Friday, February 25, 2011

What is the Deal With the AQHA?

If you enjoy my blog, first of all ~ Thank You!! As you know, it is all about the fun side of sidesaddle... the fun of leaning how to do it, the fun of the fashion, the fun of the tremendous history, and the fun of meeting others who like myself, just decided one day that "I am going to do this"! and they did!! So - with this said, I usually don't go political or controversial with any of my posts. Trust me when I say that there are several controversies with this sport too. There are the traditionalists, who believe that every thread should be exact as it was in the great Victorian times. There is the modern hunt crowd, who go for all modern habits and equipment as well as other groups that fall somewhere in between. I love you all!!! ..and try my best to post about every aspect!

If you remember when I first started this endeavor, I had to approach my American Saddle Horse Association and ask in what venue could I ride and show sidesaddle
with my American Saddlebred Horses. I was THRILLED to find out that I was allowed to ride in any class, with the exception of Equitation. They totally backed my endeavor. In fact the San Antonio Saddle Horse Association even put in a Sidesaddle all breed class just for me!!!

So imagine if your beloved breed of horse is an American Quarter Horse and your Association totally banned sidesaddle in the show ring. Wouldn't you fell rejected, hurt - even mad? I know I would!

Below is a copy of an article from :

American Sidesaddle Association asks the American Quarter Horse Association to Allow Sidesaddles
January 25, 2011
The American Sidesaddle Association, an Ohio non-profit corporation, is asking the American Quarter Horse Association to change their rules and allow sidesaddle riders to compete aboard their American Quarter Horses.

Although women have been showing in sidesaddles for well over a hundred years and many breeds allow or even welcome riders showing their mounts under sidesaddle tack, the American Quarter Horse Association forbids riders from showing their horses aside. This doesn’t only affect AQHA owners, but many other stock breeds take their cues from the AQHA and follow their rules. Also, many 4-H shows and open horse shows follow the AQHA rules, so this rule means that many sidesaddle riders miss the chance to show our horses aside.

Showing aside isn’t something women only do for fun. Many riders are able to continue riding and showing after an injury when they change to riding aside. Also, riders whose religion forbids them from wearing slacks, jeans or pants are able to honor their religious beliefs while riding aside.

In the past, there’s been a fear that sidesaddle riding is unsafe, uncomfortable or even dangerous. Sidesaddle experts disagree. “Contrary to some rumors, it does not cause injury or pain to the horse or rider. Women have ridden aside safely for centuries, and many women feel more secure in their properly fitted sidesaddle than they do in an astride saddle.”

The American Sidesaddle Association needs help to convince the AQHA to change the rules to allow sidesaddle riding. Anyone can contact the AQHA and let them know they support these rules changes. The ASA is also asking Quarter Horse owners who ride aside or show in open shows aside to send photos and information on their American Quarter Horses and their achievements aside to the AQHA.

Commenting on the proposed rule change, Jennifer Williams, PhD, President of the American Sidesaddle Association, “Many women enjoy riding aside, and it is a shame they cannot show off their horses and skills at AQHA shows. I’m hoping the show committee will change the rules. It is a great chance to show off how versatile the American Quarter Horse is and to teach people about riding aside.”

I truly hope that the AQHA revisits this topic and realizes what a mistake they have made by eliminating the possibility for sidesaddle riders to exhibit their Quarter Horses, (a horse with such a wonderful temperament) in rated shows.


jane augenstein said...

Good post! I don't show nor do I have a registered horse, Gilly is just a mutt; but don't tell him that! LOL He thinks he is pretty special as do I.

It is sad that there have to be such rules that ban the use in some shows as the side saddle. I have never ridden one and to me it looks like the rider would have to be a pretty darned good rider to ride aside. I salute all who do!

So why not? I hope someone gets a respond from AQHA about why they have ruled this way.

I think your elegant riding attire, you and your horse are BEAUTIFUL!!!! :-)

Cheryl said...

Thanks Julie,
I'm just getting going aside and I'm starting with my AQHA foundation bred mare. (I'm the one that found the Limpet pads..... they work great by the way !!!!!!). I'm obviously not showing right now, but I'd like to in the future and I love the horseback riding program that AQHA has that ANYONE that's a member can join. It would be really sad if they disallowed me just because of the discipline I chose.

Justaplainsam said...

Cheryl, I think it doesnt matter what saddle you ride in for the horse back riding program (miles/hours?) I know some people have done it english/western/aussie so I think sidesaddle would count.

Personly I would like for AQHA to realize that Dressage exists outside of the USA and help us compete and earn points in it. Oh and to not limit the amounts of points that you can earn.

But truthfully we are talking about the shows of the assiciation where having a certified helmet on in a flat class is out of place...

panavia999 said...

I'd rather the AQHA just got some common sense and opened competition to side saddles.
But maybe someone will sue the AQHA for religious discrimination, or on ADA grounds and they'll fold pretty quick. You know how lawsuit happy folks are...

Laura M. said...

The AQHA should follow the USHJA/USEF model... There are a very few specific ladies sidesaddle classes but ladies can compete in any class aside if they so choose. Bummer that such a big organization is being so closed-minded.

Robin said...

ISSO, WSSF, and countless other organizations have been beating their heads against this particular wall for a couple of decades. I don't hold out much hope that AQHA will change.