History of the AQHA World Show

The first AQHA World Championship Show was held in 1974.

The AQHA World Championship Show debuted in 1974, 34 years after the Association's inception in 1940. The inaugural AQHA World Show was hosted in Louisville, Kentucky, offering classes for open and amateur exhibitors. Interestingly enough, the American Quarter Horse Youth Association World Championship Show (or American Junior Quarter Horse Association as it was named back then) was first held in 1972. 

Two years later, in 1976, the AQHA World Show moved to the OKC Fairgrounds (formerly known as State Fair Park) in Oklahoma City, its home ever since. 

In 1978, Vickie Lee Pine was named as the first AQHA Superhorse. Jim Brinkman showed the bay mare in aged mares, heading and heeling for owner Howard Pitzer of Ericson, Nebraska. The AQHA Superhorse is the ironman, or ironhorse, title of the show. The title is presented to the horse who earns the most points in three or more events. 

Since Vickie Lee Pine's initial Superhorse win, only a handful of horses have gone on to win the award multiple times. Those special individuals include Rugged Lark (1985, 1987), Itchin Easy (1992, 1993), Snap Krackle Pop (2015, 2016) and Blue Kahlua (2018, 2019). Acadamosby Award holds the record for the most Superhorse titles: 1998, 2000 and 2001. View the full history of AQHA Superhorses.

AQHA added the All-Around Amateur title in 1983, presented to the exhibitor-and-horse team that earns the most points in three or more amateur events during the show. Lu Ann Paul and Melody Zipper hold the place in AQHA history as the first All-Around Amateur champions.

Just a handful of amateurs have won the All-Around Amateur title more than once: Nancy Murfin riding Wells Sport Model (1988, 1989), Nancy Alto Renfro riding Conclusives Bar Cody (1996, 1997), Nicole Barnes riding Zippos Ace Of Spades (2006, 2008) and Julie Cole riding Size Matters (2015, 2016). Itchin Easy was the only horse to earn both Superhorse and All-Around Amateur titles, the latter of which he won in 1993 with Robyn Kaplow. Karen Evans Mundy holds the record for the most titles, eight, and is the only exhibitor to win riding multiple horses: Hes A Honky Tonk Man in 1992, All In Silver in 1994 and 1995, Play My Song in 1999 and 2000, Gifted Circle in 2002, and Ask Me For Details in 2003 and 2004.

In 2015, AQHA added the Level 2 Championships (amateur and open), sponsored by Adequan® (polysulfated glycosaminoglycan). The Adequan® Level 2 Championships are hosted concurrently with the AQHA World Show.

New for 2020, the Nutrena Level 1 Championships, featuring Level 1 amateur and Select classes, will be a part of the Farnam AQHA World Championship due to the cancellation of the Nutrena Level 1 Championships because of the worldwide pandemic.  

In 2020, Farnam joined as the title event sponsor of the Farnam AQHA World Championship Show. Due to show postponements to protect the health and safety of AQHA members and staff, the 2020 Farnam AQHA World will also host the:

  • 2020 AQHA Select World Championship Show, presented by Adequan® (polysulfated glycosaminoglycan)

  • 2020 AQHA Ranching Heritage Challenge Finals

  • 2020 Nutrena Level 1 Championships, featuring Level 1 amateur and Select amateur classes

In addition to special events, such as the:

  • Pleasure Versatility Challenge, presented by Terry Bradshaw Quarter Horses

  • Western Pleasure Challenge

  • Zimeta 3-Year-Old Western Pleasure Stakes

  • Working western rail classes, sponsored by Headley Quarter Horses

  • Nutrena Level 1 western pleasure, western riding, trail, hunter under saddle and ranch riding stakes classes for Level 1-eligible horses

  • Working hunter under saddle, ranch trail, western and English dressage stakes classes, which are new for 2020

Today, the Farnam AQHA World Championship Show, the industry’s premier event, is the world’s largest and richest championship horse show with more than $2.3 million in prize money and awards. The event honors 99 world championships, 44 Adequan® Select World championships, 85 Adequan® Level 2 championships, 22 AQHA Ranching Heritage Challenge Finals championships and 40 Nutrena Level 1 championships.

Learn more about the AQHA World Show. 

Show Coverage: Daily Recaps, Videos and Champion Stats
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Championship Show Archives
View results from AQHA world championship shows and Level 1 championships.

World History: Making the AQHA World Championship Show