13 AQHA Horsemanship Patterns for You to Practice

Practice these AQHA horsemanship patterns designed for every level of exhibitor, from Rookie on up to world champions.

American Quarter Horse Association

According to AQHA Professional Horsewoman Jill Newcomb, the trick to making a horsemanship pattern correct is breaking it down into pieces. Check out her article to learn more tips and tricks. (Credit: AQHA)

Billie Jean King once said:  “Champions keep playing until they get it right.” No other combinations of words better describes the process of becoming a successful showman or showwoman. You might already be familiar with the specific maneuvers in a western horsemanship pattern; however, it is essential to occasionally tie them all together to discover and prevent the problems that might be detrimental in the show pen.

To shorten the search process, we have assembled a variety of horsemanship patterns for you to practice. Below each one, you can find the pattern’s highlights. All patterns are suitable for every exhibitor level and division – Rookie, Level 1, Select, amateur and youth. These patterns have been taken from championships and world championship shows from recent years, and as you work your way down the list, you will notice that the patterns increase in degree of difficulty.

Practice is the secret. It’s the secret of how champions are made. Now, get on your horse and start playing until you get it right and can achieve your ultimate goal of becoming an AQHA horsemanship world champion.

2016 AQHA Level 1 Championships (Rookie)
Highlights of this pattern:

  • Nine maneuvers
  • Exhibitor is tested on being able to ride two symmetrical circles. 
  • Several maneuvers are executed at the intersection of the circles, requiring the exhibitor to be very precise.

2016 AQHA Level 1 Championship (Level 1)

  • Nine maneuvers
  • Exhibitor is tested on feel and ultimate control of the horse as he/she is required to halt after exactly 1-3/4 turns
  • Horse and rider must show significant difference in speed between first and second circle

2014 AQHA Level 1 Championships (Level 1)

  • Ten maneuvers
  • Exhibitor is tested on being able to perform two straight lines, building the shape of a ribbon  
  • Must stop and back up two horse lengths

2014 AQHA Select World Championship Show (Prelims)

  • Seven maneuvers
  • Transitions between lope, extended trot and walk within a serpentine-like figure
  • Two 360-degree turns

Note: Check out this article to discover 12 show tips from AQHA Professional Horseman and judge, Kelly McDowall about the completion of this pattern.

2015 AQHA World Championship Show (Prelims)

  • Nine maneuvers
  • Very similar to the 2014 AQHA Level 1 Championship pattern
  • Pattern requires simple lead change through a walk

2014 AQHYA World Championship Show (Prelims)

  • Six maneuvers
  • Exhibitor must precisely show 1-1/4 turns to the left followed by 1-3/4 turns to the right.
  • Can either perform a flying or simple lead change in the center of the pen

2012 AQHA Select World (Finals)

  • Eight maneuvers
  • Several maneuvers are executed at the intersection of the circles, requiring the exhibitor to be very precise
  • Exhibitor is tested on being able to navigate his/her horse through tight turns at the trot as well as the lope

2011 AQHA World Show (Amateur Finals)

  • Seven maneuvers
  • Enter the arena at a jog
  • Similar to the Rookie pattern of the 2016 AQHA Level 1 Championships, the exhibitor is tested on being able to ride two symmetrical circles 

2012 AQHA World Show (Finals)

  • Six maneuvers
  • Pattern covers entire length and width of the arena
  • First circle must be performed at a cadenced jog. In the second circle the exhibitor must show an extended trot

2015 AQHA World Show (Finals)

  • Seven maneuvers
  • Exhibitor is required to perform 1-1/2 circle to the right, with the first half being at a slow lope. The rest of the circle must be performed with speed. 
  • Pattern requires no back up

2012 AQHYA World Show (Finals)

  • Six maneuvers
  • This pattern contains no circles
  • Exhibitor is tested on being able to change leads as well as transition between gaits on a straight line

2014 AQHYA World Show (Finals)

  • Seven maneuvers
  • Exhibitor is tested on being able to first perform a flying lead change, followed by a simple lead change on a straight line.
  • Exhibitor must show a three-quarters turn to the right as well as a 1-1/2 turn to the left

2015 AQHYA World Show (Finals)

  • Ten maneuvers
  • Exhibitor must perform a corner as well as a flying lead change through the center at the lope with speed
  • Must pick up the left lead from a standstill

Looking for more patterns to practice? Check out our Horse Show Patterns board on Pinterest.