US Equestrian Announces 45% Hike in Membership Fees, 87% Jump in National Drug Fee

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Murray Kessler.

LEXINGTON, Kentucky, Aug. 2, 2017–A hike in annual membership fee to $80 from $55, more than 45 per cent, and to $15 from $8 for drugs and medication charges per horse per show was announced Wednesday by United States Equestrian. Members also pay $75 to the U.S. Dressage Federation. Competitors in international events pay hefty fees to the International Equestrian Federation (FEI).

Murray Kessler, president of US Equestrian since January this year, declared “a growing membership, teams and individuals winning on the world stage, balanced financials, and the implementation of many new initiatives.” But gave no specifics.

However, he said, US Equestrian membership fee will increase to $80 from $55 in 2018, an amount that he said is about the same as that of the major affiliates including the USDF. The USDF active membership fee is $75.

With no increase in membership fees for the past decade, he said, the cost of doing business has increased 33 per cent “which has been offset by cost containment efforts that have hurt our staff as well as member services, especially at the grass root level. This is unacceptable. The approved fee increases will allow us to address these issues and re-invest back into growing our sport at all levels, not just elite levels.”

He gave priorities as enlisting unrated shows into US Equestrian, investing in education, learning center videos, communication tools, athlete pathways, trainer certification, and development.

The 87 per cent increase in the drugs & medications fee per horse, per show “is necessary to fund the battle against cheating on the field of play and to defend the findings of the hearing committee in the court room.

“It is unfortunate that we all need to pay this tax because of a few bad eggs, but it is the price we must pay for clean sport and a fair and level playing field.”

He was adamant that none of the increased fees will be used to build a new headquarters building at the Kentucky Horse Park. He said low interest rates, a loan backed by Kentucky state will result in savings of more than $300,000 a year over current lease costs.