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APHA Convention News: France, Argentina and New Caledonia in the spotlight

The American Paint Horse Association added Argentina and New Caledonia to the list of countries with APHA clubs and recognized the affiliate in France for excellence during the recent APHA Convention. The Association’s 41st Annual Convention and Membership Meeting was held in Vancouver, Washington, from September 29—October 1.

During the General Membership Meeting, Executive Director Lex Smurthwaite reported that the Asociacion Argentina de Paint Horse and the New Caledonia Paint Horse Club have been approved as official APHA affiliates. They join the 21 other international affiliates around the globe, stretching from Australia to the United Kingdom.

Last April Smurthwaite traveled to Argentina to attend the Nuestros Caballos equine fair in Buenos Aires. It was there that he met with a small but determined group of Paint Horse enthusiasts interested in forming a new APHA affiliate. A significant number of Paint Horses had already been imported from Brazil, with strong interest in importing both horses and frozen semen from the U.S. Since then, seven Paint Horses have been registered in Argentina, with plans to register 40 more in the near future.

Finding Paint Horses on an island in the heart of the Pacific Ocean may come as a surprise, but cowboys and horses have been working cattle in New Caledonia for decades. Located approximately 750 miles east of Australia and 930 miles northwest of New Zealand, New Caledonia is slightly smaller than New Jersey. The country is a special collectivity of France, and the official language is French.

APHA Director Lee Ann Hall of Dubbo, New South Wales, Australia, and her husband Jeffrey visited New Caledonia in June to judge a horse show, give a clinic, assist with APHA paperwork and help form an APHA club. During their visit, the Halls received 25 registration applications from New Caledonian owners.

“Many of the horses originate from New Zealand or Australia and have registration papers with the Paint Horse Associations of those countries,” explained Hall. “New Caledonia has a population of approximately 300,000 people with equestrian ownership and activities limited, so it is quite an achievement to have attained the level of interest in APHA.”

The club is already planning to hold a show with APHA events in the near future, its first Paint Horse National Show in May 2012, as well as social events.

During the Presidential Inauguration Dinner held at Convention, the France Paint Horse Association was honored with the APHA President’s Gold Star Club award. The FPHA becomes the fourth international club to earn the distinction, on the heels of the Irish Paint Horse Club last year. Gold Star Clubs excel in their service to members by hosting fund-raising activities, benefits, social gatherings, youth activities and special promotions. They are also involved in community service.

In other Convention news, while most of the APHA’s Standing Committees met in Vancouver, the International Committee did not. They met earlier in September during the European Paint Horse Championship which took place in Germany. The committee will meet again on November 6 during the APHA World Championship Show in Fort Worth, Texas.