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2024 AQHA Standing Committee Reports Available

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Image courtesy of AQHA

From AQHA:

The American Quarter Horse Association Executive Committee met in April to review the standing-committee recommendations approved in March at the 2024 AQHA Convention by the AQHA membership and AQHA Board of Directors, with the exception of those related to bylaw changes and rules of registration, for which final approval lies with the board of directors. View the bylaw and registration changes.

All committee recommendations were reviewed for feasibility based on a variety of criteria, including but not limited to available resources, budget constraints and necessary computer programming. Careful consideration, discussion and debate were devoted to each item. Below are the highlights of approved agenda items from the 2024 standing-committee reports. Read the full committee reports.

All rules are effective January 1, 2025, unless noted otherwise.

AQHA Amateur Committee

  • Implement the Amateur Ambassador Program, designed to identify an active amateur affiliate member who will be a welcoming ambassador, a connection to the horse show and a friendly resource and network of information at their affiliate horse shows.
  • Create a task force to review the look-back period for amateur eligibility, as well as college students and high school graduates participating in internships to maintain amateur eligibility.

2024-25 AQHA Amateur Committee Chairwoman: Alyssa Freeman Ricker

AQHA International Committee

  • The International Drug Testing Task Force approved the immediate creation of educational resources regarding AQHA drug testing in the form of a web page, easy use guide, virtual and in-person seminars to affiliates, show management and members.

2024-25 AQHA International Committee Chairman: Victor Wolf

AQHA Judges Committee

  • Clarify in SHW912.1 and SHW912.3 that Versatility Ranch Horse shows and/or special events do not count toward the 25-credit limit or limit of 3 shows within a state, respectively.*
  • Amend SHW912.2: [Judges may not] judge two consecutive years at the same show, set of shows or circuit except when judging Level 1/Rookie only and Introductory shows, cutting, working cow horse, roping, team penning, ranch sorting, speed events, ranch riding, ranch trail, working western rail, Versatility Ranch Horse or Ranching Heritage Challenge events where they may judge up to two consecutive years. EWD and speed events are exempt from the two-year maximum. *
  • Amend SHW912.3: [Judges may not] make more than three trips to one state, province or country to judge within one calendar year. One of the trips must be a single day show, a show that occurs in a 24 hour period, if three trips are made. Non-judged events (team penning, ranch sorting, barrel racing, pole bending and stake race) shall not count toward a judge’s maximum number of shows within a state, province or country. *
  • Amend SHW905.3 to only count one credit per event number judged, regardless of the show numbers assigned to that judge.

As a result, to further recommend that SHW912.1 be amended to [Judges may not] earn judge more than 15 events. 25 credits (one show number = one credit). In cases where four or more show numbers are judged at the show, or set of shows, only four credits will be counted against the maximum 25 credits for that judge. Non-judged AQHA-approved timed events (team penning, ranch sorting, barrel racing, pole bending and stake race) shall not count toward a judge’s maximum 15 events25 credits.

SHW905. TO MAINTAIN APPROVAL AS A JUDGE, an individual must:

SHW905.3. attain Earn a minimum of three AQHA-approved credits events from AQHA-approved shows per calendar year beginning January 1 of the year following the individual’s approval as an AQHA-approved judge. (one show number = one credit). No more than one credit for judging

One event toward the three-event annual requirement may be earned from each of the following:

Judge an IEA, IHSA or NCEA, or AQHA-approved Versatility Ranch Horse show or special event.

or a

Judge an AQHA-approved non-judged timed event (team penning, ranch sorting, barrel racing, pole bending and stake race) may be counted towards the minimum three credit requirement. In cases where four or more, show numbers are judged at the same show, or set of shows, only four credits will be counted against the maximum of 25 shows for that judge.

Serve as a panel member for an AQHA-sanctioned judges conference or educational judging seminar; or an official judge for an AQHA-sanctioned qualifying exam.

