Looking for some friendly competition?

APHA-approved shows are a family affair and offer a slate of Amateur and Novice Amateur 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.

Novice Amateur classes are reserved for those riders with little or no experience in competition. Amateur classes are for those riders who have had show ring experience, but who do not wish to jump into more intense Open competition. The new Amateur Walk-Trot classes are a great option for those new to showing or those who are no longer comfortable at a lope for whatever reason.

If you’re already attending shows with your children, maybe it’s time you took that first step into the show ring yourself. At APHA shows, every person’s abilities and achievements are supported and respected.

The Amateur program offers you the thrill and excitement of exhibiting an American Paint Horse in a class of your peers. You have the opportunity to exhibit your horse on a level playing field, without the intimidation of competing against experienced professionals.

What’s more, shows have the option of offering a single, all-ages Amateur class or splitting the competition into two divisions: one for Amateur exhibitors ages 19-44 and one for exhibitors ages 45 and older (Masters). The APHA World Show offers many classes in both age divisions, and a large number of Novice Amateur classes, as well.

Amateur, Novice Amateurs and Amateur Walk-Trot exhibitors compete for a variety of awards on their own horse, or on a horse owned by a family member. Points are awarded in each class based on the number of horses competing and how exhibitors place in the class.

APHA recognizes the top Amateurs and Novice Amateurs with year-end awards for Top 20 in each age group, Zone Top 5 and Honor Roll Top 10 in addition to performance records for their horses in the form of ROMs, Superiors and Champion titles. Amateur Walk-Trot exhibitors will receive year-end Honor Roll recognition and be able to earn ROMs and Superiors for their horses’ lifetime achievement records.


Who is eligible?
Who qualifies as a Novice Amateur?
Who can show in the Walk-Trot?
How do I get my Amateur/Novice Amateur/Amateur Walk-Trot card?
How long is my card valid?

Q: Who is eligible?

To qualify as an Amateur or Novice Amateur, individuals must meet two basic requirements. First, they must be 19 years of age or older as of January 1 of the show year (ineligible to compete in the Youth division). Second, they must not have accepted remuneration, either directly or indirectly, during the previous 60 months (5 years) for any of the following activities:

  • Riding, driving, showing, training or assisting in training;
  • Schooling or exhibiting a horse in competition or in seminars;
  • Conducting clinics or instructing another person in riding, driving, training or showing a horse in competition;
  • Soliciting for any of the above;
  • Judging (any approved horse show judge is automatically ineligible).

Amateurs, Novice Amateurs or Amateur Walk-Trot exhibitors may not show, train or assist in the training of a horse for which their spouses accept or have accepted any form of remuneration, either directly or indirectly, for training, assisting in training or showing. To be eligible for the Amateur/Novice Amateur/Walk-Trot program, individuals must not accept payment for expenses.

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.

Please refer to the current edition of the APHA Official Rule Book for detailed information and complete rules of the Amateur program.

Q: Who qualifies as a Novice Amateur?

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” in 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 19 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:

  • 40 performance points in that category: Open, Youth and Amateur points from all recognized breed associations are combined (Except zones 12, 13, and 14 – 20 points);
  • 50 Novice Amateur or Novice Youth points in that category: points from all recognized breed associations are combined;
  • $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.

Q: Who can show in the Walk-Trot?

The Walk-Trot division for adults was introduced on January 1, 2011, as an option for APHA-approved shows—they can approve Walk-Trot classes at their shows, but are not required to do so. Many local clubs host Walk-Trot classes of one sort or another already as open classes (open to all breeds and all exhibitors).

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 Longe Line

APHA will recognize year-end Honor Roll for Amateur Walk-Trot, as well as ROM and Superior in Walk-Trot on the horse’s lifetime performance record.

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.

Q: How do I get an Amateur/Novice Amateur/Amateur Walk-Trot card?

Amateur/Novice Amateur/Walk-Trot cards are issued by APHA, and application forms are available here on the APHA website or from the APHA Performance Department by calling (817) 222-6440. The fee for any card is $15 and requires a current 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 3-4 weeks 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.

Q: How long is my card valid?

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.


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