Find out how American Quarter Horses and their riders compete on a level playing field at AQHA shows.
February 19, 2017
From the brand-new competitor to the seasoned road warrior, everyone has a place at AQHA shows.
At AQHA shows, you'll find that classes are offered in multiple divisions (open, amateur and youth). From there, class divisions are further broken down into levels. The levels group horses and riders with their peers of similar experience and achievements earned. This means Rookies are showing against other beginning competitors, while Level 3 riders are competing against those with the same high skill level.
To determine which levels you are eligible for, AQHA looks at exhibitor or horse records, depending on the type of class it is. Both points and awards earned affect level eligibility.
Some classes are leveled by exhibitor record:
- Select amateur
- All halter classes
- All cattle classes
While others are leveled by horse record:
- Open division classes (excluding halter and cattle events)
The level names are Rookie, Level 1, Level 2 and Level 3, with Rookie being the level designed for beginning competitors or those with few accomplishments, and Level 3 being the most highly accomplished competitor.
AQHA shows are not required to offer all of the levels, so show management is left to decide which levels would be in demand at their events. If you'd like to see a new class or level added to your local AQHA shows, be sure to contact the show manager. It never hurts to ask!
The great thing about these AQHA levels is that they give exhibitors the chance to compete not just at the local level but at championship events, too. The AQHA Level 1 championships also offer Rookie championship classes. The AQHA World Championship Show gives Level 3 open and amateur competitors the chance to win world championships, and the Level 2 championships are also hosted there. 2017 is the first year AQHYA offers Level 3 Youth competitors the chance to win world championships, and Level 2 championships! Level 3 riders compete for world titles at the AQHA Select world show, and the top Level 2 riders are recognized at the show. (At this time, Level 2 championships are not offered at the AQHA Select show.)
If you’d like to learn more about AQHA levels, you should check out About Leveling. There, you can access the online level verification system to determine level eligibility for both you and your horse.