AQHA-approved specialized judges must earn a minimum of one credit event every three years beginning the date they go on the list of AQHA-approved judges. This credit event may be earned by judging an AQHA-approved show or an alliance show in the discipline for which they are approved. An individual who has served as a panel member for an AQHA-sanctioned judges conference; a panel member for an AQHA-sanctioned educational judging seminar; and/or an official judge for an AQHA-sanctioned qualifying exam will receive credit or one show judged. *

2024-25 AQHA Judges Committee Chairman: Larry Little

AQHA Marketing and Membership Committee

2024-25 AQHA Marketing and Membership Committee Chairwoman: Anne Brzezicki

AQHA Nominations and Credentials Committee

  • Denied the recommendation to modify Article II Section 5 to forgo the physically present requirement and allow members to vote online or by paper ballot.

2024-25 Nominations and Credentials Committee Chairman: Paul Bailey

AQHA Public Policy Committee

  • Establish a permanent strategic planning subcommittee to develop and implement AQHA Political Action Committee donation strategies prior to the start of new congressional sessions.
  • Distribute $50,000 to $100,000 of AQHAPAC funds in this election cycle.
  • Develop a strategic plan to work with AQHA affiliates in the development and communication of AQHA public policy at the federal and state level.

2024-25 AQHA Public Policy Committee Chairman: Patrick Kayser

AQHA Racing Committee

  • Approved the following members to the Champions Selection Committee:

a. Ed Burgart

b. Dr. Jill Cook

c. Chris Duke

d. Jorge Haddad Mestre

e. Orlando Gutierrez

f. Cody Joiner

g. Rod Lowe

h. Keith Nellesen

i. Ryan Robicheaux

j. Walt Wiggins

k. Lorne Winther

Additional members were appointed by the AQHA Racing Council.

  • Amend RAC310.9, RAC301.6, and RAC302.4 regarding questionable finish times:

a. RAC310.9: Horses earning a speed index of 80 or higher will receive a Racing Register of Merit. AQHA will furnish a Register of Merit certificate to the horse’s owner at the owner’s request. If the electronic timer malfunctions but a hand time is recorded that would have resulted in a speed index of 80 or higher, the owner of the horse may appeal to AQHA for designation of the horse a Register of Merit qualifier if the hand-time is certified by track stewards the owner of the horse may request that AQHA designate the horse a Register of Merit qualifier if the hand time is certified by tracks stewards with a written statement validating the time, and the hand time can be verified by staff from a video replay of the race.

b. RAC301.6: A questionable time is when the circumstances around a race are in question, or a time in which past performance records indicate possible error.

RAC301.6.1: In case of questionable times, AQHA may withhold its recognition of the times as official until the race is reviewed by AQHA.

RAC301.6.2: If presiding race officials or the racing authority do not provide reasonable justification for the questionable time, AQHA reserves the right to adjust the time by using the video of the race to estimate the time by counting the number of video frames in the race from the moment the starting gate stall doors are fully open parallel to the racing track. adequate justification for the questionable time, AQHA reserves the right to withhold recognition of a finish time, or to adjust the time by using the video of the race to estimate the time by counting the number of video frames in the race from the moment the starting gate stall doors are fully open parallel to the racing track.

c. RAC302.4: If requested by AQHA, tracks must provide AQHA with a videotape of all graded or restricted graded stakes races at the track’s expense. If requested by AQHA, tracks must provide AQHA with a video replay of any race at the track’s expense. Inability to do so may result in recorded race times not being recognized as official.

  • Amend RAC308.2 regarding official AQHA distances:

a. RAC308.2: The following times constitute Minimum Standard Times for the recognized official distances.

