Equestrian Blog

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One Good Reason to Stick Together

Sometimes, it's easy to be cynical in this job. One of the fundamentals of Marketing is 'segmenting', the practice of splitting up the big list of customers you have into smaller, more precise types, so you can better understand the requirements of each group. Of course, where horses are concerned, these segments are often defined by the various equestrian disciplines that many riders tend to define themselves by. In some ways, this can make life much more interesting for me, as it helps enormously to know which customers are dressage riders if you're looking to make offers on a range of dressage equipment. What would be the point of annoying eveyone else with an email about dressage markers? The more we know about our customers, the more useful we hope we can become. The frustration this can bring is a sense from time to time that we don't actually have a clear idea who our 'normal' customer is. The many types we know about can then quickly become stereotypes which, if you're not careful, leads to all sorts of presumptions. It can become accepted that Eventers seem to have little in common with Showing types, Dressage riders will apparently sneer at Western riders, Showjumpers think they are more important than everyone else and almost everybody seems to be very dismissive of the so-called 'happy hacker'. And another thing: don't even get me started on the Racing crowd! Before I go any further, let me just clarify that we don't subscribe to any of the above, but we know these impressions can and do exist in the wider world. I've heard them voiced before and I'm sure at one time or other, you've probably encountered something similar over the years. The effect it has is to make you think that aside from the involvement of a horse in each of these different groups, this is a collection of people who seem to have absolutely nothing in common. It's like trying to bridge the gap between the Spanish Riding School and the donkeys on the seafront at Blackpool. How on earth can we call ourselves a community? I always used to think that the answer to that question was the humble grooming kit. If you have a horse, whatever it is that you do (even if it is nothing), you'd always need a grooming kit of some sort. Ownership of a grooming kit was, I thought, the most accurate indicator that that person is a member of the horse world. After the Amersham neglect case came to prominence in recent weeks, I would have to conclude that my earlier answer is wrong. Not just because a case of neglect reminds us all that some horses are owned that may not be groomed - or unfortunately, cared for in any way. More than that, it became clear that the reaction to the story was one under which the horse world could truly unite. Within days, the effects were beginning to be felt. A momentum had been generated, particularly on the forum of horseandhound.co.uk and people were keen to become involved. Almost from nowhere, 'Operation Esther' was formed and the appeal had the focal point it needed. Within a couple of days, we'd been inundated with requests for help and we knew it was an issue we couldn't afford to ignore. We decided on a course of action and made it available as a story in the News section of our website. Now, I'm happy to be able to confirm just how much these activities were able to generate. We’re pleased to report that all our fundraising activities on and around 18th January from our staff and our customers raised a total of £343. We decided that we would more than match that commitment and to top-up the fund to £750. This will be distributed equally among the three charities we felt are most closely involved with the care and rehabilitation of these equines, therefore we will be sending a cheque for £250 each to the ILPH, the Horse Trust and Redwings. Thanks to all our customers for their generous support and thanks also to our staff for getting involved (especially John Kelly at our Superstore - I'll post the pictures!) It may have taken a tragedy to show it, but it's reassuring to know that we really can call ourselves a single community, unified by horses.  

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