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APHA Comprehensive program stresses education, experience
APHA uses creative new approaches
to strengthen horse judging program

FORT WORTH, Texas-The American Paint Horse Association (APHA) has launched an innovative new program for people interested in qualifying to become association-approved show ring judges. The ambitious new approach to educating and qualifying future APHA judges involves the "Apprentice Judge Program," an "Educational Judge Academy," and the development of a "Judges' Video Library." They are some of the first steps in gaining acceptance to the Color Breed Council (CBC) International Equine Judges' Seminar and Applicant School held early each year in Oklahoma City, Okla. People who successfully master the CBC four-day curriculum and achieve acceptable test scores are recognized as official APHA judges.

APHA has launched an innovative new program for people interested in learning more about judging American Paint Horses. (APHA photo by Ross Hecox)

"Our goal is to ensure that future APHA judges have the resources they need to become experts in the show ring," said Candy Cain, APHA director of judges. "Our judges have a reputation for excellence now, and we want to be sure that tradition continues with future generations of judges. Through this program, we're offering a highly effective way for people to prepare themselves for the CBC International Equine Judges' Seminar and Applicant School that will qualify them for obtaining their APHA-approved certification."

Following is an overview of the three main components of this new approach to educating and qualifying future judges:

Apprentice Judge Program
People interested in the program serve as apprentices under four different APHA judges at four separate APHA-approved shows. They must also obtain a written evaluation from each judge. Complete lists of shows and approved judges are available at Select "Calendar of Events" and then see "Approved Judges."

Educational Judge Academy
APHA-approved judges will conduct a three-day seminar at the association's headquarters in Fort Worth, Texas, to further educate aspiring judges. The seminar will be held in fall 2002 to reinforce what apprentice judges have learned during the show season. A wide variety of topics will be covered, and a sample rule book test will be given.

For those who complete the apprenticeship program and attend the academy, their files will be forwarded to the APHA judges' committee, which ultimately decides who is eligible to attend the CBC International Equine Judges' Seminar and Applicant School.

Judges' Video Library
APHA is in the process of developing this special library as an additional educational resource tool for prospective judges. Based on the performance of the horses they observe in the videos, potential judges will be able to evaluate several different classes. They can then compare their judging critiques against those of professionals through score sheets supplied with the videos. The tapes will be available for sale by APHA.

Another approach
While the apprenticeship and educational opportunities are excellent ways for people to prepare for the CBC International Equine Judges' Seminar and Applicant School, APHA is still qualifying individuals through its traditional method. That requires a potential judge to obtain 10 references - six from APHA or American Quarter Horse Association (AQHA) judges who have witnessed the applicant judging, and four from show managers who have hired the individual to judge at a show.

Attractive incentive
for AQHA judges
APHA has made a modification to its traditional method of qualifying judges to attend the CBC International Equine Judges' Seminar and Applicant School. Now, individuals who already possess an AQHA judge's certification card need only obtain half as many references - three from APHA or AQHA judges and two from show management.

"We're hoping that experienced AQHA judges will take advantage of the fact that we're seeking their applications and finding innovative ways to help them obtain APHA judges' cards," said Cain.

"We welcome their experience."

Building on success
Currently, APHA has a team of 266 approved judges around the world. Many of them gain early experience through two successful programs administered by APHA - the Collegiate Judging Contest held each spring and the Youth Judging Contest held at the World Championship Paint Horse Show each summer.

At the Collegiate Judging Contest, about 200 students from 16 universities and colleges around the nation gather in Fort Worth to put classroom experience to work in the show ring. They judge 10 horse show classes typically included in equine competition. Judging teams are then evaluated by APHA officials and their scoring and oral arguments are critiqued. The contest is followed by a banquet.

Similar activities are sponsored by APHA for 400 junior judges as part of the Youth Judging Contest. According to the National Horse Judging Team Coaches Association, the APHA-sponsored event is the largest horse-judging contest for youth in the nation. Contestants between the ages of 9 and 19 involved in 4-H, Future Farmers of America (FFA) and regional American Paint Horse youth clubs compete in the event for coveted trophy buckles, plaques and other prizes. A total of 100 teams, consisting of up to four youth to a team, judge world-class American Paint Horses during the competition each year.

"This is still another way we educate and recruit future judges," said Tina Anderson, APHA director of shows. "It's a fun way for these young people to gain the experience they need to become effective evaluators later on in the show ring. Every year we see hundreds of talented young judges, who we hope will continue to serve our industry."

Everyone can gain a judge's perspective
While APHA's new approach to educating judges is aimed primarily at potential evaluators in the show ring, the APHA apprenticeship program, the academy for judges and the special video library are open to any interested association members, said Anderson.

"Perhaps a judge who has already been approved would like to gain further insight by attending the academy seminars. Also, exhibitors may wish to apprentice under a judge or attend the academy, just to see what judges are looking for in the show ring. It could help them be more successful in competition.

"We want as many people as possible to benefit from these educational programs and tapes."

More about becoming an APHA-approved judge
For more details on how to become an APHA judge, visit, or call Candy Cain, director of judges, at (817) 834-2742, ext. 416.


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