Becoming an APHA-approved judge is a stringent process, designed to award judging cards to only the most qualified applicants. We strive to develop high-quality judges who are able to precisely evaluate and rank entries in a variety of classes, in keeping with rules set forth by the association. Visit the Becoming an APHA Approved Judge for more information about the application process.

Current Judge Applicants*

  • Bartholomew, Ronald, Syracuse, NY
  • Ray, Jeffrey, Tulsa, OK
  • Watson, Butch, Cave Springs, AR

Current Halter Specialty Judge Applicants*

  • None
*The Judges Committee seeks information on the above judge applicants. Please submit both favorable and unfavorable evaluations to APHA Judges Department, 122 E. Exchange Ave., Suite 420, Fort Worth, TX 76164.

Judge Rule Updates 2024

The BOLD text indicates changed or clarified rules

The following show rule changes will be in effect January 1, 2024:

  • The Off Pattern (OP) rule for Novice and Walk/Trot divisions will be removed in all classes except for the ranch division. Rule SC-250
  • Green Ranch Riding, Ranch Rail Pleasure, Ranch Pleasure, and Ranch Trail classes will be added to the APHA approved class list. Rule SC-304
  • Credit will be given to horses that are shown in close proximity to the rail in Hunter Under Saddle. Rule SC.205.G.2
  • Ranch Rail Pleasure required gaits specified: All horses will be judged at the walk, extended walk, trot, extended trot, lope, extended lope, and back as well as on all transitions. Extended gaits must be asked for at least one direction. Rule SC-303.C
  • Expanded concurrent judging will be permitted per the below revision without the need for a variance request. Rules SC-105.B.1 and 2.
    • Halter, Color Classes, Longe Line, Reining, Ranch Classes, Western Riding, Pleasure Driving, Utility Driving, Over Fences Classes, Speed Classes, Cattle Classes, and Rail Classes may be judged simultaneously.
    • Trail, In-Hand Trail, Showmanship, Hunt-Seat Equitation, Western Horsemanship may be judged in split arenas with separate courses/patterns. If rail work is requested by any judge in Hunt-Seat Equitation or Western Horsemanship, exhibitors will do rail work one time to all judges.
  •  Competitive Trail Horse will be removed from the rule book and the list of APHA approved classes. Rule SC-312
  •  The maximum number of allowed obstacles in the Walk/Trot Trail classes will be increased from eight to ten. Rule AM-300, YP-109, & YP-110
  • Judged Roping (recognized judged roping organization approved by the APHA) added to list of APHA Restricted Judge classes.
  • Clerical errors must be corrected before the results are submitted to APHA. If such a correction must be made to judge scoresheet or placing card after the judge is no longer at the show, signatured corrections must still be made, either physically or electronically. Rule JU-000

The following show rule clarifications will be in effect January 1, 2024:

  • IJC European-Only judges will be required to attend an approved educational seminar every three (3) years. Rule JU-000.A.6
  • All Western tack and equipment rules has been consolidated under one rule, including those for speed, cattle, and ranch classes. Rule SC-240
  • 2 new reining patterns have been added (Patterns 17 & 18)
  • The following 3pt Ranch Trail, Ranch Pleasure, and Ranch Riding penalty wording has been clarified: Trotting three or more strides in a lope departure from a stop or walk, or when exiting a rollback into a lope.
  • Ranch Cow Work (Box, Drive, Box, Drive) has been renamed Limited Ranch Cow Work and Ranch Cow Work (Boxing) has been renamed Ranch Boxing. Ranch Boxing was clarified that it can only be held for the Novice divisions.
  • Ranch Pleasure penalties added to be consistent with new Ranch Riding and Ranch Trail penalties from 2023:
    • One (1) Point: Over-bridled (per maneuver), out of frame (per maneuver), too slow, break of gait at walk or trot for two (2) strides or less, wrong lead or out of lead for 2 strides or less.
    • Three (3)  Point: Wrong lead or out of lead for more than 2 strides, draped reins (per maneuver), break of gait at lope, break of gait at walk or trot for more than two (2) strides, trotting three or more strides in a lope departure from a stop or walk, or when exiting a rollback into a lope.
  • Ranch Horse Class Rules have been separated out to match the formatting of other classes. Ranch class rules will now be found from SC-301. Ranch Horse Classes General Rules to SC- 312. Green Ranch Horse Classes.
  • Clarification that tail weights are considered extensions and therefore not permitted in ranch classes. Rule SC-240
  • Ranch Trail Dally clarification and definition: The exhibitor must have the rope dallied on the saddle horn (a full or half dally) for the duration of the drag. A full dally is bringing the rope one and a half times around the horn, from the front of the horn around the back, not from behind. A half dally is bringing the rope ¾ of the way around the horn, from the front of the horn around the back, not from behind.
  • Clarification that in Ranch Rail Pleasure, horses are to be reversed to the inside away from the rail. Horse must reverse at a walk or a trot at the discretion of the judge, but shall not be asked to reverse at the lope, extended trot or extended lope.
  • The following definition was added to clarify the expectations of the back for ranch classes:
    • Back – Horses should back on command, quietly, willingly and easily in a straight line without resistance. Jawing, resisting or tossing of the head should be penalized. A Good Back displays balanced and smooth flowing movements with self-carriage. The horse should back straight at least one horse length quietly and without gapping his mouth. The back should be done smoothly with light contact and without hesitation.

Judge Emeritus Award Recipients

The APHA Judge Emeritus award recognizes judges who have dedicated their careers to judging in APHA-approved events. APHA thanks each and every one of these judges for their many years of service.

Fred Adam (1977-2010)
Gary Gordon (1983-2012)
John Rodgers (1980-2012)
Burton Butler (1980-2014)
Floyd Danley (1983-2014)
C.W. “Bill” Englund (1974-2014)
Jim Frazier (1983-2014)
Wayne Laske (1970-2014)
John Abrams (1982-2015)
Doug Cline (1976-2015)
Jim Coones (1980-2015)
Dan Moreland (1984-2015)
Duke Neff (1973-2015)
Linda Norton-Neely (1987-2015)
Tim Ternes (1974-2015)
H. Fain Yearty (1989-2015)
Conrad Caines (1980-2016)
Jim Jirkovsky (1991-2016)
Allan Spidahl (1986-2016)
Grant Gibbs (1989-2017)
Doug Gregory (1986-2017)
Randy Hembrook (1984-2017)

Helmut Lekschas (1975-2017)
Carl McCustion (2006-2017)
Charlie Sasser (1977-2017)
Leon Borcherding (1977-2018)
Brian Ellsworth (1983-2018)
Bill French (1989-2018)
Roger Johnson (1978-2018)
Gary Streator (1988-2018)
Pat Trebesch (1978-2018)
Betsy Tuckey (2012-2018)
John Aipperspach (1983-2019)
Darrell Bilke (1982-2019)
Pauline Crull (2001-2020)
Mike Baker (1980-2022)
John Letham (1985-2022)
Debby Letham (1987-2022)
Scot Jackson (1997-2022)
Rick McLain (1977-2022)
Bonnie Miller (1987-2022)
Cynthia Rucker (2001-2022)
Mike Short (2003-2022)
Maryann Willoughby (1981-2022)
Joe Carter (1981-2023)

For more information, contact APHA Director of Judges & Professional Horsemen, Sandy Jirkovsky by phone at (817) 222-6436 or by e-mail at sjirkovsky@apha.com.



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