Level 1 (formerly Novice)

Meet the revamped AQHA Level 1, formerly known as Novice.

2012 AQHA Region Ten Championship by Christine HamiltonLevel 1 allows even the experienced AQHA member try something new to develop his or her horsemanship and exhibitor skills.

Level 1 is designed for beginning to minimally accomplished exhibitors under the new AQHA leveling program. Visit www.aqha.com/leveling to learn more about the leveling program and other levels.


Level 1 (formerly known as Novice) is available to you in youth and amateur competition, plus open for halter and cattle-event exhibitors.

For a full list of Level 1 eligibility requirements, refer to Rule SHW245 in the 2014 AQHA Official Handbook of Rules and Regulations.

Eligibility in a Level 1 class is determined by:

1). Points earned in the past three years, and
2). Lifetime awards won with either AQHA or any equine organization or association with a membership of more than 7,500. (Check here to see AQHA's recognized equine organization or association membership numbers.)

If an exhibitor has not won any of the achievements listed in Rule SHW245.3 but has pointed out of Level 1 (Novice), the exhibitor can only return to Level 1 in that particular class if the exhibitor has not earned any points in that class for 10 consecutive years, and the exhibitor must still meet the eligibility requirements per Rule SHW245.3 at that time.

When checking your Level 1 eligibility, if you find that you are ineligible due to having owned a horse that earned an Open superior or placed at the AQHA World Championship Show, and you are not the point earner nor were you the AQHA World Show exhibitor, please contact AQHA regarding your Level 1 eligibility.

Find out if you are eligible for Level 1. 

2014 Changes to Novice

Several changes have been made to the Novice level, and those changes will become effective January 1, 2014.

Among the changes, Novice has been renamed Level 1. To view the changes regarding Level 1 eligiblity for 2014, visit www.aqha.com/leveling.


To compete in a Level 1 class, you must have a current Level 1 application on file with AQHA; applications must be completed on the annual basis. The great part is that you can complete the Level 1 application at any time, even at the show!

Once you have pointed out of Level 1, based on all Level 1 points you have earned in that particular class in the past three years, as well as lifetime awards and accomplishments, you may move on to Levels 2 and 3 of competition. And don’t forget: Level 1 competitors have the option to show up a level, or two, at any time.

Download the Level 1 application.

Showing a Leased Horse

Level 1 competitors may compete with a horse that he or she does not own.

For example, Level 1 allows you to try out a horse you are thinking about buying. AQHA rules allow a Level 1 competitor to show a horse in a Level 1 class with the owner and his or her immediate family still retaining the ability to show the horse in any class other than the same class as the Level 1 exhibitor.

If the Level 1 exhibitor is competing with a horse that is owned by a non-family member at any of the top-10 AQHA circuit shows that allow permits, an AQHA show lease must be on file. The top-10 shows/circuits are determined by the total number of entries the previous year and can change from year to year.

Top-10 shows/circuits that will require a permit for Novice competition in 2015:
Arizona Sun Country Circuit, Scottsdale, Arizona
Oklahoma AQHA Redbud Spectacular, Oklahoma City, Oklahoma
Oregon QHA Summer Classic, Central Point, Oregon
All American Quarter Horse Congress, Columbus, Ohio
The Big A Circuit, Conyers, Georgia
Iowa Show Circuit, Des Moines, Iowa (Ankeny QHS, Warren County QHA, Sting Ray QHS, Big ‘D’ QHS, L & E Performance Horses and New Image Show)
Dixie Nationals, Jackson, Mississippi
Silver Dollar Circuit, Las Vegas, Nevada
ESQHA Fall Show, Syracuse, New York
B W H A QHS, Sunbury, Ohio

The All American Quarter Horse Congress is the largest individual show in terms of entries but does not allow permits.