I knew I'd get some defenders of the AI with this rant.
First.. I agree with the greater stallion selection, its the reason I chose the stallion I'm breeding too. He also had great conception rate (or so I was told). Also he only offered AI or I might have considered the drive (about 6hrs).
Actually anytime you insert something into the mare there is a risk of injury. I've heard of tears and such occuring during exams. True not often and maybe it was due to a poor vet, but I don't think you can say that AI is 100% safe. I'm sure there have been accidents with stallions also, especially during the training phase, but I really don't know much about this part.
Stallions and mares have been breeding for centuries without our help. I think a lot of the breeding problems are caused by too much interference on our part. My two mares were bred by a stallion handled by one person. She breeds all her mares this way and has few issues, none of them major. My mares are all taught excellent ground manners. Of course it helps that she understands horses well and can spot possible issues before they occur.
I believe it minimizes infection but again with humans involved you are going to still have the risk. I feel another big risk is breeding mares that shouldn't of been bred in the first place. Mares who for some reason would not of concieved if bred naturally. I would not be surprised if this doesn't lead to a line of mares that could only be bred artificially. Or worse, end up like the bulldog who can only be inseminated and has to have a c-section to deliver.
Then there is the question of all the hormones and drugs being used, especially true in the TB racing industry. This of course has to do with the January 1st birthday, but that's a different rant.
Heck only $200? Want to switch?
Sorry but this actually falls into my rant of it being cost prohibitive. If, like yourself, I could do it myself, maybe it wouldn't be so bad. Right now, if she catches this next time I believe I will have paid the cost of the stud fee again. If she doesn't, the cost is going to get ridiculous.
I am not saying AI should never being used or that I will never use it again (like I said, most warmblood/ sporthorses are AI only) but I think becoming dependant on it will, in the long run, cause bigger problems down the road.