No products in the cart.

- Advertisement -

What Can You Really Expect at This Year’s AQHA World Show?

AQHA is placing a huge emphasis on this year's World Show, but what does that really mean? Get the full scoop in this extensive Q&A with director of competitions Scott Neuman.

In case you haven’t been paying attention, there is no doubt that AQHA is placing a huge emphasis on the 2023 AQHA World Championship Show. Promises of more money, more prizes, more resources, more fun, and, well…simply, more everything. But, what does that really mean? And more importantly, why should you put you own resources into attending this year’s event?

We sat down with AQHA’s director of competitions, Scott Neuman to find out those answers and much more. With the entry deadline right around the corner (September 15), this must-read Q&A will tell you everything you need to know.

GHS: Scott, thank so much for sitting down with us. You were named AQHA director of competitions in January and we know you have been extremely busy since then. How have you devoted most of your time and what does the remainder of the year look like for you?
SN: My year has probably been one of the most educational years of my life. While I had knowledge of horse shows from a management perspective, I knew very little about this end of horse shows. The Show Department is so multifaceted, I could quite literally take days to explain everything I’ve learned. My goal was to be the best support I could be to all these moving parts. I didn’t want to make sweeping changes or institute policies that weren’t going to be effective, so I spent time just watching, learning, and listening. There is no need to make changes to the aspects that are running efficiently and providing our customers with the service they want. The remainder of this year is full steam ahead with the AQHA World Championship Show and then maybe a few days of deep breaths.

- Advertisement -

GHS: You have clearly made improving the AQHA World Championship show a top priority. Why is the World Show important to AQHA and to you?
SN: The AQHA World Championship Show highlights the very best in every discipline. That is the essence of what a Quarter Horse is and I want this to be THE event for people to attend to see all of that versatility. It’s a chance for our customers, owners, trainers, and exhibitors to see how important they are to the Association. While we have four other exceptional championship shows, this show gives AQHA the opportunity to showcase even more of our outstanding horses.

GHS: What are some of the new changes the AQHA World Show has made to help raise exhibitor attendance and participation?
SN: While I did not attend last year’s Town Hall meeting, I heard many things about the various concerns expressed by exhibitors and owners. I should preface my answer by being honest and telling people that not every problem will be solved in one year, but through careful planning and thoughtful, deliberate change, I have confidence in the success of the AQHA World Championship Show. Much concern was voiced over the lack of payback that had once been the norm at the World Show. This year, the AQHA Executive Committee made a huge, good faith move by ensuring those paybacks are brought back with added money. Exhibitors wanted championship jackets. This year all divisions will see jackets from first to third and vests from fourth through 10th. Sponsors and exhibitors wanted a “championship show” feel returned. The sponsorship committee has done an amazing job insuring there will be sponsor, exhibitor, and attendee appreciation parties and events.

GHS: What can both exhibitors and spectators look forward to with regard to AQHA improving the show? How will this show be different than years past? Why should people choose to come show this year?
SN: With the added prizes, paybacks, jackets, and recognition, I think this World Show will have something for everyone. It’s easy to compare World Shows to those of the past, but the reality is today’s show looks different. I think the evolution has been one to highlight more events and more exhibitors. We highlight horses and exhibitors at all levels and in every discipline. It gives more people and more horses the chance to be recognized for their talents and achievements.

GHS: One change that you mentioned is bringing back the AQHA World Show jackets and vests. What brought about this change?
SN: The return of the jackets was in direct response to exhibitor wishes.

- Advertisement -

GHS: Many exhibitors have questioned if it’s worth paying extra fees to enter the jackpot. Can you explain how the jackpots work and if you think they’re worthwhile for people to enter?
SN: I think the jackpots are absolutely worth the entry fee. 100% of their fee is paid back. Some years ago, when the added money for purses was discontinued, I think the jackpots were an absolute necessity to give people another incentive to participate. Now, with the added support from AQHA and many sponsors, there will be sizable payout without the jackpot money, but by entering the jackpot, exhibitors are getting a chance to ride for even more dollars.

GHS: One of the reasons many people say they don’t come to the show is that the same people win every year. Are you working on anything to help new exhibitors and trainers compete on this level?
SN: As for making the show more enticing to trainers and amateurs of all levels, we do offer a wide variety of classes in Levels 1, 2 and 3. Those classes will also share in the purse money and receive jackets and trophies. People of all levels can show here.

GHS: Any new classes or fun events planned for this year? You mentioned social events. Can you tell us more about those?
SN: In addition to our annual events such as Pink Day and Veterans’ Day, we will have a whole host of new social events. Sponsors were given an option of sponsoring a party and we will be having some great ones. In addition, both funding and resources have been allocated for even more parties. The vast majority of all the social events are for everyone. We want the competition to be part of the World Show experience, but we also want everyone to have a great time, socializing and partaking in these social events. Of course, we will have the Pleasure Versatility Challenge again, as well as having evening performances on each Friday and Saturday plus some other special evenings.

