Learning Experience

A variety of showing tips overheard at past AQHA Regional Experiences.

AQHA’s Regional Experiences give members the opportunity to learn from clinicians in a fun, learning-friendly environment.

They were started in 2005 to give people who are excited about competing with American Quarter Horses a fun way to show in a less stressful or intimidating atmosphere.

Since then, the events have grown and offered people of all levels a new way to compete. The 2009 Regional Experiences are taking place all throughout the summer.

Here is a sampling of some of the great tips you can pick up from leading industry professionals:


Even if you think your pattern was a total loss, keep showing. You might actually be the best horse that day. The most important thing to remember is that 20 percent is what happens to you when you’re showing, and 80 percent is how you deal with it.
- Sherrye Trafton

Ideally, it should take you no more than three seconds to set your horse up for the judge, but it should be correct. Make sure it’s right, even if it takes you another second. Appearance is extremely important in a showmanship class. Make sure your hat is shaped and cleaned, and if you’re at a show for several days, your horse will probably need to be clipped again.
-AQHA Professional Horsewoman Susan Pratt

AQHA is launching a series of brand new premium edition DVDs designed to sharpen your skills in various AQHA events. The brand new "Showing to Win: Western Pleasure" DVD is the first to be released. Improve your knowledge of this popular event and boost your competitive edge.


Balance and structural correctness are the most important characteristics of the halter horse. We want these horses to look like athletes. We want them to be athletes, so of course muscling is important, but it is by far not the most important characteristic.
-AQHA Professional Horseman and judge Jeffrey Pait


You need to focus on your patterns, but what you really need to focus on are your transitions. Don’t get too stiff in your classes; stay relaxed. Also, keep your off hand bent at the elbow. If you keep the off hand on your leg or at your side, you will tend to ride with it back and it will affect your position. If you ride with your off hand bent at the elbow, you have a better chance of sitting square.
-AQHA Professional Horsewoman Carolyn Johnson

Make sure the tails of your reins are on the same side as the hand you hold them with, and you want to put the ball of your foot in the stirrup. Appearance is important in horsemanship. The two most important pieces of your wardrobe are a good hat and good chaps that fit properly. Don’t wear sparkly belts; all it does is draw attention to your waist and show movement.
-Allison Bjork

Western Pleasure and Hunter Under Saddle

Through the class, you need to have the horse presented in a similar position each time the judge looks at you. Also, don’t make aggressive adjustments when the judge is not looking because it might call attention back to you.

Speed is always a topic of debate in pleasure classes. You don’t want to be too fast or too slow. Speed usually varies from region to region, but they are all judged consistently based on forward motion. If your horse is a good mover, don’t be afraid to move him a little faster.
-AQHA Professional Horsewoman and Judge Chris Thompson

To really shine in western pleasure, you need to watch AQHA's brand new DVD. "Showing to Win: Western Pleasure" presents side-by-side comparisons of horses and includes video clips from AQHA World Championship Show performances along with footage specially filmed for this project. Members get a discount on this invaluable resource.


First thing you need to do is look at the trail course and focus on where the problem areas might be. Also, read the words, because sometimes the words specify something different than the dotted lines on the page do. If you have questions about the course, find the designer. Don’t be afraid to ask questions prior to the start, because it might be something that is wrong and needs to be fixed. However, once the class starts, that option is gone.
-Team Wrangler member and AQHA Professional HorsewomanLeslie Lange

Preparation is key. You’ve got to know your pattern, know your spots and know how to get to your spots.
-AQHA Professional Horseman Tommy Sheets

Hunter Hack

You’re not judged on just the fences, even though they’re most important. You’re also judged on the trot-in, transitions and the stop.
-Team Wrangler member and AQHA Professional Horseman Jason Martin


Make sure you horse is soft and supple, and that you can control his whole body.
- The National Reining Horse Association’s first $3 million rider and all-time leading money-earner Shawn Flarida

To take part in the fun of the Regional Experiences, you need to be a member. Don't miss out! Take advantage of the many fantastic benefits of AQHA membership by joining today.