The AQHA Incentive Fund: Beneficial to Stallion, Mare and Show-Horse Owners

Exhibitors are raving about the program, stallion owners can nominate now to win a free full-page ad and, as always, mare owners have an incredible tool for marketing their foals.

The American Quarter Horse Association

The road to an Incentive Fund horse starts with mare and stallion owners: Stallions are nominated to the program, mares are bed to these stallions, then the foals can be enrolled in the program. (Credit: Journal)

Fall is setting in, making it that time of the year when foal owners get serious about registration applications, stallion owners prep their books for spring breedings and mare owners set their sights on magic crosses. One program all parties should turn their attention to is the American Quarter Horse Association Incentive Fund.

Thirty years since its inception, the AQHA Incentive Fund is still going strong: The program pays more than twice the amount per point than any other equine breed organization’s incentive program. An even bigger advantage is that the Incentive Fund increases the demand for nominated stallions and enrolled horses.

For 2015 alone, more than $1.7 million was paid out to participants. And recently, owners shared the creative ways they put to use their horse’s Incentive Fund money – read their answers here. For many, the check covered entries for shows they otherwise would not have been able to attend. Others said they were able to purchase new tack and breeding fees and even take their friends and family on vacations. Just from their tales, it’s easy to see why purchasing an Incentive Fund horse is a smart investment.

Mare owners know the value of the program, too.

“I want a foal that is marketable to all, and in this day in time, money can be tight at times. If you are an open or amateur rider, each point represents a little bit of return on your showing endeavors at the end of the year. Horse showing is primarily a hobby for all competitors, but getting that check at the end of the year feels pretty good,” said Colton Reid of Sumrall, Mississippi. Reid only breeds one mare a year, but the Incentive Fund is still essential to his program.

Longtime breeder Cindy McCraw, who operates Riverside Ranch in Sultan, Washington, echoes Reid’s sentiments.

“Selling a horse that is not in the Incentive Fund is like slashing the value of the horse in half if the horse is going to go on to a show career,” McCraw said. “It is a helpful reward at the end of the season to receive a check for the people who spend their hard-earned dollars to enter the show ring all year.”

Now is the perfect time to nominate a stallion to the Incentive Fund – all stallions nominated by October 11 will be entered to win a free, full-page ad in their choice of AQHA’s stallion issues: the December American Quarter Horse Journal, December Ranch Horse Journal or December/January Performance Horse Journal. Learn more here about the free ad giveaway. 

The deadline for Incentive Fund stallion nominations is November 30, but if interested parties want to enter to win a free, full-page ad, they should nominate by October 11. Go to to access the nomination form.

If you’re a mare owner looking for Incentive Fund stallions, there’s an online tool to help you. Head to to access the AQHA directory of nominated stallions.

There’s good news for foal owners, too! Owners of 2015 or 2016 foals still have time to enroll their foals if they were sired by nominated stallions. Foal owners can either check the box on the registration application or download and complete this foal nomination form

A few things to note about the Incentive Fund: 

  • There are no license fees; once a foal is enrolled, the final payment has been made. All the owner has to do is show, win and earn!
  • Foals must be sired by nominated stallions; this is the only way for a foal to be enrolled.
  • Stallions are nominated for a flat $300 fee the first year, then the fee is based on the number of mares bred thereafter.
  • Owners of enrolled horses receive a check for 70 percent of the horse’s earnings, the stallion nominator earns 15 percent and the foal nominator also earns 15 percent.

The Incentive Fund is the roots of the industry: The program rewards breeders both small and large; stallion and foal nominators, as well as horse owners. The AQHA Incentive Fund has been the standard that many incentive-type programs have been modeled after and continues to be one of the best in the industry. To learn more or to enroll your horse, visit or call AQHA at 806-376-4811.

AQHA News and information is a service of the American Quarter Horse Association. For more news and information, follow @AQHAnews on Twitter and visit