Amateur FAQs

APHA-approved shows are a family affair and offer a slate of Amateur, Novice Amateur and Amateur Walk-Trot classes for all types of non-professional horsemen and women. From Western pleasure to roping, halter to hunter under saddle, there are a variety of events for you to choose from in the Amateur program; and the three levels of competition within the program provide ample ways for you to get involved at a level within your comfort range.
To learn more about the Amateur Program, the APHA Rulebook has all rules and eligibility guidelines listed but you can review some of our frequently asked questions below.

To qualify as an Amateur, Novice Amateur or Amateur Walk-Trot division, individuals must meet two basic requirements. First, they must be 19 years of age or older as of January 1 of the current show year (ineligible to compete in the Youth division). Second, in the last 36 months (3 years) an Amateur may not have done the following:

  • Shown, ridden, judged, trained or assisted in training for remuneration, either directly or indirectly;
  • Instructed another person in riding, driving or training a horse for remuneration, either directly or indirectly;
  • Soliciting for any of the above;
  • Shown, ridden, trained or assisted in training of a horse for which the individual’s spouse, at the time, accepted any form of remuneration (either directly or indirectly)
  • Judging (any approved horse show judge is automatically ineligible).
  • An individual cannot hold a membership accreditation in the following organizations: Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association, Women’s Professional Rodeo Association, International Professional Rodeo Association, Professional Women’s Barrel Racing and the Women’s Professional Rodeo Association for the same events or classes the individual competes, or desires to compete, in APHA amateur competition.

NOTE: Payment of entry fees or expenses by anyone other than the Amateur, his/her immediate family or his/her corporation as defined in AM-020.A is considered remuneration.
Please refer to the current edition of the APHA Official Rule Book for detailed information and complete rules of the Amateur program.

The difference between an Amateur and a Novice Amateur is show ring experience. In addition to meeting the basic Amateur requirements, Novice Amateurs either have little or no experience in the category in which they wish to compete. Amateurs, on the other hand, may have years of experience showing. As long as an individual has not accepted remuneration for the activities previously listed, the exhibitor remains eligible to compete in the Amateur division.
Novice Amateurs can show “up”  to an Amateur classes at any time, but Amateurs cannot show in Novice Amateur classes.
An exhibitor can qualify as a Novice Amateur in one or more of the 25 categories. Moving up to Amateur in any one category does not force you to show Amateur in all of the others. To qualify for Novice Amateur in a specific category, the individual must not have earned any of the following:

  • Forty (40) or more revalued performance points (Open, Amateur and/or Youth combined, excluding walk-trot) in that
    category in any recognized equine association. (EXCEPTION: Zone 12, 13 and 14 cannot have earned 20 revalued performance points;
  • Fifty (50) or more revalued Novice Amateur or Novice Youth points combined in that category in any recognized equine association (EXCEPTION: Zone 12, 13 and 14 cannot have earned 25 revalued performance points;
  • $2,500 in prize money in classes included in that category in any recognized association;
  • World Champion or Reserve World Champion title in any recognized equine association.

Exhibitors may show as Novice Amateur for the entire calendar year in which the card was issued, regardless of how many points they earn during that year. However, once a competitor earns the above-restricted criteria in that category, they are ineligible to compete in Novice classes in that category in the following years.
NOTE: If you have ever been ineligible for Amateur Status according to rule AM-010, you are no longer eligible for Novice Amateur in any category!

The Walk-Trot division for adults was introduced on January 1, 2011, as an option for APHA-approved shows to hold, but are not required to do so. We hope that offering this additional level of competition will translate to more participation by allowing more people to participate at a level that is comfortable for them.
The APHA Walk-Trot division includes six classes:

  • Showmanship. To be judged in the same manner as any other showmanship class, but at the walk only.
  • Western Pleasure. To be judged in the same manner as any other Western Pleasure class but omitting the lope.
  • Western Horsemanship. To be judged with a simple pattern but omitting the lope. Will not be asked to mount or dismount.
  • Trail. Scored the same as any other trail class but omitting the lope. Will not be asked to ground tie. A minimum of four and a maximum of six obstacles is required.
  • Hunter Under Saddle. To be judged the same as any other Hunter Under Saddle class, but omitting the canter or hand gallop.
  • Hunt Seat Equitation. To be judged with a simple pattern but omitting the canter. Will not be asked to drop irons, mount or dismount.

Walk-Trot cardholders may also participate in the following classes at APHA-approved shows:

  • Amateur/Novice Amateur Showmanship according to eligibility.
  • Halter
  • Yearling In-hand Trail
  • Yearling adn Two-Year Old Longe Line
  • Pleasure Driving
  • Utility Driving

Meanwhile, you cannot “point out” of Walk-Trot. The card is to be held on an annual basis, and renewed as any other Amateur program card which expires on December 31 of the year issued.

Amateur, Novice Amateur and Amateur Walk-Trot cards are issued by APHA, and a signed application must be submitted to receive an Amateur Card. The fee for any Amateur Card is $15 and requires a current individual APHA membership.
You MUST have a current Amateur/Novice Amateur/Walk-Trot card in hand to show in the related classes. Normal processing time is 5-10 business days through the APHA office, but can be processed faster with a rush fee. Should you get to a show and find yourself in need of a card to participate, simply fill out a Temporary Amateur Application provided by the Show Secretary and pay applicable fees OR pay the rush fee online to have a temporary card emailed directly to you.

All Amateur program cards follow the point year, and expire on December 31 of the year issued. This is different than the APHA Membership, that is valid for 12 months.
For complete rules governing the APHA, the exhibition of horses, and the APHA Amateur/Novice Amateur/Walk-Trot programs, consult the current APHA Official Rule Book.

Any horse shown in APHA Amateur/Novice Amateur/Walk-Trot classes must be owned by either the exhibitor or the exhibitor’s immediate family. Family shall include the following: spouse, mother, father, son, daughter, brother, sister, grandchild, grandparent, step-grandparent, legal ward, in-laws (father, mother, brother, sister, son, daughter), stepchild, stepparent, stepbrother, stepsister, half brother, half sister, aunt, uncle, niece, nephew or solely owned corporation, ranch or farm. The exhibitor must be directly related to everyone in a joint ownership, corporation, ranch or farm situation.
Amateur Walk-Trot Division—The horse may be owned by any person or group of people. However, to be eligible for APHA points, titles, awards, and to compete at the World Show, the horse must be owned by the Amateur exhibitor or the Amateur exhibitor’s family. For a list of approved family relationships, please see rule AM-020 in the Official APHA Rulebook.

No, an exhibitor must pick between holding an Amateur, Novice Amateur/Amateur or Amateur Walk-Trot card. However, you can reclassify your card type ONCE a calendar year. Therefore, an exhibitor may not show Amateur and/or Novice Amateur reclassify to Amateur Walk-Trot reclassify to Amateur and/or Novice Amateur in one calendar year. Nor may the exhibitor show Amateur Walk-Trot reclassify to Amateur and/or Novice Amateur then reclassify to Amateur Walk-Trot in one calendar year.
To Reclassify, you will need to complete the reclassification application and pay the $15 fee.

Yes! If you have been ineligible for Novice Amateur in a category, you can be reinstated in that category if, in the 10 years prior to their re-application, you have not earned ten (10) or more APHA and/or other associations’ revalued performance points (ROM), money or a World Champion or Reserve World Champion title in any recognized equine association.
To be reinstated, you must complete the reinstatement application and pay the $25 fee.

QUESTIONS? Contact APHA’s Performance Department at amateur@apha.com.