Iowa Show Circuit Bigger and Better in 2015

AQHA Professional Horsewoman Stephanie Lynn reports from Des Moines, Iowa, at one of AQHA’s largest circuits.

Special to The American Quarter Horse Journal

AQHA Professional Horseman and judge Kelly McDowall talks to the crowd while Klay McDowall demonstrates a horsemanship pattern at the Iowa Show Circuit. (Credit: Stephanie Lynn)

The Iowa Show Circuit kicked off on May 31 with a great Level 1 show, followed by youth demonstrations from two of AQHA's best next-generation horsemen, Klay McDowall demonstrating his winning horsemanship pattern from the 2014 Built Ford Tough AQHYA World Championship Show, and Addison Fjelstad, demonstrating the pattern from her 2014 Ford Youth World ranch riding (formerly ranch horse pleasure) reserve world championship. AQHA Professional Horseman and judge Kelly McDowall stepped in to talk about what a judge is looking for in ranch riding and horsemanship. 

This year marks the 48th year of the Iowa Show Circuit, ranking it among the longest-running circuits in AQHA history. Alex Ross, AQHA director of judges, was on hand to present the show with a plaque to thank the Iowa Quarter Horse Association and the Iowa Show Circuit for their contributions to AQHA’s 75-year history

It was a great way to start off 2014’s sixth-largest horse show. This year looks to be equally big, with entries and stalls equal or above 2014 numbers. This year, exhibitors found a few new classes on the roster and a special award to recognize Level 1 open horses.

The event’s marketing/sponsorship manager told me that they make every effort to have classes that are inviting to all exhibitors. 

“We like our Level 1 (Green) competitors here in Iowa,” stated Kris Moorman. The new Green4Green award recognizes Level 1 circuit award winners in western pleasure, trail, western riding and hunter under saddle with $500 and a jacket.  

“This year’s addition of Level 1 Select classes has been extremely positive, too. We are very pleased with the feedback from the schedule changes and the addition of new classes. Of course, the reasonable flat-fee is very popular, too,” Kris added.

The show takes pride in servicing exhibitors who return year after year. The Iowa State Fairgrounds offers some of the prettiest settings for campers. With copious hook-ups, campers have their pick of green space for camping.

Surrounded by historical buildings, the Richard O. Jacobson Exhibition Center, completed in 2010, is a state-of-the-art facility that easily accommodates the show. It is fully climatized with a covered, enclosed warm-up arena. The older pavilion remains available for use for warm-up with improved footing from years past. In addition, there are two outdoor arenas, leaving plenty of riding area for everyone.

The show shares the grounds with the World Pork Expo, the largest pork-specific trade show, yet continues to draw exhibitors from all over the country. Enjoying the free food and live entertainment at the Pork Expo has become part of the Iowa Show Circuit tradition. 

Kris highlighted a few classes that were especially well received this year, like the Level 1 Select western pleasure and horsemanship. The show boasted six-point grand championships in halter geldings and great horsemanship numbers across the board. And when was the last time you saw 26 senior western pleasure entries?

But the staff is not resting on its laurels. They are already working on tweaks for next year’s schedule and working on ways to improve an already impressive venue.

AQHA Celebrates Iowa Show Circuit

From the American Quarter Horse Association -- Celebrating 75 years of AQHA would not be complete without recognizing those who joined us along this journey. For many years the Iowa Show Circuit and Iowa Quarter Horse Association have stood as great partners.

To the members of both these groups, you have our most heartfelt gratitude for the important role you have played over AQHA’s seven and a half decades.

With American Quarter Horses residing in every state, Canadian province and nearly 100 other international countries, we think they would be AQHA Proud – of the breed of horse that unequivocally reigns as the standard by which all others are measured.

With heartfelt gratitude, we thank the Iowa Show Circuit and the Iowa Quarter Horse Association. 

AQHA Director of Judges Alex Ross presenting on behalf of AQHA President Dr. Glenn Blodgett

(Pictured from left: Iowa Show Circuit Management Robert Gilliam, Toni Albert, Paul Bunce, Alex Ross (AQHA), Gene Murphy, Shirley Miller, Mary Moorman, Bill Moorman)

AQHA Director of Judges Alex Ross presented the Iowa Quarter Horse Association and Iowa Show Circuit with an award for their contribution to AQHA's 75-year history (Credit: Stephanie Lynn)

Stephanie Lynn is a special contributor to The American Quarter Horse Journal. The AQHA Professional Horsewoman, judge and steward from Fall Creek, Wisconsin, serves on the AQHA Animal Welfare Commission, is the chairwoman of the AQHA Show Council and was named the 2014 Professional's Choice Professional Horsewoman of the Year. To learn more, visit or