AQHA first hosted the AQHA Level 1 Championships in 2012. Back then, the events were known as the AQHA Novice Championships, then a few years later, the event name changed to AQHA Level 1 Championships. The initial Level 1 Championships hosted by AQHA were the West and East.
In 2014, AQHA introduced the AQHA Cattle Level 1 Championships to Oklahoma City, a championship show for Level 1 exhibitors to compete in events like cutting, working cow horse, roping, team penning and ranch sorting, plus related events like ranch riding and reining. Then in 2016, AQHA expanded the event into the AQHA Central Level 1 Championships, adding the full slate of AQHA classes. From 2016 to 2017, the Central Level 1 Championships was the only Level 1 Championship to offer all AQHA Level 1 classes.
In 2018, the Central Level 1 Championships were restructured so that core AQHA Level 1 classes – with reining, ranch riding and speed events – remained in Oklahoma City in April. The cattle events, however, were moved to June at the Lazy E Arena in Guthrie, Oklahoma, to coincide with the AQHA Versatility Ranch Horse World Championships. This move marked the rebirth of the AQHA Cattle Level 1 Championships.
Since then, the Cattle Level 1 Championships are held concurrently with the VRH World, AQHA Ranching Heritage Challenge Finals and the National Ranch and Show Horse Association National Championships.
However, the 2020 AQHA Cattle Level 1 Championships and concurrent events – originally slated for June 23-27 at the Lazy E Arena in Guthrie, Oklahoma – were cancelled due to the COVID-19 pandemic.