The government may be on shutdown, but the 2013 All-American Quarter Horse Congress is going strong. Kristen Kovatch takes us inside the word's largest single-breed horse show.
In case you live under an equestrian rock, it’s October which means one big thing–the All-American Quarter Horse Congress is underway in Columbus, Ohio.
Referred to simply as “Congress,” the horse show is massive, complex, a rite of passage and an icon in the Quarter horse industry. It’s the hands-down largest single-breed horse show in the world. To try to make sense of the scale, I broke Congress down into figures:
Number of entries: 17,000+
Number of horses attending: Just under 6,000
Number of people attending: 650,000
Length of horse show: 3 weeks (October 4-27)
Acres of space devoted to trade show: 7
Number of horses sold at the Super Sale auction: 200
It’s a little overwhelming–just about every discipline imaginable is represented, from western pleasure, cutting, reining, roping and barrel racing to pleasure driving, halter and hunter over fences. Congress is truly a representation of the versatility of the American Quarter Horse in its various shapes, sizes, forms and types.
In addition to the actual horse show, there are a variety of other contests running at the Congress as well: youth and collegiate competitions include judging, hippology, horse bowl and communications. There is, of course, a Congress Queen competition as well.
Videos from Congress will go viral within the horse world for weeks (like, say, Shawn Flarida’s freestyle run–the freestyle is traditionally one of the most popular and sold-out events on the program.) The pageantry and drama of such an enormous horse show will have a ripple effect on competitors and observers; most competitors say they will never forget their time at Congress. Dozens of touching human interest stories arise from the month of October in Columbus–my favorite of which includes this ten-year-old cowgirl who believe it or not actually did not fall off of her cutting horse:
Read her full story here.
It would be impossible to sum up the All-American Quarter Horse Congress in just a few words. If you can’t attend, view some videos, read some reviews, check out the results and make plans for next year.
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