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Crossing Over – How to Handle Showing a New Breed


AQHA, APHA, PBHA, ApHC, Pinto…the list goes on and on. These days, it’s more common to find horses that are registered to several different associations rather than just one.

Not only does it make the horse more marketable, but it also gives the trainer and owner more opportunity to get out there and compete on more than one circuit.

But what does that mean to the exhibitor? If you started showing one breed association and now find yourself crossing over, how do you handle the differences between the two?

Three crossover exhibitors have been kind enough to share their experiences and advice on how to make the transition as seamless as possible.

Vanessa Froman

Amateur exhibitor Vanessa Froman of Sawyer, Michigan started out showing APHA, but has recently started showing her double registered horse at AQHA shows. Her son Colin has also started competing in both associations. In hopes of a change in scenery, Vanessa began to show on the Quarter Horse circuit under the guidance of Jenell Pogue.

Froman (pictured far right) has been on the APHA Honor Roll and received top ten finishes at the APHA World Show. She attributes her successful crossover to Pogue’s long-time career with AQHA and her continued support when it comes to knowing others who show Quarter Horses and gaining a support system.

Froman’s advice to those thinking of crossing over is “just go have fun” and to “view it as a vacation.” Vanessa has been moved by the camaraderie between trainers and exhibitors, even when it seems like everything is going downhill. “People are willing to help each other out – even if you are the new kid on the block.”

Kelsey Marriott

Amateur Kelsey Marriott of Killeen, Texas also found herself crossing over from APHA to AQHA with her double registered gelding, Not So Much. Concerned with how much bigger the classes were, how fierce the competition was, and how much more was required from horse and rider, Kelsey said that at first, all she wanted to do was “just survive the class.”

As with many first-timers, Marriott struggled with nerves and rushing through her classes. However, as Kelsey began to show at more and more AQHA shows, she tried to focus on one thing at a time to improve her overall scores and placings. Her tenacity in that regard has earned her two AQHA Novice Championship titles.

The best advice Kelsey felt newcomers should hear was to be patient and have a game plan. “With those two things well in hand, you’re able to focus on the strengths and weakness of not only yourself but those of your horse as well. And of course, make sure to celebrate the positives and always have fun.”

Sabrina Anderson

Sabrina Anderson of Scottsdale, Arizona is an amateur who started out showing Paints and Pintos at a very young age. She has received multiple top finishes at the Pinto World Championship Show, including several World and Reserve World Champion titles, on two different horses. This year, she decided to take it up a notch and show her first amateur year on the Quarter Horse circuit.

Anderson noted that her biggest weakness was assuming that she would have the same luck she’d had previously on other circuits. While her first day back in the pen with AQHA wasn’t as she had hoped, her second day proved more fruitful.

Horses, like people, have good days and bad days. Sabrina felt the best thing she could do when her trip on a new circuit wasn’t going her way was to have patience and think back on all the advice she’d been given over the years. She also needed to hone in on the relationship she has with her horse to try and make the best of it.

Sabrina’s advice moving for those looking to crossover is simple – “practice like you’ve never won, perform like you’ve never lost.”

Moral of the story? Be confident, have patience, learn as much as you can, and have fun. Horse people are some of the best people in the world, and no matter what association you decide to cross over to, you’re sure to always find a helping hand if you look for it.


Erica Owen is a professional trainer based in Cave Creek, AZ, specializing in the all-around events, including ranch riding and reining, in all breed associations, including AQHA, APHA, Pinto, and PHBA. She enjoys riding horses by morning and running her restaurant, the Compass Arizona Grill, by night. She also enjoys spending time with her significant other, Alfredo and their yellow lab, Butters.

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