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, taking place May 30 to Sept. 30, 2015, offers 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.
Registration for the Challenge will begin March 1 at www.timetoridechallenge.com and is open to stables, clubs, veterinarians, feed stores, businesses and organizations dedicated to welcoming newcomers to horse activities. “Hosts” are organized into Small, Medium, and Large divisions and are encouraged to be creative in providing fun, safe and educational horse events that encourage attendees to become further involved in horse activities. The Hosts who provide the greatest number of newcomers an introductory horse experience, as calculated by contact information collected, will win awards. A post-Challenge survey in 2014 found that 92% of the 25,281 newcomers who attended a Time to Ride event said they wanted to participate in more horse activities.
Industry statistics show that current horse owners are an aging population, and identified parents with children as a prime audience to help them discover horses. Many of the stables held events to introduce children to horses and to offer parents information on how to get their families involved with riding.
2014 Medium division winner Corvin Performance Horses, of Canyon, Texas, partnered with homeschool groups, day cares, church groups and other youth activities to bring horses to a new sector of the community. Their most successful event was a partnership with “I Heart Canyon,” hosted by the city, where more than 400 enthusiasts met a horse for the first time. Owner Melissa Corvin reported that the biggest reward was “giving people a positive first experience with horses and building their confidence. Kids were thrilled to touch and ride real horses.” Within one week of the event, six people called to sign up for lessons. Corvin Performance Horses reached 876 newcomers in 100 days and won $15,000 cash in the Medium division.
Updates for 2015 include more cash prizes, with grand prize winners receiving $10,000 and cash awards given through 10th place in each division. The Challenge will also feature a completely redesigned website and improved user experience launching March 1. Participating Hosts will receive free marketing resources including a toolkit, guide of event ideas, customizable ads and posters, media templates and more.
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, the National Thoroughbred Racing Association, 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, and Rood and Riddle Equine Hospital.
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.