Dos and Don’ts for our Cover Contest

I am fresh from reviewing all of the entries for the Hodges Badge Company 2011 Equestrian Catalog cover contest.   Thank you to everyone that submitted an entry! With next year in mind, I want to offer you a few tips on what works (and what doesn’t).  While the next deadline isn’t until October 2011, we will accept your submissions at any time during the year.

Here are the Don’ts:

  • Don’t submit another company’s ribbon or trophy.  The awards must be from Hodges.  No exceptions.
  • Don’t submit an out-of-focus award.  We need to be able to read the print.
  • Don’t try too hard to be cute. 
  • Don’t demonstrate unsafe riding.  Make sure your helmet fits, and don’t stand next to a horse while barefoot.
  • Don’t fail to consider your background composition- a porta-potty behind your horse, or telephone pole sprouting from the rider’s head etc.
  • Don’t cut off heads or feet!

And the Dos:

  • Do send photos of less frequently awarded items  such as trophies, medals and plaques. 
  • Send entries that are different- llama or donkey shows, driving, side saddle, vaulting, sledding rallies.  While I realize the majority of our customers ride English or Western, we need to represent all horse pursuits.
  • Feel free to send multiple photos.  If you send more than 10, please vary the composition, lighting, etc.
  • Follow the rules for your discipline – helmets on in the ring, keepers in place on your bridle, etc.
  • Respond when we call you! Every year at least one ‘winner’ fails to get back to us and we have to dig deeper for another photo.
  • Use a fill flash on sunny days – otherwise foreheads under helmets are too dark for us to use.

Riding 4 Reading

What do you call it when three passionate people get together with an idea? An Idea that takes the sport they enjoy and the animal they love and combines them with their high values of literacy and education?

Riding for Reading!

It’s a  non-profit organization dedicated to promoting reading, literacy and education through equestrian activities.  Hodges Badge Company is a proud sponsor.

Our our talented art department went to work a while back creating  a custom multicolor ribbon just for them with their own design. Well Marnye Langer, one of the founders of the organization, sent us an email with a cute picture from the Woodside Class of 2009 letting us know that their hard work paid off . “The kids love them” she said.   (That’s the design in the background on the banner.)

She also let us in on some good news. This year they hope to launch a new program: the Riding For Reading Children’s Hunter Class.  This class will expand their reach and  hope to have 50 hunter/jumper shows offer the class. 

Check out thier site and see how you can be a part of this great idea three people had to combine their love of horses, riding and literacy: http://www.ridingforreading.org/index.php

Equestrian Enthusiasts – “Can you afford to show this year?”

Every once in a while Hodges will come across a great article or blog that we think our customers will find interesting. This a great blog by Stacey Kimmel-Smith to help equestrian enthusiasts answer the question: Can you afford to show this year?

Check it out.

She also has some great resources at the bottom to learn more.

Horse World Expo in Maryland

The Horse World Expo in Maryland was a great show this year. It’s been going strong for 13 years now. There were over 100 seminars, lectures and demonstrations, daily exhibitions and a parade of breeds, not to mention shopping, shopping and more shopping.

Attendance was a little down from past years but it’s hard to tell if it was because of the economy or the fact that it was the weekend before the historical presidential inauguration and everyone had other plans. We had the chance to meet with our customers face to face and show them some new products. We got some great feedback on our new silver-plated trays, equestrian plaques and trophies. They loved the fact that they could get silver trays for only $10.

The same show management puts on an expo in Pennsylvania this year too. Check it out>> We won’t be able to make this one but we’re putting it on the schedule for next year. It sounds like another great show for the “Horse World”.

2009 Equestrian Cover Contest Winners

 

2009 Equestrian Catalog Cover
2009 Equestrian Catalog Cover

We are happy to announce the 2009 Equestrian Cover Contest winner: Julie Pollex!

The Equestrian Catalog went to press last week and it will be in your mailbox by the end of this week. What? You don’t get one?

Click here to request one >>

 and we will send it right off.

Can’t wait to see the winners in our catalog either? I don’t blame you. Click here to see the cover and the 10 honorable mentions>>

Fleecewood Mac

Fleetwood Mac

Check out Fleecewood Mac – #8. Yes we know that technically she is a Suri Alpaca but she dons our Equestrian Easton Sash and we thought it was a great shot.

Congratulations to our winners! There were a lot of great entries this year.

 

 

Come visit us.

January is a busy month for Hodges. We’ll be all across the country attending tradeshows in MD, OH and NV.

We use these events to look for new customers, learn more about the industries and most importantly to talk to our current customers and learn what we need to do to keep them happy. This is also a chance to learn what the major associations in the industries concerns are going forward.

If you’re going to be in the area Come Visit Us! We would love to meet you. You can see our new products, discuss you award needs or talk about where your industry is headed.

