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Getting Started at AHA Shows - Part 2, Abbreviations & Disciplines

If you missed Part 1 of the Getting Started at AHA Shows series, covering the basic requirements and process of entering, you can check it out on the Arabian Horse Life blog.

Horse show premium books and prize lists often use abbreviations. Though it can seem overwhelming, once you understand the basics, it quickly becomes clear.

Below is a list of abbreviations taken from the AHA Handbook. These describe who can compete in certain classes.

  • AOTR/AOTH/AOTD Amateur Owner To Ride/Handle/Drive

  • AAOTR/AAOTH/AAOTD Adult Amateur Owner To Ride/Handle/Drive

  • AOTS Amateur Owned Trained and Shown

  • JOTR/JOTH/JOTD Junior Owner To Ride/Handle/Drive

  • ATR/ATH/ATD Amateur To Ride/Handle/Drive

  • AATR/AATH/AATD Adult Amateur To Ride/Handle/Drive

  • JTR/JTH/JTD Junior To Ride/Handle/Drive

Amateur Owner classes mean an Amateur of any age who owns the horse, or has certain immediate relation to the owner such as a child or spouse, can enter the class. Adult Amateur Owner means only an Amateur over the age of 18 who owns the horse or is eligible by relation to the owner, can enter. ‘Open’ classes, or classes without another designation listed are usually open to anyone, meaning both professionals and amateurs of any age or level can enter.

For example, ‘Arabian Hunter Pleasure AOTR’ means only the amateur owner of the Purebred Arabian horse is eligible to ride him in this Hunter Pleasure class. ‘HA/AA Western Pleasure’ means anyone, amateur or professional, owner or not, is eligible to ride a Half-Arabian or Anglo-Arabian horse in this Western Pleasure class.

‘Ride/Drive/Handle’ depends on the type of class. Under saddle classes, such as Hunter Pleasure or Sport Horse Under Saddle, where horses are ridden will always use ‘ride.’ Classes where horses are lead, such as Halter or Sport Horse in Hand, always use ‘handle.’ Driving classes where horses are driven are always referred to using ‘drive.’

The definitions of Amateur and Professional are clearly explained in the US Equestrian (USEF) handbook under GR13-Competition Participants and Associated Individuals. Generally speaking, a professional is defined as someone who accepts remuneration for riding, training, showing, selling horses, and more. An amateur generally does not accept remuneration for any of the above. Anyone under the age of 18 years old is considered an amateur. If you have questions about amateur status or need more guidance, USEF can help.

In addition to amateur and professional status, there is also leveling for riders available to split classes, all the information is available on the leveling page of the AHA website.

Another abbreviation that may be seen in a premium book is BAC or TBA, standing for Buy-A-Class or To Be Announced class, respectively. These both effectively stand for the same thing - there are slots available in the show schedule for classes desired by exhibitors to be added. Sometimes these available slots come with restrictions, for example, any class from the AHA class code book can be added, with the exception of Sport Horse in Hand, Dressage, and Trail. Often the classes that cannot be added as an ‘option’, To Be Announced, or Buy-A-Class, are excluded because there is insufficient time to set up the required equipment or there is no judge available qualified for that particular discipline.

If the class you would like to show in does not appear in the premium book, contact the show secretary and ask about TBA/BAC. These classes usually cost a small fee to add, $25-$50 is average, and you pay the class entry fee as normal. Classes can be added for age splits or rider/handler level, even if classes are available for that discipline already. For example, if a show offers Hunter Pleasure ATR you can still request to add a Hunter Pleasure AOTR class. TBA/BAC are the best way for amateur owners who train their own horses to compete with their peers in AOTS classes. While these classes are relatively new and not routinely offered, they can almost always be added. If your show secretary has issues adding an AOTS class or confuses it with AOTH you, or they, can call AHA for assistance.

While some shows can be discipline exclusive, for example a Sport Horse show, most offer a range. You can read more about each of the specific disciplines on the disciplines page of the AHA website. As one of the most versatile breeds in the world, Arabian horses compete across the board. At most Arabian shows you can see them performing in the Halter ring, carrying Native Costume and even competing in highly athletic events like Hunter/Jumpers or Reining. Check the premium book and see what disciplines are offered and plan to attend some shows to watch the classes and see where your horse might excel.

If you have specific questions about a discipline, such as tack, attire, or requirements, the AHA handbook is a wealth of information, as well as the USEF handbook Arabian chapters. Beyond this you can also connect with someone from your local club, join one of the online communities on Facebook, or contact the show secretary and ask if they could connect you with a club representative or buddy from your Region, or advise you further.

The Arabian horse community is kind and willing to help. If you have questions, reach out through official channels, as well as social media, for support.

Check back next week for the final post in this series, covering preparation and what to expect at the horse show.

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