mares and foals standing in a field for a AQHA registration
• Photo by Molly Montag.

AQHA Backlog: What Happened & When Officials Say It Will End

More than 3,600 registration applications caught in a backlog at the American Quarter Horse Association (AQHA) may soon be processed and shipped back to the senders, the registry said. 

The pending horse registrations, which Quarter Horse News (QHN) was told last week were completed but being proofed for accuracy, are among a slew of pending paperwork dating back to late last year that was delayed for months when the Amarillo, Texas-based registry upgraded its computer system and website. 

AQHA Executive Vice President Craig Huffhines said the delays trace back to the months before the upgrade in March, as employees spent much of their time testing the system before it went live. Glitches encountered after the launch caused more delays, requiring employees to spend much of their time testing fixes. 

“We got behind in the first quarter because most of our production and processing people were testing the new system for about half or three-fourths of the week, which did not have us at full capacity,” Huffhines said. “So, we got behind because we were testing the programs, and then we launched and we had some big glitches that held up processing, and some errors in the way that data was feeding.” 

Some AQHA members took notice, posting frustrated messages on social media about paperwork they’d submitted late last year but still, as of this spring, hadn’t received back. Others complained of long wait times when trying to reach the association by phone, something the AQHA acknowledged when posting updates on its website about the system and its website launch. 

The Backlog 

Currently, the backlog dates back to Dec. 21, 2018. Applications submitted after Dec. 21 are being processed as staff works through the backlog, as well as ferrets out applications held up by glitches in the system, Huffhines said. 

If members submitted registration applications to the AQHA before Dec. 21 but haven’t received their documents, Huffhines said the paperwork was likely incomplete, inaccurate or held up by something like an unpaid fee. In those instances, members should have received correspondence from the AQHA within a few weeks of it receiving the documents. 

To tackle the additional workload, the association hired more than 30 part-time and full-time workers. This included students from West Texas A&M University, who Huffhines said were able to help the association catch up on document scanning and data entry. He said staff were also working overtime, including Saturdays and some Sundays to help catch up. 

Next Few Weeks 

Now that many glitches from the computer system’s launch are fixed, Huffhines said the staff has been able to spend less time fixing the system and more time doing their regular jobs. The association expects a large number of registrations — like the 3,600 currently being proofed — to be processed and mailed soon, he said. 

Those 3,600 pending registrations being checked and expected to be released are among several thousand that Huffhines said were completed but, because of glitches with the computer system rollout, were unable to be accessed and returned to the applicants. 

Because of the importance of getting things right — especially in regard to DNA testing — Huffhines said it is imperative for the association to make sure everything is working right. Fixing one thing can cause another thing to break, which causes delays, he said. 

“All of these things are part of getting over these bumps and bruises and glitches so we can start freeing up that work and start cranking it out,” he said.

The Current Situation 

As of last week, new registration applications took about three weeks to get to their first processing look by the AQHA registration team. If all of the requirements were met to complete the registration transaction — such as all of the information on the application is available, parent verification requirements through DNA have been met and the fee for the service has been paid by check or credit card — the registration could be immediately completed. 

The key in getting paperwork through fast, Huffhines said, is to make sure everything is correct. Roughly 70% of paperwork submitted to the AQHA, he said, has errors or omissions, or an unpaid fee that needs to be taken care of before it can be processed. Things that are correct and complete get through fastest, while paperwork that is flagged for issues is taking the longest right now. 

Future AQHA Services 

Originally planned for rollout last summer, the computer upgrade was done in conjunction with revamps of the AQHA’s automated phone system and its website, The AQHA said at its 2018 Convention that its computer system dated back to the early 1990s and the goal of the upgrade was to have an overall system that enabled members to conduct business more efficiently — including doing many services online — and be notified quickly of any issues, so problems could be resolved rapidly. 

The next phase of the project calls for a new dashboard on the website, which will help people easily find how to conduct AQHA business online. The goal is to allow people to go online to easily access services, such as registration and transfers, even from their phone or other mobile device, and get a 24-hour turnaround. 

Although members can register horses online right now, Huffhines said it isn’t as user-friendly and easy to access as the AQHA believes it will be once it launches the new dashboard on the website. The goal is to tackle that task later this year once the association is caught up with its current workload. 

“We want to streamline those processes and make it easier for people to do business with us,” he said.

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