Looking for a great instructor for a beginner? Searching for a trustworthy trainer to get you and your Paint on the right track? Hunting for a confidence-building coach to guide you through the show season?
Finding the right equine professional can be key to successfully reaching your goals, whether you’re just starting out or striving for a world championship. You want someone with knowledge and experience, someone who is ethical and honest, to guide you and your Paint Horse as you work towards your ambitions and dreams.
That’s why the Markel APHA Professional Horsemen Program was created—to help Paint Horse enthusiasts like you connect with some of the best equine professionals in the industry. We asked Lisa Ligon, chair of APHA’s Professional Horsemen Committee, to share her top reasons why you should consider working with one of these outstanding men and women.
- The rigorous selection process
“Being an APHA Professional Horseman is a privilege and an honor,” Lisa explained. “The designation is only bestowed upon the men and women within our industry that the committee feels can make a positive contribution to the APHA by exhibiting and encouraging professionalism, integrity, fairness and humane treatment throughout the industry.”
To be selected, candidates must be current members of APHA and complete a detailed application that gives their background and an overview of their business, including the disciplines, services and instruction they offer. Applicants also must provide four references from former employers and equine clients.
Once a candidate’s application is complete, the Professional Horsemen Committee then reviews the file at their next meeting and votes. If approved, the candidate is required to sign and to follow the Markel APHA Professional Horsemen’s Code of Ethics.
- The commitment to ongoing education
All APHA Professional Horsemen are required to attend at least one continuing education seminar every three years.
“Educating ourselves and our membership is one of the most important tools to increase understanding and promote positive competition within our industry,” Lisa said. “This recertification helps our members stay current with the rules and standards of the classes within the horse industry.”
Carded judges can fulfill the requirement by attending events like the International Equine Judges Seminar or the European Judges Seminar. Others can take advantage of new educational opportunities offered by APHA, such as the Creating Confident Clinicians Seminar.
“For individuals who do not hold a judges card, we offer a two-day event that covers core classes and rules as well as offering a clinicians’ seminar,” Lisa explained. “This clinician certification seminar teaches our professionals how to most effectively communicate and convey ideas and information to students and peers alike.”
As a result, you can be assured that APHA Professional Horsemen are keeping up with a rapidly changing industry.
“These men and women go out of their way to stay current and educated about the standards and rules that govern APHA and its membership,” she said. “This allows them to provide you with the most positive and fulfilling experiences possible.”
Want to improve your judging skills? Check out HorseIQ, a one-of-a-kind video platform for anyone wanting to become a better exhibitor or judge.
- The pledge to act with integrity
All Professional Horsemen are deeply committed to the welfare of both the horses and the humans that they interact with each and every day. Members are required to sign and adhere to the Markel APHA Professional Horsemen’s Code of Ethics. This document sets forth guidelines and standards relative to conducting business transactions, handling and safeguarding both the welfare of our horses and their owners, and helping promote confidence and a positive image of APHA.
“These individuals are conducting their businesses in an ethical and accurate manner with transparency and honesty in each transaction,” Lisa said. “They have signed a code of conduct that they take very seriously. They know and expect to be held to a higher standard of conduct by the Professional Horsemen Committee.”
Every Professional Horseman is subject to annual review, and anyone found not adhering to the Code of Ethics is removed from the list and may be subject to disciplinary action. This accountability allows clients and peers alike to conduct business with an added measure of confidence.
APHA’s online directory, with both an interactive map and user-friendly search engine, makes finding a Professional Horseman easier than ever. Once you’ve located a pro and want to learn more, you can access his or her in-depth profile featuring the services and disciplines offered, achievements, accreditations, photos and more. Pro Horsemen—get your name out there by completing your online profile; email firstname.lastname@example.org for details. You can also download complete listing and sort by name, state or speciality.
“When looking for a trainer, coach, or instructor, I strongly recommend using an APHA Professional Horseman,” Lisa said. And with APHA Professional Horsemen in 30 states, four Canadian provinces and two European countries, chances are good you’ll find who you’re looking for close to home, ready to guide you on your equine journey.
[Reprinting all of part of this story is permitted, so long as credit is given to the Paint Horse Journal and a link provide back to apha.com.]
The American Paint Horse Association is the world’s second-largest international equine breed association, registering more than a million horses in 59 nations and territories since it was founded. APHA’s mission is to inspire, nurture, promote and provide meaningful experiences to generations interested in preserving the versatile Paint Horse.