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After being cancelled for two years due to Sheyenne River flooding, the American Quarter Horse Association annual show is back on, and the North Dakota Winter Show event center will once again be host to saddles instead of sandbags.
"The last two years had to be cancelled because of the flooding, so we're excited to have it back again," said NDWS Barn Superintendent Dallas Schmidt. "There's a lot of people in the area who compete. We get a good turnout, and just about all of our stalls will be full."
The show has been an annual event at the Winter Show building for 46 years running, and show manager Jean Fredrich of Des Lacs, N.D., said she has worked it for the last 15 years.
"Originally it was part of the Winter Show," Fredrich said, "but they started doing it a little later in April, because the horses weren't always ready by then."
Events will run all day Friday, and will be split between the morning and afternoon on Saturday and Sunday. Fredrich said event schedules are available at the Winter Show building office, and that no clinics or cattle classes will be offered.
"We will be running the usual quarter horse classes, we'll have the western classes and hunter class, as well as some halter, and some reining," she said. "The halter is just on the ground and is judged on how the horse travels, its confirmation and appearance. When you come to the riding classes, they are judged on gait and pattern."
Schmidt said he has been a horse trader, and showed on the quarter horse circuit for 17 years. The appeal or horsemanship, he said, comes from, "The personal challenge and the excitement."
Horsemanship benchmarks like equitation, pattern and trail work with obstacles will be part of the judging process.
"Some people would probably like to watch the halter classes, which will be Friday and Saturday mornings at 8 a.m.," Fredrich said.
She is predicting an "average" turnout of 100 or more horses at the show, with participants hailing from around the state, as well as Minnesota and South Dakota. Judges will travel from as far as Illinois, Kansas and Texas.
"Basically what they're riding for is North Dakota quarter horse state points and AHQA national points," Fredrich said. "With so many points, they can move on to the regional, national or world show. I do know we'll have people trying for regionals and world points this weekend."