The 2015 Time to Ride Challenge, a grassroots competition offering $100,000 cash and prizes to stables, clubs and businesses that introduce new people to horses, reached a grand total of 41,428 new horse enthusiasts throughout the summer-long program. Participants in 49 states hosted beginner-friendly horse events to stimulate interest in riding and grow their businesses. In its second year, the challenge marked an amazing 63 percent increase in reach over the 2014 program.
Participants planned, promoted and hosted events designed for newcomers who are interested in horses but have minimal riding or hands-on experience. These beginner-friendly events included riding, grooming or petting horses; many offered crafts, games and educational components.
“Research suggests that as many as 30 percent of Americans have positive feelings about horses or riding, but that doesn’t mean they are currently involved with horses,” Time to Ride Spokeswoman Patti Colbert said. “Our hosts do a fantastic job bridging that gap. By specifically reaching out to ‘non-horse’ people, they’re growing their own client base by making horses more accessible to local families who may need some guidance getting started.”
While the majority of competing hosts were riding stables and instructors, other participants such as trail-ride businesses, 4-H and regional clubs, rescues, youth camps and veterinarians also took up the cause.
The medium division was most competitive; 16 Acres Equine Educational Complex of Union Grove, Wisconsin, emerged the champion for the second time. Last year 16 Acres was the small division champion. Owner Jodie Halladay, a former Paint Horse breeder, and her staff teach riding lessons, train horses and offer horsemanship programs for riders of all ages.
“We’re the basic starting place where people can learn about horses, and then decide where they’re going to go with their lives with horses. We went to local festivals in our area, and people were able to learn what horses were about and have some kind of experience with them,” Jodie said. “We really gained a lot of new students and public awareness through the Time to Ride Challenge. We’ve made some great contacts in our community. The connections you make out of this aren’t just clients.”
Throughout the challenge, 16 Acres provided an astonishing 8,955 new enthusiast with a first-time horse experience via 34 events. By providing hands-on opportunities such as teaching kids how to measure themselves in hands and relating that to a horse’s height, 16 Acres ensured each visitor had a meaningful and fun experience with horses. In addition, all participants were entered in drawings for free riding lessons, resulting in even more new clients.
Champions in the small, medium and large divisions each earned $10,000 cash. More than $70,000 was awarded to winners through tenth place, which included gift certificates, feed, apparel, stable supplies, event tickets and other in-kind products provided by Time to Ride marketing alliance members.
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The American Paint Horse Association is the world’s second-largest equine breed association, registering more than a million horses in 59 nations and territories since it was founded in 1962. APHA creates and maintains programs that increase the value of American Paint Horses and enriches members’ experiences with their horses. APHA is a member of the Time to Ride marketing alliance.