Industry Weighs In on Incentive Fund Point Cap

March 18th, 2017 7:28 PM | 2 Comments

IF 1Over the years, AQHA’s Incentive Fund Program has evolved and seen many changes along the way.  At it’s heart, it was developed as a way to provide a payback to stallion’s nominator and the nominator of the horse, and the current owners of the horses nominated. Throughout its existence, the program has paid back millions of dollars for points earned in the Amateur and Open divisions.  However, like all things, times changed, and it’s been essential that the program changes with it.  

In 2016, it was announced that while AQHA would no longer require competition licenses to be purchased annually, but there would be a cap on the number of points that would be paid out (one plus the average number of points earned during the year.)  As members began to receive their 2016 checks in recent weeks, there’s been much discussion on the new changes and where it leaves the program.  

IF met with several exhibitors and breeders to get their thoughts on the new point cap and what they would like to see for the future of the Incentive Fund.

Lisa Young- I feel AQHA has done a disservice to the average AQHA shower and breeder by capping the points at 20. Rewarding just the bottom is not going to help the middle at all. Instead, everyone in the middle is disenchanted with the fund and the breeders in the middle are now regretting paying into it this year and they are the ones that fund it the most. And some showers are now cutting back on their shows when the checks they used to get could fund up to three local shows. Looking at the 2016 Annual Report, I noticed that the Racing Challenge pays out more than it brings in and even with less money banked, less than $3 million, it made money on its investments while the Incentive Fund with nearly $5 million lost money. And the Racing Challenge has corporate sponsors while the Incentive Fund does not. Why not? Also, I think to help stop the bleeding AQHA needs to use their rainy day extra money and bring the payout per point to at least $15 with the cap back at 200 until the fund is able to pay at $50 a point, cap it at that, and then start saving money again for another rainy day. And I think they need to do it now. Not next year. You already have people pulling out and fixing it now will bring most back in.

Tracy Mills

Tracy Mills

Tracy Mills- I find AQHA’s decision to impose a cap on Incentive Fund earnings to be truly disheartening and believe it will only hurt, rather than help the association and its’ members. Exhibitor numbers are down, show fees, fuel and other associated costs are on the rise and let’s face it; things don’t seem to be improving. I’ve always joked that AQHA waited until March to deliver our IF cheques so we will have forgotten how much we spent to go down the road the previous year, and go ahead and use our earnings to cover expenses for the upcoming show year. This year, instead of making enough to cover a large portion of my 2017 expenses, my IF cheque won’t be enough to pay my bills for one show. What was already hard enough to rationalize economically has just become even more difficult. Generally speaking, those that are hauling and spending more time in the show pen are also those most likely to be accumulating more points. Why then, have the rewards of those who are competitive been cut, despite the fact that they are the ones supporting the shows and spending the money to attend? With so little left to gain, I fear many stallion owners will opt out of the program and the spiral will continue downward until IF just dies out altogether. Instead of cutting, perhaps the focus needs to be on ways to encourage growth. Putting money into this and other AQHA programs is an investment. Without investment there is no chance of a payoff.  My hope is that this issue will be foremost in the minds of those attending this year’s AQHA convention and that they can find a way to show its membership what ‘incentive’ there is to continue.

Thad O’Boyle- I wish there was this much interest in the change a year ago as there is now. I think the majority knew a change was in the works last year , and most put their head in the sand and now want to act surprised. Yes, there are people that are excited, people who would have never received a check because they would not put the $50.00 nomination fee in. I, for one, am not excited in a positive way as my horse acquired over 1,000 points that he should have received money for. My #308.00 check breaks down to .30 cents per point. I feel it is a great marketing tool for the breeders and the industry. But the breeders need to get together.

[photo credit: Bree Hokana Photography]

[photo credit: Bree Hokana Photography]

Debbi Trubee- We have continued to support the Incentive Fund with stallion nominations and we have nominated our foals so far this year.  The IF has been in a downward spiral for years now and it is most unfortunate that the fund hasn’t been re-worked into a more viable program.  Any added value you can attach to a foal always helps in marketability however with the low payout this year and cap, I don’t see the IF program having much life left in it.  Even though we were aware of the programs decline, we didn’t feel that information had really sifted down to the general buying public so felt we needed to keep our stallions enrolled.  Hopefully, AQHA will be able to institute some new incentive program to help inspire continued efforts from the mare and stallion owners.  

Jane Backes- Being a stallion owner, I’m almost forced into nominating him even though the numbers prove it doesn’t pay. That said, when I was just a mare owner, I don’t remember one person ever asking if the baby was Incentive Fund when they were shopping and buying.  In the end, there are two types of people showing horses: the ones that do it for fun and are not expecting Incentive Fund money and the ones that do it for money have gravitated over to NSBA show support money is what’s paid out not necessarily points or trophies.   Being that I do fundraising for a living my thoughts of helping the Incentive Fund is to get one of the major sponsors to donate each year and be called, for instance, the Ford Incentive Fund. 

What are your thoughts on the new point cap?  How do you think it will affect the program long-term?  

2 Responses to “Industry Weighs In on Incentive Fund Point Cap”

  1. Just to offer another point of view: I am a small point earner. I attend 6-8 local and regional shows/year. I only buy IF horses. I assumed the big time showers had the money to go to more and bigger shows beause they have more expensive horses, trainers, tack, clothes, rigs, etc. I am surprised to hear that they depend on the incentive fund to pay for their some of their showing. I had assumed that the recognition, prizes, and point records/titles/achievement were the primary goals. I think the current program is motivating for people like me to get out and show and fill the classes. We don’t get points very often, but it’s still nice to get a point once in awhile. I think that the folks who are unhappy with IF should be part of the solution, and offer suggestions that improve the program for all.

  2. I concur with Lynn Rossi. I am able to show in a smaller area of the country, mostly, Alabama, Northwest Florida, and Mississippi. I’ve always looked upon the Incentive Fund as a mere bonus at the end of the year. I used to breed mares years ago in order to produce my own show horse and it helped to be able to nominate and contribute to the IF and ultimately, reap some rewards. It also helped with the marketability of any culled foals I was selling. With all the business minds and entrepreneurs running AQHA these days, looks like they could put their business prowess to work and introduce some ideas to continue the fund.

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