The Time to Ride Challenge, a grassroots competition that rewards stables, clubs, and businesses for connecting new people to horses, awarded additional cash and prizes for winners of its best practices contest.

Contestants submitted written entries detailing the innovative, effective, and engaging strategies they used to plan and promote fun, beginner-friendly horse events throughout the challenge.

Jester Park Equestrian Center, of Granger, Iowa took home top honors for their “JPEC Carnival,” a free, public event welcoming local families to their equestrian center. They took advantage of local “moms groups” and family bloggers in the area to promote the event. Approximately 450 visitors enjoyed opportunities including pony rides, face painting, horse-themed carnival games, a horse coloring contest, and pony painting.

“I believe that one thing that was creative about our strategy throughout the challenge was two-fold,” said JPEC staff member Lela Mullen. “We set up a calendar of Time to Ride events in May, and we also set up a different horse-related ‘theme’ for each event. This allowed for us to plan well in advance and to give us plenty of time to promote the events. We did have to cancel one event due to severe weather, but all other events ran smoothly.

“Setting up different themes for the events, and also utilizing holidays during the timeframe to help with this aspect, gave us opportunity to market to different groups of newcomers,” she continued. “Some of our events catered towards the younger crowd with pony rides and kid-related activities. Other events were ma