2024-25 AQHA Racing Committee Chairman: Dr. Larry Findley

AQHA Ranching Committee

  • Approved the creation of a task force to review and clarify the definition of “cowboy” as it applies to eligibility for VRH and RHC cowboy classes.
  • Approved to offer the cowboy division only in Ranching Heritage Challenge (RHC) SHW559.3.1 Working Ranch Horse – consists of ranch reining and ranch cow work for open, limited open, cowboy, amateur and youth.
  • Added extremely out of control, dangerous or excessive schooling to all VRH/RHC classes as cause for disqualification and immediate dismissal from the class.
  • Amend SHW419.5 [Ranch Riding Penalties] Zero (0) Score:


Illegal equipment including hoof black, braided or banded manes or tail extensions


Leaving working area before pattern is complete

Disrespect or misconduct

Improper western attire

Fall of horse/rider

  • Changed the qualification period for the VRH World Show to January 1 – December 31 of the year prior to the show, starting with the 2026 VRH World.
  • Amend SHW422.5 and SHW561.6 Ranch Trail Prohibited Obstacles:

Tarps, water obstacles with slick bottoms, PVC pipe used as a jump or walk over, tires, rocking or moving bridges, painted logs or poles, logs elevated in a manner that permits such to roll in a dangerous manner, any type of pinwheel regardless of spacing or gait.

  • Place all Ranching Heritage Challenge roping classes – RHC heading, RHC heeling, RHC breakaway, RHC steer stopping – by a combination of judge(s) score and time.

2024-25 AQHA Ranching Committee Chairman: Turner Armitage

AQHA Recreational Activities Committee

  • Approve the concept of an equine-assisted services program as follows:

a. Require individual AQHA membership.

b. To qualify for this program, individual participation must meet one of the 12 identified types of equine-assisted services.

c. Individuals who accumulate hours within the program will be awarded tiered items to be determined by AQHA and the sponsor.

  • Reviewed the 2023 Recreational Activities Committee saddle contest and announced Oregon Quarter Horse Association as the winner of the Billy Cook saddle.
  • Approve a new program called Trot-to-250 with the following requirements.

a. The program will run July 1 – December 31, 2024

b. Participants must be an AQHA member and enrolled in the AQHA Horseback Riding Program.

c. Must enroll in HBR via an online form to participate.

d. The first 350 participants to reach 250 hours will receive a buckle. All others will receive a certificate of acknowledgment.

2024-25 AQHA Recreational Activities Committee Chairwoman: Susan Dudley

AQHA Show Committee
The Executive Committee approved modifications to several show rules. More details on these rule changes are available in the AQHA Show Committee Report at

2024-25 Show Committee Chairman: Eugene Spagnola

AQHA Studbook and Registration Committee
Registration-related rule-change proposals were reviewed by the Stud Book and Registration Committee. The committee’s recommendations were approved by AQHA membership and the AQHA Board of Directors at convention. Read more about the registration-related rule changes.

The Executive Committee approved to reappoint the joint committee task force with the international committee to review the international registration process for affiliates with an approved stud book.

2024-25 Studbook and Registration Committee Chairman: Dirk Jones

AQHA Youth Activities Committee

  • Approve the immediate creation of a points-based rewards program for youth members competing at AQHA shows.
  • Approve the discontinuation of the points-based scholarship task force which completed its objective.
  • Approve the addition of a 13-&-Under division to the AQHYA World Championship Horse Judging Contest, with the contest procedure to give two sets of oral reasons.
  • Approve the exploration of new opportunities for youth competitive speaking as an addition to the existing contests.

2024-25 AQHA Youth Activities Committee Chairwoman: Arizona Parker

About the AQHA Convention and Rule Changes
AQHA is an organization that works for its members. Each spring, AQHA holds a convention to review AQHA rules and policies. During the convention, member-submitted rule-change proposals and suggestions are also reviewed. AQHA wants to hear any suggestions you have to make AQHA membership, programs and services reach their fullest potential.

Even though members have until December 31, 2024, to submit items for the 2025 AQHA Convention, the Association encourages members to submit rule-change proposals as early as possible to give Association staff, committees and councils more time to prepare materials and communicate potential changes before the convention March 28-31, 2025, at the South Point Hotel and Casino in Las Vegas. View the 2025 rule-change proposal form.

Log in to the AQHA Member Services area for a list of the standing committees.

For more information on the AQHA Convention, visit

*Pending further review regarding feasibility of recommendation, including but not limited to available resources, budget constraints and necessary computer programming.

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