Tuesday, 17 October 2017

Getting to know #HorseHour's Founder, Amy Frost!

Over the last 12 months, I've enjoyed tuning into the many and varied podcasts created by #HorseHour. #HorseHour originally started on a Monday evening on Twitter between 8pm & 9pm every week. The hashtag (#HorseHour) provides a great base for equestrians worldwide to interact with one another, share their content & engage overall with like minded people in a dedicated time.

I recently reached out to founder of #HorseHour to find out about what is stands for and why Amy created. More interestingly, I was curious to understand the podcast's creation and the direction in which it was going.

Amy has very kindly agreed to guest blog on Team Tunnah Eventing to answer some of the questions that I had burning!! 



How did #HorseHour first begin?

#HorseHour originally launched in October 2013 as the first ever Global Networking Hour for equestrians on Twitter. Initially developed by co-founder Steve Phillips to provide a platform for all equestrians, from beginners to professionals, equestrian businesses, brands, horse lovers, horse owners, anyone in the industry to freely express their story, their journey, or simply their love for their horse. At that time, many equestrian businesses were struggling to find a social media presence and #HorseHour formed to support a local tack shop in Essex.

Holly worked in the tack shop, a passionate horse lover with an interest in marketing, she was keen to connect with other like-minded equestrians. We had found our #HorseHour team!  

During our networking hour we learnt from each other, guided each other and celebrated success with each other. For example, when Katie in Wales completed her first ever dressage test after previously being too afraid to leave her yard (she competed purely because our supportive community gave her the confidence to give it a go), it was immense to see the support she received and we are thrilled to be at the forefront of this growing global equestrian network.

To date we are still supporting local equestrian businesses and have witnessed the growth and success of many of our original members. Remembering our first ever ‘hour’ when 6 people joined, we were excited at the prospect of building an innovative platform for our industry. Moving on four years, we have seen the organic growth to over 28,700 interactive followers and our core beliefs have always remained the same.

What does #HorseHour stand for - what's its core belief?

Our passion for #HorseHour derives from our own passion for horses. As a little girl I would ‘canter’ round the garden on my pretend horse after watching Black Beauty for the millionth time! I always dreamt of owning a horse of my own one day, but sadly my horse never arrived. Growing up, the UK hit a recession and it just wasn’t affordable, I didn’t come from an equestrian background and my family’s focus has always been to work hard, so I put my dream on hold and focused on my career which was radio presenting and brand development.

In two years, #HorseHour grew to 15,000 followers on Twitter. Every Monday evening between 8-9pm equestrians talk to each other, share photos, videos, ask for help and share advice, all by using our hashtag. We knew we had something very special but felt we had so much more to give!


A few years ago I finally bought my first dream horse! Blackjack was 4 years old, 15.3 Friesian x Gelderlander. I was aged 28 and as an adult I felt so inexperienced and wanted to learn as much as I could. Often I would ask for advice from local riders, but in many cases it was presumed I ‘should’ know the answer and on so many occasions I felt embarrassed that I didn’t know the answer. So what could the solution be? Where could I find the information without embarrassing myself in front of other more experienced equestrians? I trawled the internet tirelessly, but failed to find one place with all the information.

How was the #HorseHour Podcast born?

So looking at my radio experience we thought, ‘Hey, I’ll ask the experts!’ Podcasting has been around for over 15 years and there wasn’t a UK Equestrian Podcast. So I decided to ask a few guests questions that I had secretly wanted to know for ages but had no one to ask… What is the ideal weight of your horse, what is laminitis, how can I work better with my horse on the ground, how long should I wait to cool down my horse before I feed him, what should I feed him… all such simple questions to an experienced horsewoman, but to me, my mind was full of unanswered questions! This need for education soon progressed into a fascination with rider’s journeys, what did it take to get them to Badminton? More to the point, how can we learn from their mistakes?!

I remember the first ever podcast episode, it was with a lovely man called Matt Waterworth, known as ‘The Bit Expert’. Now, bits had baffled me for ages, the different types, styles, outcome of using them…

Still to this day ‘The Bit Expert’ episode is one of the most listened to episodes of all time. I still cringe listening to it and so does Matt as we were both so nervous, but the information and education he provided was incredible! Even now I go back and re-listen to sections to remind myself when looking at a different breed, what style of Bit I should be looking for!

