2018 saw thirteen shows take part with numbers slowly increasing across Europe and more and more people starting to take part in the Trail classes. Twenty three winners, each with a guest visited the Salon Du Cheval in 2018 - around half of them for the first time. The three winners of the California tickets were Jose Blanco Estevez, a small owner / breeder from Spain, Jo Cooper a small owner/breeder from the UK and Anna Matthews a rider from the UK. They will be travelling to California in 2019 accompanied by a friend each.
Since 2016 other countries have been invited to join the Aljassimya Amateur Challenge and Belgium, Denmark, France, Germany, Holland, Spain and the UK all run between one and three Amateur shows (the upper limit for each country at the moment) with a single unified system of qualification rules and scoring. Pure breds, and Partbreds and Anglos with 25% and over of Arabian blood are eligible. Amateurs are defined as not having received money for presenting a horse in the division they are entered. Professional in hand handlers are welcome to enter ridden, and pro riders can enter in hand. Everyone is welcome in Trail classes.
The judging system was an original idea designed by the board of the European Amateur Cup in Belgium. This is Europe’s most successful Amateur only show with over 100 entries in the last years. The halter classes use the usual five topic system of Type, Head and Neck, Body and Topline, Legs and Movement plus two extra categories. Firstly "Presentation" - judged as the accuracy with which the horse does the show; standing still, walking in a straight line and trotting without circling or breaking. Secondly "Harmony between Handler and Horse" which scores how well the partnership work with each other to achieve the presentation - and allows a tactful handler to score highly even his horse made mistakes in the presentation. The aim is to encourage a new generation of handlers to present their horses in a competent and respectful manner; but the system also rewards horses which are not just typey and correct but also confident, well mannered and a pleasure to show or watch being shown In short; just the sort of horse handler interaction that could draw more people towards showing Arabians !
Three levels of competence are provided so that first time handlers can have the space to compete against others at their level in the Novice classes, while the Amateur and and Experienced Amateur levels provide the stepping stones on the way to showing in open classes. Professionally trained horses with many wins are welcome to join in with an Amateur handler but will compete in the upper levels. Large yards are also welcome to send their grooming staff with their horses as long if that that person is paid for yard work and not presenting the horses in public.
Riding classes for Novice level in three styles, Classic, Hunter and Western are mandatory classes to offer, and require the horse to walk, trot and canter on each rein. They are an excellent beginners step for Novice horses as well as Novice riders.
In Hand and Ridden Trail classes are also mandatory to offer; borrowed from the US they are an excellent introduction to handling and riding with accuracy and respect and it was great to see an ECAHO 'A' list judge Helen Hennekens take part in these classes this year ! The shows are also affiliated with ECAHO as Amateur Shows.
The Aljassimya Amateur Challenge started in 2015 when Sheikh Jassim Bin Khalifa Al Thani of Aljassimya Farm began to sponsor three existing amateur shows in Belgium as part of his ambition to attract a new and youthful audience to the whole breed.
Aljassimya Farm provided these amateur shows with a sponsorship plus attractive special prizes for the top handlers and riders of the year – a visit to the Paris World Championships as guests of Aljassimya Farm, plus an entry to the California Prize Draw. The draw takes six people to California every year for a tour of the Arabian breeders in the Santa Ynez Valley - Aljassimya Farm, Om El Arab and Varian Arabians amongst them, plus a taste of the local attractions, from the ocean to the top of the mountains.