What Happens in Vegas Doesn’t Always Stay in Vegas!

2018 AQHA Novice Championships West

The 2018 AQHA West Level 1 Championships was a huge success for level 1 exhibitors! There was participation from all over North America, including some riders from as far as Canada to come enjoy the sun shine and Las Vegas atmosphere. Throughout the week, much hardware and ribbons were brought home for these exhibitors, including many Pacific Coast Quarter Horse members.

New to this year, the AQHA Level 1 Championships do not require a qualification, opening the door to many youth and amateur riders with new horses to come participate in this event. Numbers were as high as ever with great riders and horses leading to great competition.  It offers a variety of events and activities for the competitors, friends, family, and spectators.  Especially popular, the Ride the Pattern Clinics were taught by AQHA Professional Horseman, including the trail by California trainer Melissa Zanetti.


Also new to this year, were the walk-trot classes.  These classes allowed new exhibitors that were beginning their Quarter Horse career to gain experience and confidence.  This addition of classes parallels the purpose of the AQHA Level 1 Championships, which is to provide a competition for riders from minimally accomplished to beginner AQHA competitors, correspondingly.

Big classes, great prizes, and a whole lot of fun

Champions, reserve champions, and bronze champions, regardless of what class, were awarded trophies and rosette ribbons to award their success.  Rookie classes were sponsored by B & W Trailer Hitches, while the rest of the classes were sponsored by Adquan, John Deere, Justin Boots, Beohringer Ingelheim, Nutrena, SmartPak, Shorty’s Caboy Hattery, Impact Gel, Wrangler, and Equine Chronicle.  For the Level 1 classes, champions were awarded beautiful western pads donated by Showtime Show Clothing, reserve champions were given a pair of Justin Boots, and last but not least, the bronze champions earned a Wrangler Jeans certificate.

An all-around favorite for the exhibitors and spectators was the welcoming party.  It consisted of delicious pizza, and best of all ice cream! The welcoming party was a great time to get to know other people and allow for fellowship among competitors and family members.

Many California exhibitors, especially the Wheeler Barn had great success coming home with the many gold trophies.  Sharon Conway won the Select Amateur Horsemanship and the Select Amateur Trail and came home with the High-Point Western Select on her 2013 sorrel gelding, CR Hershey Bar.  If that was not enough, the Wheeler’s client Amy Groefsema and her horse My Dream Remembered also brought home a gold in Level 1 Amateur Showmanship and Level 1 Amateur Trail, bringing home the Level 1 All Around Amateur Title.  Last, but not least, Zach Mullis on CR Hershey Bar came in an impressive top five in Level 1 Youth Western Pleasure.

There was still more wins for the California exhibitors, including Alexa Brown on Corporate Credit winning the 13 & Under Showmanship, Western Riding, Horsemanship, and Trail.  Finishing it all off with a 13 & Under All Around Title.

The Trendsetter team also brought home their share of hardware.  In their first year of 14-18 Cassandré Ehrle and Range in Motion were top ten in Rookie Equation and were top five in level 1 trail, rookie showmanship, level 1 performance halter mares, and rookie hunter under saddle. Brooke Garcia and her new horse A Hot Lopin Machine brought home a bronze trophy in Level 1 western riding, finalist in trail, and a top six in the level 1 pleasure. Hana Thomas and O Aint I Somthin rocked the Amateur events, bringing home top tens in the Hunter Under Saddle and Equitation.  At their first Novice Championships, Hayden Moeck and AGRTellemhesacowboy were top ten in rookie pleasure, and trail.  While Taylor Hinely and Good Zip had their debut in Ranch Riding bringing home a top five in rookie ranch riding.

Beth Clemons Performance Horses also had a golden trip.  RR Lookin So Certain and Savannah Dial brought home the gold in Level 1 14-18 Western Pleasure, and top ten in rookie Hunter Under Saddle.  Savannah said this about her big win: “I showed at the very first AQHA Level 1 show, and all I could ever dream about was winning one of those gold statues.  I thought that it would never happen, but I had the ride of a lifetime on ‘Woody’.  I could not be happier or prouder of all of the work my trainer Beth Clemons and I have put in or of all the help and support from my barn mates and family!”  Brianne Lundberg and her horse Old Gold Whiskey also had a wonderful show, winning the Bronze Champion in Level 1 14-18 Trial and top ten in Level 1 14-18 Showmanship. Beth’s other clients Brenda Nellums and Cha Cha Margarita, Bailey Lundberg and Dress Me Elegant, and Carol Clemons and Sweet I will Be all brought home top ten in their classes as well.

After coming back off of an injury, PCQHYA board member Rebecca Paxson had some great runs in the over fences classes.  Rebecca and her horse Don’t Skip This Cat rode their way into the top five in the Level 1 Youth Hunter Hack and Level 1 Youth Working Hunter.

Busick Quarter Horses had an incredible show.  Pacific Coast Quarter Horse Youth Association board member, Bella Rosa and One Dynamic Krysum came home with a third in level 1 horsemanship.  Also a PCQHYA board member, Gracie Ann Howell and her horse Story of Roses were top five in showmanship, third in rookie trail, and finalist in level one trail with a finalist in horsemanship as well.  To complete out the team, Maddy Carter was Rookie Champions.

Rose Santos’s nephew, Max Santos showed for the first time and stole the show with his horse Heza Dark Agent in the Level 1 Youth Yearling Geldings.  Max said that “it was a really fun show” and that “I had a really good time” as he was holding his first belt buckle waiting to take his win picture. Rose said that Max was so nervous to show that he was shaking.  Nerves did not get the better of them, as they both rocked the Halter Pen.

From out of town, Elly Grace Bageant from Davenport Washington with PG Unforgettable won the Youth Halter Champion of Champions, while her team mate Kyndall Jensen from Caldwell, ID with her horse Cool Sailing won the Reserve Youth Champion of Champions.  They also brought home the gold in Youth Three YR Old Geldings and Youth Aged Geldings.

Also making it on the prize list was Lana and Taylor Deppen. Taylor Deppen and her horse, Hot Hearts Ablazing won bronze champion in Amateur Western Pleasure. She also graciously lent her horse to her mom, Lana, who rode into a top ten position in Showmanship and Finalist in Horsemanship. On top of her achievements in the show ring, Lana won the Kathy’s halter raffle that the PCQHYA board members put on to support the California Youth. Generously donated by Troy and Stacy Dial, the Kathy’s show halter allowed the PCQHYA board to raise over $1,000 for the California Youth.

At the end of the day, though, it was not all about the number of trophies earned, or top tens awarded. It is really just about having fun, doing what you love, and spending time with your family, friends and horse.  Congratulations to all the competitors at the 2018 AQHA Novice Championships.  It was a great show with great people, great competitors, and great horses.  The staff there have done a wonderful job giving each competitor a great experience for years at this show, and did a wonderful job again this year.