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AQHA Encouraging Participation in Dressage

American Quarter Horse Association Press Release

Amarillo, Texas, May 11, 2004 - In January 2004, the American Quarter Horse Association announced that it would accept dressage test scores for American Quarter Horses and current AQHA members competing at approved U.S. Equestrian/United States Dressage Federation and Canadian Equestrian Federation shows. Riders may turn in their test scores and have them recorded by the American Quarter Horse Association.

When the program was implemented, it was set to last for an initial one-year trial period, after which time the American Quarter Horse Association Show Committee will examine the figures to see how many horses have participated, how many exhibitors are AQHA members, and evaluate how the proposed test score table is transferring over into point values. No points will be awarded during this time period. However, the amount of participation during the 2004 trial period will determine the future of the program.

"AQHA strongly encourages dressage participants to turn in their test scores during this initial year," said AQHA Executive Vice President Bill Brewer. "We are thrilled to have the program in place and hope the level of participation grows to secure the recognition dressage competitors and American Quarter Horses deserve."

The American Quarter Horse is by far the most versatile horse in the world, proven by its success in many different arenas. From cutting and reining to racing and ranching and even dressage, American Quarter Horses thrive in nearly every discipline.

In fact, American Quarter Horse stallion My Royal Lark claimed the Grand Champion First Level horse title at the USDF's Southern Comfort Zada Cup at the Clarcona Equestrian Park in Orlando, Florida.

Amid a competitive field of Dutch Warmbloods, Hanoverians, Oldenburgs, Arabians and Westfalens, breeds that have traditionally excelled at dressage, AQHA Professional Horsewoman Lynn Palm and My Royal Lark, son of multiple AQHA Superhorse, Rugged Lark, emerged Grand Champion First Level, also earning the event's highest first level score, 68.571 percent.

My Royal Lark and Palm have achieved six USDF tests above 60 percent and are already qualified for 2004 USDF Regional Competition in First Level Test 4.

Dressage is an intense test of athleticism and obedience, and not every horse is successful. In the past, those talented American Quarter Horses that could pass the test have received only limited recognition. AQHA's Best of America's Horse Program recognizes the top performers competing in non-AQHA Alliance organizations, such as USDF, but competitors receive no points. AQHA has attempted to address the issue of formalizing dressage recognition since 1994.

When a horse and rider team competes in dressage, they perform a specific pattern depending on their own dressage level. The average time is different for each test; the shortest pattern is about four minutes, the longest, nine minutes. It can take a very long time to judge everyone in a dressage class.

How AQHA Recognizes Dressage:

- Exhibitors must have current individual AQHA, U.S. Equestrian and USDF memberships and comply with membership requirements.
- Exhibitors must meet AQHA eligibility requirements for open, amateur or youth participation.
- Horses must compete under AQHA registered name and number or licensed number with USDF.
- Approved events will initially be held at existing U.S. Equestrian/USDF shows, judged by U.S. Equestrian judges.
- Exhibitors competing at approved U.S. Equestrian/USDF and Canadian Equestrian approved dressage shows will send score sheets to AQHA for processing.
- AQHA will use a chart to transfer percentage scores to point values. Maximum point values will be set for each level to encourage advancement to higher levels.
- Year-end high-point awards and a recognition program are being developed.


- The program will be implemented for a one-year trial period beginning January 1, 2004, to gauge interest.
- Horses will not accumulate official points during the trial period.
- Horses will not be Incentive Fund eligible at this time.
- Dressage is not a World Show event.

For more information, contact AQHA.