angle-left AQHA World Show History

AQHA World Show History

Decades of dedication have carried the AQHA and AQHYA world championship shows to their present success.
text size

By Kaycie Timm for America’s Horse Magazine

Receiving a coveted globe under the bright lights of the Jim Norick Arena in Oklahoma City marks the ultimate achievement for an American Quarter Horse exhibitor. But before 1974, horse show enthusiasts had not yet had the opportunity to vie for the title of AQHA world champion

Serious horse owners hauled all over the country to earn year-end high-point awards, and breeders relied on titles earned at major stock shows to demonstrate a stallion’s prowess, but an idea emerged for something to top all that – a world championship American Quarter Horse show.

AQHA World Show History Timeline

1972
The American Junior Quarter Horse Association hosted the first Youth National Finals in Amarillo. Coupled with the third AJQHA National Convention, this groundbreaking event allowed more than 450 youth entries and a collection of awards valued at more than $25,000.

1974 
The first AQHA World Championship Show was hosted in Louisville, Kentucky, financed by Jerry Office, president and chairman of the board of the Ponderosa Steakhouse restaurant chain. 

During that same year, the Youth National Finals moved to Tulsa, due to outgrowing the facility in Amarillo.

1976 
AQHA opened the bidding process for the World Show and began investigating location options. Oklahoma City Visitors Bureau, the state of Oklahoma and the Oklahoma Quarter Horse Association united to offer a bid AQHA couldn’t refuse. They sold box seats and tickets, and the show boomed with success.

1991
The Youth National Finals moved to Fort Worth, Texas.

2008
The Youth World Show moved to Oklahoma City.

To this day, both shows remain in Oklahoma City, continuing to crown the best American Quarter Horses in the world year after year in the Jim Norick arena.