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Getting Started at AHA Shows - Part 1, Entries & Requirements

Entering the world of Arabian Horse breed shows can seem daunting, particularly if you’re an amateur without a trainer as a guide. Though there is some learning required to fully understand the classes offered, the rules, and how to enter, there are also a number of resources and points of contact available to help and support you through this process.

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The best way to begin learning about these shows is to attend one. Horse shows are listed by date on the Arabian Horse Association (AHA) website homepage in the calendar. If you are unsure if the horse show in which you are interested is an Arabian Horse Association (AHA) event, call to verify.

When you arrive at the horse show, be sure to let someone know you are new to breed shows and are interested in more information. The show office is a great place to start, though being considerate in your timing will be appreciated by staff and help you get the most from your visit. If the office is busy, for example before a session starts, check back a little later when the show secretary is more likely to have time to chat. Ask the office staff if there is another more experienced amateur from your region with whom you could connect for advice as you begin to navigate the show world.

The same general principals apply for approaching people competing in the show, commonly referred to as exhibitors. Many Arabian horse owners and trainers are eager to welcome new, or new to showing, enthusiasts, but being mindful of who and when to approach helps. If someone is preparing for a class or working with her horse, her focus is elsewhere. Try to find someone who doesn’t seem to be busy to strike up a conversation. Oftentimes barn and teammates in the stands watching the classes are happy to talk and answer questions.

Benefits of showing at AHA recognized shows include results being permanently added to your horse’s record on DataSource, eligibility to collect points towards both Horse and Amateur Achievement Awards, collecting qualification points to show at Regional and National Championship shows, and meeting and networking with other Arabian Horse enthusiasts and their registered Arabian and Half-Arabian horses.

Paperwork, Memberships and Health Requirements

To enter a local Arabian horse show, often called a Class A or local show, both you and your horse need to meet some requirements and have certain paperwork, memberships, and health provisions. These are detailed below.

Arabian Horse Association

  • Certificate of Registration for your Purebred Arabian, Half-Arabian, or Anglo-Arabian horse. You (the person entering your horse into the show, even if you will not be the one showing them) should be the recorded owner of your horse, which is listed on his papers. If you are involved in a contract sale or lease, call AHA for advice.

  • AHA Membership for the owner and anyone planning to ride/handle the horse at the show - those competing will need also need a competition card - be sure to check this option or ask when joining. A single event pass can be purchased if you’d like to show without membership, though there are many benefits (and it is often more economical) to become a member.

For help with registrations and ownership transfers, or AHA membership and competition cards, call the AHA to speak directly with Association staff.

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US Equestrian

  • US Equestrian (USEF) membership is required for anyone planning to ride/handle the horse at the show. A single event pass can be purchased to show without membership, though again there are many benefits and it is often more economical to become a member if you plan to show more than once.

USEF membership can be purchased online, or by calling the USEF office.

Health Requirements

  • Most shows require attending horses to have a current coggins test, as well as a Rhinopneumonitis vaccine within the last six months.

  • If you are travelling out of state, and even some shows in state, you may be required to have a Health Certificate for your horse from your veterinarian.

  • Some medications are banned or restricted (meaning they require additional paperwork to be submitted to use) at USEF sanctioned horse shows. Ask your vet if this is a concern for the particular medications your horse takes.

For more information about health requirements, check the Premium Book of the show or call the Show Secretary. For more information about vaccination guidelines and medications call USEF.

The Entry Process

Each Class A show is hosted by one or more local clubs. A local club is a group of Arabian horse enthusiasts, often (but not always) from the same geographical area that work together to put on shows, events, and create an active community for Arabian horse lovers in their area. Joining your local club, or a club that caters to your interests, is a great way to get involved and establish a system of help, friendship, and support with other AHA members.

To enter a show, you will first need to locate the premium book or prize list and the entry form. The premium book contains all the information about a show, including contacts for various staff members such as the secretary (who will receive your entries and be available during the show at the show office to help with paperwork), and show manager, as well as a schedule of classes and a list of fees. Most premium books and entry forms can be found online. If you need help locating these documents, call the local club hosting the show, or AHA if you are unable to find this information.

Entry forms are usually similar for each show, with slight variation in layout. You will have to provide information on yourself and your horse including your name, membership numbers, address and contact info, as well as your horse’s registered name, registration number, sire, dam, color, sex and height.

The list of classes you wish to enter at the show should be filled in using the class numbers. These can be found in the premium book, usually written in the left margin alongside the name of the class.

Take note of the type of class you are entering, denoted by the abbreviation after the name. Some abbreviations include ATH, AOTH, AATR - these will be covered in the next post in this series.

Fill out your entry form as completely and as accurately as you can. Be sure it is signed in all three mandatory signature spots - Owner, Rider/Handler and Trainer (usually on the second page of the entry form). If you do not have a trainer and are the horse owner, or amateur owner, you must still sign the trainer/custodian section as you will be responsible for the horse while at the show.

If you are unsure or have questions, start by calling or emailing the show secretary or manager. If they can’t help you they should be able to direct you to someone who can.

When you submit your entry, be sure to include copies of all required documents - the list of what is required should be in the premium book. These usually include:

  • Copy of AHA papers (front and back)

  • Copy of owner and rider/handlers AHA and USEF cards

  • Coggins test within 12 months of show date

  • Proof of Rhinopneumonitis vaccination within six months of show date.

Do not send your original documents; these should be kept safe at home. Clear photocopies or scans should suffice.

Some shows will accept entries via email, while others require hard copies of all forms and documents to be mailed in - check beforehand. If using mail, opting for a tracked delivery service offers peace of mind that your entry has been safely received. Similarly, some shows allow you to pay via credit card or PayPal, while others require a check or money order be physically sent along with your entry. The show secretary can usually clear up the specifics of the entry process for their particular event.

Once your entry is processed, you should receive an acknowledgement or confirmation, usually via email, though some secretaries may call. This confirms that you are entered in the show.

If you have more questions about entries, AHA is a great starting point, followed by the show secretary for the specific event you’d like to attend. Their contact information will be in the premium book.

For more general help with getting started, there are a number of helpful Facebook groups for Arabian horse lovers where members can post questions and receive advice, support and encouragement. Arabian Breeders and Owners Alliance is a good starting point.

Check back for Part 2, covering common show abbreviations and disciplines, next week on the blog.

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