The AQHA is raising fees significantly in 2018. Really? The regular person in the horse breeding business has it tough enough. We didn’t need that. The APHA raised and reorganized its fee structure in 2017.
As a breeder of both Quarter Horses and Paints, I have to admit this has me frustrated.
To top it off, some of the increases are really big and some changes are seriously illogical. Yes, that’s just my opinion, but it is shared by other serious but small or mid-sized breeders.
American Quarter Horse Association’s Fee Increases
We might as well start with the bigger association.
While I understand running a big association is costly, these fee increases are going to be painful for breeders already suffering from a slow market and a difficult horse hauler situation. Feed costs have been insane in the northern plains this year, but lots of other places have been tough too. I’ve talked to a lot of usually successful but currently dejected breeders this year and these fee increases are coming at a very bad time.
I will admit this. I love the new-ish Member Services section of the AQHA’s website. It is so slick and easy and fast – I can get to information I want in a hurry. I’m all about that! I understand these things cost money – I build smaller websites but can imagine the time and therefore money that went into that upgrade. That has to be paid for. I get that.
Some of these increases seem almost punitive. For example, what person leasing breeding horses offended someone in power? Those leases have been $15 for ages. Now they are $100 a year. What on earth justifies a nearly sevenfold increase in that one form? The result will be people not filing that form when they lease a mare (studs would be different) and that will mean less accurate records about breeders. I’d expect a few more conflicts for leases that don’t work out. If you lease a mare but don’t file that expensive report you have to trust that the mare owner will register the foal for you and transfer that foal to you. That should be fine unless the mare owner is less trustworthy than you thought or something bad happens in his or her life and they just don’t get it done. Life happens and not always in a good direction.
The association President’s explanation is a bit difficult to understand. It sounds to me like there is investment income available but they don’t want to use that for operating needs. While I understand the appeal of reinvesting interest and dividend income, is there a pressing need to do so?
The APHA’s 2017 Changes
The APHA’s changes took effect in 2017 and I can’t understand the logic behind them.
First, it now costs as much to register a solid Paint as it does a colored one. The theory is that it cost just as much employee time and other association resources to register a solid. But we have always used the registration fee schedule to encourage certain behaviors. It is, for example, cheaper to register young foals because it makes sense to encourage early registration. It is cheaper to register online than with a paper form because we want to encourage online registration. Non-members pay extra on each transaction to encourage them to join.
The APHA has always understood that it took a financial incentive to encourage people to register solids at all. Without that incentive, it is easy to predict fewer solids will be registered at the higher prices. That might result in less total revenue from solid colored registrations. More importantly in my opinion, it will result in more unnecessarily grade horses and that is cruel to those horses. They don’t go through their lives with proof of age and pedigree. They don’t, in most cases, hold as much value.
And yes, I do know of solid colts not getting registered. I’ll force myself to register everything online and as early as possible to save on the fees. But there are solid Paint colts not getting registered now. And honestly, I’m not so sure that I’m the rational one in spending so much to register my solids.
On the flip side, APHA has decided to spike all yearling registrations to $115 on January 1 of their yearling year. That’s a big jump from previous years, especially for the solids. It doesn’t cost more APHA resources to process a yearling over a foal, so why the huge jump?
Then, rather than continuing as in the past and charging more for two year olds and even more for threes, etc, after the foal is a yearling or older, it is all the same price.
If you miss the Dec 31 of the year foaled deadline, there is NO incentive to register the horse until you need to. You can wait until the year you want to go to a show, or you want to sell the horse, or you want to breed the horse. If you just ride that gelding on the ranch his whole life . . . does he really need papers?
Another change I find odd is the elimination of the fee for shipped semen permits. Now I’ll be the first to say that that fee was way too high. But back to that theory that costs should be related to the work it takes in the office. If they have to file a form, there should be a fee to cover that. It seems the members who don’t ship semen on stallions are now supplementing those who do. No thank you on that.
Since I brought up the great job AQHA did on their revamped online Member Services area, I might as well address that at the APHA website. It verges on disaster. I’m guessing aphaonline.com was build 15 or more years ago and it has never had a bit of an upgrade much less the complete revamp it needs. Sometimes the online registration works but not always. The information you can look up is limited and poorly organized. And you have to pay extra for it every year, it isn’t available as part of your membership. The newly redone apha.com looks great – very pretty and using current technology. But APHA’s separate site for Member Services very out of date. Priorities seem clear.
My perspective as a small but serious breeder is that both associations are making it harder for the regular, small, working class, or whatever you want to call us breeders. Why? I’d assume they are just out of touch. Personally, I think we should remind both outfits that in membership associations, member actually do count. Call, write, email, post on social media. Be heard!