angle-left 2019 AQHA Level 1 West Begins

2019 AQHA Level 1 West Begins

Ride the Pattern clinics open a week of fun and competition.

text size

The AQHA West Level 1 Championships kick off this week at the South Point Arena & Equestrian Center in Las Vegas, Nevada. 

The event, which was rescheduled from this spring, sees competition open on Wednesday, September 25, and closes on Sunday, September 29. There will be 1,500 entries at the event. It is a celebration and pinnacle event for Level 1, Rookie and walk-trot competitors around the world.

Part of the championship experience includes free Nutrena Ride the Pattern clinics, hosted by AQHA Professional Horsemen. Two of them occurred on Tuesday, September 24, including hunt seat equitation and ranch riding.

Other Ride the Pattern clinics include showmanship on Thursday, and horsemanship and trail on Friday.

There will be a daily rider’s meeting at 7 a.m., and exhibitors are strongly encouraged to attend. Classes will start on Wednesday at 8 a.m., with ranch riding kicking it off and over fence classes starting at 9 a.m.

The hunt seat equitation clinic was hosted by Andrea Kail and ridden by Danette Watson aboard Pass The Black Gold. 

The ranch riding clinic was hosted by Mark Guynn aboard Shine On Blue Spark. 

“We want you to see these patterns, get tips from our clinicians and we want everyone to have a really great ride,” said Karen McCuistion, the AQHA manager of Professional Horsemen, as she introduced the event. “These clinics are presented by volunteer Professional Horsemen, and are fundraisers for the Professional Horsemen Crisis Fund.”

This fund provides financial aid to Professional Horsemen in serious trouble, such as injury or other disasters. Spectators generously donated to the fund during the clinic.  

Here are some tips from the clinicians:

•    Use the opportunity the Level 1 presents: There are a number of AQHA Professional Horsemen attending the show. Don’t be afraid to approach one and ask them a question – if they have a moment, they are happy to help Level 1 riders. 

•    For the walk/trot youth and amateur hunt seat equitation riders, the pattern calls for walking approximately 15 feet. This is about two horse lengths.

•    In the rookie youth and amateur, when you change leads through the walk, plan for approximately 12 footfalls of walk

•    Don’t cut your corners – be sure to stay on the centerline

•    When you halt and back, step back approximately six steps

•    In the ranch riding classes, the judges will be sitting at tables in the stands. Ensure that your pattern is placed such that they don’t have to stand or lean over to see you – make sure your performance is not blocked by the arena wall. 

•    Know the strengths of your horse, and emphasize them a little. Especially in the ranch riding, there are very few markers, so you can show off those things your horse does very well. The judges love to see a good horse perform – so make sure to let them see it. 

•    In the ranch riding pattern, judges appreciate promptness through the pattern. Correctness is important, but the more flow in the pattern, the better. Remember that ranch riding should imitate the actual work performed on the ranch, and there is not a lot of stopping and setting up between maneuvers on the ranch. 

•    When performing the extended trot or extended lope, you can choose a few different seats (sitting, standing or posting the trot) – the judge doesn’t care which one you do, so just choose whichever one is best for you and your horse. 
AQHA News and information is a service of the American Quarter Horse Association. For more news and information, follow @AQHAnews on Twitter and visit