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Arabian Nights and Arabian Days

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This week in Lexington, Kentucky, the most prestigious Arabian horse show in America will take place to determine the champions of region fourteen. Riders will come from Ohio, Kentucky, and West Virginia to compete for the championship in Arabian and Half-Arabian divisions.

In case you’re new to the Arabian world or taking your first trip to a horse show, we’ve included some brief descriptions of the competition classes you’ll see this week. You can also learn more about Arabian Disciplines on the Arabian Horse Association website.

Breeding Halter

Arabians are known for their beauty and that’s what this class is all about. Horses will be lead into the arena wearing only a halter, where they are judged on their conformation, manners, quality of movement, and presence. The overall goal of these classes are to rank the horses' suitability for breeding. You may see a variety of halter classes that will be separated by the horse’s age, sex, and intended discipline.

English Pleasure

Horse and rider will show in traditional saddle seat attire. They are judged on their animation, quality of gait, willingness of the horse, and ease of movement. Judges also look for balance, cadence, and overall graceful athleticism.

Country Pleasure

This class is all about attitude. The horse must have a willing and positive attitude towards their job. The judges determine winners based on the horse’s attitude, manners, quality of movement, suppleness, and conformation. In essence, the horse should appear to be an absolute pleasure to ride.

Western Pleasure

Back when riders would be on their horses from dawn until dusk, there was nothing more appreciated than a comfortable and willing horse. That history is what lies at the foundation of this class. Judges will look at how smooth and efficient the horse’s movements are, along with their ability to cover the most ground. Horses should be both willing and happy to do their job.

Hunter Pleasure

Long and low is the name of the game. Hunter horses are meant to smoothly cover the greatest amount of ground with a calm willingness and obedience. Horse and rider will show in traditional hunt seat attire and will be judged on their performance, conformation, and suitability as a hunter.

Driving

For Driving Pleasure classes, horses are shown in harness. Drivers are expected to demonstrate transitions from one gait to another with ease and showmanship. Remember, once upon a time this harness equipment was the best means of transportation, so the judges will be looking for the Maserati of this competition.

In Country Pleasure Driving, drivers want their horses to be quiet and willing. Judges look for smooth gaits, quality of movement in two different trots, and the skill level of the driver.

Park Horse

Park horses are The Rockettes of the Arabian show ring. Every step is balanced, in form and perfect cadence. Instead of moving, they strut through the ring in a dance only an Arabian can perform. This class is truly a performance, and that’s exactly how it’s judged.

English Show Hack

If you’re a history buff, this class will retake you to the traditions of the Industrial Revolution. Combining dressage training with Arabian fashion and style, judges look for elegance, versatility, and quality of movement.

Dressage

Dressage is best known as the classical training for horses. It’s used to improve the horse’s strength, suppleness, elasticity, and quality of movement in each natural gait.

There are a variety of levels in dressage competition, with Prix St. George and Grand Prix at the highest level in this week’s Region 14 Arabian Championship.

Sport Horse

Sport Horse classes may be in-hand, show hack, or under saddle. In-Hand is similar to halter classes where the horse is shown without any tack and judged on the quality of movement and athleticism. Horses should push themselves forward from their hind end creating an uphill movement and a long, balanced, stride. In the show hack, riders showcase their horse’s ability to remain straight and balanced on the rail throughout all ten gaits. Horse and rider pairs will be judged on impulsion, straightness, rhythm, and obedience. The Under-Saddle classes judge the horses on their ability as a working sport horse, along with their conformation, and manners.

Equitation and Showmanship

In these divisions, judges will be looking at the rider more so than the horse. The rider should have good form and be considered well-matched with their horse. Judges are looking at the skill of the rider and overall beauty of the pair.

Walk Trot

This is where we all get our start in the show ring. This class is only open to children under the age of ten to compete at the walk and trot.

Ladies Side Saddle

Reminiscent of the days when women were never seen wearing pants, and fashion dictated this feminine style of riding. Horses must be calm, responsive to their rider, and demonstrate smooth gaits. Judges will look for balance and obedience.

Mounted Native Costume

This division is a must see event. Horse and rider will dress in the traditional battle costume of the Ancient Bedouins. They will show at the walk, canter, and hand gallop making it one of the more exciting and favorited events to watch.

Arabian Reining

Another fantastic division based on our Old Western roots. When working on a cattle ranch, horses are required to drive cattle, maneuver them into chutes and other areas, and perform any other task their rider requires. When showing Arabian Reining, the judges will be looking for the agility of the horse and willingness toward their rider. Movements include quick spins, sliding stops, and lead changes. Each movement, though quick, should be smooth and finessed.


We hope that you’ll pay us a visit tomorrow as you make your way to The Kentucky Horse Park. Whether you're a competitor or spectator, we'd love to see your favorite moments from the show as well! Be sure to tag us in your photos on social media or use #caracolsilver so we can find it.