|Twenty years ago, the American Paint Horse Association rolled out an
innovative new program designed to reward Paint Horses competing and promoting
the breed in venues outside of association-sponsored activities. Nicknamed OCAP,
the Outside Competitive Activities Program gave Paints the opportunity to earn
“credits,” in lieu of points, as well as year-end recognition and prizes for
their competitive efforts at events ranging from Open horse shows to National
Reining Horse Association competitions.|
The first program of its kind in the equine industry, OCAP was an immediate hit,
and it’s continued to thrive since its 1990 inception. Other breed organizations
have replicated APHA’s winning formula, which has proven to be a valuable way to
enhance a horse’s value and bring new enthusiasts into the folds of the
association. Reaching its platinum anniversary this month, the program—now known
to the masses as PAC or Paint Alternative Competition—is certainly here to stay.
A 20-year journey
In the late 1980s, it was estimated that only about 12 percent of registered
Paint Horses participated in APHA-approved shows. Noting this trend and the
obvious presence of Paint Horses at non-APHA competitions, APHA leaders
envisioned a way to include these Paint participants more completely in the
A January 1990 Paint Horse Journal article about the association’s newest
program, OCAP, stated that its purpose was to promote further competition with
Paint Horses and help expose the breed to a greater number of people. APHA Past
President Larry Passage was credited with establishing OCAP.
“The Executive Committee and I have been working on this program for about three
years,” said Passage in the article. “Through the OCAP program, the APHA will be
able to recognize the great versatility of the Paint Horse.
“This program is designed to be a very meaningful and prestigious award
Passage noted that the size and nature of outside competitions would make OCAP a
valuable promotion tool.
“Some of those Open shows are much bigger spectator events than our approved
shows,” he said. “If you can go out and ride your Paint Horse and beat a lot of
other breeds, that is where you promote Paint Horses.”
In that inaugural year, 19 categories—including in-hand, reining, roping and
equitation—were approved for OCAP inclusion, and 60 horses enrolled in the
program by April 1990, according to a May 1990 Journal article.
Participants had the opportunity to earn a Certificate of Recognition (COR)
[similar to a Register of Merit] and Certificate of Achievement (COA) [like a
Superior title] in OCAP events by earning a certain threshold of credits—in
1990, 20 credits were needed for a COR and 100 credits were needed to earn a
COA. Year-end credit leaders were also recognized in the Journal’s annual
APHA performance review.
OCAP continued to grow steadily, and by 1998, the program’s enrollment had
jumped 20 percent, according to a December 1998 Journal article. In that
article, Julie Thorson, an equine industry analyst and editor of Horse &
Rider magazine, explained the popularity of OCAP.
“There are several reasons why OCAP is being propelled to success in the
industry,” she said at the time. “They all have to do with creating a product
based upon what a segment of the industry needs, rather than telling it what it
should have and then creating a product. I believe APHA probably picked up on
the following indicators before it formed OCAP.
“First, we have a time-challenged population. It’s also an energy-challenged
population. As our core customers have become 40 and older, their horse needs
have changed from those that led to the creation of breed programs more than 20
years ago. A second indicator that fuels the success of OCAP is that Open
competitions are flourishing. Third, I think the APHA wisely considered that
people who show at the breed shows are already into Paints. At Open shows, a
good Paint Horse that does well can create excitement and interest among people
who have not been exposed to the breed.”
By 1999, OCAP enrollment broke the 1,200 annual participant mark, and it’s
stayed well above that number since. Still, the association felt OCAP wasn’t
realizing its full potential, and in 2001, APHA announced a name change for the
program—OCAP was reborn as PAC. They also established greater recognition for
participants that included easier-to-earn COA titles, top five recognition for
the highest credit earners in each of 27 categories, Six PAC Top Five awards and
the Six PAC Champion title.
