70% increase for ESNZ membership fees

Riders will have to dig deep to compete this coming season in ESNZ shows, with a major membership fee hike

Equestrian Sports New Zealand is to increase its membership fees by 70% for the coming season, in an effort to work its way out of financial disaster.

Equestrian sport’s governing body has announced a number of changes to the membership structure, coming into effect from July 1. 

No more freebies

Gone are the first-year free membership and community membership options. The community members who joined for three years will get a letter very soon to advise them that the three-year tenure has been changed, to bring their expiry date forward to the coming season. They will be invited to join the new membership structure on the anniversary of their annual renewal date – it will be interesting to see how many take this opportunity up. 

Higher costs

As signalled in the consultation document, full membership has increased from the current $70 to $120, an increase of 71.4%. But this only applies to riders aged 15 and over – membership for children aged 14 and under has been introduced, with a fee of $80, which is a 14.3% increase on the current $70. 

There is also a new classification for ‘introductory’ members. The annual fee for these riders is just $40, but they can only compete in ESNZ shows at 95cm level in eventing, 90cm level in show jumping and show hunter, non-graded dressage classes, and 46km in endurance. 

The same class restrictions apply for those who pay a casual member fee, which is $10 a day. 

For members who don’t compete but want to join, the annual fee is $60. Officials are required to join at a cost of $60 a year. This includes ESNZ office holders such as the board members, and area group office holders, technical delegates and judges. We’d love to see that reduced – or eliminated altogether – as we all know how much energy and time (and often money) these volunteers put into the sport.

ESNZ has stated that this membership structure will be in place for the next 12 months only, and will be carefully monitored and analysed, tracking membership changes.

General manager Dana Kirkpatrick says that ESNZ has taken consideration of the feedback that was received on the membership structure and financial crisis, citing the introduction of children’s membership and reintroduction of casual member fees at intro level only as examples. She says: “There is no ‘one size fits all’ membership structure that suits all disciplines, as they have different operating pressures.” 

Dana Kirkpatrick, GM of ESNZ

A working party from each of the disciplines is being set up to review other ideas and suggestions coming from members’ feedback. We asked who was on this working party, but didn’t get any response, so we guess it is yet to be confirmed. 

Introductory level changes

There have been a few tweaks to the various disciplines’ introductory levels, apparently to allow more riders to take advantage of lower-level competition. 

Eventers can compete at 95cm level as introductory members, but the casual start fee will only allow you to compete at 80cm and below (previously, you could get a casual start right up to 105cm). 

Show jumpers and show hunter riders can compete to 90cm (horse) and 80cm (pony), but for no prize money. On a casual start, you can no longer jump 1.20m (horses) or 1.10m (ponies); this has been reduced to 1.10m and 1m respectively. But on the good news front, the casual levy has been set at $20 per show no matter how many days you actually compete. 

There are no changes to introductory levels for dressage – introductory levels are all levels of non-graded classes. Riders must have either an annual introductory membership or pay a casual member fee of $10 per day. To compete in graded classes, full membership or children’s membership is required, and all horses and ponies must be ESNZ-registered and have either a discipline annual start or pay a casual fee.

Endurance riders can now go up to 46km on an introductory membership. But to claim kilometres on their horse’s log books, riders must compete under the Novice section.

Implementing changes

Casual member and horse fees will be collected via on-line entry systems and organising committees. ESNZ says it is working with the disciplines to communicate and implement these changes with their organising committees, and will also work closely with the online entry providers (Equestrian Entries and Main Events) for a smooth transition.

There is also continued work on reintroducing the affiliation scheme for events outside the ESNZ structure, such as pony clubs and adult riding clubs, who want to use ESNZ officials and rules. This will be discussed by the ESNZ board in the next few months. 

Discipline loans

Dana Kirkpatrick has announced that Eventing, Jumping and Dressage have agreed to loan ESNZ Central (ie. head office) a total of $142,220 at 5% interest over a three-year period, to get it out of its financial hole. Endurance does not have a board at the moment, and therefore will defer this decision until after its AGM. 

The first year’s repayments are in the budget for the 2017-18 financial year. The amounts from each discipline were calculated from an average of eight years of starts sold per discipline. This was then calculated as a percentage of the total request of $150,000. The money was required to get the organisation into a positive operating cashflow in the months prior to registration income. 

The money is coming from discipline term deposits, which were earning 3% interest per annum. If ESNZ Central borrowed the money from a bank, the interest costs would be significant. Therefore, internal discipline loans were considered to be a better option for all parties. This has been reviewed by Sport NZ, and has been viewed as an innovative solution to a business issue. 


We also asked ESNZ if it was going to be more transparent, and at least put up board papers on its website. Dana’s reply: “These have been caught up now. There was a time when we were really busy and we didn’t get to these, but this has now been done.” 

Obviously Eventing is still really busy, as their last board papers available on the website are November 21, 2016. As for Dressage, we can’t find any of their board papers on the website at all. The ESNZ board meeting summaries are up to date as of April 6, with the summary from 15 May “coming soon.” 

Website & database 

A firm called Mogul from Havelock North was the successful company for the website and database project. It has already begun work on these, and according to ESNZ, is “making great progress, and we are aiming for a completion date of August 31, all going well.” 

According to Mogul’s website, it has provided digital marketing expertise to over 200 organisations of all sizes and industry sectors, including Massey University, Tait Communications, Sport NZ, Redcurrent and the New Zealand Human Rights Commission. The company is owned by Georgina and Matthew Miller. 

ESNZ was hoping that the website would be a source of income through advertising. How is this going so far? “Any new commercial gains from the website are not planned to kick in until the site is up and running, and we have ensured the functionality is delivering for the members first and foremost,” says Dana. 

Income from grants

One of the declining sources of income for ESNZ was grants and sponsorship. We asked if there had been any progress. Dana says: “There has been a good amount raised from grants to assist this year, and this is an ongoing task for our staff, to reduce operating costs. We will continue to work on this. We currently have received $30,000 for salary costs, engraving all the trophies and for IT support.”

So, will this work? Will it help ESNZ Central’s financial situation? Will it result in an increase or a decrease in membership?  Will you continue to compete at ESNZ shows and events? What do you think of these changes?

Flick us an email at jane@horseandponymag.com with your views.

UPDATE:  ESNZ have just provided this useful Q & A which may answer some of your additional questions.