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All-North American Contest

The All-American Program Primer

As the All-American Contest enters its 19th year, we realize that we have a whole new generation of subscribers who were not around at the inception of this program. As a result, we felt it necessary to include an introduction/refresher.

What Is It?

The All-American contest is an annual competition which provides an historical photo record of the top halter animals shown across the country. The competition itself is not a show. It is tabulated mathematically, and therefore, may best be described as “the average opinion of the majority of contemporary judges in the U.S.”

The Draft Horse Journal started the All-American Program for Belgians and Percherons in 1988. As an all-breed magazine with international circulation, the need to provide a promotional program which would recognize breeders and exhibitors and provide The Journal an opportunity to acknowledge their accomplishments without singling out specific shows was readily apparent. Competition for Clydesdales was added in 1994. Hopefully, in the years to come, the other breeds will be afforded the same opportunities as their breed numbers continue to flourish.

Why Horse Shows?

Because of the nature of our publication (all breed, no breed, farming, logging, showing, pulling ... We don't care so long as it involves the use of heavy horses and mules), the emphasis placed on the All-American Contest has at times been called into question by those that do not show. Folks, the simple fact is, whether you show horses or not, whether you are show "oriented" or not, whether you even like shows or not … if you are in the business of breeding, buying and selling draft horses–shows DO have an impact on your life. They set the tone and trend concerning type. Those show ring winners, their sires and dams, are an important part of any permanent breed record and are what future generations will use to define "history." Horse shows are also undeniably a price stimulant. And, last but certainly not least, horse shows are one of the most effective vehicles for presenting our product to the public at large. Thus, they are vitally important to the heavy horse industry as a promotional tool.

So, why is it just for individual halter horses and not groups and/or hitches? The composition often changes in both groups and hitches during the year. The All-American was designed and continues to be the kind of program that works best on individual animals. The North American Six-Horse-Hitch Classic Series is doing a great job promoting hitches.

How Does It Work?

At any one of several shows designated by the breed associations’ All-American Committees and The Draft Horse Journal as a qualifying event, an animal qualifies for participation in the contest by placing in the top four of its respective open class at a Level AA show; in the top three at a Level A show; in the top two at a Level B Show; and must be first in class at a Level C show.

Once qualified, the owner must submit an unretouched photo of the animal from the current year and fill out an All-American nomination form, found in the respective breed publications, in accordance with the deadlines established.

Upon receipt of the nomination forms and photos, each breed association's All-American Committee reviews the entries for accuracy and compliance with the contest's guidelines. These committees have the right to interpret the guidelines and disqualify any entry based on their discretion. The associations then compile a ballot, picturing each animal in its respective qualifying class. The qualifying show placings are listed, in addition to foaling date, sire and dam (not required for grade geldings), owner/exhibitor and breeder. Those ballots are sent to The Draft Horse Journal, and in turn, are sent to each individual that judged an All-American qualifying show that year. Each individual receives only one ballot and thus one vote regardless of the number of qualifying shows they may have judged for a given breed. The ballots are accompanied by a standard form for the judges to record their placings, akin to a judge's card.

The judges are asked to place the top half of each class and return their placing to The Draft Horse Journal for tabulation. When the ballot forms are returned by the judges, a numerical value is assigned for each placing based on the number of entrants in the particular class. For example, if an All-American judge places a horse 1st in a class of 12 nominees, the horse receives 6 points from that judge, 2nd place would receive 5 points, etc.; if an All-American judge places a horse 1st in the class with an odd number of nominees such as 17, the 1st place horse would receive 9 points from that judge, 2nd place would receive 8 points, etc. These figures are summarized for all the judges and constitute the final scores. The animal with the highest score becomes the All-American, the second highest, the Reserve All-American. Honorable Mentions are determined by the spread in point totals. For instance, if the top five scores for a class were 160, 101, 100, 95 and 50, there would be two Honorable Mentions named, as the point spread between 95 and 50 is significant. Tie-breakers are determined first by the number of 1st place votes, then 2nd place votes and on down the line.

The Draft Horse Journal pictures the winners in the Spring issue and pays a "premium" to the breeder and owner of each All-American and Reserve All-American horse. The respective breed publications run the ballots and results in their entirety and provide certificates or plaques to the winners.

Click here for Nomination Forms.

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