February 16, 2011

AQHA Gets with the Program

I have been meaning to post about this for a while and just haven't gotten around to it.  In my latest Dressage Today magazine there was an article about Quarter Horses in Dressage. 

I am a huge quarter horse fan.  My first to horses were quarter horses and as I've now dabbled outside the breed, I've come to appreciate their attitude and work ethic even more.  Never did I have to worry about them spooking or getting tense.  They are the perfect horse for any kid starting out (this is a generalization, all breeds have their outliers), they are usually calm, willing to work and smart enough to figure out what you want.  I think if I had started out with a hotter, more "dressagey" horse, I would be a much more timid rider now.  Having a quarter horse helped me build my confidence a rider. 

The one compromise for the quarter horses I owned what that I basically took them out of any AQHA awards and any ability to move up in the AQHA world.  We were riding dressage and a the time dressage was one of the few disciplines AQHA didn't recognize.  So while L.E. was the 2nd highest scoring QH in First Level in the entire country, it didn't mean diddly in the AQHA world or anyone looking to buy an AQHA horse to show at recognized shows.  She didn't get any AQHA points, and with the AQHA you have to keep up with points to stay competitive.  This was 13 years ago.

This article in Dressage Today was about the fact that AQHA has begun to recognize dressage and is allowing results from approved competitions to count towards their AQHA points.  I say yeah AQHA!  I think dressage is a good fundamental skill for all horses to have.  And because if their personality and obedience, quarter horses can excel at the lower levels of dressage, where most of us ride anyways.  L.E. was schooling 2nd level when I had to sell her.  And she snapped her knees at the extended trot with the best of them.

My only concern is the AQHA Appendix program.  Don't get me wrong, I am a huge fan of the cross, QH/Thoroughbred makes an awesome sport horse.  But with the AQHA Appendix program you can breed a QH with a Thoroughbred and they get an "Appendix" added to their breed papers.  They can be registered under AQHA but don't become fully registered until they get so many points at recognized shows.  At that point the appendix gets dropped and they are considered straight up Quarter Horses.  I worry over time this may dilute the breed, and opening the field up to dressage may quicken that dilution since the cross is usually quite good at it.   I've noticed over the years already that "Quarter Horses" for sale are looking more and more like their taller slender buddies, the Thoroughbred. 

But all in all I'm in huge favor of AQHA recognizing dressage.  I think its a big step and may change how people view quarter horses in the future.  They will no longer be seen as just pleasure and cow horses, but the real well-rounded sport horses they are. 

Rugged Lark - The first "Spokes-Horse" for AQHA Dressage

1 comment:

  1. I think its wonderful that they've added dressage in, but I do agree with your concerns regarding appendixes. I found it quite surprising when I discovered that most QH racehorses were 2/3 TB. When they're sold, they are sold as Appendixes, not QH's, but they all race under the title Quarter Horse.