52 Fridays is an ongoing series for equestrian professionals and equine business owners and managers, with marketing and public relations stories, ideas, tips, and resources shared here each Friday. We’re currently catching up, due to the International Hoof-Care Summit, helping judge the ESMAs, and new client projects, so enjoy the extra posts!
Many non-horsefolk, legislators included, forget about the economic impact of the equine industry. It’s simply because it’s not on their radar. If they’re not horse lovers or horse owners and they don’t even see horses on a regular basis, it’s quite easy for people to forget about our industry. Especially if we’re not speaking up.
The Bluegrass State’s got several initiatives going right now to support awareness and understanding of their state’s ‘signature’ industry; should they be a model for other states with large numbers of equestrians, to foster greater horsebiz awareness across the country?
Over the past seven years, the U.S. horse industry has benefitted from multiple economic impact surveys, including the American Horse Council’s (AHC) 2005 study, the American Horse Publication’s 2009-2010 study, and a 2011 study by Indiana’s Purdue University Calumet (PUC); the PUC study included entrepreneurship as a topic for the first time, and results showed many horsebiz owners felt ill-equipped when it came to business management skills, including marketing.
The Commonwealth of Kentucky is currently surveying their equine industry via the Kentucky Equine Survey, and today (February 17, 2012) is the final day for responses. The survey is meant to measure numbers of horses in the state along with breed and use, plus the economic impact of equestrian activities throughout the state. This is similar in nature to what was measured by the AHC study, but will provide updated, post-recession data for comparison to the 2005 Kentucky state numbers.
The Kentucky Horse Council (KHC) is urging all of the state’s horse owners and horse business operators to respond, so that the numbers can more accurately reflect what’s happening. A form at the KHC website collects contact information that goes to the National Ag Statistical Service (NASS); the survey results will be analyzed by the University of Kentucky’s Department of Ag Economics. It will be interesting to see if horsefolk respond, and what the numbers say.
KHC is also now surveying the general public within Kentucky; there’s a plan to update their popular ‘foal’ license plate which helps fund KHC programs. While the economic impact study is strictly for horsefolk, anyone living in Kentucky’s borders can vote on their favorite license plate design, and apparently the license plate is popular with mainstream car owners, too, not just horse people.
It’s great that KHC is using technology and social media for the process, including a Constant Contact survey to collect votes plus sending out the news on both their email newsletter and the KHC Facebook page. Bravo!
Understanding a situation is the first step to finding a solution, and surveys and studies like those mentioned here help our industry have a voice, showing others clearly the size of our industry, the support that exists for equestrian activities, and what the impact to the rest of the economy could be should the horse world fail.
Kentucky, a state known for its horses and equine businesses as well as the legendary Kentucky Derby that has become a cultural phenomenon in recent years, had an informational hearing for legislators last month. The news to representatives was that Kentucky’s Thoroughbred industry is in serious trouble, and this well-written article from the Lexington Herald-Leader paints a picture of the complex economic web that the horsebiz is a part of, and what the consequences could be if Kentucky fails to act. It’s a situation worth watching, for us all.
All images courtesy Kentucky Horse Council.
NOTE: As I was getting ready to post this article, the Horsemen’s Council of Illinois monthly e-newsletter showed up in my emailbox – turns out they’ve just updated the Illinois Horse Industry Billion Dollar Fact$ PDF. Does your state horse council have something similar? Share a link using the Comments box.
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