Types of Horse Shows

With so many showing options, there aren't enough weekends in the year.

With the AQHA World Championship Show taking place right now in Oklahoma City, it's easy to develop a show bug. Not sure how to get involved in the excitement of showing American Quarter Horses?

Check out these descriptions of the types of shows that offer AQHA points.

Then visit the online Show Schedule to map out the shows near you. All that's left to do is hook up the trailer and hit the road!

AQHA Shows

Most AQHA shows offer a variety of classes (English, halter, western) and divisions (youth, amateur, open) for competitors of different skill levels. Some shows may offer novice classes for the youth and amateur divisions, and some offer the special Select classes for amateur exhibitors who are 50 years of age and older. Below are additional show formats that various show managements offer to meet exhibitors' needs:

Double Judged/Double Point

Want to earn points fast? Then a double judged/double point show might just be the ticket for you. This format features one show with two judges, meaning that your top placings could earn two sets of points without having to exhibit twice. Double judged/double point shows are primarily found at major livestock shows where there are a large number of exhibitors. The majority of exhibitors who attend these shows are highly competitive, so expect top-quality exhibitors and American Quarter Horses. Expect to pay two entry fees.

If you're keeping up with the AQHA World Championship Show in Oklahoma City, you've seen about a dozen horses become halter world champions in their respective categories. Why did the judges pick them to win? Learn all about judging halter with AQHA's FREE report, Judging Halter.


Another efficient way for exhibitors to rack up more points is to attend a split/combined show. Any two consecutive shows (like a Saturday and Sunday show) can be combined into one show and split over two days. There are two judges and two sets of points, and the class is held only once - a real bonus for exhibitors who are trying to qualify for the World Shows or earn year-end awards. Expect to pay two entry fees.

Special Events

Want to meet more people who show in the same event as you? A special event just might be the ticket. Special events - as the name implied - may feature two single events like team penning and cutting, barrel racing and pole bending or roping events like team roping and calf roping. The serious and the casual competitors attend these special events. A single set of points is awarded at each special event.

Livestock Shows & Fairs

Some of the largest AQHA shows are held during livestock shows and fairs. These collective events, which feature shows for other livestock, offer all levels of competition, including youth classes. The number of entries may be high, and you can find seasoned and casual exhibitors.

All-Novice Shows

Have some fun showing while getting your feet wet at all-novice shows. These events are specially designed for exhibitors who have not yet earned 40 novice points or 10 performance points, which means that you'll compete with people of similar skill levels. All-novice shows are hosted by AQHA state and provincial affiliates and are usually held as stand-alone events or can be held during an open (non-AQHA-approved) show.

Alliance Shows

You can earn AQHA points by competing at shows hosted by AQHA Alliance members - National Cutting Horse Association, National Reining Horse Association, National Reined Cow Horse Association and National Snaffle Bit Association. Approved events award points based on the AQHA system to those exhibitors who like to show in both organizations. You can expect all levels of competitors. AQHA rules are applicable, and exhibitors must meet AQHA ownership and eligibility requirements.

Versatility Ranch Horse Competition

The Versatility Ranch Horse competition demonstrates the versatility of the working ranch horse in five categories - ranch riding, ranch trail, ranch cutting, working ranch horse and ranch conformation. To be eligible for points in the Versatility Ranch competition one rider/one horse must enter all five classes. Credits will be applied per class according to the placing received based on the number of horses competing in that particular class. AQHA points are awarded based on the total earned credits from each class that determine the final placing. There is an open division for horses shown by the recorded owner or by immediate family members or shown by a full-time employee (six months or more). A youth division also is offered to exhibitors 18 or younger (age as of January 1), as long as they are the recorded owner or exhibit a horse owned by their immediate family members. Youth exhibitors may show horses owned by a ranch where the exhibitor's family is a full-time employee (for six months or more). The Versatility Ranch Horse competition promotes the athletic ability and versatility of the horse.

AQHA Equestrians With Disabilities

The Equestrians With Disabilities competition is for those who wish to compete regardless of their physical or mental abilities. The competition consists of three classes: walk and trot hunt seat equitation on the flat, walk and jog western horsemanship, and walk and jog trail. The classes can be held at AQHA-approved shows or can be stand-alone competitions. An Equestrian Proficiency Card from Path International and/or a special adaptive equipment and riding ability form can help exhibitors when entering these events, since the card provides show managers information about their abilities.

Click here to access AQHA's show calendar.

What makes a world champion halter horse? How do you pick one winner out of a class of 20? Learn how AQHA judges pick the most-deserving halter horse in AQHA's FREE report, Judging Halter. Share this excellent resource with your friends!

AQHA Calendar

For a limited time, horse and ranching enthusiasts can purchase AQHA's Best Remudas 2009 Calendar and enjoy 12 months of stunning photos of America's most noteworthy ranches, their American Quarter Horses and cowboys that define their ranches and work.

Jim Jennings, AQHA Executive Director of Publications and author of the best-selling book "Best Remudas," offers 70 captivating photographs taken at ranches that have received the prestigious AQHA Bayer Best Remuda Award. Each month also highlights important AQHA events and deadlines. Whether it's hanging in your barn, office or home, the AQHA Best Remuda Calendar will keep you on track while offering a glimpse into our western heritage, which is alive today. Click here to order!