Our Story

Third Generation Breeders of Quality APHA Horses

Sterling Oaks Farm is our family business located in Nampa, Idaho. The Wonderlich family has specialized in breeding APHA and AQHA all-around show and breeding horses for three generations. 

Our grandparents, Dr. Lyle "Doc" and Wilma June "Butch" Wonderlich, were pioneers in the establishment of the American Paint Horse Association. Together, they ran RoseAcre Farm in Twin Falls, Idaho, where they bred and showed many top horses including Nightwatcher, APHA's first Supreme Champion gelding, Gallant Ghost, a Supreme Champion and Superior All-Around Horse, and many APHA Champions.

Butch was titled the first female president of APHA in 1980 and served on the committee for over 24 years. In 1989, Doc was awarded with APHA's highest honor, the Distinguished Service Award. In 2015, a prominent hallway at APHA headquarters was designated the Lyle and Butch Wonderlich Hallway in recognition of Doc and Butch's commitment to the Association.

Doc and Butch Hallway Dedication
Nightwatcher - First APHA Supreme Champion Gelding
Gallant Ghost

Son of Doc and Butch, Lyle grew up on RoseAcre Farm and founded Sterling Oaks Farm with his wife, Kathy Clayton, in the 1980's. Lyle trained and showed two APHA Supreme Champions, two Superior All-Around Horses, one Performance Versatility Horse, 23 APHA and AQHA Champions, and 20 Superior Halter and Performance horses. Together, at Sterling Oaks Farm, Lyle and Kathy bred and showed APHA Superior earners in Pleasure and Halter as well as an APHA Champion and a multiple AQHA World Champion Halter Gelding. 

On top of having a successful show and breeding career, Lyle was also an AQHA and APHA Approved Judge and Idaho State Horse Show Association Judge. He was not only president of the Idaho Quarter Horse Breeders' Association but also served as the APHA Director and Idaho Paint Horse Club President and Board Member for many years. He was also a member of the Treasure Valley Paint Horse Club and APHA Regional Club Committee.

Breaking Ground
Breaking Ground

Lyle, Kathy and sons (Brian, Jason, and John) with construction of the Sterling Oaks Farm barn in the background.

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Kathy and Ginger
Kathy and Ginger

Kathy Clayton Wonderlich jumping with her mare, Ginger

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Sterling Oaks Farm
Sterling Oaks Farm

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Breaking Ground
Breaking Ground

Lyle, Kathy and sons (Brian, Jason, and John) with construction of the Sterling Oaks Farm barn in the background.

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Our Founders

Lyle and Kathy Wonderlich

Kathy and Lyle dedicated their lives to horses. Lyle grew up on RoseAcre Farm and graduated as an equine veterinarian from Colorado State University. Kathy attended Stanford University and rode on the Equestrian Team with her mare, Ginger. After graduation, they moved to Nebraska, where Lyle worked as the resident vet on the renowned Pitzer Ranch, and then settled back in Idaho to found Sterling Oaks Farm in the 1980s.

Kathy and Lyle Wonderlich

Our Owners

Brian, Jason, and John Wonderlich

Brian, Jason, and John grew up on the farm balancing their busy sport schedules with staying on top of their numerous barn chores. After Lyle passed away in 2018 and Kathy in 2020, the brothers inherited Sterling Oaks Farm. They are excited to continue their parents' and grandparents' lifework of breeding quality APHA horses.

The Wonderlich Family

Our Family

Naomi Clayton

Naomi is Lyle and Kathy's grandniece. She grew up taking riding lessons from Kathy and helping with projects around the barn. In 2018, Naomi increased her ranch hand barn responsibilities to also include managing Sterling Oaks Farm's marketing and communications.