Time to Ride Challenge Introduces Over 28,000 New Enthusiasts to Horses; Awards $100,000 in Cash and Prizes

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The Time to Ride Challenge concluded its 2016 year by awarding $100,000 in cash and prizes to top stables, clubs and businesses in three tightly competitive divisions who excelled at introducing new people to horses. A total of 38 hosts will take home cash prizes ranging from $100 to $10,000, plus products and awards provided by American Horse Council Marketing Alliance organizations, for their successful efforts in bringing new enthusiasts into the horse industry through the Challenge. Time to Ride congratulates every Challenge host who participated and worked hard towards growing their businesses and the horse industry!

The third annual Challenge took place June 1 - September 30 and saw a record number of events, 1,004, held by competing hosts. By providing fun, safe, beginner-friendly horse experiences, competing hosts not only introduced new enthusiasts to the benefits of horse activities, but gained valuable marketing experience plus new leads and clients for their businesses and clubs. A total of 28,175 newcomers who previously had little to no experience with horses enjoyed a hands-on introduction to horses and riding in the 2016 Challenge. This comment on Facebook from 7th place winner in the Small division, Jenn Gay of Heavenly Horse Stables, says it best: "Thank you so much for this Challenge! We opened our barn doors in February 2016 and your Challenge has directly brought in 10 of my lesson students and has giving me a large email base to help keep people connected with horses! Your marketing toolkit is perfect and just what we needed."

Champion of the Small Division is KarMik Acres, of Woodstock, Illinois, a private facility that hosts clinics and other horse events. Owner Karen Boso stated that at first they were interested in the prize money offered in the Challenge, but quickly experienced the joy of introducing people to horses for the very first time. “We were able to change the minds of families who had never had a positive experience with horses, and really enjoyed seeing both kids and parents meet a horse for the first time,” she said. While KarMik Acres doesn’t offer beginner riding lessons, Boso worked with a network of local stables to which she referred interested newcomers to sign up for lessons and camps, boosting the local horse community. KarMik Acres’ most successful event was held at a local orchard in prime apple-picking season, where they knew hordes of families interested in health, fitness and outdoor activities would already be congregating. They set up stations near the entrance with two horses and connected with over 700 newcomers who learned about horses and where to get involved in riding locally. “Overall the more people we can bring into the horse industry, the better,” said Boso, and with a total of 1,429 newcomers introduced to horses throughout the Challenge, KarMik Acres certainly accomplished their goal.

Promenade Horsemanship Academy of Brighton, Colorado, is the winner of the Medium Division. Promenade offers boarding, riding lessons, a variety of horsemanship classes, and is active in horse agility, catering to all ages and levels of riding. Owner Kim Gieseke was overcome with emotion when she learned of their win and shared how hard her staff and volunteers had worked all summer to introduce an amazing total of 2,495 people to horses. Promenade originally heard of the Challenge through the Colorado Horse Council and was second place winner in the inaugural Challenge in 2014. Gieseke stated that her stable capitalized on events that attracted large groups of her target market, moms and families, and also promoted events by riding in parades and utilizing walking assistants to hand out fliers to spectators. After the parade concluded, spectators could come meet the horses up close and learn about opportunities available at Promenade. Another successful partnership was with a local elementary school, which netted six new horsemanship students from a single event! “The Challenge has opened my eyes to see that a lot of people are apprehensive about horses, but simply by meeting them up close can quickly become comfortable and really enjoy the experience, opening the doors to further involvement. It’s been a great avenue for getting to know our community better,” said Gieseke.

The Large Division saw a repeat winner in Las Vegas, Nevada-based Horses4Heroes, which was champion of the Large Division in 2014. Through its community equestrian center in Las Vegas and national network of stables, Horses4Heroes’ mission is to “make horseback riding affordable for, and accessible to, our service members, veterans, survivors, First Responders and their immediate families, as well as other heroes in our communities including, but not limited to, nurses, special needs teachers, and others who service and sacrifice keep us safe and free.” After limited participation in 2015, the non-profit came back strong in 2016 with several community partnerships that helped boost their efforts to put new people on horseback. “This year we really wanted to involve our whole community,” shared Horses4Heroes president Sydney Knott, saying that “connecting with local Girl Scout troops helped tremendously” as many troops took up the opportunity to complete horsemanship badges at Horses4Heroes events. Horses4Heroes also partnered with the Trail of Painted Ponies through effective cross-promotion: newcomers could register for a $5 ride pass, redeemable at Horses4Heroes, on the Trail of Painted Ponies website, while entering to win a statue from the Patriotic Ponies collection. “We hope that our efforts create a more educated and aware consumer, and potential horse owner, which will benefit horses in the long run!” said Knott.

Each champion won $10,000 cash; in all three divisions cash prizes were awarded to winners through 10th place. New in 2016, two winners were awarded Wild Card prizes: Harmony Horse Equestrian Center won $500 as the top-performing host that did not win a divisional prize, and Alpine Animal Hospital was awarded $250 as the runner-up Wild Card. To view full results, please visit www.timetoride.com/news.

The American Horse Council’s Marketing Alliance

Time to Ride is an initiative of the American Horse Council’s Marketing Alliance, formed to connect people with horses. It is designed to encourage horse-interested consumers to enjoy the benefits of horse activities. The AHC Marketing Alliance is made up of the following organizations: the American Association of Equine Practitioners, Active Interest Media, the American Quarter Horse Association, Dover Saddlery, Farnam, Merck, Merial, Morris Media Network Equine Group, Purina Animal Nutrition LLC, Platinum Performance, United States Equestrian Federation, and Zoetis. Program Partners are Absorbine, the American Paint Horse Association, Equibrand the National Cutting Horse Association, the National Reining Horse Association, Rood and Riddle Equine Hospital, and the Texas A&M University Equine Initiative; Lumina Media, Pyranha Inc., the America’s Mustang Campaign, and Colorado State University Equine Sciences Program.

About the American Horse Council

The American Horse Council is a non-profit organization that includes all segments of the horse industry. While its primary mission is to represent the industry before Congress and the federal regulatory agencies in Washington, DC, it also undertakes national initiatives for the horse industry. Time to Ride, the AHC’s marketing alliance to connect horses and people, is such an effort. The American Horse Council hopes that Time to Ride will encourage people and businesses to participate in the industry, enjoy our horses, and support our equine activities and events. The AHC believes a healthy horse industry contributes to the health of Americans and America in many ways.