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How AQHA Points Work

Learn the ins and outs of how points are awarded at AQHA shows, and what they mean to you and your American Quarter Horse.

youth performance halter class

If you’ve been showing American Quarter Horses for any length of time, chances are you’ve earned an AQHA point or two. That’s because AQHA points are the currency of show competition: Points are how horses earn Register of Merit and Superior awards, qualify for AQHA world championship shows and earn money through the AQHA Incentive Fund.

But have you ever wondered, “How do AQHA points work?” It’s a great question! 

There have to be at least three horses in a class for points to be awarded. The good news is even if there are only one or two horses in the class, the class will still be judged. 

This is how points are awarded:

AQHA points payout chart

For example: 

  • In a three-horse class, the first-place horse is awarded a 0.5 point.
  • In a nine-horse class, the third-place horse would not earn any points.
  • In a 26-horse class, the third-place horse is awarded 3 points.
  • In a 48-horse class, the 10th-place horse is awarded 0.5 point.

Here’s something to note: In any performance class, points are awarded based on the total number of eligible horses actually judged in that class, whether or not a disqualification took place. For example, if 45 horses were entered and one entry exhibited was disqualified, points would be based on 45 entries. However, if a horse was scratched from the class before the class was held, the scratched horse would not be counted among the 45 entries.

Rule SHW260 in the AQHA Official Handbook of Rules and Regulations spells out the rules related to AQHA points. But here are a few things to note: 

  • For performance classes, horses must be 2 years or older to earn points.
  • For halter and showmanship classes, horses must be yearlings or older to earn points.
  • Points in the amateur and youth divisions are compiled on a one horse/one amateur or one horse/one youth basis and count toward any award so long as the amateur or youth ownership requirements are met. When the horse is sold, a new start is made by the new exhibitor. However, if the horse is repurchased or otherwise reacquired by the seller, previously earned points will be reinstated; the exception to this is for world show qualification.
  • Points earned in amateur, youth and open Levels 2 and 3 count toward world show qualification.
  • Points earned in amateur and open Level 2 and 3 are eligible for AQHA Incentive Fund payout.
  • Points earned in Rookie and Level 1 classes do not count toward world show qualification or Incentive Fund payout.

If you show in halter classes, you’ll want to read up on Grand Champion rules for AQHA points; they’re outlined in SHW260.9.

Curious about how many points you or your horse have earned? Sign into the AQHA member services area at to order AQHA records.