It would be nice to have a format in which exhibitors were not dependent on show committees to offer specific levels in classes.
It is unfair for those showing in lower or entry levels to be lumped into a category they would not compete in simply because most shows choose not to offer leveling in a particular class versus another - or at all. When a show you are competing at does not offer leveling you are automatically put into Level 3 for your division. If you do well and happen to earn a point or two it doesn't get applied towards your actual level for year end standings.
My proposal is to take the decision to offer levels out of the show committees hands and make all AQHA classes leveled. Yes the show committees can still choose which classes to offer but would not have to add classes to provide specific levels beyond Rookie and Level 1. When entering you select the level you are competing in and level 2 and 3 classes run concurrently based on division (youth, am, open). Points and accomplishments would drive eligibility just as it does today. Rookie and Level 1 would remain their own separate classes to be fair to those just starting out. And should be offered (Rookie!)!
Youth Level 2 & 3, Amateur Level 2 & 3, and Open Level 2 & 3 run concurrently but you select the level you are competing in based on eligibility. Halter would be based on the horse/exhibitor eligibility meaning all compete concurrently - meaning Rookie and/or Level 1 compete with all others in their division.
This would allow more people to compete for year end awards within the competition level they are eligible for. It would also make it fair for all exhibitors because all classes at EVERY show would offer the same leveled format. Exhibitors and horses would progress through their prospective levels as they improve.
Many of the AQHA affiliates have various levels that equally reward all competitors based on their individual standings. it would be nice if this were the same within AQHA and not dictated by which shows attended. All shows would offer the same leveling for all classes offered.
Here's an example and the reason I am suggesting this. In 2016 showing in Am Performance Halter Geldings earned 5.5 points at a couple shows. Level 1 eligible however because the halter classes were not, and typically are not, leveled was categorized as Level 3 even though I am a Level 1 competitor and my horse is also level 1 eligible. So from a year end awards standpoint I was not in the standings. If those points were applied to the horse/exhibitor level we would have been second for the year. Currently second place has 3.5 points. Personally I was not working towards an award however this is impacting most exhibitors whether they realize it or not. If leveling is supposed to make it fair then by this example it is failing a lot of people.
I started to recommend this last year however felt that AQHA may be heading in this direction and needed time to work it out. Especially with the system upgrades they are working on. However after a conversation today I'm not so sure so felt I would at least throw this out there and see what others think.
Hopefully I have explained this in a manner that isn't too confusing!