Darla Lee mentions that although the Quarter Horse Congress is the largest AQHA show throughout the year, it is vital to treat it like any other show. Photo © Impulse Photography

Congress Do’s and Don’ts with Ohio Trainer Darla Lee

It’s Congress time. The magical time of year when the weather gets crisp and the horses get peaked. For a lot of us, we have been attending the All American Quarter Horse Congress for many years. For owners, there is so much excitement and for trainers, so much on the line.

So many of us look at the Congress as a place we have to go every year and lose sleep and work harder than we do any other time of the year. Some of us know the inner workings of the show, but to a lot of newcomers, they are just learning what this beast is all about.

Every year brings something new; new challenges and new goals met. It is so hard to navigate the day-in and day-out of this show and we hope a few pointers can help everyone enjoy their time at this great show.

Do: Think about time management. At the Congress, the only thing more valuable than time is real estate. You can get the most done if you manage your time right. Riding when the pens are packed is not productive. There are times of the day, usually early morning or late at night that longing and riding pens are not as busy.

Don’t: Park in stupid places. Anywhere that a horse has to get walked through is no place for a car or a golf cart. There is no greater frustration as an exhibitor than to try to walk a horse somewhere and have a car or golf cart in the way.

Do: Visit Auddino’s Bakery on Clara St and have a cronut (donut/ croissant). They are just a 30-second drive from the fairgrounds, and they have the most amazing pastries and bread you might ever eat.

Don’t: Skip getting your picture taken. Yes, it’s costly, and sometimes the lines are long, but you will want that memory later on in life. Win or lose, the Congress is a tough show and you should cherish the memory of showing at such a great show.

Do: Watch a class you have never seen before. One of the coolest things at the Congress is that they have almost every class AQHA offers. From Hunters to Ropers, it’s almost all covered, and has some of the best horses in the country. You will have even more appreciation for the great versatility of the horses we show.

Don’t: Break rules. It sounds silly, but the rules are there for a reason, most of the time for safety. Don’t longe in places you shouldn’t or ride in practice times that are not for you. When everyone abides by them, it makes the Congress much more enjoyable.

Do: Look up in the make up pen. When riding in the practice pens, the best thing you can do is look up. It’s a dangerous place, but it can be a lot less dangerous if you look where you are riding.

Don’t: Leave early. One of the most exciting classes is the Masters, and it’s not until the end. It is worth staying for to watch if you have never experienced it.

Do: Splurge on a Congress Coat. Maybe you were only a finalist, or you already have a few of them, but honestly, they never get old. It is hard to earn one so don’t pass it up.

Don’t: Change your prep. It is just another horse show, like all the others we all show at all year. Switching things up too much can be a mistake.

Do you have any tips about the Congress? Let us know.