2015 Time to Ride Challenge Under Way

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The Time to Ride Challenge returns in 2015 as a grassroots campaign to grow the horse industry by introducing new enthusiasts to horse activities. The Challenge will take place from May 30 to September 30, 2015, but now through May 26 is the time to sign up. This is a unique opportunity for horse professionals to grow their business while competing for $100,000 in cash and prizes. In 2014, its inaugural year, the Challenge provided more than 25,000 people with first-time horse experiences through 702 beginner-friendly Time to Ride Hosts in 49 states. This year's Challenge promises to be even bigger and better.

Registration for the Challenge began March 1 at www.timetoridechallenge.com and is open to anyone in the horse community, including stables, horse clubs, veterinarians, feed stores, horse shows, race tracks, horse fairs, equine centers, equine businesses, organizations and other "hosts" dedicated to welcoming newcomers to horse activities.

Hosts will be organized into small, medium and large divisions and are encouraged to be creative in providing fun, safe and educational horse events that encourage newcomers to become further involved in riding and horse activities. The Hosts that provide an introductory horse experience to the greatest number of newcomers will win prizes of up to $10,000. Even if you don't win, you will have gained new clients and friends, new connections in your community, new ideas, and tools you can use to grow your business.

Last year, Hosts offered a variety of fun, beginner-friendly horse experiences, including riding, meeting and petting a horse, grooming, and educational activities. Veterinary practices can host tours and health events at their clinics or with local stables. Clubs can do riding demonstrations. Feed and tack shops can have horses or ponies visit for a "meet and greet." Facilities can also work together or with another horse business, if it wants to participate but lacks the space, facilities or horses. Creativity is the way to win.

In 2014, 81% of the families who attended a Challenge event were at some point in the process of researching and beginning horse activities. This provides a prime opportunity for stables to offer a great first experience to interested people. 68% of participating Hosts saw an immediate, positive impact on their business in the form of new contacts and clients, and 94% felt their outreach efforts were well-worth the time and effort. And some won cash and prizes to boot!

Industry studies show that current horse owners are an aging population and that moms with children hold the greatest potential for campaigns like the Time to Ride Challenge. Last year, many of the stables held events to introduce children to horses and to offer parents information on how to get their families involved in riding. A post-Challenge survey found that 92% of the 25,281 newcomers who attended a Time to Ride event said they wanted to participate in more horse activities.

New features for the 2015 Challenge include more cash prizes, with grand prize winners in each division receiving $10,000, and cash awards given through 10th place in each division. The Challenge also features a completely redesigned user-friendly website. Participating Hosts will receive free marketing resources, including a toolkit, guide for event ideas, customizable ads and posters, media templates and more.

Registration for the Time to Ride Challenge will be open until May 26, 2015, so don't delay.

To learn more about the 2015 Challenge and sign up to participate, please visit www.timetoridechallenge.com, or email info@timetoride.com, or call 512-591-7811.

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 taste and 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, Purina Animal Nutrition LLC, Platinum Performance, SmartPak, United States Equestrian Federation, and Zoetis.

Program Partners are Absorbine, the American Paint Horse Association, Morris Media Network Equine Group, the National Cutting Horse Association, the National Reining Horse Association, Rood and Riddle Equine Hospital, and Texas A&M University Equine Initiative.