Divisions

Learn about AQHA's divisions of showing: open, amateur and youth.

There are three competition divisions within AQHA shows: open, amateur and youth. Read on to learn more about each.

Open

If you have a current AQHA or AQHYA membership, you are eligible to show your American Quarter Horse in open competition. Open competition is usually for the most experienced exhibitors, trainers and professional horsemen but many amateur and youth members can be tough competitors as well.

Open classes can also be divided according to the age of the horse.   

  • 2-year-olds
  •    
  • Junior horses (5 years of age and under)
  •    
  • Senior horses (6 years of age and older)

How It Works

Within the open division are levels: Rookie, Level 1, Level 2 and Level 3. These are based on the horse's achievements.

For open division halter and cattle events, classes are leveled by the exhibitor's record. Those levels are: Rookie, Level 1, Level 2 and Level 3.

To learn more about these levels, determine your specific level and find out how the levels group horses and riders with similar skill and experience levels for competition, visit www.aqha.com/leveling.

Eligibility

If you are a paid professional and you are ready for a higher level of competition, then the AQHA open division is for you!

Amateur

American Quarter Horse owners who do not join the professional ranks may enjoy a full spectrum of competition in the amateur division.

How It Works

Within the amateur division are levels: Rookie, Level 1, Level 2 and Level 3.

To learn more about these levels, determine your specific level and find out how the levels group riders with similar skill and experience levels for competition, visit www.aqha.com/leveling.

Eligibility

You may obtain an amateur membership if you have not shown, judged, trained or assisted in training a horse (whether or not a registered American Quarter Horse) for remuneration, monetary or otherwise, either directly or indirectly, nor received remuneration for instructing another person in riding, driving, training or showing a horse for three calendar years previous to application for amateur membership. 

Amateurs must exhibit a horse in their ownership or in the ownership of someone directly related to them (see AQHA Rule SHW220 for details). The relationship of the amateur to the owner of the participating horse must be evidenced by submitting legal documentation (i.e., copies of marriage and/or birth certificates) to AQHA's Show Department.  

Every person competing in an Amateur class at any AQHA approved show must hold an amateur membership and be 19 years of age or older on or before January 1 of the current year.

Select Amateur

AQHA-approved shows may offer any amateur performance classes as all-ages and 50-and-over. The Select amateur classes, for amateur exhibitors 50 and over, are designed to provide an avenue of competition for our more mature amateur exhibitors and are becoming some of the most popular classes.

An amateur may begin competing in the Select classes on the day that they turn 50 years of age.

The Adequan Select World Championship Show is dedicated solely to exhibitors 50 years and over who have qualified for the event. Exhibitors 70 and over, known as Super-Selects, are recognized in event class at the Adequan Select World for their achievements.

Youth

The youth division is open to American Quarter Horse enthusiasts 18 years of age or younger as of January 1 of the current year.

American Quarter Horse Youth Association shows normally are scheduled in conjunction with AQHA-approved shows. And virtually all types of classes are offered to youth exhibitors.

How It Works

Within the youth  division are levels: Rookie, Level 1, Level 2 and Level 3.

To learn more about these levels, determine your specific level and find out how the levels group riders with similar skill and experience levels for competition, visit www.aqha.com/leveling.

Eligibility

Youth must exhibit a horse in their ownership or in the ownership of someone directly related to them (see AQHA Rule SHW220 for details). The relationship of the youth to the owner of the participating horse must be evidenced by submitting legal documentation (i.e., copies of marriage and/or birth certificates) to the AQHA Show Department. 

Every person competing in a youth class at any AQHA-approved show must hold a youth membership and be 18 years of age or younger on or before January 1 of the current year.

Youth or Amateur Immediate Family Verification

An AQHA youth or amateur member may show horses owned by certain, immediate family members subject to rule SHW220. It is mandatory for the owner to complete this form and file it with AQHA. If this form is not on file, only the horse owner may show his horses in youth or amateur classes. Further documentation to support the accuracy of the information reported on this form may be required upon request from AQHA.