AQHA and USDF Encourage Participation in Dressage - More American Quarter Horses Excel in the Sport

US Dressage Federation


The American Quarter Horse Association and the United States Dressage Federation are pleased to announce a joint initiative to support and encourage the American Quarter Horse in dressage. Earlier in the year, in order to address growing demands for dressage recognition, AQHA announced a one-year trial program to evaluate the number and scores of American Quarter Horses competing in dressage at approved U.S. Equestrian/United States Dressage Federation and Canadian Equestrian Federation shows. As the end of the trial period nears, AQHA's Show Committee is preparing to examine the figures to see how many horses have participated, how many exhibitors are members and evaluate how the proposed test score table is transferring over into point values. (No points will be awarded during this time period.) 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 now. "We are excited to have the program in place and hope the level of participation grows to secure the recognition dressage competitors and American Quarter Horses deserve," said AQHA Executive Vice President Bill Brewer.

In order to make the process of providing scores to AQHA as easy as possible for American Quarter Horse owners, USDF registered horses can visit the USDF Web site at www.usdf.org/scorecheck/scorecheck.asp and download their score check, which will include all rides for the USDF competition year. This score check can be sent to AQHA in lieu of individual score sheets. In addition, USDF will be providing detailed data to AQHA on those American Quarter Horses who compete in dressage, in order for AQHA's Show Committee to evaluate the number of American Quarter Horses participating at USEF/USDF competitions and the scores being attained at the various levels.

The American Quarter Horse is by far the most versatile horse in the world, proven by its success in many different arenas. From cutting to reining and racing to 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 and Westfalens, breeds that have traditionally excelled at dressage. American Quarter Horse Association Professional Horsewoman Lynn Palm and My Royal Lark, son of multiple AQHA Superhorse Rugged Lark, emerged Grand Champion First Level, and also earned the event's highest first level score of 68.571 percent. My Royal Lark and Palm have earned six USDF test scores above 60 percent and are already qualified for 2004 USDF Regional Competition, First Level.

Dressage is an intense test of athleticism and obedience. 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. The test is performed individually in an arena and judged by one or more judges.

In the past, those talented American Quarter Horses that have excelled in dressage have received limited recognition. AQHA's Best of America's Horse Program recognizes the top performers competing outside AQHA-approved shows. Competitors receive prizes but no points. AQHA also has participated in USDF's All-Breed Award Program for many years. This is the first time since 1994 that the issue of formalizing dressage recognition within AQHA has begun to move in a positive direction. USDF staff has been working closely with AQHA's Dressage Task Force and AQHA's Show staff to develop this program. "We are very excited to be able to support AQHA during their pilot year. As a sport enjoyed by riders of all ages and horses of all breeds, we encourage all American Quarter Horse owners to learn more about dressage and USDF," said Cindy Vimont, USDF Senior Director of Member Services.

Stipulations for the 2004 one-year trial period:

- Exhibitor membership requirements are encouraged but not required.
- Owners must register the horse with USDF (HID or Lifetime Registration) and provide copy of horse's breed papers to USDF, in order for USDF to register the horse with the AQHA registered name and number. (The horse may compete under another name.)
- Horse must be a registered American Quarter Horse.
- 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.

Proposed requirements for future AQHA Dressage Recognition:

- Exhibitors must comply with AQHA and USDF membership requirements.
- Exhibitors must meet AQHA eligibility requirements for open, amateur or youth participation.
- Owners must register the horse with USDF (Lifetime Registration) and provide a copy of horse's breed papers to USDF, in order for USDF to register the horse with the AQHA registered name and number.
- Approved events will initially be held at existing U.S. Equestrian/USDF shows, judged by U.S. Equestrian judges, or Canadian Equestrian approved dressage shows, judged by Canadian Equestrian judges.
- USDF will provide data to AQHA for exhibitors competing at recognized USDF competitions.
- Exhibitors competing at approved Canadian Equestrian 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 Amarillo, Texas-based American Quarter Horse Association was founded in March 1940 and is the world's largest single-breed equine registry and membership association, with more than 4.5 million American Quarter Horses registered and AQHA membership numbering more than 351,000. To learn about AQHA membership or programs, call (806) 376-4811 or visit www.aqha.com.

Founded in 1973, the United States Dressage Federation is a nonprofit membership organization dedicated to education, the recognition of achievement, and the promotion of the sport of dressage. For more information about USDF membership or programs, visit www.usdf.org, e-mail usdressage@usdf.org, or call (859) 971-2277.
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