|By JANE HOUIN
COLUMBUS, Ohio — It’s that time of year. The leaves are turning colors, the air is crisp, and hundreds of thousands of Quarter Horse enthusiasts flock to Columbus, Ohio for the world’s largest single-breed horse show.
The All American Quarter Horse Congress returns to the Ohio Expo Center, now through Oct. 22.
During the three-week event, more than 650,000 people are expected to fill the Ohio Expo Center, bringing more than $110 million to the Columbus-area economy. With all of those spectators watching shows and shopping, and judges calculating final scores to name prestigious Congress champions, the Congress is Ohio’s largest annual convention.
Attracting international interest, as well as throughout the United States, the Congress is known as one of the oldest and most distinguished horse shows in the Quarter Horse industry. Drawing in more than 9,000 horses competing in more than 250 events, the Congress will award more than $2.5 million in cash and prizes.
But Congress is much more than just a horse show. The event includes seven acres of indoor equine-related commercial exhibits, a lecture and demonstration series, a Super Sale horse auction, the Million Dollar Stallion Avenue, the Congress Queen Contest and youth tournaments for show competition, as well as horse judging.
Congress also offers Rocky Boots Invitational Professional Bull Riders performances at Nationwide Arena in downtown Columbus, Oct. 13-14.
“We go every year,” said Hazel Taft, a member of the American Quarter Horse Assoc. from Lakeville, Ohio. “I go back every year, because it’s a great educational experience. You get to view all the new products and innovations that are there, the new techniques, and you get to keep up on industry trends.”
A range of products and services are offered at the Congress through commercial exhibitors. Shops are filled with equine artwork, home-décor, western fashion and jewelry.
Trucks and trailers are available for purchase along with horse tack, and barn, stable and other horse-related equipment.
On the horse show end of the event, new classes added to the 2006 show schedule include a Maturity Non-Pro Hunter Under Saddle Stakes class and Novice Amateur Pleasure Driving. AQHA also approved an OQHA request that Congress Novice Youth classes be divided into age groups of 13 and under and 14-18 for all classes that had 100 or more entries at the 2005 Congress.
In addition, two new slot divisions for 2007 have been added and will go on sale at the 2006 Congress.
The slots are for a 2-year-old Hunter Under Saddle class for unshown 2-year-olds and also for a Weanling Fillies and a Weanling Colts/Geldings class.
The slots will be sold for a purchase price of $3,000 per slot. Due to expected demand, there will be a drawing held during the 2006 Congress to determine first options to purchase slots.
Since the first Congress in 1967, the show has strived to provide knowledge about the equine industry to spectators and exhibitors alike. This year, top professionals in the equine industry will discuss topics such as equine health, training and accounting. All lectures will be in Lecture Hall with demonstrations held in Cooper Arena unless otherwise indicated.
On Saturday, Oct. 14, the Congress Super Sale will give horse enthusiasts the opportunity to bid on one of nearly 200 top-quality registered American Quarter Horses. In the past, bidders have bought their Congress and World Champions in the Super Sale Arena.
A preview of the sale horses will be at 8 a.m. on sale day.
Another popular annual attraction, Million Dollar Stallion Avenue will once again be featured at the Congress. The Avenue allows mare owners to see some of the nation’s top stallions to determine potential matches for their broodmares.
Other annual favorites at Congress include the competitions for the title of 2006 All American Quarter Horse Congress Queen. Contestants compete through a horsemanship pattern, written test and oral interview.
The Congress Queen represents the Quarter Horse industry, not only at the Congress, but also at several other horse shows and equine events throughout the year.
In addition, youth play an important role at Congress as well, competing in the National Youth Activity Team Tournament that allows nearly 100 teams to represent their state or regional Quarter Horse association.
Future judges compete at the Congress in one of the country’s largest youth and college horse judging team competitions, and teams will also compete for the national 4-H championship in the hippology, horse bowl, public speaking and demonstration contests.
Admission to the 2006 Congress is based on a per-vehicle fee, regardless of the number of occupants in the vehicle or size of vehicle.
A one-time admission is $20 and a whole show pass (good for unlimited admissions throughout the three weeks) is $60.
With the mission of promoting the registered American Quarter Horse breed, OQHA created the American Quarter Horse Congress in 1967 and continues to sponsor the event annually. OQHA is a state Quarter Horse association with 2,000 members and is a state breed affiliate of the American Quarter Horse Assoc. (AQHA).
Located in Richwood, Ohio, OQHA sponsors state year-end awards, breeders incentive program and a youth program that includes two youth teams and the opportunity for scholarships. OQHA also supports state 4-H and FFA programs as well as equine research and education.
For more information about the 2006 All American Quarter Horse Congress, visit the Ohio Quarter Horse website at www.oqha.com
This farm news was published in the Oct. 4, 2006 issue of Farm World, serving Indiana, Ohio, Illinois, Kentucky, Michigan and Tennessee.