Jump to: navigation, search

Arabian Horse Association

The Arabian Horse Association (AHA) is the single national organization that is the only breed registry that registers Arabian horses in the United States. It also works with the United States Equestrian Federation to sanction horse shows and license judges for Arabian horses.

The AHA was formed by a merger between the International Arabian Horse Association (IAHA) and the Arabian Horse Registry of America (AHRA) in 2002. AHRA was the older of the two organizations, founded in 1908. The IAHA, founded in the 1950s, organized to "meet the breeding, competitive and recreational interests of all Arabian horse owners," also established a Half-Arabian and Anglo-Arabian registry.


Arabian horse shows

AHA shows are for purebred Arabian, Half-Arabian, and Anglo-Arabian horses only. The shows consist of Arabian Community Shows that allow exhibitors to get a start in the show ring, followed by "Class A" shows rated by the United States Equestrian Federation and the AHA, which qualify riders to go to larger regional and national show.

There are four separate national competitions: U.S. Nationals, Sport Horse Nationals, Youth Nationals, and Canadian Nationals. There are also some significant non-national shows that draw large numbers of horses, including the "Buckeye" show in Ohio and "Scottsdale," the annual show of the Arizona Arabian Horse Association.

U.S. Nationals, held each October, has been held every other year at Louisville, Kentucky and Albuquerque, New Mexico. However, beginning 2008, U.S. Nationals will move permanently to Tulsa, Oklahoma.

Youth Nationals is held in Albuquerque, New Mexico at the end of July. Youth Nationals currently draws about 2100 horses, and numbers have been rising every year. The youth also have their own Association, the Arabian Horse Youth Association (AHYA), who bring the youths' voices to the AHA. In addition to regular classes, Youth Nationals also hosts several "fun classes" such as the dog races, dog costume contest, and most famously, the golf cart parade.

The Canadian Nationals are held in Regina, Saskatchewan in August. This competition is also known as the "Royal Red" and features classes for every competitor, adults and youths alike.

The Sport Horse Nationals are held in alternating locations in the eastern and western United States, currently Virginia and Idaho. This primarily English riding competition focuses on the hunt seat and Olympic-style disciplines of dressage, show hunter, show jumping, and competitive driving. There are also Equitation classes, in-hand breeding classes and "flat" or pleasure classes. It is currently the fastest-growing of the national level shows for Arabian horses.

At the US and Canadian nationals, there are many different classes that appeal to nearly every discipline. These include "halter" classes where horses are shown in-hand and judged on type and conformation. Under saddle, there are flat classes such as Saddle seat or "English" classes, Hunter, and Western pleasure.

Hunter pleasure is still the largest division, even though most of the hunter-style events have been moved to the Sport Horse Nationals. The Western division is also very large, and includes additional "working" classes including reining, "trail," working cow horse and cutting. Within the English division there is Park, English, and Country English - each division, to the outside observer, separated by the amount of trotting knee action expected of the horse. Park is considered a particularly exciting class at Nationals and a favorite of both spectators and exhibitors.

Other specialty classes include sidesaddle, show hack, and native costume. The most popular of these is the native costume class which embraces the Arabian horse's desert heritage by dressing the horses and rider in elaborate quasi-traditional costumes and showing them at the traditional gaits utilized by the Bedouin: the walk, the canter, and the hand-gallop.

Youth nationals feature all of these classes plus an Equitation and Halter showmanship division. Pleasure is where the judging is primarily on the horse and Equitation is where the judging is based on the riders form and partially the horse.

At the National level, placings are decided by panels or three judges who each write their own placings separately, with final numbers calculated by computer, combining the results of all three judges' "cards."


Both the purebred and half-Arabian/Anglo-Arabian registries are housed within AHA. For a time, the predecessors to the AHA had been embroiled in a controversy that had resulted in the creation an independent registry for the purpose of exporting American-bred Arabians to other countries. However, AHA resolved the dispute and in 2007, AHA was admitted to the World Arabian Horse Association (WAHO), making it the official recognized registry for the purpose of worldwide import and export of Arabian horses.


The Arabian Horse Association created a 501(c)(3) foundation in 2007 that supports youth scholarships, education, and research efforts to uncover the roots of diseases affecting Arabian horses.[1]

History of IAHA

The International Arabian Horse Association (IAHA), though a newer group, was the better-known of the two organizations that merged to create the AHA, because of its role in sanctioning horse shows, developing rules, and licensing judges. Its final years were embroiled in controversy.

Controversy of Michael Brown

After considerable discussion over the years over how to improve the quality of judges and judging, IAHA appointed Michael Brown as its first Judges and Stewards Commissioner. He served from 1989 until 2001. Brown attempted to crack down on members of the association for rule violations, and prosecuted one prominent trainer and judge in particular for "plastic surgery" and other artificial enhancements to horses, including tattooing and liposuction.[2] Some members accused Brown of practicing favoritism by prosecuting some members and not others. But while the trainer and judge in question was suspended for five years and several horses he had shown disqualified for assorted championships, this person filed suit against the organization, along with several other individuals who owned horses associated with the trainer. Some of these large lawsuits were against the association and others named Brown personally.[3] IAHA fought the lawsuit brought by the suspended trainer and won, though accumulated crippling legal fees in doing so. On the advice of counsel and their insurer, IAHA settled the remaining cases.[4]

Brown volunteered to resign after controversy about his fundraising methods for defending against the lawsuits and his creation of a personal legal defense fund.[4][5] After leaving IAHA, Brown became the director of the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), and was once again a target of controversy in the wake of Hurricane Katrina.

See also

References and footnotes

  1. AHA President's Bulletin, December 2007. Accessed January 21, 2008
  2. "Ousted FEMA Boss Once Probed Equine Face Lifts" originally published St. Louis Post-Dispatch, March 23, 2000
  3. "IAHA Litigation Update".
  4. 4.0 4.1 Nolan, Kate. "Brown's past with horse association contentious." USA Today, September 27, 2005
  5. resignation agreement

External links


Premier Equine Classifieds


Subscribe to our newsletter and keep abreast of the latest news, articles and information delivered directly to your inbox.

Did You Know?

Modern horse breeds developed in response to a need for "form to function", the necessity to develop certain physical characteristics in order to perform a certain type of work... More...

The Gypsy Cob was originally bred to be a wagon horse and pulled wagons or caravans known as Vardos; a type of covered wagon that people lived in... More...

Archaeological evidence indicates that the Arabian horse bloodline dates back 4,500 years. Throughout history, Arabian horses spread around the world by both war and trade.... More...

That the term "Sporthorse" is a term used to describe a type of horse rather than any particular breed... More...