Horse Country Remains Operational Thanks To Community Support

When the pandemic arrived to the United States ten months ago, tourism was one of the first industries to experience significant consequences from necessary public health containment steps. Horse Country, a membership nonprofit supporting fan development through experiences aimed at leisure travelers, incurred significant losses due to pre-sold admission refunds and tour closures.

“Between refunds and not being able to offer tours, a year that had been trending to exceed 40% growth year over year turned into a budget net-negative,” said Price Bell, Jr., president of Horse Country’s board. “The way we’re currently structured, nearly all of our operating budget is derived from revenue sharing when members give tours. When that couldn’t happen, we were looking at a pretty dire scenario. We cut every expense we could, including a temporary furlough of our team. Even as a limited amount of tours reopened in 2020, we would not have made it without the financial support of our industry, community and members.”

Fasig-Tipton, Keeneland, Breeders’ Cup and The Jockey Club provided emergency support in the spring. The KTA-KTOB joined that group with a contribution over the summer, and Breeders’ Cup has subsequently made an additional pledge of support. Claiborne Farm donated proceeds from tours in 2020, and other members have donated tour revenue. Spendthrift Farm made a contribution and has helped lay the groundwork for a future partnership between MyRacehorse and Horse Country.

Due to the organization’s structure, Horse Country did not qualify for government support programs. At the suggestion of Bill Farish, Visit Horse Country partnered with the Bluegrass Community Foundation to launch a charitable fund supporting the growing charitable initiatives of the organization including services for TAA-accredited aftercare members of Horse Country which receive a complimentary membership, scholarship and field trip visits, community outreach such as Meet the Neighbors, and a new workforce development partnership with the Kentucky Chamber of Commerce.

So far, in a launch of the fund earlier this year, more than 70% of the initial goal of $150,000 has been raised, with major support coming from the W. S. Farish Fund, followed by the Duncan & Carol Taylor Fund, Headley & Nancy Bell, Priscilla Fallon, The Bakhaus Family Foundation, The Jones Family Foundation, Siena Farm and Godolphin, and others.

“The successful work of fan development through Horse Country is vital to our industry. For it to go away after the dedication of so many wasn’t acceptable,” said Bill Farish of Horse Country member Lane’s End Farm, and on behalf of the W. S. Farish Fund. “The financial health of Horse County is vital to the success of the effort. I’m thrilled to hear the match by the W. S. Farish fund has worked and that Horse Country will make it through this pandemic.”

“Like many this year, the key to our survival was creativity, and community support,” said Anne Sabatino Hardy, executive director of Visit Horse Country. “We pivoted to free virtual tours and reached millions. We reopened a limited number of tours at reduced capacity and they were often sellouts; private tours were a particularly attractive product this year. We are deeply grateful our industry, guests, members and community continue to be committed to Horse Country’s mission, and excited about what we have to offer.”

Tours for 2021 will be offered on a limited basis beginning late December, though some members may not resume regular operations until later in the new year. Updates can be found at www.visithorsecountry.com or by contacting the office at info@visithorsecountry.com.

“We know experiences at member locations are effective at fan development, and owner development; it’s been rewarding to see the support for creative new ideas and the purely educational and charitable work that has always been part of our mission, which can now grow. It’s been a tough year, but we’ve learned a lot, made some changes, and look forward to continuing our work.”

For more information on supporting Horse Country’s charitable fund with a tax-deductible donation: https://bgcf.givingfuel.com/horsecountry or contact Anne Sabatino Hardy at ahardy@visithorsecountry.com.

The post Horse Country Remains Operational Thanks To Community Support appeared first on Horse Racing News | Paulick Report.

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