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We Ask the Industry – What Are Some of Your Favorite AQHA World Show Memories?

With the qualifying deadline for the AQHA World Show fast approaching, we wanted to take a stroll down memory lane to relive some of the industry's favorite World Show memories.

With the AQHA World Show qualification deadline right around the corner on July 31st, GoHorseShow wanted to relive some of the glory days. This year is the show’s 50th Anniversary, and we want to encourage competitors to celebrate this landmark year by attending the historic show in person.

“For well over 40 years, it has been mine, and many other’s favorite championship show,” AQHA Professional Horseman Leonard Berryhill told us. “Now, with the efforts of many people and a strong few, the show seems to be experiencing a resurgence. Watching equine greatness perform at an elite level is still a great show. I encourage the horse public to watch and support this premier Quarter Horse show.”

AQHA recently announced that a minimum of $4.3 million will be awarded in purse, prizes, and exhibitor appreciation at the 2024 Nutrena AQHA and Adequan® Select World Championship Show. This is a $200,000 increase from 2023, making it a landmark prize pot to mark the show’s 50th anniversary. This year will also be the last year exhibitors can compete in the Norick Arena since it will be torn down to make way for the new state-of-the-art facility, currently in the last stages of completion.

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”It’s where the best come from all over the world. It’s the one to win,” says AQHA Multiple World Champion and Super Horse Trainer Charlie Cole. “If you can’t compete, come watch the events and cheer on your friends and family. There are a lot of new events and parties every night, so you can show your support by showing up, sitting in the stands, and attending the various parties and events.” 

Feeling nostalgic? Take a journey down memory lane to relive some of past competitors’ most memorable moments at the show. We were honored to have some legendary trainers and exhibitors reminisce and share their highlights from years past.

Dan Huss – I’m often associated with my 2018 Senior Reining finals run with Ms Dreamy. Someone told me recently that my run now has over four million views on YouTube. We had just done well at the World Equestrian Games, and the owner wanted me to show her at the AQHA World Show. It was her last ride before her retirement. In the middle of my final run, my bridle broke, and I quickly had to scoop up my hardware and keep going. When it first happened, I remembered that Rusty Dare dropped a rein in the finals one year, and he picked it up and kept going. He won the class, so my initial thought was that I might be able to do the same thing. Unfortunately, they changed the rules since Rusty won, and I was disqualified. I still had a rein around her neck, so I used my seat, calves, and eyes to keep her on pattern. What I remember the most about that ride was that it was shocking to remember the number of people who called my wife, Wendy, after it happened, saying how great it was. That ride was memorable, but my most meaningful and favorite memory was four years later when I won the Senior Reining on Ms Dreamy’s daughter, Julz. She was a Whizkey N Diamonds Palomino Mare owned by Melissa Shearer. Melissa’s dream was to win the AQHA World Show, and I was happy that everything worked out that day.

Leonard Berryhill  In 1982, I made the Senior Tie Down Roping finals; in those days, the coliseum was completely full, and it was shown live on ESPN. I have never been, nor will I ever be, so nervous. I was just a green 24-year-old kid who ended up Reserve World Champion on a homegrown stallion named Skip N Scratch. 1983 was my first World Champion in the Junior Western Riding on another homegrown stallion by Skip N Scrach named Skip N General. This family project came to fruition, and the memory still tears my eyes today. In 2006 and 2007, I showed Vital Signs Are Good, and Jason Martin showed Harley D Zip. In both years (I don’t think this has been done before), we tied for the World Championship and had to have a ride-off. As it turned out, he kicked my butt in the ride-off, but for me, that was the most fun I ever had at the World Show.

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Susie Johns – As far as best memories, I have so many favorites as I’ve been attending since the inception of the AQHA World Championship Shows when it was held in Louisville – there were no belt buckles awarded and small trophies, so each win has a special place in my heart. I guess a few of the most recent memories are 2022. As 2022 was a challenging year for us family-wise, God knew what the Johns Family needed in the way of a bit of sunshine. I won both the Select Amateur Trail and Select Amateur Western Riding aboard KM Flat Out The Best, and my son tied aboard KM Flat Out The Best and Nothin But Nett in Amateur Trail. So Jeff had a history-making ride off against himself. So, he was awarded Champion on Nothin But Nett and Reserve Champion on KM Flat Out The Best in Amateur Trail, and then won Amateur Western Riding aboard KM Flat Out The Best. Then, Deanna Searles won the Jr Western Riding on Nothin But Nett and was Reserve on my sister’s horse, All Eyez On Him. Followed by 2023 and Jeff winning the Amateur Western Riding on KM Flat Out The Best and Deanna setting a World Show record in Sr Western Riding also showing KM Flat Out The Best. That would be The Johns Family’s most memorable memory of AQHA World Shows.

