Section IV

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448. Halter Classes

(a) A halter class is defined as a class where the horse is judged based upon its conformation.

(b) The purpose of the class is to preserve American Quarter Horse type by selecting well-mannered individuals in the order of their resemblance to the breed ideal and that are the most positive combination of balance, structural correctness, and movement with appropriate breed and sex characteristics and adequate muscling.

(c) The ideal American Quarter Horse shown at halter is a horse that is generally considered to be solid in color and possesses the following characteristics: the horse should possess eye appeal that is the result of a harmonious blending of an attractive head; refined throat latch; well–proportioned, trim neck; long, sloping shoulder; deep heart girth; short back; strong loin and coupling; long hip and croup; and well–defined and muscular stifle, gaskin, forearm and chest. All stallions 2 years old and over shall have two visible testicles. These characteristics should be coupled with straight and structurally correct legs and feet that are free of blemishes. The horse should be a balanced athlete that is muscled uniformly throughout.

(1) All horses whose registration certificates are marked with a Parrot Mouth notation (see rule 205(a)), cryptorchid notation (see rule 205(b)) or excessive white notation (see rule 205(h)) are ineligible to compete in halter classes.

(2) One of the most important criteria in selecting a horse is conformation, or its physical appearance. While it could be assumed that most horses with several years’ seasoning and past performance have acceptable conformation, the goal in selection should always be to find the best conformed horse possible.

(3) Rating conformation depends upon objective evaluation of the following four traits: balance, structural correctness, breed and sex characteristics, and degree of muscling. Of the four, balance is the single most important, and refers to the structural and aesthetic blending of body parts. Balance is influenced almost entirely by skeletal structure.

(d)Halter Equipment

Refer to rule 441 (c) for specific rules regarding inhumane treatment.

(1) For purposes of this rule, the term “Allowed Lip Chain” shall only mean a lip chain that:

(i) has an unsecured keeper with at least two links of the chain outside of halter before attachment of keeper or leather part of lead shank;

(ii) is applied only over gum and not through mouth; and

(iii) with respect to the portion applied over the gum, is made up of chain links having a gauge of at least 4.0mm

(2) Allowed Lip Chains may only be used as set forth in subsections 3 and 4 below. All other types of chains that do not meet the definition of an Allowed Lip Chain are prohibited.

(3) Effective immediately, stallions 1 year of age and older may be shown with an Allowed Lip Chain in open and amateur divisions.

(4) Effective August 1, 2011, the following horses may be shown with an Allowed Lip Chain in amateur and youth divisions:

(i) Mares 1 year of age and older; and

(ii) Geldings 1 year of age and older.

(5) Effective immediately, the following horses may not be shown with an Allowed Lip Chain:

(i) Weanlings;

(ii) any horse shown in a Performance Halter class; and

(iii) any horse shown in a Versatility Ranch Horse conformation class.

(iv) mares, geldings in open division

(6) Applying excessive pressure on or excessive jerking of a halter lead shank or an Allowed Lip Chain is prohibited. See rule 441(c).

(e) PROCEDURE FOR JUDGING THE CLASS:

(1) Horses will walk to the judge one at a time. As the horse approaches, the judge will step to the right (left of the horse) to enable the horse to trot straight to a cone placed 50 feet (15 meters) away. At the cone, the horse will continue trotting, turn to the left and trot toward the left wall or fence of the arena. After trotting, horses will be lined up head to tail for individual inspection by the judge. The judge shall inspect each horse from both sides, front and rear.

At single judged shows, the judge should line the horses to be placed in a head to tail order according to preference.

(2) A well-mannered horse is a horse that (1) is under control by the exhibitor while tracking and standing for inspection and (2) is reasonably still and flat-footed while standing for inspection.

(3) For purposes of this rule, the term “disruptive behavior” includes, but is not limited to rearing, striking, biting, or backing or falling into others.

(4) Judges should disqualify and excuse from the ring prior to final placing a horse that:

(A) exhibits disruptive behavior such that it or other horses are unable to be inspected by the judge;

(B) exhibits disruptive behavior such that the safety of it, the handler, an exhibitor, a judge or another horse is endangered;

(C) is not under the control of the exhibitor;

(D) becomes detached from the exhibitor;

(E) has fallen and is on its side with all four feet extended in the same direction;

(F) is observed with blood on its body, including, but not limited to, the nose, chin, mouth, tongue, or gums, regardless of cause; or

(G) is lame.

(5) Rather than disqualify, a judge may choose to fault a horse that is exhibiting disruptive behavior so long as such disruptive behavior does not qualify as being any of the behaviors described in (A) – (E) immediately above.

(6) If a horse exhibits disruptive behavior described in (A) – (E) immediately above and causes other exhibitor(s) to lose their horse(s), only the initiating horse will be disqualified and excused. The decision of the judge(s) will be final.

