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Award comes during all-time high in APHA membership
American Paint Horse Association founder earns coveted Golden Spur Award in Lubbock

FORT WORTH, Texas-American Paint Horse Association (APHA) founder Rebecca Tyler Lockhart took her rightful place with other legendary ranchers of the American West when she formally received the Ranching Heritage Association Golden Spur Award in Lubbock, Texas, on September 20.

Joining the celebration for Rebecca Lockhart, center, and the tireless work that earned her the Golden Spur award were, from left, APHA President-elect Tom Elliott and his wife Honey Lou, actor/artist Buck Taylor and singer/songwriter Don Edwards. (APHA photo/Jerry Circelli).

The awards reception was attended by more than 250 members of the ranching and livestock industry. In addition to representatives from APHA, other people attending the event and recognizing Lockhart's achievements included individuals from the American Quarter Horse Association, National Cattlemen's Beef Association, Texas Cattle Feeders Association, Texas CattleWomen and Texas and Southwestern Cattle Raisers Association.

Lockhart, of Ryan, Okla., was recognized for the true grit and determination she called upon daily in the early 1960s to champion the cause of the American Paint Horse. As a result of her efforts and pioneering spirit, the American Paint Horse Association, based in Fort Worth, Texas, has evolved into one of the fastest-growing breed registries in the world.

In 1962, when she founded the American Paint Stock Horse Association, which would undergo a merger and later be known as APHA, there were 150 members and 250 horses.

Joining the celebration for Rebecca Lockhart, center, and the tireless work that earned her the Golden Spur award were, from left, APHA President-elect Tom Elliott and his wife Honey Lou, actor/artist Buck Taylor and singer/songwriter Don Edwards. (APHA photo/Jerry Circelli).

As Lockhart received the 2003 Golden Spur Award, APHA hit a new membership high, with more than 106,000 people now active in the organization. In fact, September marked the second consecutive month that the association set a new membership record. The most recent APHA statistics also show that more than 743,000 American Paint Horses have been registered in 43 nations around the world. APHA currently registers new horses at a rate of approximately 60,000 per year.

Just as Lockhart's dreams were different in establishing the popular APHA organization, the Ranching Heritage Association took an unusual direction in selecting its Golden Spur Award recipient this year.

"Tonight we honor an individual who represents the other side of ranching-a woman instead of a man, and a horse instead of a steer," said Jim Pfluger, executive director of the Ranching Heritage Association and the National Ranching Heritage Center. "Rebecca Tyler Lockhart is deserving of this prestigious award because of her vision, tenacity and respect for the American Paint Horse and the place she saw for it in the history of the West and the future through a breed registry."

Actor/artist Buck Taylor, who emceed the event, added, "Mrs. Lockhart, we appreciate your efforts to bring these beautiful animals out of the back pastures of obscurity and develop a national registry for this horse of the Old West."

Singer/songwriter Don Edwards and cowboy poet Waddie Mitchell also congratulated Lockhart and provided entertainment throughout the evening.

Linda Davis, the Golden Spur Award recipient in 1992, actually presented the award to Lockhart. Davis owns and operates the historic CS Ranch near Cimarron, N.M., with her grown children. She told Lockhart that she understood the pride she was feeling.

"Receiving the award is a little different for us women," Davis said. "The award recognizes efforts that stand out nationally in a field that is traditionally thought of as a man's. But, many of us know that beside, not behind, every good man is a good woman."

She added, "To me, Rebecca has done more than what we recognize her for tonight. She has demonstrated through her life's work the traits that were absolutely imperative for a woman to make a life for herself in the Old West." Those traits, she said, include, "determination, bravery, strength, faith and the ability to talk a man's language when she needed him to believe in her ideas."

In accepting the award before an audience who gave her a standing ovation, Lockhart offered some advice, "I think I speak for past award winners, as well as myself, when I say that if you truly believe in a cause, and really have faith that what you're doing is right, nothing can really stop you from carrying out your mission."

She then quoted one of the world's greatest leaders, Winston Churchill.

"What he once said were pretty much the words I lived by in those early years of establishing the Paint Horse breed. And that's 'Never, never, never, ever, give up.'

"Live by that, do what's right, and you won't ever go wrong."

More information
The Ranching Heritage Association, is a support arm of the National Ranching Heritage Center, a museum and historical park in Lubbock, Texas, established to preserve the history of ranching, pioneer life and the development of the livestock industry in North America. In addition to awarding Lockhart with the Golden Spur Award, the Ranching Heritage Association dedicated the J.J. Gibson Memorial Park, which will feature 14 life-size bronze steer sculptures, placed in a natural setting with accent lighting, benches and a walking path. Gibson Park is located in the front lawn of the National Ranching Heritage Center on Fourth Street in Lubbock.

For more information on the National Ranching Heritage Center, call at (806) 742-2498 or visit

For more information on the American Paint Horse Association, call (817) 834-2742 or visit


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