Time to Ride Challenge

This horseback-riding initiative is taking steps to grow the horse industry.

Making riding fun for kids is one of the primary goals of The Challenege and AQHA. Journal photo.

Time to Ride is an equine-industry-wide program facilitated by the American Horse Council with the goal of connecting, or reconnecting, people with horses. Time to Ride programs are designed to connect American families, specifically moms, to horses in their areas. The Time to Ride initiative is coordinated by the American Horse Council in cooperation with a host of equine organizations, as well as discipline and breed associations, including AQHA. Through the Time to Ride Challenge, its interactive websites and other activities, Time to Ride encourages people to enjoy the benefits of horse experiences, which include increased mental and physical well-being.

The Time to Ride Challenge, which offers horse professionals the opportunity to grow their business while competing for $100,000 worth of cash and prizes, has registered more than 400 participants since opening March 1. Providers have signed on to host beginner-friendly events between May 30 and September 30. The top 10 hosts in three divisions – large, medium and small – that reach the most newcomers will win cash prizes up to $10,000.

Just like humans, horses have different personalities and talents. Choosing the right horse for you can be challenging. AQHA’s Buying and Owning Your First Horse DVD will guide you in finding the perfect equine partner and teach you about feeding and effective communication.

As of April 10, 403 hosts from 43 states have registered. They represent stables, instructors, camps, dude ranches, therapeutic riding programs, businesses, veterinarians, rescues and more.

The Challenge encourages its hosts to provide a variety of fun, beginner-friendly horse experiences.

In 2014, the most popular activity offered by hosts was meeting/petting a horse, followed by riding, grooming and educational activities.

Golden Ridge Stables of Lakeville, Minnesota, found huge success with its event on National Night Out, “a well-known national event held the first Tuesday in August encouraging neighbors to get to know each other. We offered pony rides on our school horses, a hay ride shuttle to and from a nearby neighborhood, hands-on grooming demonstrations and fun games like learning to rope, egg and spoon on foot, horseshoes and musical hay bales,” says owner Ann Hoffman.

“This event was a big success for us because it increased our visibility in the community and helped us foster good relations with nearby neighborhoods. We have several new housing developments being built near us so we're trying to capitalize on the building boom by increasing awareness of our lesson program. The goal was to meet new people, and we definitely did that!”

Before traveling anywhere with your horse, he must know how to safely load into a trailer. Effective communication and proper handling will aid in this process. AQHA’s FREE Horse Trailer Loading Tips Ebook will teach you all of this and more.

Ann and Golden Ridge Stables were awarded first prize in the “Best Practices” contest, an additional incentive within the Challenge that rewards hosts for sharing their innovative event ideas.

Eighty-one percent of families who attended a 2014 Challenge event were in the process of researching and beginning horse activities, offering a prime opportunity for stables to provide a great first experience and capture new clients. Sixty-eight percent of hosts saw an immediate positive impact on their business in the form of new contacts and clients, and 94 percent believe their outreach efforts were well worth the time and effort.

Registration for the Challenge is open through May 26. To learn more about the Challenge and other Time to Ride initiatives, please visit www.timetoridechallenge or email info@timetoride.com.

To find a barn, trainer or Time to Ride event near you, visit www.timetoridechallenge.com and click “Find a Ride.” You can search the interactive map for events, instructors, riding centers, locations and even famous horses in your area.