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From the In-Gate - Thinking Out Of The Box



          

by Bob Funkhouser

 

Promotion comes in many shapes, sizes and forms. In the show horse industry trainers around the country are looking for ways to reach the general public to promote their horses and businesses.

In
Texas, Sandy Currier spearheaded a project to put the American Saddlebred in the public’s eye.

“I got tired of everyone going, ‘What’s an American Saddlebred?’ We live down here in Quarter Horse country and that’s all these people know. I don’t feel the ASHA is doing anything to help us promote the breed. They may be doing it somewhere, but we don’t see any of it here in Texas.”

Currier remembered driving through
Tennessee one time and seeing huge billboards for the Tennessee Walking Horse. While driving by her vet clinic in Houston see saw a billboard advertised for rent and the image of the Tennessee Walking Horse came back to her.

Checking into the billboard she found out the cost would be $8,000 for the year. That was more than her Bluebonnet Farm wanted to spend so she contacted three other local barns to see if they wanted to join in.

“I contacted Chardonnay Farms (Chris Hallman and Sandy Reed), Lone Star Saddlebreds (Milo Jones and Koren Mercer) and SGF Winning Ways (Sherry Frankel Deal) and discussed my idea with them. They jumped on board and, with the help of the advertising company which had the billboard, created our very own.”

To come up with the right picture the group contacted Avis who sent them several from which to choose. They settled on a “wholesome looking young girl on a beautiful Saddlebred.”

Then the group created a Web site (Ride4Fun.com) which was advertised on the billboard. That site has links to the four farm’s sites. Over the past six months, thousands upon thousands of Houstonians have an image of an American Saddlebred that they can now put with the name.

“We’ve picked up a few lessons from it,” said Currier. “I don’t know how much I should expect from it but at least we are trying something. If you travel through airports and other places you see advertisements for other breeds: Morgan Horses, “The Pride and Product of America” and “Ride With Pride On A Tennessee Walking Horse” are a few I’ve noticed. However, nowhere do I see anything for the American Saddlebred.”

In addition to the billboard, the group went in and placed an ad in Horse Illustrated to again try and reach the general equine public. These types of promotions are things Currier and others would like to see coming from the American Saddlebred Horse Association and other associated groups within the industry.

Is there one right answer? Probably not, however, it does take thinking outside the box to expand our horizons, yet we all know “outside the box” is not a place known to a lot of the show horse industry.

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