Scores using the new system can range from 0 to Infinity, with the average score being 70. Photo © Shane Rux

New AQHA Scoring System Announced for Pattern Classes

This coming January, there will be a new scoring system for AQHA horsemanship, showmanship and equitation classes.

“In many ways, the new system is similar to the current system,” said AQHA Professional Horseman John Pipkin, chairman of the AQHA judges committee. “We’re just changing the quantitative assessment. There’s no change to the philosophy of the classes.”

AQHA scoresheets have two purposes: to help judges make their placings and to help exhibitors learn how to improve their rides.

Scores using the new system can range from 0 to Infinity, with the average score being 70. The patterns will be divided into six to 10 maneuvers, with each maneuver being scored from a plus 3 to a minus 3 in half-point increments, a 0 is average. The maneuver score will have equal consideration with the performance of the pattern and the rider’s position and effectiveness.

“These classes aren’t just pattern classes,” Pipkin said. “They’re still judged on the rider’s connection with the horse, working in concert to perform the prescribed maneuvers.”

The new scoring system is similar to what is used in National Collegiate Equestrian Association competitions, with there being a numbered score for each rider given by the judge.

“Horsemanship and equitation exhibitors will also be judged on the rail, and the final score will be adjusted as appropriate,” Pipkin said.

Judges will also subtract penalties rather than faults from scores. An error that would have been a minor fault is now a 3-point penalty, a major fault is now a 5-point penalty, and a severe fault is a 10-point penalty.

“A scoresheet is ultimately for the exhibitor’s benefit,” said Patti Carter, AQHA senior director of judges. “With these more detailed scoresheets, exhibitors will be able to pinpoint areas to improve. I commend the members of the judges committee on their hard work developing this new judging tool and look forward to seeing it in action.”