My first jobs in the equine industry was riding Quarter Horses. I graduated from showing in the youth division, to working for a few of the trainers I admired. They were great bosses and horsemen. Both trainers would be considered big name trainers although one is in Europe now. Because I was busy riding other people’s horses for a living, I stopped showing. I really didn’t miss it much either. After a few years of this, I moved on to race horses. I kept my personal horses, but have pretty much been a race-tracker ever since. Between the racehorses and my own `pet’ horses, I still keep in touch with some old show friends and still have family involved in the AQHA. I have to say, I’m disgusted with the AQHA and what it has become.
I don’t really think that anybody really cares about what I did as a kid or who I worked for. I only bring it up to say, I did my time with that breed. They really are awesome all around horses. I LOVE my Quarter Horse. I will also likely never own another once his time on earth is done. I refuse to support they AQHA in its present form.
It is no secret that the AQHA supports humane slaughter. You can go to their website and they have links to the Unwanted Horse Coalition. Former AQHA president, Peter J Cofrancesco III spoke out on his support on slaughter. Of course, he framed it with having a humane way of dealing with unwanted and unusable horses. He refuses to accept that the AQHA is a huge part of the problem. Peter, in particular is a major contributor as well. Peter and his family are into halter horses. He has been since he was a youth. They just love those ginormous bodied horses standing on OO feet and will happily breed an HYPP positive horse as long as the end result is a few points or a ribbon. HYPP could be completely wiped out of the gene pool if the AQHA took a stance and refused registry of any stallion or mare shown to be positive or a carrier. Instead, they regularly reward these overpumped up freakshows and breed more just like them. Disgusting. Of course you end up with unusable and unwanted horses when they are flipping out on the ground or crippled up with navicular. May as well squeeze a few more dollars out of them in a slaughter house rather than do the right thing and STOP breeding these frankenhorses.
Here is a picture of a winning halter horse from the 80’s. He was an AQHA champion and also rode like a dream. He had points in pleasure, reining and a few other events. He was sound til the day he died too. This horse would likely not get a single halter point today. He may or may not place in the other classes either as the AQHA has gone to extremes. He certainly wouldn’t be purchased for a LOT of money and sent overseas to stand at stud.
Here is a two time world champion halter horse today. He is HYPP N/H. I have NOT altered this picture at all.I will guarantee you he has never had a saddle on him, nor will he. He probably can hardly move.
Here is good ole Peter Cofrancesco winning the 2007 World for Amateur halter stallions..You guessed it, the horse is HYPP N/H and standing at stud to this day. What a great horseman the past president is!
Even if you can get past how gross these horses look now, you also have the issue of their breeding practices. AQHA is perfectly fine with embryo transfer, so the same horse can have a few full sibs each year. I dropped in on a friend that still shows QHs last year. She proudly showed me the foal out of her good mare with its surrogate and while her mare was off at the trainer’s getting ready to go to a show. Yeah, gross. The foal was a rat btw. He never made the show ring.
Less controversial is the use of AI in the AQHA. Back when I was involved, the only way you could use AI is if the mare was present on the same farm the stallion was collected on. I get that horses are valuable and it minimizes the risk to them. But, when you are shipping semen all over hell’s half acre, it’s not great for your breed. Consider how the Thoroughbred registry works. There is absolutely ZERO AI allowed. Every single mare must be bred on a live cover. No exceptions. Yes, they will backload post ejaculate, but they also record every cover as proof. These stallions are way more valuable than the AQHA ones. Distorted Humor currently stands to a full book and gets $100,000 on stand and nurse guarantee. His book closes after 100 mares. Period. That’s still a lot of foals, but due to the restricted book, they have ensured the value of his foals will remain constant. I guess since AQHA supports slaughter, they are breeding on a `more the merrier’ concept. All those $350 stud fees are very appealing to your backyard breeders.
As I have stated, I really like performance Quarter Horses. Sadly, they have gone the way of show dogs. They breed for extremes and hurt their own brand. There was a time that it was pretty tough to win a class in a circuit show and I remember riding split classes lots. It was a big deal to make the cut and be brought back for the final. It was an even bigger deal to actually win one of these classes. I’ve visited those same circuit shows and there aren’t many big point classes anymore. AQHA has done a great job of killing their own breed. I’m sad about it.