Around the World with AQHA President Sandy Arledge

AQHA President Sandy Arledge has been sharing her passion for the American Quarter Horse on her many travels.

American Quarter Horse Association

AQHA President Sandy Arledge enjoys traveling and sharing her love for the American Quarter Horse.

Since my last blog, I have been traveling and sharing my love for the American Quarter Horse with both old and new friends.

The San Luis Obispo County Quarter Horse Association held its 50th annual Mother’s Day Circuit in Paso Robles, California, and I was thrilled to be able to celebrate the anniversary of the longest-running AQHA show in California. This is a show with a terrific list of cattle classes that are very well attended. The walk-jog classes are also anticipated by many! The show is very well run by the attentive show management and is extremely exhibitor friendly.

While there, I had the chance to visit with fellow AQHA Professional Horsewoman of the Year Cynthia Cantleberry, who continues to enjoy riding and teaching folks the fine art of showing. When I moved to California in 1970, I had only shown in cutting, western pleasure, reining, halter and the speed events. I had never seen a trail class and had certainly never shown over obstacles. To me, a “trail” horse was one that went to the hills! I decided that showing at the Del Mar National Horse Show would be a good place to try the class and was offered a trail horse to give it a go. I introduced myself to Cynthia, and she was very helpful to me. As a newcomer, I appreciated her suggestions. I went on to train trail horses that were very successful, and I owe Cynthia for the kind encouragement she gave me then and in the following years. My advice to everyone in the equine industry is to never be afraid to ask for help, especially from an AQHA Professional Horseman. I always enjoy going to the Mother’s Day Circuit, and I hated to leave early, but I had to catch a plane to North Carolina for the Nutrena East AQHA Level 1 Championships.

(Photo: At the Mother's Day Circuit with Cynthia)

Having made it to all three Level 1 Championships this year, the last one being at the Gov. James B. Hunt Horse Complex in Raleigh, North Carolina, I can easily say that the show business is alive and well! These shows, designed for Level 1 and Rookie-level exhibitors, were extremely well attended. The shows boasted more than 6,000 entries combined. I was very heartened to see so many Rookie exhibitors (both horse and rider can have earned no more than 10 AQHA points).

Check out to learn how you can qualify for the 2017 Nutrena East, AQHA West or Farnam Central Level 1 Championships. The qualifying period kicked off at the beginning of the year and runs through December 31, 2016, so you have plenty of time to earn an invitation!

(Photo: Performance halter geldings at the Nutrena East AQHA Level 1 Championships)

My latest adventures took me to the northeast to attend the Maine Quarter Horse Association Pine Tree Classic in Skowhegan, Maine. MeQHA is an outstanding AQHA affiliate and produced a great event! I was honored to be a part of a meet-and-greet with all of the exhibitors during my visit.

Going to a show in that part of the country was exciting, and I enjoyed making new AQHA friends along the way. The walk-jog classes were among the largest, and the lead-line had several darling kids. One of the little girls, 2 ½ years old, won the class under one of the judges one day. As her dad led her toward me to receive her blue ribbon and prize, she let me know in no uncertain terms that she wanted a green ribbon! No amount of discussion from Dad, Mom or me would convince her that “blue” was best, and she continued to insist on a green one. She left the arena with a blue and a green ribbon. This one will be a force to be reckoned with! Check out more photos from the show on MeQHA's Facebook page.

(Photo: Kendall receiving her blue and green ribbons)

On Sunday, my hosts took me to Bath and Newport so that I could see a little of the coast. In Bath harbor, the USS Zumwalt (a stealth destroyer) is docked, and I was able to snap a shot from the car. She sets sail soon with Capt. James Kirk at the helm (no kidding!). I was also treated to a New England lunch at a lovely restraint on Kennebec Harbor; the company, food and scenery were awesome. We have such wonderful members around the world, and I feel blessed to have the opportunity to meet them! 


(Photo: USS Zumwalt)                                                (Photo: Seafood at the Dolphin)

This year is going by very quickly, and there is so very much to report. However, sometimes a digression is in order! At a show last year, I saw two little girls riding bareback down the road on a flea-bitten gray gelding. It reminded me of the barn in East Texas where I spent most of my childhood between the ages of 10 and 17. I clearly remember my friends Karen, Patsy and David, with whom I spent countless carefree hours riding on the farm and in the piney woods that surrounded it. The place was owned by a kind gentleman named P.A. Griffin. P.A. was a trader and dealt in all things livestock, but mostly horses. He was not above taking any kind of animal, machine or vehicle in trade. It was an interesting education in evaluating livestock and learning how to negotiate. I spent hours at sale barns with him and rode all kinds of horses, many of which were barely broke. It is amazing that I never hit the ground, except when one of the boys “heeled” me in the parking lot – bad boy!

Those memories are often rekindled when I see kiddos enjoying their American Quarter Horses and their families in a bucolic setting. Such was the case a couple weekends ago, when I celebrated with friends and family members at a barbecue, roping and dance in Prescott, Arizona. Friends and family from Louisiana, Texas, California and Arizona gathered to ride, rope, eat, dance and play.

Everyone brought their kids, horses and dogs to join in the fun, and it was a terrific weekend! No one got hurt; the horses worked up to expectations; the band played wonderful music; and there was enough food and drink for a battalion. The kids were especially fun to watch, with the little boys and girls emulating their parents, riding and roping. In my opinion, there’s no better way to spend the weekend than with horses, dogs and kids.

I look forward to sharing my upcoming travels and experiences as your AQHA president in my next blog. Stay tuned to for more blog posts.

(Photo: Some of my yearlings just after being branded)

So long, until next time!