Ten Nations Converge at European Championships

In spite of an equine infectious anemia outbreak in Germany, the European Championship of American Quarter Horses still saw much success.

From the European Championship of American Quarter Horses

Find all results on the official website for the European Championships. (Credit: Figure Eight)

The 26th European Championship of American Quarter Horses has officially come to an end. From August 7 to 16, riders competed for championship titles, trophies and ribbons in the Ostbayernhalle, Kreuth/Germany. About 350 horses with 1,200 entries were expected, and entry numbers increased by 27 percent, compared to 2014.

The stars were crossed for this year's championship. Shortly before its kickoff, two horses were diagnosed with equine infectious anemia about 40 kms (approx. 25 miles) from Kreuth. The county veterinary office of Amberg-Sulzbach, which is responsible for the showgrounds, did not see any reason to call off the show. Still, a lot of participants were worried and scratched their entries. 

All in all, there were 131 horses and their exhibitors from Germany, the Netherlands, Italy, Austria, Luxembourg, France, Belgium, England, Switzerland and the Czech Republic, who performed 610 starts, consisting AQHA-starts and finals, in 12 disciplines, such as western pleasure, reining, horsemanship, western riding, cutting and working cow horse. The biggest classes were all ages cutting with 17 entries and amateur horsemanship with 16 entries. All in all, 34 European champions were celebrated in performance classes, while 18 halter champions were awarded the title. In addition, there were 26 all-around titles and 24 circuit champions. 

A rotating group of six judges was responsible of assessing the participants' performance in the show pen. Hence, exhibitors were awarded points for five judges in the AQHA-approved preliminaries. The group of judges were: Karen McCuistion/USA, Bill Enk/USA, Ricky Bordignon/Italy, Sandy Jirkovsky/USA, Clark Parker/USA and Vreni Schmid/Switzerland. 

To support our amateur, youth and amateur novice riders, AQHA steward Butch Carse held several "Ride/Walk The Pattern" miniature clinics for horsemanship, hunt seat equitation and showmanship. One day before the respective class, the experienced judge and steward talked to exhibitors about what the judge wants to see and how they could present their horses in the best possible way. Up to 15 riders attended the free meetings and were happy to learn while watching one team performing the pattern. Therefore, additional meetings were arranged before the final runs as well.

Lori Bucholz, chairwoman of the AQHA International Committee, visited Kreuth for the first time.

“It is my honor to attend the European Championships. The horses being shown are the best in the world, and the exhibitors are all prepared for competition. The facility is beautiful and immaculate. So those who are showing, thank you for attending and making the 2015 European Championships a great success!"

And AQHA judge Sandy Jirkovsky said, "The numbers might have been down due to the EIA scare but the quality was still there! Congratulations to everybody!"

And even if the entry numbers were not as high as expected, many participants competed for good scores and were very happy with the results. Team spirit and friendship across the disciplines led to a relaxed and friendly atmosphere that will be remembered by staff and participants. 

Find all results on the official website for the European Championships. Photographs by Figure Eight (Dirk Buettner) can be found on his site.

Read Lori Bucholz's report from Kreuth. It was the of the AQHA International Committee chairwoman's first time at the the 2015 European Championships!