide these opportunities.
To compete in AQHA-approved Equestrians with Disabilities competitions, three forms must first be completed. The three forms – AQHA membership, special diagnosis and special adaptive equipment – have been packaged for your convenience.
Download the AQHA membership application for Equestrians with Disabilities.
AQHA and AQHYA members have a type of competition that offers people with certain cognitive and physical challenges the thrill of showing an American Quarter Horse. It provides an arena for everyone to enjoy the rewards of hard work, determination and perseverance. This program allows you to show in eight classes and earn points for year-end, high-point awards, along with the satisfaction of a job well done.
The eight classes are showmanship at halter, walk and trot hunt seat equitation on the flat, walk trot and canter hunt seat equitation, walk and jog western horsemanship, walk jog and lope western horsemanship, walk and jog trail horse, advanced showmanship and advanced trail. Each entry must have a handler to help with the safety of the rider. Judging criteria consists of rider's balance, rider's seat, use of aids, ability to follow directions, ring etiquette, safety and sportsmanlike conduct.
Visit www.aqha.com/showschedule to find upcoming AQHA-approved Equestrians with Disabilities competitions.
The Equestrians with Disabilities competition is the result of several years of letters, calls, meetings and task forces to develop a program to meet the needs of competitors. Representatives from PATH, Special Olympics and therapeutic riding centers, along with several individuals, provided input and guidance to create the classes, rules and guidelines. This competition is just like any other AQHA show event, with exhibitors earning awards and recognition, all while enjoying their American Quarter Horse.
Equipment should conform to the needs of the competitor and be suitable for the horse.
AQHA’s online show calendar is a great resource to find upcoming AQHA shows. Here’s how to use it:
This English class is designed for exhibitors to work in groups of ten or less. Riders will compete on the rail at a walk, trot and canter both ways of the ring, line up and complete an individual workout. Riders will remain in the ring throughout the individual workouts. Horses will be shown at three gates - walk, trot and canter. Walk forward from lineup to being at marker one (A). Walk to marker two (B). Stop. Turn 90 degrees left. Canter right lead to marker three (C). Drop to posting trot right diagonal to marker four (D). At (D), canter left lead to (C). At (C), drop to a sitting trot. Trot past (B). Stop. Turn 270 degrees to the left on the haunches. Extend trot to (D), left diagonal. Stop. Back four steps. Walk and return along rail to place in lineup. Judges are not permitted to alter the mandatory workout in any manner.
Markers and Handlers
Markers must be used and may be numbered. Handlers must stand with their riders in the lineup. Handler may only help at judge’s or ring steward’s direction. People must not be used as markers no matter if they are safety standby spotters. A competitor with a hearing impairment may have an assistant who communicates via sign language or cue cards to the competitor so they may understand the judge’s directives. This assistant will be outside of the ring and their position must be known to the judge and ring steward.
All exhibitors must work in groups of eight or less. Riders compete on the rail at a walk and jog both ways of the ring, line up and complete an individual workout. Riders will remain in the ring throughout the individual workouts. Horses will be shown at two gaits - walk and jog. Exhibitors will be asked to walk from place in line around first marker to second marker, then take up a jog and continue around third marker back to second marker. Finally, riders will be asked to stop and back four steps, then walk back and line up. Judges are not permitted to alter the mandatory workout in any manner.
Exhibitors are to be scored from 0-20 in 1/2 point increments. Ten points should be allocated toward overall appearance of exhibitor and the horse, and 10 points allocated toward performance of the pattern.
See more AQHA Partner benefits
Please use our contact form.
Call Customer Service
American Quarter Horse Association
1600 Quarter Horse Drive
Amarillo, TX 79104