POLL – We Ask The Industry: Should the Level 1 Championships be Combined with the AQHA World Shows Going Forward?
Last month, GoHorseShow published an article about whether people in the industry would prefer the Select World Show combined with the Open/Amateur World. Our poll showed overwhelmingly (82%) that most people prefer they be combined.
Although 2020 was a tough year with shows being canceled due to the pandemic and having to combine shows, it did give AQHA the opportunity to try new things. Going a step further, we wanted to know if competitors liked the Level 1 Championships being combined with the AQHA World Show last year.
Vanessa Froman – I was very appreciative that AQHA held the Championships at all in 2020. If I had my choice, I would prefer it to be at least an East and a West Championship. We loved attending it in 2019 at the World Equestrian Center in Ohio. It allowed more exhibitors to attend to travel as far as Oklahoma City or take off as much time from work as we had to do in 2020. Plus, it was one trip for those that show as a family versus going to Oklahoma City twice. It created a camaraderie among the exhibitors that I haven’t seen duplicated at other championships across several breeds. I hope they have it again this year at the WEC in Ohio, and many people agree.
Shannon Vroegh – I understand how having three separate championships is hard for it to make money, and I also think trying to put novices at the same place as Level 3 riders makes it difficult. It can be intimidating and overwhelming for Level 1 riders. If I could pick, I would have one novice championship that stands alone in a centrally located area. It would allow you to have more walk-trot classes, more rookie classes, more freed up warm-up areas, and encourage the novice exhibitor, just like their very own world show. Holding it early in the year may also encourage exhibitors to go to the world show later and try level two classes if they have a good experience at level one.
Lauren Brown – As an L1 amateur myself, I would rather see the Level 1 Championships go back to three separate shows like they were before. While I think it was cool to have them be a part of the world show, showing at that level is very nerve-wracking. I think being in the company of other novice exhibitors at a smaller show would be less stressful, especially for first-timers.
Margaux Tucker – I did think for the year 2020, it was an excellent offering to combine the Level 1 Championships with the AQHA World Championship Show and Select World. I think it was hard for some people, in that, it was potentially a lot of classes for horse and rider to compete in, or it was a tough decision to make to limit yourself to specific classes/goals for the show as not to be too overworked or spread too thin. Sometimes, for Level 1 exhibitors, that is a challenge they are still working on. I think some trainers had a hard time juggling arenas and expectations. Overall, it was an excellent option for the circumstances of the year.
One drawback was then the lack of the walk-trot classes and separate rookie-level classes. If we, as a group of showmen/trainers/AQHA committee members, still want to reward these divisions at a championship type show, I think it would be hard to get all of those classes in while combining with the AQHA World Championship Show. I realize that it might not always be the case if having the Select World there, but I still see a schedule conflict if we reward those exhibitors and allow them a championship opportunity.
I believe with the Level 1 Championships for 2020 being held during the 2020 AQHA World Championship Show, we saw a significant cross over to level 2 and level 3 classes that may have otherwise not happened if the shows were separate or if qualifying had still been a standard for the year. That was a nice bonus for everyone. I prefer the three independent Level 1 Championships to be held at a different time than the respective AQHA World Shows. However, it was a fantastic compromise that needs to be commended, as it allowed many people to finish their year with success.
Lana Deppen – As hauling to Oklahoma from the West Coast is expensive, I would love to see it held separately with the three locations. I did prefer having the show in the Fall though, back when it was in September. It gave rookie and level 1 riders the season to prepare.
Teresa Sullivan – I wouldn’t say I like it at the world show. I, along with many people, enjoyed it the way it was in April or fall. Having it separate gives those Level 1 and rookie people their own thing without being intimidated by Level 2-3. AQHA put on such a great Championship Show for them with an inviting atmosphere, where they feel comfortable showing.
Amanda Moore – Being located in Ohio, I like the Level 1 East presently situated in Ohio. I am self-employed, so when I look for shows to go to, logistics is always essential. I think people who are genuinely rookie or level one trying to gain experience and get their feet wet in the industry, yet get to experience a larger show, prefer not having to travel to Oklahoma if they have the option to travel someplace more regionally located to them. I am hopeful that they will return to having the three different shows and that we will be able to have one in 2021 back in Ohio. It was genuinely heartbreaking last year to only have one more opportunity to compete in the Level 1 Showmanship at the Congress and not have that be a possibility and then have the Level 1 Championships moved where I couldn’t make the travel time work.
Alyse Roberts – I like the Level 1 Championships being held separately. I feel like with open, amateur, select, and level 1 all being held together, it lost the feeling of “the world show.” The schedules were crazy and not enjoyable, showing at midnight. I feel like the Level 1 Championships’ point is to give those exhibitors the opportunity to experience a show geared to their level and the hopes of doing well and then to move up. For me, the AQHA World Show is usually a smaller, quieter event that we get to enjoy, and it was not such a hectic schedule. Plus, I feel like having them all together is tough on the horses shown in the open, amateur, and level 1 classes. I enjoy the separate events.
Lynne Puthoff – My barn and I all liked the three separate L1 Championships. I see how it can make some sense to have it all together. However, our industry is about welcoming and encouraging new and excited beginners and new AQHA enthusiasm. Showing at the AQHYA World and the Amateur World is most definitely a huge deal. But, the rookie and the L1 riders are the future and let’s face it, most of the true new riders need more time and more individual attention. That’s hard when it’s all together, for multiple reasons.
Julie Hoefling – I’ve attended these shows when they were separate and this past year when they were together at the AQHA World Show. For me, it was nice having all the shows in one place, as I’m in different levels in different classes and likely wouldn’t be able to swing financially multiple horse shows. Both my horse and I were able to show in numerous levels without having to haul and pay for several shows.
The AQHA World Show had a great vibe and felt special, no matter what level you were. I also think there were many newcomers (myself included) showing at the AQHA World Show for the first time, which also was a neat opportunity. The competition was tough, and doing well there was a significant accomplishment. However, when the Level 1 shows are held regionally, it allows for more participation from those rookie and Level 1 exhibitors who cannot travel to Oklahoma City. I enjoyed both formats and love showing in Las Vegas, but for me, having all the classes in one place made a lot of sense.
Miranda Sams-McIntosh – I felt like more people went. It was a tough schedule for me personally, but more customers went, and more were willing to participate in the different levels. If my “novice riders” would’ve gone to the novice championships separately, they probably wouldn’t have gone to the world show, thus making it more expensive for the others. Not to mention, they ended up showing Level 2 and 3 classes.
Anne Shafer – I would like it back as the three but later than April. We like having the walk/trot classes along with all of the other ones. Having it at the World Show put too much time between our novice clients showing at both levels.
Chelsea Carlson – I wasn’t able to attend this year, so I cannot speak on how it was run in conjunction with the World Show. However, I can talk about the terms of what others in my area thought of it. I believe for growth to continue to be pushed in the area of the L1 exhibitor, there should be three separate championships.
There are still quite a few people that see the AQHA World Show as an unattainable goal and something financially out of their league. So in that aspect, I can see keeping it separate as something more of a reachable goal to those who live far away. For trainers like myself in areas that are still pretty shut down as far as events go, it is also a lot to ask someone to take a chance and travel that far and spend that much money, when we haven’t been able to really show consistently at any point.
Vote in our poll and let us know what you think.