The American Paint Horse Association (APHA) announced recently that it has improved and expanded its innovative Ride America saddle-log program, making it easier than ever for recreational riders to join.The American Paint Horse Association (APHA) announced recently that it has improved and expanded its innovative Ride America saddle-log program, making it easier than ever for recreational riders to join.
The American Paint Horse Association (APHA) announced recently that it has improved and expanded its innovative Ride America saddle-log program, making it easier than ever for recreational riders to join.
What is Ride America?
The Ride America program is for people who enjoy experiencing the great outdoors on horseback. For time spent riding or driving their American Paint Horses, participants receive recognition and valuable prizes from APHA and its sponsors.
When riders enroll in Ride America, they receive an official time log and a Ride America patch. They record each hour spent riding their American Paint Horse and as they move through several achievement levels, APHA records their accomplishments and rewards them with special patches.
Depending on hours of riding reached, participants can also earn saddle bags, halters, lead ropes, saddle pads and other valuable merchandise. A time log must be kept for a participant’s riding or driving hours with a specific horse. There is no time limit for riders to achieve their hours, as long as their APHA membership remains active.
APHA has added many achievement levels to ensure participants receive their well-deserved recognition as they tally their hours. This includes 14 different riding milestones from 100 to 10,000 hours.
To make it easier to participate in the program, APHA recently improved its Web site, so riders can actually log and track their hours online. They can simply visit the Ride America Web site at http://www.apha.com/rideamerica to enter their hours and access their records.
Participants earn bonus hours by riding in parks, grasslands or historic areas recognized by the U.S. or Canadian National Parks Service. Riders can also earn double hours for every hour spent on a trail in a U.S. or Canadian recreational park.
A strong case for serving trail riders
APHA has long recognized the need to serve its members who are primarily interested in recreational riding. In fact, a recent survey conducted by the association indicated that 76 percent of its membership participates in trail riding. In the survey, members described their relationship with their horse as an activity that contributed to their overall relaxation and pleasure. Serving the needs of these riders is the goal of the association’s Ride America program.
APHA, which now has 106,845 active members, reports that participation in its Ride America program has grown to more than 4,100 people-nearly double the total from five years ago.
Why they ride
One APHA member, Alice Singleton, of Mount Vernon, Ark., became involved with Ride America because she liked the idea of keeping a written record of the time she spent with her horses. Earning rewards and patches were added bonuses, said Singleton, who signed up with Ride America during its inaugural year of 1992.
Singleton’s bonds with Paint Horses and fellow APHA members have grown and strengthened through the years. Now a member of APHA’s executive committee, Singleton has accumulated more than 5,000 Ride America hours with her American Paint Horse, Sir Jeta Moon. On five other American Paint Horses, Singleton has logged a combined 1,363 hours of riding time.
"I have enjoyed Ride America because it allows me to set goals for myself," Singleton said. "In the process, I have developed strong relationships with my horses because of the quality time I have spent with them on the trail. Trainers today tell us that communication with our horses is so important. Well, the best way I’ve found to develop that rapport with a horse is after days and months on the trail. That communication only happens through time. And with Ride America, it’s quality time."
In addition to strengthening her relationships with her horses, Singleton said logging hours through Ride America has done a lot to clear her mind from the challenges of everyday life. "It’s just you, your horse and the good Lord out on the trail. It really helps put things in perspective.
"I hope we can get more people involved in Ride America, because if you like to ride, it’s a great way to keep track of what you’re doing, achieve your objectives and earn rewards and recognition for yourself and your horse. It’s a great program.
"Of course, I’ll always be partial to Paints. You know, someone once told me, ‘It’s the horse color that attracts you and the people who keep you.’ And, I’ve found that’s true. I love the American Paint Horse. It was the beauty of the Paint Horse that attracted me to this breed. And what’s kept me involved in APHA is that I’ve just met so many nice people in this association who share my passion."
To find out more about APHA and the services it provides for members, visit http://www.apha.com. Ride America information may be accessed at http://www.apha.com/rideamerica, or call Amy Foerster, Ride America coordinator, at (817) 834-2742, extension 249.
Free Guide to Recreational Riding
APHA also offers a free Guide to Recreational Riding. The 36-page trail riding guide is packed full of useful information, from the importance of keeping horses in good condition to critical safety guidelines. The booklet also contains valuable information on tack and equipment, saddling up, trailering a horse, and general horsemanship.
APHA’s Guide to Recreational Riding may be accessed online at http://www.apha.com/forms/guidebooks.html. Or for a printed copy, call APHA at (817) 834-2742, extension 773.