Todd Crawford – The AQHA World Show was a lot of fun back then. It was the one show where we saw everyone from different disciplines. I love watching the western riding classes. We could catch up, take notes, and learn from each other. Everything now is so specialized that we don’t get to see our friends who train in different disciplines as much anymore. Two of my favorite memories involve winning the Junior and Senior Cow Horse. In 2005, I won the Senior Cow Horse aboard Matt Dillion Dun It, a palomino stallion owned by 3 Peaks Ranch. I believe we still have the highest score for the class at 451.5. That is one moment I will never forget. Also, winning the Junior Cow Horse on Hickorys Holly Cee in 1998 was great. She was an exceptional mare. We were also Reserve in the Junior Reining that year and went on to win the Senior Reining in 2001. She did all three of the cow events very well. She produced some great offspring, including the 2018 NRCHA World’s Greatest Horseman mount, Hickory Holly Time.

Charlie Cole – The AQHA World Show is the best place to come and watch western riders and trail horses compete. This will be my 34th AQHA World Show. One of the funniest memories I recall is the third year I competed with Park A Jet. He leaped over the log in the western riding. I still have the video and show it at the judging seminars. It put me on the map, and everyone still brings it up. Also, winning the Senior Western Pleasure back-to-back in 2006 and 2007 and winning the Super Horse three times with the Acadamosby Award was special. Back in the day, The Kaplows and I would play pranks on each other – one time, I remember them putting a dead crow at our stalls with a sign saying, “Don’t Choke.” We had some great times in the early years. 

Fallon Taylor – My favorite memory from the AQHA World Show was winning the Senior Barrels with BabyFlo in 2018. The reason is that the show fell on my mother’s birthday, and we lost her in 2020. She always wanted to take home a globe on her birthday, so I entered BabyFlo up at the show, and I didn’t even have my husband come to watch because she wasn’t very legged up. She was rodeoing a lot less, not fully retired, and she is just a phenomenal mare that she gave me everything she had for that World Championship as if she knew how much it meant for our family. Having that picture with my mom and dad with that globe after winning a World Championship at the NFR and being one of the few mares who have won both championships meant a lot to us. We hope to return and take one of her foals so that it is generational. It is at the top of my priority list for 2024.

Debby Brehm – I started back with horses in 1983, and my first big win was Reserve World Champion Aged Gelding in 1988 with Skips Bellboy. Unfortunately, in those days, no trophy was given other than the World Champion trophy. I received the red ribbon with the medallion on it. However, two years later, in 1990, I showed Cant Stop Styling to win World Champion Amateur Two-Year-Old Gelding. What a thrill to win my first gold globe. Fortunately, I have continued to win several other gold trophies, but I will always remember my first one.

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Debbie Cooper – I attended the first AQHA World Show in Louisville, Kentucky in 1974. I was 18 years old, and we drove all the way from Arizona. It was an eye-opening experience seeing the East Coast and West Coast riding styles merge together at one large show. The walkway to the main arena was completely covered in green shavings, probably to emulate the green pastures of Kentucky. I remember visiting thoroughbred farms like Calumet and seeing Secretariat and Churchill Downs. Before the AQHA World Show came to fruition, the West Coast and East Coast riders stayed on their side of the country. The AQHA World Show moving to Oklahoma City made the show more centralized, and more people started to attend, making it a premiere event for everyone. In the early years, we bought box seats for our clients, and the seats were packed with spectators. The evening performances and concerts were all fun to attend. It has been special to be part of something from the very beginning.

Whitney Vicars – One of my favorite memories was winning the Amateur Horsemanship World Championship with Southwestern Gunman. It meant so much to me to be a part of making him an AQHA World Champion for several reasons. My family bred, raised, and trained him. His dam, Ms Southern Border, was my first show horse, and his sire, Dress Western, my dad trained and showed to an AQHA World Champion title. It meant a lot to me to be able to add World Champion producer to their records because of the history my family had with these horses. Sissy (Ms Southern Border) took such great care of me and gave me my start, and being able to show one of her babies is yet another blessing she gave me, so being successful with him is something I want to give back to her.

Gigi Bailey – I cannot tell you how excited I was when I saw my first World Show. I watched every class I could…many I had never seen before. I watched the Working Cow Horse for several hours, trying to understand it…then Al Dunning walked in on Expensive Hobby. Their performance was awe-inspiring. It became my “benchmark” for the Cow Horse. The Roping and Cutting events were the same. I learned so much that week, and I was like the “kid in the candy store.” I wanted to see all of it. I learned to appreciate the World Shows as everyone comes there with their best…and hopes they will be the best.



Jerry Erickson – I personally have many great memories from that show. Winning with Ruler I Am four times, Sonnys Hot Jazz twice, and working hunter with Just Like June, owned by a very good friend, Judy Davis. The first World Champion I rode was the great Ruler I Am in 1988. This win was especially gratifying because he had run off with me in the previous World Show. So, not only was this the first time I had ridden a World Champion, but the performance turnaround from the previous year was amazing. Every owner of one of my winners was so excited to get the globe.

Kathy Tobin – I still wear the first AQHA World Show Champion Buckle I ever won, Select Trail, in 2004. It’s special because it took me 46 years of showing quarter horses to finally win at the AQHA World Show, and, yes, there were no World Shows for most of those years. I showed for my love for it, but once the World Shows started, I decided to try to win one. There was a lot of sweat, tears, and occasional doubts, but it all made my dreams come true.


