The largest Arabian horse show in North America is already halfway over, but it’s not too late to get in on the vicarious thrill.
Top: Screenshot from this Scottsdale Arabian Horse Show promo video.
The Scottsdale Arabian Horse Show has not one but four arenas going with giant classes nearly 12 hours a day, and all of them are being streamed on iequine.com.
Click Here to Access the Livestream for the Equidome (you can also toggle to the other arenas from this page)
If you’re not from the Arab Show World, you may step into this virtual front row seat to Scottsdale and wonder…what exactly am I watching? Here’s a crash course in Arabian classes and abbreviations that really are a language all their own, but manage to keep thousands of horses and exhibitors categorized over the two weeks of luxurious desert chaos.
ARABS, HALF-ARABS, AND ANGLOS, OH MY:
Arabians – are, you know, purebred Arabians. Had to look that one up.
Half-arabian – Also just what it sounds like, but to be registered, one parent must be a registered purebred parent. The other parent may be registered or not.
Anglo-Arab – Anglo-Arabs are any combination of Arabian and Thoroughbred as long as they stay at no more than 75% or no less than 25% of either blood. So a 50/50 Anglo can be bred to a TB, an Arabian or another Anglo.
SO MANY COSTUME CHANGES, SO LITTLE TIME:
The Scottsdale Show impressively runs the gamut of disciplines, many our Horse Nation demographic already knows forward and backwards. Here’s a mildly satirical but loving peek into some of the classes I had to look up to know what I was looking at.
Country English Pleasure – A saddle seat class meant to look casual and pleasurable, and mimic that completely non-existent time in American history when people rode Arabians on their sprawling southern plantations. The horses will be shown at all four gaits, including the hand gallop. If you are an eventer, barrel racer, or jumper, this hand gallop will be most amusing to you.
English Pleasure – The only words added to the country description that aren’t in the English Pleasure description are “cadence” and “manners”. So, I assume, English Pleasure is for horses who forget to use their napkin and burp in public. To no particular beat.
Park Horse – Similar to the English pleasure events, this class is shown in the saddle seat, long coats and derby hats, but it’s significantly more flashy. The horses are very uphill, with a huge drive from behind, and giant but “effortless” movement in front. They say effortless, but it looks like an AWFUL lot of effort to me – I think it’s the equine equivalent of speed lunges in an aerobic class.
Hunter Pleasure – Your standard flat hunter class, but with hunt coats of many colors that would make George Morris puke neon plaid. I confess, I totally love it. I’ve seen two teals and a mustard hunt coat before breakfast.
Hunter Hack – A hunter class that also requires the competitors to jump a two fence combination one at a time.
Western Pleasure – Walk, Jog, Lope, Rhinestones. Slowly.
Equitation (Western, English, Hunter, or otherwise) – The class is judged on the rider.
English Show Hack – If you are a dressage queen, this class is going to confuse and annoy you immensely. It’s flashy high stepping gaits like a saddle seat class, but shown in a dressage saddle, double bridle, and a full shadbelly coat & tails. And the top hat. Of course, the top hat. Horses must demonstrate collected, working, and extended gaits.
Native Costume – Beautiful Arabians and exhibitors wearing costumes that vaguely resemble middle eastern ceremonial garb, but with all the glitz, glamour, drama, and whistling of a Texas beauty queen pageant. Usually set to emotionally manipulative music, you will still feel like crying because of the majestic performance put on by these gorgeous horses.
Sidesaddle – English and Western. I don’t know how they do it, or how much those saddles cost, but I know I want all the costumes. All. The. Costumes.
There are also an absurd number of halter classes for every age, gender, breed, and exhibitor you could imagine. There are also more mainstream events you’re likely familiar with: Reining, Dressage, Driving, Working Cow, Trail, and Hunter over Fences.
But that’s not all, folks. Since there are more than 1,000 (Yes, ONE THOUSAND) classes over the two weeks of the Scottsdale Arabian Show and more than 2,000 exhibitors on the grounds, they have to break things down using an impossibly complicated series of acronyms. Here’s your cheat sheet, and you’re welcome:
AA – Adult Amateur (Can’t be a paid professional trainer in the industry)
AAOTR/AAOTD – Adult Amateur Owner to Ride/Drive (The Adult Amateur owns the horse they’re exhibiting)
JTR/JTD – Junior to Ride/Drive (the rider is 18 or younger)
ATR – Amateur to Ride (they don’t necessarily own the horse)
Select Rider – Riders who have not placed at the regional or national level in the discipline in which they’re competing.
AOTS – Amateur Owned, Trained, and Shown. My favorite.
Novice, Limit, and Junior Horse – Novice and limits are the same as the “select” designation for riders. Junior is for horses younger than 5.
M/G/S – Classes divided by gender; mare, geldings, stallions.
Open – Open means OPEN. That means any age, gender, level, and most importantly, means the horses can be exhibited by professional trainers and exhibitors.
Championship Classes – for horses who placed well in their earlier classes, they can come back for the championship class to compete against horses from other designations in the same discipline. (for example, if I won AAOTR Native Costume, I would come back to compete against other Native Costume horses in other categories, including the open class winners.)
If that long series of explanations did nothing but overwhelm you, forget I said anything and just go watch the livestream. There will be a panoply of things to see between now and the last day of the show, February 23rd, including ALL of the championship classes.
MORE PLEASE! If you liked this post, check out…