AQHA first hosted the AQHA Level 1 Championships in 2012. Back then, the events were known as the AQHA Novice Championships, then a few years later, the event name changed to AQHA Level 1 Championships. The initial Level 1 Championships hosted by AQHA were the West and East.
The Nutrena East Level 1 Championships were held in Murfreesboro, Tennessee, until 2015, when the event moved for one year to Lexington, Virginia. Then Raleigh, North Carolina, played host to the event in 2016 and 2017, before moving to the World Equestrian Center in Wilmington, Ohio, in 2018.
Those aren't the only changes the Level 1 Championships have seen. From 2012 to 2015, the Level 1 Championships were offered in October. Then in 2016, the events were moved to spring, with the Nutrena East Level 1 Championships now running the first week of May.
When the show moved from October to April, AQHA removed qualifying specially for the 2016 Level 1 Championships. Up until that point, Level 1 exhibitors were required to qualify either by national means or through their affiliate. With the increased entries in 2016, the AQHA Executive Committee gave pause to the qualification requirements, and for the 2018 Level 1 Championships, did away with qualification methods entirely. Now any eligible exhibitor may enter the Level 1 Championships.
Over the years, AQHA has also added more levels to the Level 1 Championships. Rookie was added in 2014, then five walk-trot classes were added in 2018.
Since the inaugural events in 2012, AQHA Corporate Partner Nutrena has been the title sponsor of the Nutrena AQHA East Level 1 Championships. In 2020, Nutrena became the title sponsor of all three regional Level 1 Championships: West, Central and East.
Unfortunately, the 2020 event – which was slated for April 29 - May 3 in Wilmington, Ohio – was cancelled due to the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. As a result, Nutrena Level 1 classes will be added to the 2020 AQHA world shows.