Ashley Dunbar-Clock – My first World Show was in 2007. I was 19, and it was my last youth year. I had multiple horses qualified in the Jr and Sr Trail. It was a memorable year as I had just started in the Quarter Horse circuit, and in my first year at the World Show, I won the Jr and the Sr Trail. It was a time that I’ll never forget. After that year, I wanted to come back every year. Getting at least one horse to the finals every year I arrived was a goal. Of course, that wasn’t always the case, but it gave me something to work towards year after year. I have been back at the World Show every year since then. I love the World Show as it’s what you work towards all year. Some years, it works out great, and some years, not so much, but there’s always another year to try again.

Lisa Wilkes – I brought home my first gold globe at my first Select Amateur World Show in 2019. Did I go there expecting to win the gold? Absolutely not!  My goal was to enjoy the experience and try to win a globe, never expecting to win the gold. I felt like many competitors probably feel, which is why they choose not to show at the world, that they can’t beat the top handful that are always at the top at the shows. I always tell people when I hear that comment that they can. I’m proof. I’m sure many have never heard my name before I trotted my big homegrown red roan mare VS Code Me Lucky down the middle of that show arena in Fort Worth and brought home the gold globe. A day I will never forget. So, to all the competitors who think they can’t compete and bring home a globe from the AQHA World Show, I’m telling you – you can. Work hard and enjoy the experience. It’s worth it!

Lauren Crivelli – My favorite memory from last year was winning the AQHA Green Horsemanship on a mare I had brought along since she was two. Having my mom there made it even more special as we walked out of the arena with a neck ribbon, greeted by the biggest smiles from her and my trainer.




Patty Bogosh
– The AQHA World Show has a vibe and experience. You feel the energy when you enter the arena. The talent level of the horses and exhibitors makes this show one I look forward to all year. When I was little, my biggest goal was to win the World Show, and I’ve been fortunate enough to have attended since 2015. I’ve had much success, but my favorite win was the L2 Horsemanship in 2021. Patrick and I were locked in every moment of that go, and there’s no better feeling than when it all comes together. I look forward to that and all the pattern classes because of the difficulty and creativity. Some of the patterns seem like two patterns in one, and while I’ve gone off pattern a few times, you learn so much by being at that horse show, in that environment with that level of accountability. I hope everyone who wishes to attend the World Show can do so.

Meg Pye – The World Show is what I work towards all year. The best of the best. I view it as the “report card.” Haul all over throughout the year. Practice, improve, and create a game plan. When November rolls around, it’s when you try to lay out the greatest version of you. My favorite memory from the World Show was from 2022. My husband was in the stands when I won the L3 Amateur Showmanship. He took me for ice cream afterward to celebrate.


Brister Shum  My favorite (embarrassing) World Show memory was quite a few years ago when I was just out of Novice. I was so excited to have qualified in horsemanship that I decided to show…ready or not. The prelims called for a lead change, which my horse, Hes A Natural Zipper, and I had learned the week before. We did our pattern, and he changed so enthusiastically that his hind foot hit the cone and punted it into the judge’s stand. They had to duck to keep from getting hit. Aside from that, I enjoy the World Show because I get to see classes and visit with exhibitors from disciplines I don’t usually see…such as ranch and cow horse classes. So fun!

Julie Hoefling – The AQHA World Show is a great event that showcases some of the highest levels of talent. I’ve attended several times, showing at different levels of competition. AQHA has done a good job of including all competitors, so even as a Level 1, you can still experience that “World Show” feel. My favorite AQHA World Show memory was just a few years ago when I had a lot of success with a mare called Bringin Booty Back. We attended the L1 Champion of Champions classes, and my trainer showed her and made the finals in the L3 Ranch Trail. It was really special to see her perform and excel in the showmanship, ranch riding, and ranch trail, and it was great that we could all show at one World Show.

Sarah Lebsock – I have so many wonderful memories at the World Show. Lovely dinner nights, winning the Level 2 Western Pleasure, making many finals, and even funny memories that we wish didn’t happen at the World Show. One of my favorite memories was watching my horse compete in the Three-Year-Old Versatility Class and listening to so many people whistle for him in the pattern portion. He was draw 1, of course. I remember having such pride watching him do what he did. We didn’t win, but it was fun and a thrill to be a part of something so progressive for the industry and see our hard work in the pen.

Katie Kopf – My favorite memory from the World Show is when I was lucky enough to win a silver globe in the Amateur Trail. I was thrilled to make it to the finals, as it was my first time making a Level 3 final in any class. I felt all of the emotions as the announcer placed the class, and hearing my name called the Reserve World Champion is a moment I’ll never forget.

 




Samantha Foust
– My favorite memory from the AQHA World Show was winning my first globe on my mare Cool Cruzen Lady while I was ten weeks pregnant. No one knew at the time. It was so special.

 

 

 

 

What’s your favorite AQHA World Show memory? Do you plan on attending or competing at this year’s show? 

Click here to learn more about the show and qualification deadline. We hope to see everyone in Oklahoma City in November.

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