The doors have closed after another successful All-American Quarter Horse Congress. The highly sought-after bronze trophies have been awarded to the best of the best after 30 days of grueling competition at the largest horse show in the world. Attendees left Columbus, Ohio, already making plans to return for next year’s show, while exhibitors are back to work strategizing and looking for ways to improve to gain their very own medallion or trophy at the 2023 Congress.

This year, New York was well represented. The New York State Quarter Horse Association (NYSQHA) was proud to have many members compete and find success at Congress.

The Quarter Horse Congress is the pinnacle of Quarter Horse shows. To show at Congress has been the goal of many equestrians over the years and is a difficult feat to accomplish. In the show rings of the Ohio Fairgrounds, years of preparation are put to the test to see who will emerge as the leaders in the horse show sport world.

In 2022, NYSQHA had a queen to compete in the Congress Queen Contest. After representing the association throughout spring and summer, Emily Carey traveled to Congress to run for the title of All-American Quarter Horse Congress Queen. Competing against queens representing Quarter Horse associations from across the country, she participated in the challenging three-part contest.

Congress Queen applicants go through a series of events to test them and their ability to represent the Congress. The first part is a personal interview with a panel of judges both involved and not involved in the equine industry. The next part is a written exam to test the applicant’s knowledge of everything horse, Congress and American Quarter Horse Association (AQHA) related. This is an extremely difficult test to prepare for as it can be based off of anything in a 300-page rule book as well as uncommon facts, history and general knowledge.

Lastly, the queens demonstrate their riding and horsemanship skills in a judged Horsemanship Class. When not working on the graded portions of the contest, the queens interact with Congress goers, serve as ambassadors and work with sponsors.

New York’s Congress champions

(L – R) Amy Barkley-Carey, Alora Carey, Jennifer Walrath and Claudia Walrath, after Alora placed 15th in her Equitation class aboard New Gucci Boots. Photo courtesy of Emily Carey

At the conclusion of the three-day contest, Carey placed seventh overall, having placed within the top five in the interview portion of the contest. Additionally, she was awarded Miss Congeniality, a title voted on by the other contestants. “Competing in the Queen’s Contest was such a great experience,” she said. “I was able to meet some amazing people from around the country and have once in a lifetime experiences.”

Also representing the NYSQHA was the youth team, which participated in the National Youth Activities Team Tournament (NYATT). The 2022 team was made up of Alora Carey showing New Gucci Boots, Claudia Walrath showing One Tuff Copperhead and Lorna Lajoie showing Made You Watch. These youth competed in Hunter Under Saddle, Equitation, Barrel Racing and Showmanship classes as part of the tournament.

Overall, the team placed 15th out of 24 teams from across the country. Alora ended her youth show career placing 15th in her Equitation Class out of over 70 riders – an incredible feat she worked very hard to accomplish.

While there is now a year-long wait until the next Quarter Horse Congress, spirits are high in New York. The NYSQHA 2023 show season begins in May and the countdown to Congress will start again.