February 1, 2010 -- Dressage is now an official AQHA class -- one in which you can earn AQHA points, qualify for AQHA Incentive Fund earnings and compete for year-end awards. Beginning at Training Level Test 4, AQHA dressage classes will be held within existing classes at competitions recognized by the United States Dressage Federation or licensed by the United States Equestrian Federation.
The same USDF-USEF judges will preside over the AQHA classes; the only additional requirement is that the judges must be AQHA members. Exhibitors must also be current members of AQHA, and the horse must be a registered American Quarter Horse. A competition license fee of $85, good for the lifetime of the horse, is also required. The shows must be approved by AQHA at least 60 days in advance.
Horses competing in dressage are given scores, expressed in percentages. The Quarter Horse show industry has always been a point-driven system, so AQHA has created a conversion table to change dressage scores into AQHA points. View the conversion table (click on "frequently asked questions").
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In addition to awarding points, AQHA is recognizing the three high-point American Quarter Horses at each of the nine USEF-USDF Regional Championship shows in 2010 and has also created a high-point recognition program for the open, amateur and youth divisions of dressage competition. Amateur and youth eligibility is based on criteria found in the AQHA Handbook of Rules and Regulations.
If you're interested in getting your American Quarter Horse started in dressage, America's Horse -- AQHA's membership magazine -- initiated a year-long series on Training Level dressage in the January-February 2010 issue. For more information, check out "The USDF Guide to Dressage," written by Jennifer O. Bryant.
The United States Dressage Federation is giving AQHA members a 10 percent discount on the guide books. Get the offer code and link. Enter the code at checkout.
AQHA welcomes comments regarding the new dressage program.