Horse Industry Salary Comparisons

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Most horse organizations don't have million-dollar-salary CEOs

CEOs of big corporations make millions, whether they’re worth it or not. For the horse industry, though, it seems that most CEOs are probably getting what they deserve.

Few profit-earning companies in the horse industry are publicly held, so their accounting and payroll records aren’t open to the public eye. But the horse industry’s most visible companies—nearly 4,000 of them—are largely non-profits so they must make all records open to the public. These organizations claim to promote or protect the horse, while providing education, funding, management, programs and services to members.

A review by the Center for Equine Business Studies at Texas A&M of the 2004-2006 IRS filings of top non-profit organizations in the horse industry found that the average CEO or executive director salary among 11 organizations was $225,288, including salary and differed benefits, with the lowest salary standing at just under $70,000 and the highest at more than $630,000.

Groups reviewed included the American Quarter Horse Association, American Paint Horse Association, Appaloosa Horse Club, Arabian Horse Association, The Jockey Club, National High School Rodeo Association, United States Dressage Federation, United States Equestrian Federation, Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association, National Cutting Horse Association and the National Reining Horse Association.

CEOs of breed associations seem to fare better than those of sport or special interest groups. The average CEO salary among the top five breed associations was more than $300,000, but that average was heavily skewed by the two top organizations with memberships and income almost three times that of the next three combined; the average of the next three was just under $115,000.

For sport or special interest groups, the average CEO salary was $176,478. But there were a few, like the National Reined Cow Horse and National Snaffle Bit associations, that reported no salary figures for an executive officer.

What remains is the fact that the horse industry is facing an uncertain future for the next three to five years as registrations, membership and show entries continue to fall. CEOs will face growing pressure to find ways to cut costs and boost productivity, even if their pay scale is seen as more than fair.

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