(7) All stallions 2 years old and over shall be examined to confirm that they have two visible testicles. All mares and stallions shall be examined for Parrot Mouth (see rule 205(a)). If examination reveals that a horse has Parrot Mouth or is cryptorchid, such horse should be excused from the ring prior to final placing by the judge regardless of whether the Parrot Mouth or cryptorchid condition is marked on the horse's registration certificate.

(f) A horse may be exhibited in only one point-earning open halter class.

(g) In no individual halter classes may horses from two sex divisions be exhibited in the same class.

(h) Spayed mares may be shown only in performance halter and versatility ranch horse conformation classses, and may not be shown in any other halter class and are not eligible for grand and reserve.

(i) The following open halter classes are recommended with separate classes for each sex in each age division:

Weanling:
1) fillies 2) colts 3) geldings
Yearling:
1) fillies 2) colts 3) geldings
2-year-old:
1) fillies 2) colts 3) geldings
3-year-old:
1) fillies 2) stallions 3) geldings
4-year-old and older:
1) mares 2) stallions 3) geldings

Broodmares: Mares that have produced and carried a full-term foal in the current year or the previous year. Mares may be any age. Mares shown in the broodmare class are not eligible to compete in any filly or mare class listed above, nor is any mare shown in any filly or mare class listed above eligible to compete in a broodmare class.

(j) PERFORMANCE HALTER

(1) The performance halter class is required in the Open, Amateur and Youth divisions when halter classes are offered. Only an all-age class will be held. Separate classes will be held for stallions, mares and geldings in the Open and Amateur divisions. Separate classes will be held for mares and geldings in the Youth division.

(2) First and second place in the performance halter class will be eligible for Grand and Reserve in each sex division. The number of entries in the performance halter class count toward the total for each sex division in determining points for Grand and Reserve. First place performance horse will be named Champion Performance Halter in classes with five or more entries.

(3) For purposes of this rule, the term “AQHA Performance Points” includes points earned in any class outlined in rule 422 other than halter and racing.

(4) The following horses are the only horses eligible to compete in the performance halter class:

(A) horses that have earned a Racing Register of Merit;

(B) horses that have earned a Performance Register of Merit prior to January 1, 2010; and

(C) horses that earn a Performance Register of Merit after January 1, 2010 so long as their record reflects that they have earned at least 5 or more AQHA Performance Points during their career in competitions other than Showmanship At Halter.

Example 1: A horse earns a Performance Register of Merit prior to January 1, 2010. The 10 points earned to achieve the Performance Register of Merit consist of 6 Showmanship at Halter points and 4 Western Pleasure points. Per subsection 448(j)(4)(B) above, the horse is eligible to compete in a performance halter class.

Example 2: A horse earns a Performance Register of Merit after January 1, 2010. The 10 points earned to achieve the Performance Register of Merit consist of 6 Showmanship at Halter points and 4 Western Pleasure points. Per subsection 448(j)(4)(C) above, the horse must earn 1 more AQHA Performance Point in a class other than Showmanship at Halter in order to be eligible to compete in a performance halter class.

(5) For purposes of this rule, a Register of Merit or AQHA Performance Point is considered “earned” only after the Register of Merit or AQHA Performance Point has been officially recorded in AQHA’s records.

(6) Proof that a horse meets the eligibility requirements specified above must be provided to show management.

(7) The Register of Merit applies to the horse. If the horse is transferred, the horse is eligible to compete in performance halter with the new owner so long as the horse meets the eligibility requirements specified above.

(8) A horse may not show in the age division halter class and the performance halter class at the same show in a particular division.

(k) Grand and Reserve Champion, when judging of all classes in a halter division has been completed, all first and second–place class winners of that sex division , with the exception of spayed mares, shall return to the ring, with first–place class winners in one line and second–place horses from each class in another line.

(1) It is mandatory that the judge select a Grand Champion and Reserve Champion in each sex division in open, youth and amateur divisions having three or more entries.

(2) The judge(s) shall select the Grand Champion stallion, mare or gelding from the first–place class winners in the respective sex division. If the first–place horse does not return for any reason, the second–place horse will move up to the first–place line and be considered for Grand and Reserve. The third–place horse cannot move up to second place in the class. All first–place horses will retain points in their respective class.

(3) The ring steward shall take the second–place horse in the class from which the Grand Champion had been selected and place it in the line with the first–place class winners, to be judged equally for the title of Reserve Champion stallion, mare or gelding in the respective sex division.

(l) In amateur halter or youth competition, when an exhibitor has qualified two or more horses for Grand and Reserve Champion, only another amateur or youth may assist that exhibitor as long as the amateur or youth who originally qualified the horses leads one of the horses in that class. An amateur cannot lead a non–owned horse in the open division for Grand and/or Reserve Champion. The amateur would be considered in violation of AQHA rule 403(a)(5).

(m) In addition to the requirements of rules 415 and 416, AQHA will so note the awarding of the title of Grand Champion and Reserve Champion Stallion, Mare and Gelding on the performance record only when at least three horses are exhibited in that sex division.

(n) For the AQHA Youth world Championship show, in halter and performance halter, an exhibitor must be at least 9 years of age by January 1 of the show year.