Our Schedule:
January 15th – 18th, 2009
The USEF Annual Convention
Hilton Cincinnati Netherland Plaza
35 West Fifth Street
Cincinnati, OH

Chelsea Dolloff, Key Account Manager will be there to show you our new equestrian products like the new line of silver trays with gold borders.
You can even pick up a New Equestrian Catalog, fresh off the presses.

January 15-18th, 2009
The Horse World Expo
Maryland State Fairgrounds
Timonium, MD

You’ll be able to meet Rochelle Ramalho, Marketing Coordinator and Brian Correia, Customer Service Manager. This event is an exposition of everything equestrian. So come and buy some new tack, see a show and pick up a NEW Equestrian catalog.

January 25th – 27th, 2009
Western Fairs Association Tradeshow
Grand Sierra Resort and Casino
2500 East 2nd Street
Reno, NV

Rick Hodges our President is attending this one. This tradeshow is just like a Fair itself. It’s great. You’ll see all kinds of acts, vendors giving samples and opportunities to make your fair a successful one.

Keep a look out for more posts telling you when we’ll be in your area.

Sandy Point Stables Horse Show

As a company, we pride ourselves on providing fantastic customer service.  We also realize how important it is to understand our customer’s needs.  With this in mind, our customer service representatives, along with our Sales and Marketing staff, attended a local Hunter and Equitation show on August 20th at Sandy Point Stables in Portsmouth.  Since Sandy Point is less than two miles from our Portsmouth office, this rare mid-week show allowed for groups to attend for a short time in the morning and afternoon and still get our work done in the office.

 

While there, we got to see a variety of classes on the flat and over fences.  As an equestrienne, I accompanied both groups to help explain what they saw, whether it was the type of class, how it was being judged, what type of fences were being jumped, etc.  More importantly, I tried to tie in what they saw to how a customer putting on this show might order based on their prize list.

 

One of our employees actually had a niece competing in the show that day so we were lucky enough to get up close with her horse so I could explain the various pieces of tack and equipment and what their use and purpose was.

 

Since we also deal with a variety of markets on a daily basis, our reps have also received training sessions for dog shows and have upcoming meetings for gymnastics and swim as well.

 

 

 

Author:

Chelsea Dolloff

Special Accounts Manager

 

Wither the Equestrian Business?

Doug Emerson contacted me yesterday, wondering if I had a good feel for where the equestrian market is headed.  I don’t, but I have been watching this closely!  Please chime in if you have something to add.

Back in January, when inflation was relatively tame, and gas was only $3.25 a gallon, I met up with the Langers (of Langer Equestrian Group) at the USEF annual meeting.  Larry postulated that this year was gong to be ok, but 2009 was going to be really tough.  His assessment (one that I might add I agree with) is that owning and showing a horse is not something that people can start – or stop – whenever the price of food or fuel changes.

I have guessed that many people showing competitively have invested at least upwards of $250,000 between horses, their stable, a truck, a 5th wheel, maybe an indoor ring and land for all of the above.  Sure, there are people who compete from their backyard and haul a two horse trailer behind the pickup truck (it is what we used to do!), and this is a large part of our business, but larger shows like those run by Larry or Bob Bell attract competitors with greater expectations.  Land, barns, trainers, horses and professionals to haul animals do not come cheaply.  If you have made this kind of investment in your riding career, you do not stop just because the price of diesel went from $4 per gallon to $5.

Lets look at this differently; I own a motor boat which I keep on a mooring.  I figure that every year, between commissioning, the mooring, decommissioning, local fees and fuel it costs several thousand dollars to have this boat.  Last year fuel cost $4 per gallon.  Last week boat gas was going for $4.99/gallon.  I burn about 150 gallons/year, so the cost of owning the boat will go up another $150 a year.  As a percentage, this isn’t a lot, but the psychological damage is huge.  I use the boat much less.  I expect that we will see the same thing in the equestrian world.

People who own an equestrian estate won’t (or can’t) sell the property if they want to.  For them, this is a liquidity crisis.  No one wants to purchase their vehicles, or their horses, or their farm, since everyone else has the same problem.  Some equestrians will be able to weather this storm, others will have to stop showing and hunker down for a while (or worse).

This will all blow over folks.  Within a year or two market forces will bring new fuels to market.  Vehicles will become more efficient and new technologies will begin to enter the marketplace.  However, as it takes some time for everyone to put the brakes on, it may take a while for everyone to come back to the table, so if we see lots of folks exit the industry, it could take a while for us to return to the same level of activity.

From the standpoint of a ribbon manufacturer, I do not expect that we will see a huge fall off in order activity.  As long as each class still has at least 6 competitors, 6 ribbons will be awarded.  However, my guess is that classes with less then 15-20 entries are money loosers, and no show manager can afford to have too many shows that are money losers without doing something about it.  Frequently  that something will be cutting marginal shows – and that is something that we will certainly feel the effects of.