Recognition Programs

APHA recognizes outstanding regional clubs for their contributions to the breed by honoring them in several ways. Clubs can apply for and earn Gold Star Club status through services to their members, community and APHA. Gold Star Clubs excel in their service to members by hosting fundraising activities, benefits, social gatherings, youth activities and special promotions. They are also involved in community service. APHA then further awards exemplary Gold Star Clubs that go that extra mile with the President’s Club of Distinction award.

The Distinguished Service Award is the American Paint Horse Association’s highest honor. Introduced in 1983, the award recognizes special individuals for their many contributions to the Association and the horse industry through the years. Nominations for this award are accepted yearly. The deadline for current year consideration is May 15. The DSA Committee is made up of the three most current APHA Past Presidents. The Committee generally meets during the APHA Youth World. The Distinguished Service Award is presented at the organization’s annual convention and membership meeting in February.

President’s Gold Star Program

The President’s Gold Star Club program is designed to emphasize the purpose for all Regional Clubs, as defined by the Official APHA Rule Book. “To advance the Paint Horse through the ideals of the national Association, including good horsemanship and good sportsmanship.”

Regardless of the age of the club or the number of members, it is possible for any Regional Club to achieve Gold Star Club status. All Regional Clubs are required to host any combination of two Open or APHA-approved shows, or APHA–approved trail rides per year. Gold Star Clubs offer a variety of activities and encourage more participation by Paint enthusiasts who might not be interested in showing horses, but who enjoy the camaraderie of others in trail riding, youth activities, hosting booths or participating in social activities and community service projects.

Once a club has attained Gold Star Club status, it remains a Gold Star Club until May 31 of the year of its five-year review by the regional club committee. The regional club manager will notify the club when it is time to apply for renewal. Entry deadline is June 1.

Presidents Club of Distinction

In 1999, APHA launched an annual contest exclusively for Gold Star Clubs, known as the President’s Clubs of Distinction Contest. Those clubs so designated exemplify the qualities of a premier Regional Club through service to their members, their community and APHA.  Winners are selected for their outstanding promotion and public service. They receive valuable prizes in the form of gift certificates and merchandise from APHA Corporate Partners as well as special recognition on the Gold Star Club page in the Paint Horse JournalEntry deadline is June 1 each year. For more information, contact clubs@apha.com

Distinguished Service Award

Another way Regional Clubs can assist the national office is to nominate qualified candidates for the Distinguished Service Award.

This award was initiated in 1983 by the Executive Committee to recognize members who have made outstanding contributions in service to both the Paint Horse and the APHA.

To be considered for the award, the member must have established a long-standing, consistent pattern of service through giving time, effort, special knowledge or skill in an unselfish manner to advance the Paint Horse and the Association.

The contribution may have been made on a regional, state or national level. Nominations may be made by a club, and individual or any group of APHA members.

A Distinguished Service Award Committee, which is comprised of the three most current past-presidents, chooses the recipient based upon the nominations it receives.

Nominees must meet the following eligibility requirements:


Clea Bobbitt was awarded APHA’s Distinguished Service Award at the 2016 Convention. Read her story here.

  • Must be a member in good standing for a minimum of 15 years
  • Must own or have owned a Paint Horse
  • Be involved in regional leadership
  • Must have served as a Regional Club officer, national officer, director or committee member
  • Must be recognized for having made a major contribution to a regional, state or national activity
  • May not be a past president of the Association

New nominations must be received at APHA by May 15 to be considered for the current year. The award is presented at the annual APHA Convention. Send your DSA Form to clubs@apha.com or call 817-222-6403 for more information.



Distinguished Service Award Winners
1984Paul HarberGoodman, Missouri
1985Delbert HardyAkron, Colorado
1986Buster NaegleGonzales, California
1987Sam HowingtonSunset, Texas
1988No Award Given
1989Dr. Lyle WonderlichTwin Falls, Idaho
1990I. J. CareySioux Falls, South Dakota
1991Bob McKillipsBeloit, Wisconsin
1992A. J. “Jack” CampbellDouglas, Wyoming
1993Lester SpearConcord, New Hampshire
1994Alene & Earl JonesOgden, Utah
1995Joann CookBirchrunville, Pennsylvania
1996Jean BuzzardTucson, Arizona
1997Cliff & Martha JohnsonKansas City, Missouri
1998Peggy HanshawPhoenix, Arizona
1999Virdin R. RoyseEl Reno, Oklahoma
2000Peggy GilbertAustin, Colorado
2001Joe & Ernestine OwingsSan Antonio, Texas
2002No Award Given
2003Claude HowardWichita, Kansas
2004Richard & Josephine WaldnerBrookings, South Dakota
2005Earnest WilsonTolar, Texas
2006Pauli CrullMonticello, Indiana
2007Jean FellFranktown, Colorado
2008Don ManuelloSterling, Colorado
2009Duke NeffPleasant Hill, Missouri
2010Roxann RohrlGrafton, Ohio
2011Hardy OelkeHalver, Germany
2012Grace HarrisVancouver, Washington
2013Sharon AveryFallon, Nevada
2014Merlin HimleBrook Park, Minnesota
2015Clea BobbittEldon, Missouri


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