2024 Scottsdale


By Morgan Moore

As featured in the Spring 2024 issue of Arabian Horse World.

In 1952, a small group of Arabian enthusiasts had an idea to introduce more people to the Arabian horse: an exhibition of the breed in the Phoenix area, which they dubbed the “All Arabian Horse Show.” There were a couple of early, small events at a modest resort venue called the Casa Blanca Inn, but the group wanted to expand into a more impressive site and draw horses from outside the area. By 1954, their vision came to fruition with one significant change: the horses would compete against one another for accolades. The 1954 show celebrated 102 entries hosted at the Arizona Biltmore Hotel, and the first “Scottsdale” Champions emerged from the All Arabian Horse Show.


The competition grew steadily over time. The venue changed many times, and the AHAA (Arabian Horse Association of Arizona) team members shifted, but the passionate group behind the event never deviated from their charter. By 1985, during the height of the Arabian horse industry, the show welcomed 2,460 entries. Even now, though horse breeding in the US continues to decline across all breeds, Scottsdale boasted 1,698 horses entered at the close of entries for 2024 (69 years after the first event).


The mission of AHAA has also expanded over time. The goal of promoting the Arabian horse is evident in every aspect of the event, from the marketing of the show at the Phoenix airport to magazine advertisements and news spots with local outlets. The show itself attracts visitors from across the world, but it is unique in that non-equine enthusiasts frequent the show for the shopping, pony rides, animal adoptions, paint-a-pony events, Medieval Times exhibitions, show tours, and youth art contests. Beyond that, the show supports a variety of charities to give back to the breed and local community efforts (13 charities in 2024 alone).


Because of these myriad activities, the atmosphere of the Scottsdale show is unique. There is not another event in the world that works to attract non-equine enthusiasts with the passion that the Scottsdale Arabian Horse Show does.

That energy permeates every corner of WestWorld during the event. Whether you’re indulging in the sunshine of the historic Wendell Arena or enjoying the Equidome’s large crowd of spectators, you can feel the excitement of people seeing the Arabian horse for the first time. 

The class options, too, reflect that welcoming nature. Unique to Scottsdale is a Select halter handler division for new halter exhibitors to cut their teeth in a lower-pressure setup (exhibitors walk in instead of trot in to allow exhibitors to perfect their presentations). There are classes in amateur performance also cut by experience level: select, choice, and elite. There are divisions by age as well. In addition, the show offers many opportunities to compete for prize money, with some classes offering payouts as high as $25,000 for the Champion.

The new Select halter handler class.

However, the show is not just geared towards the exhibitor or the burgeoning equine enthusiast. This show allows breeders to see the yearlings born the previous year for the first time. The show is buzzing with discussions on breeding matches and stallion presentations nearly around the clock, both on and off the grounds at local farms. Champions at the Scottsdale Show set the tone for the year in their respective divisions. Scottsdale is the Arabian enthusiasts’ opportunity to postulate about the horses that will win at the year’s future competitions and the sires that will dominate in future foal crops.  


Exhibitors are looking for their next show horse for the season; breeders are looking for the next steps in their programs, and riders are looking for their next companions. The Scottsdale show is also the unofficial sales capital for the Arabian horse.


The 2024 show offered 379 championship classes in a more comprehensive division offering than any other Arabian show. Even more impressive, some classes had nearly 70 entries at the time of the entries close.

An exciting program (with many of those championships dedicated to eligible competitors) offered through AHAA is the well-established “Scottsdale Signature Stallion” program that awarded almost $500,000 in prize money at this single event. This program allows stallion owners to make any foal by their stallion (as long as the foal is nominated) eligible to compete in classes beginning their yearling year through the end of their show career. Resulting foals can compete for prize money in halter (throughout their entire show career), English, Hunter, and Western classes. The halter classes are reserved for amateur handlers, and the performance division offers professional and amateur rider options.


Some breeders find this program so inspirational that their breeding decisions become partially weighted on the resulting foal’s ability to compete in these classes potentially. Thus, the auction breedings frequently draw premium investments. One breeder, Austin Garrett, began co-creating foals with his 2016 foal crop for MNS Farms. In 2021, he purchased a breeding for World Champion Rhan Al Shahania from the Scottsdale Signature Auction. The young sire was hugely popular that year, and many breeders bid against him, but in the end, Austin won his breeding. He had selected Rhan Al Shahania for his beloved mare Virginnia Lee (Bey Ambition x Most Captivating). Virginnia Lee was previously a Canadian Reserve National Champion Yearling Filly and was acquired by MNS Farms in 2021. Austin had the opportunity to lead her to a US National Top 10 AAOTH (she was also US National Top 10 Open mare at the same show) before he bred her in 2022.

