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Top Industry Professionals & Amateurs Discuss What They Are Looking Forward to at the AQHA World Show

Fall has fallen across the nation, ushering in spiced lattes, bustling apple orchards, and for most of our AQHA show community, a reminder that our very own version of the golden globes is right around the corner.

To get us all in the world show spirit, we begin by asking our colleagues to share what they are most looking forward to about this year’s trip to the AQHA World Show.

Trainer Torey Roderick from Lee, New Hampshire, looks forward to being surrounded by some of the best horses and horsemen in our industry for weeks. “Without the same class load as the Congress, the world show typically has allowed me to feel the same level of intensity, but also the feeling that preparedness is attainable. I always learn so much being submerged in that environment every November. No doubt, this year will have some challenges, but I’m sure it will be invaluable as it is every year.”

Lifelong AQHA member Johne Dobbs began showing as a youth. Her children, Travis Dobbs and Courtney Clagg, were raised in the AQHA youth programs, and her grandchildren are now AQHYA competitors. “I’m looking forward to seeing how large the World Show is in 2020 and the improvements being made by the staff and the executive committee.”

Dobbs became more involved in AQHA as a national director in 1997 and then as President in 2013. “The evening performances held at the World Show in the ’80s and ’90s were special. The coliseum was packed, and spectators were able to watch a diverse array of classes…there was a lot of excitement.”

Amateur exhibitor and AQHA committee member Nicole Barnes of Grayslake, Illinois, expressed thankfulness for the opportunity to resume showing horses—at all levels. “In a year that has quite literally turned the world upside down, I am feeling more gratitude than ever for the chance to ride and show my horses. Each ride feels a little more special than before. The World Show is the biggest show of the year for me each year. I’m always bringing a young horse through the ranks, and the opportunity to compete at this level is something I look forward to year-after-year.”

Adding the Select and Level 1 divisions will undoubtedly add a different flavor this year, and it means that we get to have more of our barn mates with us at the show.” 

Kaleena Weakly and her husband Josh, have been showing horses for nearly twenty-five years. “This year, I’m looking forward to a few things…most of all, showing my brand-new partner Definitely A First, who I recently acquired at the AZ Fall Championships. It will be our first show together, and that’s exciting on a whole new level. I will also be looking forward to seeing so many exhibitors at this year’s World Show since it will be a culmination of select, amateur, open, and the novice championship events, all in one. So many classes, so much fun, and such great competition. I think this is exactly what we need to end this unpredictable year – a World Show to remember.”

AQHA Judge and multiple AQHA World Champion hunt seat rider, Gigi Bailey is looking forward to this year’s AQHA World Show.  “Producing an event such as a world championship show is a tremendous effort on anyone’s scale. This year, COVID-19 made its presence known, only to complicate the already arduous process of creating such spectacular showcases for the world’s best equine athletes.  We know the virus is along for the ride…we still want the very best to be able to compete with the very best.”

Gigi’s priority is safety. “It’s a super big order. Things are different. So far, I think show managements have struck the perfect balance…safety for exhibitors, safety for horses. This does mean changes for everyone, in traveling, preparing, and presenting your horses. I am looking forward to those individuals who can embrace the changes and still present their fabulous equine partners to their best.”

Judge Bailey focuses on the positive as she prepares for this year’s premier event. “I know how fortunate we all have been to be able still to showcase our favorite horses at the World Show.  I wish the very best of luck to AQHA and all owners and exhibitors. The ‘World’ cannot wait to see what you have in store for us.”

What are you looking forward to at this year’s AQHA World Show? Let us know in the comments.

About the Author – Catherine Finger loves to dream, write, and tell stories. Retired from a wonderful career in public education, she contributes to others’ well-being by offering coaching support for leaders, writers, and speakers. Passionate about riding and showing Quarter Horses, she lives in the Midwest with a warm and wonderful combination of family and friends.