Dressage

AQHA dressage competitors earn year-end awards and points with their American Quarter Horses.

AQHA began recognizing dressage competition in 2010. Dressage emphasizes longevity by systematically developing the horse and rider to create a harmonious team. It encourages riders to take their time and develop correct horsemanship skills as they progress through each level of training.

The term “dressage” means “training.” As a discipline, dressage develops the horse through systematic and progressive training aids that are used by riders of all backgrounds – from barrel racing to reining and horsemanship.  Tests include a prescribed series of movements that sequentially follow a horse’s training level. Tests are the means by which  horses and riders are judged in competition. Riders choose their level, and are allowed to move freely between levels as they choose. 

Interesting Facts About Dressage 

  • Dressage is similar to riding a long pattern, called a “test”
  • Riders can have a reader call the test in competition through fourth level
  • Ride times are posted in advance
  • Exhibitors compete against a national standard for a score
  • Each maneuver offers a description of what is being judged
  • Judges score and offer comments for each test element
  • Exhibitors take a copy of their test results home  

Eligibility Requirements

Riders must comply with AQHA, United States Equestrian Federation and United States Dressage Federation requirements for proper registration and licensing.

  • Horses must be registered with AQHA
  • Exhibitors must be members of AQHA  and hold current USEF and USDF memberships
  • Horses must also hold a lifetime registration with USDF and an AQHA dressage competition license

Finding a Show in Your Area American Quarter Horse competes in dressage

Dressage may be offered at an AQHA show or special event and must be judged by a licensed USEF/USDF judge.   

  • Available as special event at GMO’s or current USEF event
  • Available at AQHA shows
  • Find a show by browsing AQHA's upcoming events.

Awards and Points

AQHA points earned in dressage count towards Register of Merits, Superiors and other AQHA awards.

  • Points based on percentage scoring
  • Number of horses in a class does not determine points earned
  • Points accumulate toward AQHA records and awards
  • Incentive Fund eligible for Level 1 and above

Dressage High-Point Champions

Annually, AQHA recognizes the top point earners in each division of every AQHA-approved event, and the year-end high-point award winners are honored in the April issue of The American Quarter Horse Journal.    

US Dressage Finals High Score Breed Awards

AQHA is a participant in the United States Dressage Federation's US Dressage Finals High Score Breed Awards which recognizes top placing registered American Quarter Horses exhibiting in USDF Dressage competitions, open and adult amateur divisions. Check out the program here.

More About AQHA Dressage

Watch The American Quarter Horse Journal for articles about dressage and how it can be used with your current program. Here are some great resources:  Exhibitor FactsShow Management Fact Sheet for Dressage. And don’t forget to ask your local show management to host an event in your area where you can join other dressage enthusiasts in competition.