GHS: This year’s schedule has come under a lot of scrutiny by the exhibitors…notable is that the schedule seems more spread out than ever and there are Select classes nearly every day of the 21 day show. What was the reasoning behind some of the scheduling decisions? What’s the biggest challenge in putting a schedule together? Do you expect to make any changes this year to the tentative schedule?
SN: Scheduling is single-handedly the biggest task for any show team. Many, many considerations go into crafting a schedule. Exhibitors, spectators, owners, sponsors, vendors, corporate sponsors, and civic leaders all have a stake in the schedule. Crafting a schedule is not taken lightly and this year’s schedule involved a committee, comprising people from many disciplines, experienced show managers, as well as AQHA staff. In the past, the show was built around certain disciplines being put relatively close together. This year a shift was made to divisions so that a certain division would be run in 6-8 days. In the end, we would end up with a diverse group of people and horses at the show at the same time. This, in turn, would add to the foot traffic, the general population of horse enthusiasts and contribute to a “big show” atmosphere. As someone who likes to make people happy, scheduling is a tough task, because you know from the onset not everyone will be happy. In the end, the committee agreed upon the schedule and now it’s our job to produce the absolute best World Show experience we can.

GHS: How are the renovations coming at the Oklahoma State Fairgrounds? Will any of the new additions/improvements be ready for this year’s show?
SN: The renovations are, as you might expect, an inconvenience. At this year’s AQHYA World Show, the air exchange systems were not working at capacity during the 100-degree weather, making the arenas quite hot. Those systems are now up and working. As the construction is a three-year project, this year we won’t experience new facilities yet, but I am excited about the new coliseum. It is going to be a great venue when complete! One improvement rolled out for 2023 will be a new video display in the Performance Arena. We are excited to share that this will allow videos to be shown in both arenas.

- Advertisement -

GHS: We realize certain events at the AQHA World Show are more spectator oriented than others, reining versus halter for example. Any plans to try and bolster audience participation is some of the less popular classes, like a DJ or high energy announcers or anything?
SN: We did consider audience participation, especially in our evening performances. We have a number of events that will require audience participation, so I’m very hopeful we can get more spectators and offer some exciting performances.

GHS: We saw that Nutrena Feeds is the new title sponsor of this year’s show. How did this come about? How do you think your new partnership with them will help this year’s show and future world shows?
SN: Nutrena has been our title sponsor of the Level 1 Championship shows and they are an outstanding corporate partner to AQHA. Their commitment to our events is a huge undertaking and we are so thankful for their support with products and financial assistance. I can only expect their enthusiasm will continue for the World Championship Show.

GHS: When will you be releasing a list of judges for this year’s show?
SN: The judges list has been publicized under the Resources area of www.aqha.com/worldshow.

GHS: Anything you want to add or have any closing thoughts?
SN: My final thoughts are of support and acceptance of change. I’ve been lucky to have worked intricately within the administration of a college program and now at AQHA. I know two things to be true: Change is difficult, but it’s inevitable, and group buy-in is necessary for success. Change is almost always initiated to improve something. Sometimes it works and sometimes it doesn’t, but more times than not, success is achieved. I consider myself someone who has his eye on the big picture and if I can see the ball is headed in the wrong direction, I’m the first to admit a change is required. I’ve found you can right a lot of wrongs by admitting an error. The last comment I have is about buy-in. When everyone can support something, it is almost assuredly going to be successful. When conflict arises within, things start to fall apart. When we criticize from within our community of horse enthusiasts, we’re actively destroying that which provides us all with enjoyment. When I taught in the college system, many times I was faced with preconceived ideas and notions about another discipline, but still within the equine community. My goal was to teach the students the value of appreciation, regardless of activity and rather, see the common aspects. Everyone is trying to enjoy their horse. Any time wasted being angry or negative is only robbing yourself of a chance to enjoy time with your horse. Clearly, you can see I’m a big picture guy, and will continue to be. Protection and promotion of our industry is always on my mind.

GHS: Thanks, Scott! We look forward to seeing you in OKC.

- Advertisement -

2024 AQHA Leveling Point Ranges Available Online

Cheesing It Candids from 2023 Arizona Fall Championship Posted

2023 Congress Patterns Posted

2023 Congress Stall Assignments Posted

Over $46,000 in Cash and Prizes Awarded at the Midwest Cash Incentive Challenge in Lincoln, NE

- Advertisement -

Like a Diamond: Tips for Preventing Self-Pressure from Paralyzing You – with Meghan Tierney

We Ask Trainers: How Do You Deal with Unsportsmanlike Conduct in Your Barn?

Newcomer Aidan Rizk Finds Success at High Levels Just One Year After Showing at Local Open Shows

Like a Fine Wine: How Suddenly A Good Bar Just Gets Better with Age