“OCAP was a great program,” said Tina Anderson, APHA director of shows at the
time, “but we found that a lot of people didn’t know about it. It’s been called
a ‘sleeping giant.’ ”
In 2008, Amy Stonehocker of Brighton, Colorado, and MK Sonnys Envy, a 1999 black
tobiano gelding, became the first to earn the Six PAC Champion title since its
2001 inception. This award is presented to the PAC participant who earns first
place on at least six year-end PAC categories in a single year. Excited to win
the inaugural title, Stonehocker says she’s seen the program evolve.
“The number of credits people earn is much higher now than it was five years
ago,” Stonehocker said. “Here in Colorado, I think a lot more people know about
the PAC program—now, almost every Open show in my local area is PAC approved.”
Since those major renovations were announced, PAC has continued to grow. In
2008, enrollment had reached more than 2,200 participants annually. Since 1994,
the program has seen positive net enrollment growth for 14 out of 15 years.
Former PAC Program Coordinator Jennifer Frye says California, Texas and Florida
have the greatest number of enrollments annually, followed by Michigan and
Washington. With 32 approved event categories to date, Frye also says the level
of competition has increased as well.
“The biggest change I have noticed is the increased level of competition each
year,” she said. “With horses like Slidin Miss Kitty reaching over 1,000 credits
per competition year and MK Sonnys Envy being the first ever to reach the
coveted Six PAC Champion award, you know that some are in it to win it.”
Chock full of value
PAC has proven to be a valuable tool, both for APHA and horse owners. It’s
enabled the association to reach out to another segment of its membership and
respond to its needs. For members, PAC is customizable, allowing participants to
enhance their horse’s value, gain experience and market their horses. Current
PAC participants share their thoughts about why the program is valuable to them.
Build your Paint’s value with less expense.
Wade and Candace Allen of Suisun City, California, have been involved with PAC
since the beginning. The couple’s 1983 bay tobiano gelding Son O Ma clinched the
1990 roping category title with 266 credits—the most earned by a single horse
that year. Son O Ma still has a lock on the roping category 20 years later and
is the event’s lifetime credit leader.
“We liked the prizes, but also the ability to recognize Paints,” said Wade. “We
wanted to help promote APHA in team roping.”
The Allens have used the program to help establish a permanent performance
record on several of their Paints, including “Toby” and their 1992 sorrel tovero
gelding Tomichis Poco Deck.
“The [PAC] program is wonderful for everyone who cannot attend the regular
shows,” said Candace, “especially for team roping [competitors], as the regular
shows do not always offer those classes.”
Bonnie and Wayne Hamlin of Hermiston, Oregon, became involved with the program
in the mid-1990s with their Paints. For several years, Bonnie traveled
extensively to show her horses at APHA competitions; however, in 1996, she
decided she’d like to stay closer to home, but still wanted to build her Paints’
records. PAC was the answer, and the Hamlins enrolled their first horses: Panzas
Roseanna, a 1993 red roan overo mare, and Panzas Silknsable, a 1994 black overo
“I like that I don’t have to travel a long way from home to get credits for
showing my horses,” she said, “and I don’t have to get wrapped up in the expense
of hauling and staying in motels. Usually, I don’t travel more than 60 miles
from home, and I can go to a show nearly every weekend.”
The Hamlins earned their first credits by roping off of their mares. Their PAC
involvement has expanded over the years, and they now often compete in halter,
Western pleasure and trail competitions. Bonnie says she’s especially proud to
have raised Panzas Black Gold, a 1995 black overo gelding who has earned more
than 2,280 credits and is the lifetime credit leader in English pleasure and
Western pleasure. Panzas Smokin Tankini, a 2004 chestnut overo gelding who is
Bonnie’s current PAC mount, is the lifetime credit leader in halter, as well—her
goal is to earn 1,000 halter credits with the gelding.
Help market your Paint.
Hamlin says that because PAC credits are permanently recorded on a Paint’s
lifetime performance record, it is a useful marketing tool to help sell horses.
She urges breeders to enroll their horses in the PAC program to help increase
their marketability to a wider audience.