The resulting foal was a chestnut filly: Aloara AG (which means “my dream”). The first foal bred to carry Austin’s initials. The first foal he bred that captured roses in the Scottsdale Signature Stallion Auction Championship, where she was named Reserve Champion filly. The reward? $12,538.66 in prize money, a multi-colored rose garland, and the fruition of a vision. Austin Garrett has been a frequent competitor in Scottsdale Signature Stallion classes with numerous championships to his name on behalf of many other owners and breeders. This experience allowed him to learn more about his preferences, sculpt his version of perfection as a breeder, and eventually execute a win as a breeder, owner, and handler.

Breeder, owner, and handler Austin Garrett winning Reserve Champion with Aloara AG (Rhan Al Shahania x Virginnia Lee) in the Scottsdale Signature Auction Filly class.
Western Pleasure Champion, PA McKoy (PA Kid Khan x Maggie May V) with Stanley White III. Owned by Melinda Roberts.

Beyond the prize money programs, the wins at Scottsdale still matter to breeders and owners. Titles won at the show are historically significant for pedigree disciples, who scour generations for key wins that may help predict future outcomes. As such, the championships across all divisions are hotly contested.  


This year, the western pleasure championship was captured by the talented PA McKoy (PA Kid Khan x Maggie May V) with Stanley White III aboard in a nod to his now-retired breeder Frank Chisholm of Palmetto Arabians. PA McKoy also competed with his amateur owner, Melinda Roberts, who won first place in her Select Western Pleasure Class. It is not unusual at this particular event to see open horses also compete in the amateur divisions. The Reserve Champion Open Western Pleasure horse Vera Wang (Sundance Kid V x Verset) with Greg Harris also won Champion in the Primetime division with owner Diane Franklin of Franklin Farm LLC.

Western Pleasure Reserve Champion, Vera Wang (Sundance Kid V x Verset) with Greg Harris. Owned by Diane Franklin.

One of Scottsdale’s largest divisions is the Hunter Pleasure division. This year, a previous Scottsdale Signature Champion Yearling Colt, Domyno (RD Dynamo x Ghazala El Jamaal), ridden by Devin Miller, captured an Open Top 10 in a competitive field. Domyno was also a Scottsdale Signature Champion Hunter Pleasure Maturity horse in 2022. He is an excellent example of the longevity and versatility of the Arabian horse, as he captured roses in both halter and performance.

Domyno (RD Dynamo x Ghazala El Jamaal) with Devin Miller.
Champion Half-Arabian English Pleasure CSP Hot Buttered Rum (CSP Grand Caymon x SF Shes Afire) with Shan Wilson.

Half-Arabian / Anglo-Arabian English Pleasure is always a crowd favorite. As a result, it is one of the classes featured on the final Saturday night of the show. This year, the sensational CSP Hot Buttered Rum (CSP Grand Caymon x SF Shes Afire) excited the crowd with his brilliant performance, incredible expression, and carriage. With Shan Wilson aboard, this chestnut gelding was named Champion. This horse was also sold at the show and will return to Texas with receiving trainer Gordon Potts to pursue titles in future 2024 competitions.

Scottsdale offers the largest prize pots in Arabian reining: $10,000 for purebred futurity horses and $25,000 for HA/AA futurity horses (offered by the Arabian Reining Horse Association). This year, the big prize for the HA/AA Reining Futurity at Scottsdale was captured by Champion LJ Charlotte (Al-Marah Matt Dillon +/. X Special Kinda Nite) with trainer Crystal McNutt.

Champion Half-Arabian Reining Futurity LJ Charlotte (Al-Marah Matt Dillon x Special Kinda Nite) with Crystal McNutt.

The Scottsdale Show is unique because it is designed to lure people from outside the equine realm. It still delivers on the founders’ original idea: to introduce the public to the Arabian horse. The championships captured here become influential for generations to come, but the experience of introducing these horses to a broader audience gives this show a magic all its own.