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IQHA Mayflower Show


The Iowa Quarter Horse Association’s Mayflower Show comes to the Iowa State Fairgrounds May 2-5.

The Iowa Quarter Horse Association’s Mayflower Show comes to the Iowa State Fairgrounds May 2-5.

There’s something about Western movies that makes every guy think he’s Clint Eastwood and every woman think she’s a southern belle. Location has plenty to do with it for women, and most tales take place near the border or somewhere in Texas. For men, it’s the image of the Marlboro Man standing tall in a plaid button-down, perfectly worn blue jeans, boots and spurs and sporting a cowboy hat that reveals little more of his face than the cigarette that rests in the coarse field of the five o’clock shadow encompassed by mysterious smoke. This is a cowboy, but this is not his story. This story is about the cowboy’s most trusted companion — his horse.

The American Quarter Horse gets its name from its ability to sprint, sometimes reaching speeds that have been clocked at as much as 55 mph when running short (quarter-mile) distances. During the time of the Old West, the quarter horse was primarily used for working with cattle. Today, not much has changed for this breed. It is still primarily used on the ranch, though it is often seen as a show horse, a speedster and a rodeo horse.

“American Quarter Horses are known for their versatility and athleticism in many different events, such as cutting, roping, jumping and even racing,” said Lisa Merfeld, Iowa Quarter Horse Association (IQHA) state show committee/at large director. “The breed originated here in America and is what most people recognize as ‘the cowboy’s horse.’ ”

This year the Iowa Quarter Horse Association’s Mayflower Show will descend upon the Iowa State Fairgrounds May 2-5 for four days of competitive entertainment. Horses will compete in a variety of events including halter, showmanship, western pleasure, horsemanship, reining, ranch pleasure and over-fences classes.


“Exhibitors competing at the Mayflower may earn points toward qualifying for the American Quarter Horse Association World Championship Shows and year-end awards in the Iowa Quarter Horse Association as well,” Merfeld said. “Exhibitors are expected from throughout the Midwest and even Canada, with nearly 400 horses and riders, competing in open, amateur and youth divisions.”

With folks coming from all around, young and old alike, this is sure to be an exciting show.

Not a rider? That doesn’t matter; the Mayflower show is open to anyone and everyone looking to experience something new and unique. Here’s a chance to see some modern-day cowboys in their element with the horses that make them look good. And best of all, there’s no charge to see the two in action!               

Learnin’ the ropes, knowin’ the lingo:

Halter — Horses are led, not ridden, and are judged on balance, structural correctness, breed and sex characteristics and degree of muscling. Of these, balance is the most important.

Lope — Running or moving with a long, bounding stride.

Reining — Horses are judged on movement, maneuverability and attitude. The horse is required to perform a number of stops, spins, rollbacks, lead changes and circles at a lope. The horse should be willing to be guided with little or no resistance.

Showmanship vs. Horsemanship — The former is an in-hand class and demonstrates the rider’s control of the horse, while horsemanship is a riding class.

Western Pleasure — Contestants compete simultaneously, traveling the perimeter of the arena and, at the discretion of the judge, are asked to walk, jog, lope and reverse the direction of the horse. Ranch pleasure showcases the movement and versatility of ranch style horses. CV

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