Allison Giglio of Covington, Washington, first became involved with PAC in 2005
with her 1997 sorrel overo gelding TC Kinda Shady, with whom she earned more
than 750 credits and Number 2 on the 2005 Six PAC Top Five list. Next, Giglio
started earning PAC credits with her 2001 gray overo gelding Rap N Roll. They
earned more than 1,300 credits and spots on the 2006 and 2007 Six PAC Top Five
lists. Giglio’s current mount, Sweet Shiraz, a 2004 bay tobiano mare, has earned
195 PAC performance credits to date.
Rap N Roll, nicknamed “Harley,” opened Giglio’s eyes about the marketability of
a PAC performance record in a way she never expected.
“Because Harley is eligible for the Kentucky Incentive Fund, his PAC credits
have earned him over $14,000,” she said. “Harley’s winnings paid for my newest
horse, Sweet Shiraz.”
Julie Daniels of Kent, Washington, first enrolled her 2004 black tobiano mare
Slidin Miss Kitty in the PAC program as a yearling to help expose the mare to
“I discovered that becoming involved with PAC was an inexpensive way to start
showing my then-green horse, allowing her the opportunity to gain experience in
the show arena before a crowd and judges,” said Daniels. “My initial goal for
‘Bailey’ was for her to earn 89 PAC credits. One show led to another, and before
I knew it, we were hooked!”
After five years of PAC involvement, Bailey now has more than 3,300 credits and
is the lifetime credit leader in the showmanship, trail and walk-trot
categories; she’s also topped the Six PAC Top Five list in 2007 and 2008. In
2009, Daniels also began showing Bailey in APHA-approved competition, and she
plans to give the same PAC head start to her mare’s full sister, Slidin Miss
Jules, this year.
“Two-year-old Slidin Miss Jules will start her show career by entering a few PAC
classes,” Daniels said. “These shows are for green horses to finished show
horses in any discipline. The PAC show folks are friendly and willing to help
those just starting out, and it is a cost-effective way to promote the Paint
Horse, regardless of its level in the show ring.”
Cindy Renick of Bakersfield, California, first became involved with PAC in 1998,
when her niece enrolled the 1990 chestnut overo mare Bearly Sweet in the
program. Renick enrolled her own Paint—Dirty Rock N Robin, a 1996 sorrel overo
gelding—in 1999, and began promoting PAC within her local 4-H program as a
“It gave all of the kids another venue, besides their local 4-H, to compete at,”
she said. “When they would come to the meetings and show the certificates that
the APHA had mailed to them, it just sparked an interest in the other members to
At one time, Renick says she had 12–15 4-H members participating in PAC, and
she’s working to revive the program in her area. Renick continued competing
Dirty Rock N Robin as well—the pair has earned more than 1,300 credits and won
the Number 1 Six PAC Top Five title in 2002 and 2003.
Stonehocker is now a competitive rider both in PAC and APHA Youth competition,
but she credits the PAC program for being a steppingstone between Open and APHA
“I first started participating in the PAC program because I wanted to be more
involved in APHA—but I wasn’t ready to be competitive at Paint shows,” she
explained. “I think that PAC has helped me grow as a horseman and as a person.”
Another rider who has used PAC to bridge Open and APHA competitions is Amanda
Wright of Pahrump, Nevada. She first participated aboard Texas Bar Association,
a 2000 sorrel overo mare; she now shows her 2001 sorrel solid mare Pretty Extra
Tuff in PAC and APHA solid Paint-bred events. Wright and Pretty Extra Tuff have
amassed more than 2,000 credits and are the lifetime credit-earners in
“I have come a long way from having just a few credits in 4-H events to having a
current Six PAC Top Five horse for the last four years,” said Wright. “I love
being able to try new events and be rewarded for them with PAC year-end awards.
“I have been a PAC member for five years now, and will continue to be a PAC
member, but now I also show on the breed level, competing at APHA and PtHA
shows. I think PAC is what got me there. PAC is a great confidence boost that
helps you start your show career with Paints.”