Horse owners banding together
to promote industry
Residents are concerned about
declining horse population
PROSPECT, Ky. (April 2013) – In April 2012, Del Lowell was shocked to find that horse numbers were at an all time low in Kentucky. Horses were no longer the No. 1 livestock group in the state, something hard to believe since the state is best known for its thoroughbreds and the horse racing industry.
The Oldham County Thoroughbred Supporters recently spent a day at Churchill Downs together.
“I love this industry,” said Lowell, who runs a thoroughbred layup farm known as La Croix Training Center in the ‘L Esprit horse complex in Oldham County. “I knew I needed to do something.”
Lowell decided against taking her ideas to Frankfort and instead became resolved to the idea that “I needed to do something here at home.”
What she did was organize a small initial core group of horse owners, breeders, trainers and vendors who all shared a common interest. The group became known as the Oldham County Thoroughbred Supporters.
She said the group is getting local support but must take “small steps, one at a time.”
Goshen, Ky., resident JoAnn Hepperman is a member of this group of concerned Oldham Countians who want to bring attention to the horse industry in Oldham County. She and her husband, Ken, have been horse owners for 14 years and own and operate Equine Business Resources LLC, a consulting firm.
Hepperman, a former lawyer, wants to help promote the horse industry as well. She said there are many people associated with the industry who “don’t even know each other.”
So far, there are 109 members of the Oldham County Thoroughbred Supporters. Although the initial thrust has been in Oldham County, said Hepperman, members also hail from Jefferson, Henry, Trimble and Shelby counties.
One of the group’s main goals is “to educate and energize the horse base in Oldham County. We want horse people to feel good about being horse people. We want their neighbors to know how much impact they have.”
Hepperman said she “wrote a series of articles to tell our story.” The articles appeared in The Oldham Era and, as a result, the group now has enjoyed several events together, such as a dinner and presentation, watching horse racing and a picnic.
After the public had a chance to read about the group, Lowell said she knew “we needed to have some kind of get together where the readers could meet the people in the articles.” The club held its first meet and greet event on Oct. 12, 2012.
Generally, 10 to 15 new people join the group at each event that is held. “We have a good time,” said Hepperman.
“This is a grassroots organization.” There are no dues for members to pay and those who belong to the group, “are ordinary folks, who own horses, are in the business, or are horse racing fans,” she said.
“We want to give folks an opportunity to learn more about their neighbors in the horse industry. And we want to remind them how exciting horse racing is,” Hepperman said.
In an effort to spread the word about the group, Lowell recently gave a presentation to the Oldham County Chamber of Commerce and the Prospect Area Chamber of Commerce. She spoke about the history of thoroughbreds. “Prior to 1929, there were no thoroughbreds in Oldham County,” she said.
“We need more people who are aware of us to help support our horse industry. We need support,” said Lowell, who is highly respected in her field of rehabilitating equine athletes.
Upcoming events include the Second Stride’s Pony Tales Fundraiser from 6-9 p.m. on Tuesday, April 9, at Bistro 42, located at 6021 Timber Ridge Dr. in Prospect, Ky. Second Stride is a non-profit organization that provides rehabilitation, retraining and placement for retired thoroughbreds.
On Saturday, June 1, Dawn at Highpoint, an event similar to Dawn at the Downs, will be held. Interested participants can watch local horses work out and then enjoy breakfast with the group.
• For more information, email JoAnn Hepperman at firstname.lastname@example.org or call Del Lowell at (502) 639-1498.
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