Show Records with the IALHA, What Do They Really Mean?

Or why you can’t go by the show records when purchasing an Andalusian horse

In the American Quarter Horse breed there are literally millions of horses registered. To take a quarter horse all the way to “world champion” requires an incredible dedication of time and money and a superior specimen. Do you know how a quarter horse even qualifies or earns the right to be at the world show? The trainers take their horse from show to show earning points while competing against other horses. The more horses in the class, and the higher the placing, the more points the horse can earn. Horses all over the country compete in local and regional shows for points. The more you’re able to travel, the more shows you can make and the more points you rack up. Some shows even have multiple judges and you get points from each judge’s placing. 

And although it might seem great if you arrive at a show and you’re one out of five horses – the low turnout actually hurts you if you have a good horse. It would be better if you beat 14 horses and got first place. In fact, a class of three horses doesn’t even receive points. IE. If your horse won first place out of 5 to 9 horses, he would get 1 point, but if there were 45 or more horses, he would get 9 points.

A quarter horse who qualifies for the world show has really earned it. The number of points required to compete at the world level varies by the competition. Younger horses, amateur and youth classes, are fairly relaxed in their requirements. Other classes, such as the open halter and performance classes are tougher to get into. At the world, aged mares are required to have 14.5 pts and aged geldings 22 pts. The open western pleasure class requires you to have 37 pts and hunter under saddle 35 pts. Classes which are not as popular like cutting and jumping only require you to have 1 pt.

So what does this all mean in regards to Andalusian horses and THEIR show records? Andalusian horses that are going to compete in the USA at the championship level only have to attend, in reality, one horse show in which they have earned either first, second, or third place for that class. It doesn’t matter how many horses they competed against. 

So, for example, if you entered in Youth Equitation at a regional show and were the only competitor – you’re on your way to the championships. If you were riding in western pleasure against 5 horses, your chances were already 60% or better that you would“qualify” for Nationals. 

Regional shows, due to the rarity of the breed, by nature have a very low turnout in general and you are almost guaranteed just by showing up of getting qualified. One exception is the halter classes – which require little preparation and can be large.

Nationals are currently held in Fort Worth, Texas and competitors come from all over the United States, Canada, and Mexico to attend the celebration. Still, the numbers of horses attending (compared to other breed shows) are very low. 200 – 300 is a good turnout. 

In the show ring, class size varies from approximately 1 to 20. Non-championship classes as well as championship classes are held over a period of about 6 days. Horses which place in non-championship classes receive first place through 6th place ribbons. Horses in championship classes are placed according to their scores into a “top 5” category of the 5 horses receiving the most points in their class. Then, among these 5, they are awarded reserve and champion ribbons. In halter classes, the horse with the best movement score recieved a gold medal, regardless of where he places.

Many Andalusian people advertise their “top 5” placings as if it were a crowning achievement. This would sound pretty good if your horse was an Arabian or Quarter Horse and had to actually earn their way through performance points, qualifying classes, champion selection classes, and championship classes. But, alas, for the Andalusian, sometimes it means that they just showed up and there were a total of 5 horses in the class, or less. In other words, everyone in the championship class got a “Top 5” placing.

The other reason that Andalusian horse show records differ drastically from other breeds is less easily proven and more political and has to do with the judges of the breed. They are primarily Americans who have never travelled to Spain. 

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