Aurora, Colo. – Nearly 1,800 Arabian and Half-Arabian horses and 7,200 exhibitors, trainers, and support staff made Tulsa Expo Square in Tulsa, Okla., their home for two weeks during the Arabian Horse Association’s (AHA) Arabian and Half-Arabian U.S. National Championship Horse Show. National and Reserve National Champions were crowned across a number of diverse disciplines, from hunter and Western pleasure, to trail and reining, to breeding in-hand and driving classes. This event truly showcased the diversity andathleticism of the Arabian and Half-Arabian breeds.
Over $600,000 in prize money was awarded across these disciplines through AHA’s Arabian Breeders Sweepstakes and Halter and Performance Futurity/Maturity programs, along with the Arabian English Performance Association (AEPA) and Arabian Western Pleasure Association (AWPA) prize money classes. These programs were created with breeding incentives in mind. Breeders and owners alike can win prize money through competition for eligible horses, by nominating to these individual programs. Designed to incentivize owners and breeders and grow the breed, an additional prize money program will launch classes at the 2018 show through the Arabian Hunter Pleasure Association (AHPA).
Full class results for prize money classes, as well as the full schedule of classes from the 2017 U.S. Nationals, can be found here.
Support of the Arabian horse community and fundraising is also a large part of U.S. Nationals. A philanthropic sister organization to AHA, The Arabian Horsemen’s Distress Fund (AHDF), is a 501(c)(3) that provides financial support for AHA members who experience catastrophic, unexpected crisis. Over the years, AHDF has disbursed hundreds of thousands of dollars to horsemen and women in need in the Arabian horse community. U.S. Nationals generally serves as one of their largest fundraisers of the year.
The 2017 event, Chips for Charity, was a new concept in 2017, replacing a traditional Wine Walk and a pro-am Western Pleasure class. Several large sponsors stepped up to support the event, including AHA. Monies raised not only supported AHDF and their mission, but also the Warrior Horses project, created by the Arabian horse industry’s own Ryan Melendez. Sponsored signature drink bars representing key stallions in the industry, craps and poker tables, a DJ, and more made the evening a fun break from the seriousness of competition.
“It’s amazing that this event happened, out of a new idea to replace the Wine Walk that was already in place,” says Lester Martin, AHA member and exhibitor. “Everyone enjoyed [the Wine Walk]. We hope that Chips for Charity is going to be a fun, new event. We had to have sponsors, and they came to the table, big time. Everyone needs to acknowledge that the Arabian Horse Association came together to help make this event happen and make sure that the new event was as big and as sponsored as we could make it. This is an event that supports anyone and everyone associated with the Arabian Horse Association, and it supports them when they are in their biggest need.”
Raising nearly $45,000 in one evening, the Chips for Charity event was inspired by the need to include all members of the Arabian horse community.
“Somebody came to us and said they didn’t have $10,000 or $15,000 extra to bid on a horse,” said Chips for Charity event co-organizer, Leslie Sommer. “This is for everybody; whether you have $10 or $10,000, you can come here and have a great time and know that the money is going to benefit the people that we love.”
On top of all the fun and competition excitement, the 47th Annual AHA National Youth Judging Contest took place in conjunction with U.S. Nationals, as it does each year. This prestigious contest, known for the $10,000 in scholarship money awarded to contestants, allows youth judging individuals and teams the opportunity to evaluate national-caliber halter and performance Arabian and Half-Arabian horses.
Contestants are challenged to learn basic horse judging principles and develop their decision-making, public speaking, and reasoning skills. The contest is composed of two parts: placings through classes the contestants judge and oral reasons. The 2017 contest had 84 contestants, comprising 27 teams. The high-point individual winner was Bridgett Stanton from the Riley County 4H team. She also won the contest in 2016, and with this win, she received the opportunity to judge the Arabian Western Pleasure Junior Horse Championship in center ring with the national-caliber judges, a new saddle, and a free opportunity to attend AHA’s Judges and Stewards School. Find full 2017 Judging Contest results here.
Plus, find out more about the Arabian breed by watching the newly released US Equestrian Learning Center video. Join the conversation and follow US Equestrian on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram using #JoinTheJoy.
Photos by: Howard Schatzberg Photography