Sun Circuit Making The Most of March Move

Great weather, world-class facilities and loads of points; the Arizona Quarter Horse Association offers everything to keep Sun Circuit on everyone's “must-show” list.

For the Arizona Quarter Horse Association

Western pleasure enthusiasts have a number of futurities to look forward to, offering thousands of dollars in added money. (Credit: courtesy of AZQHA)

After the initial shock of the Arizona Quarter Horse Association Sun Circuit’s move to March wore off, exhibitors quickly got on board with the change. The 2017 Sun Circuit gets underway Saturday, March 4, and runs through Sunday, March 12. The move frees up more of West World’s new facilities for the show since there is no longer a conflict with the Barrett-Jackson Auto Auction or the PGA golf tournament. Show management is making the most of its newfound space and is able to offer a very diverse slate of classes while maintaining an exhibitor-friendly schedule. From cutting to jumping to trail, there is something for everyone. For the first time, Sun Circuit will be using two new indoor arenas in the North Hall of the Equestrian Center in addition to the Equidome. This allows for all the reining classes to be held inside.Another bonus is that the timing is convenient for exhibitors and vendors who will be at the Silver Dollar Circuit. The Silver Dollar show wraps up just prior, and it's an easy drive from Vegas to Scottsdale.

Sun Circuit has always scheduled some crowd-pleasing events, and this year is no exception. The Fence Work Challenge returns, showcasing some spectacular cow horses. Cowboy mounted shooting will blast into the North Hall on Sunday, March 12, and the DT Performance Horses Roping Futurity will certainly attract top ropers with $7,500 added to the heading and $7,500 added to the heeling. But the biggest of news has to be that Scottsdale’s wildly popular Parada Del Sol Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association Rodeo will celebrate its 64th anniversary with four performances held during Sun Circuit. The event draws many of the world’s best cowboys and cowgirls. The sell-out rodeo crowds shouldn’t impact exhibitors, however, since parking and entry for the rodeo will be on the west side of the Equidome. 

Judges love coming to Sun Circuit as much as exhibitors. The 2017 line up includes Jeff Allen, Mike Edwards, Pierre Brierre, Jonathan Meilleur, Dean Bogart, Lynda Danielson, Becky Schooler, Daren Wright, Derek Hanscome, Leanne Harrison Demars, Jennifer Leckey, Mark Sheridan, Matt Howell, Jimmy Stickler, Doug Allen, Bill Enk, Peter Morgan, Fielding Rogers, and Andrea Simons.

Saddles will be awarded to circuit champions or high-point champions in the following classes:

  • Junior reining
  • Senior reining
  • Amateur reining,
  • Select amateur reining
  • Level 1 amateur reining
  • Youth reining
  • Junior working cow horse
  • Youth working cow horse
  • Senior working cow horse
  • Amateur boxing
  • Youth boxing
  • Open team roper
  • Amateur team roper
  • Youth team roper

The generous sponsors of Sun Circuit make these wonderful saddle awards possible. 

A new addition to the 2017 schedule is an National Snaffle Bit Association day with western pleasure and hunter under saddle futurities in the Equine Chronicle Arena. In western pleasure, there will be a 3-year-old open with $1,000 added, a 3- and 4-year-old $1,000 novice horse open with $7,500 added, a $1,000-added 3-year-old non-pro, and finally a 3- and 4-year-old limited non-pro with $5,000 added. 

Hunter under saddle horses have a shot at some nice cash, as well, with four futurities.  The 3- and 4-year-old open hunter under saddle will have $1,500 added, while the 3- and 4-year-old non-pros ride for $500 added. The 3-and-over $2,500 novice horse open will have $3,500 added, while the 3-and-over limited non-pro division will have $1,000 added.

Hunters have a shot at some cash and prizes, as well. The Hunter Derby offers $2,000 in added money. In the non-pro hunter derby sponsored by Greenway Saddlery, the champion will receive a BEVAL Solaris saddle, leathers, girth and irons. Reserve champion receives a Bobby’s bridle and third takes home a Tokalt competition pad.

The all-around open and amateur cowboy/-girl will each be awarded $1,000, compliments of Bella Vista Ranch, for their outstanding performances. Amazing Sun Circuit champion rings, custom crafted by Sami Fine Jewelry, will be awarded in an array of classes at Sun Circuit 2017. There is much more to win. Check online at to see all the award offerings.

Ranch riding has a strong following at Sun Circuit; 2017 will offer classes in all divisions. There is also a full slate of Versatility Ranch Horse classes that will be pointed by the Arizona Versatility Ranch Horse Association, along with an all-breed division running concurrently.

Besides added money classes, Sun Circuit is famous for its great awards, along with fun and extravagant giveaways. In past years, exhibitors have gone home with saddles, TVs, Rod Patrick boots, jackets, artwork, jewelry, hats and electronics. This year will be no exception. A treasure trove of goodies is accumulating, and the Prize Patrol is planning more fun activities.

The month of March offers Arizona’s best weather. It’s one of the most popular times for visitors. AZQHA CEO and Sun Circuit producer Doug Huls said, “We’re encouraging everyone to book hotels, RVs and RV spaces early because its considered the best time of year in Scottsdale.”

Great weather, world-class facilities and loads of points; Sun Circuit has everything to keep it on everyone's “must-show” list. The arena schedule, hotel and reservation information is online at