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UPHA/ASHA/AHHS To Launch Joint Marketing Program

One of the most exciting results of the recent string of association conventions is the partnership of the United Professional Horsemen’s Association (UPHA), American Saddlebred Horse Association (ASHA) and American Hackney Horse Society (AHHS) to take part in a marketing campaign that will put the horses and ponies that we ride and drive for show, fun and sport competitions into millions of homes.

UPHA President Bret Day brought a company called Equestrian Life to the Boards of both the ASHA and AHHS after their leadership expressed interest in a possible partnership. Following Equestrian Life’s presentation of their program, the UPHA and ASHA committed to fund one-third each of the expense of a three-month run with Equestrian Life. Thanks to the generosity of Mary Gaylord McClean, the AHHS also joined in. If the program does what the groups think it will do, there is a plan for an extended contract.

Launched in 2008, Equestrian Life is an equestrian media and marketing company focused on social media and video/television production via its own social media Web site platform, as an Official YouTube Partner, and with television programming in partnership with HRTV. They have produced more than 100 hours a year of original television programming which reaches 21 million homes via the HRTV channel. Co-founders John McGraw and Deana Bergquist describe Equestrian Life as a combination of Facebook and YouTube for passionate horse people.

"This company has done their home work and knows what it’s doing," said an excited Day. "The reining horse people say this group has taken them to another level. The quality of their work is outstanding. They did a campaign for the Polo Association and it was so good that Ralph Lauren picked it up for their advertising campaign. They know how to sell the romance of each breed and we will be working with them to bring that romance out." is a multi-discipline site with a focus on people’s passion for horses. Forty-seven percent of the 40,000 members have an English following with 37% Western. They have another 18,985 new visitors to the site each month and membership is NOT required to watch videos. Membership is required to participate in certain features such as Q & A and Corral. Their stats also show nearly seven pageviews per visitor and average time on the site is 5 minutes and 21 seconds, another very high number. Seventy-five percent of the membership is in the United States with 15% Canadian and 10% other/unknown.

Equestrian Life was the official Social Media Partner of the 2010 FEI World Equestrian Games, producing nine hours of original television programming. They are also the Official Media Partner for the United States Hunter Jumper Association, United States Dressage Federation, HITS $1M Grand Prix and the Devon Horse Show.

In partnership with the UPHA/ASHA/AHHS, the marketing goals would be to increase awareness of saddle seat riding and driving in the show ring and other venues in addition to developing a brand identity focused on concepts such as high energy, safe, modern, glamorous, uniquely American, fun for all ages, and an English riding/driving discipline that is not about jumping.

A name has yet to be determined for the program that would be a three-month campaign attracting people to try saddle seat riding and driving. A 30-minute television program (with commercials) would be produced that will run a minimum of nine times during the three-month period as will a 30-second commercial spot about the program that will play a minimum of 20 times on television, as well as its use on web sites and at shows and other events (i.e. the jumbo tron at Lexington, Louisville and Kansas City).

In addition, a custom page on Equestrian Life will be developed outlining the ins and outs of saddle seat riding and driving. Ten web style videos, approximately three minutes each, will be produced addressing the commonly asked questions about saddle seat riding and driving. There will be a 300x250 Web ad created about the program that can be downloaded and used across the web. Equestrian Life also sends media alerts to its 40,000 members regarding the television show and its times.

The Equestrian Life member newsletter will also be used to promote the show and campaign along with Facebook, Twitter and YouTube.

So that we do have some kind of measure as to the reach of this campaign, a coupon for a free riding or driving lesson will be posted on the home page of the program on the web site. Those coupons can be redeemed at "UPHA approved" facilities across the country. These facilities will have to meet certain criteria to be a part of the program and those parameters are currently being developed.

ASHA Board member Bob Funkhouser will be working with Equestrian Life on the development of the program with input from the three associations involved.

"This is an exciting time for the American Saddlebred, Hackney Pony and Hackney Horse," said Funkhouser. "This program is all about reaching people in today’s world and we will be reaching people who already have a strong equine interest or are looking to come aboard. We all saw what an incredible reception our horses and ponies received at the World Equestrian Games and now we have the opportunity to expose our animals and their many disciplines to a similar audience every minute of the day, every day of the week for a three-month period this summer."

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