Five star guests on the #HorseHour Podcast

My first big guest was Monty Roberts, I had seen his videos, been to his clinics, but I had never heard his full story. He was a fascinating guest and is the second most listened to episode.



I remember when Lucinda Fredericks agreed to be a guest. I was bowled over! She was so kind and humble, I was completely fascinated with her story of where she started. This was my first taste of how professional riders turn their riding career into a business. She works extremely hard, is always open to new people, open to advice, new experiences and has a fabulous team around her. I would recommend everyone listens to her life lessons.

How can you tune in?

The bonus of podcasts is that they are radio ‘On Demand’ so you can always go back and re-listen - they are a point of educational reference. Easy to download on iTunes, Acast or our website horsehour.co.uk. We decided to make a selection of episodes that were strictly veterinary, so each month a vet from B&W Equine Vets joins me to talk about a disease or problem. My favourite episode is with Richard Hebpurn on Gastric Ulcers. It was an interesting subject to cover and I was amazed at how many equestrians have horses suffering with it!

This collection has now built into subjects such as Sweet Itch and Allergies, Pre-Purchase Exams (Vettings), Atypical Myopathy, Laminitis and next month will be Kissing Spine.


It was this point that I could see #HorseHour was really beginning to take shape, the brand I had imagined since day one was beginning to show its full potential and we were growing into an educational, interactive, multi-platform media company.

We rebuilt our website introducing an Education Hub. The one-stop site I had been searching for all those years had finally been created. All the articles are written by industry professionals such as vets, trainers, coaches, scientists and saddlers, plus we have an online equestrian department store, so everything really is under one roof.



What have been the developments to #HorseHour over the years?


Stage three began when we covered the 2016 Rio Olympics. Over the years I had struggled to find up-to-date, live coverage of all sectors of the equestrian industry. So I was determined to bring you as much coverage as we could! This was the point our event coverage exceeded even our own expectations. We were so thrilled to see the retweets, the comments, the interaction, and knew that this was the start of something huge! It became our mission to cover as many equestrian events as we could, in any discipline. Our passion is for ALL of the equestrian industry.



I love meeting kids at the pony club and helping in any way I can to inspire them to fulfil their dream. Then again, one of my favourite meetings was with a 75 year old lady who still has her horse of a lifetime, 28 year old Chorry. They had fun over the years popping around some cross country courses, but she showed me it’s not all about the competitions, she and Chorry have enjoyed a fabulous life together and didn’t attempt to go up the ranks. To them it was their special bond, their relationship, I was totally inspired!

So #HorseHour’s event coverage is live, minute by minute updates on all our platforms ranging from live podcast interviews and video interviews with professional riders, to pictures, score updates, trade stand chats and behind the scenes footage. We bring you everything you would want to see if you were there. My favourite part is the warm up arena, we learn so much just watching the pro’s quietly practising and this is what we show you on our platforms.


Most recently we launched #HorseHour Live. I wanted to be able to involve our community in the subjects, so every Monday evening between 8pm-9pm I host the first live equestrian radio show. I play music and talk about subjects that our community are interested in. For example last week we discussed the impact of training young horses too young. It’s your opportunity to join me on-air and give your opinion. A worldwide radio phone-in! Then you can listen back on the podcast.

To date I’m thrilled to say we have over 60,000 listeners on the #HorseHour Podcast and weekly we reach over 13 million people on Twitter. The figures are immense, but I’m more proud of the fact that, if our little input with #HorseHour can help even a few equestrians, then we really are changing the shape of our industry together. I have such a huge passion for our industry and want to see it grow, so I love nothing more that when we receive a message that says, ‘I’d like to give horse-riding a go, where can I go?” or “Thank you for talking about sweet itch, my horse suffers with that!”

We work with some wonderful brands in the UK and abroad, so often you’ll see sponsorship campaigns with various products. We only promote what we believe in, products we would use ourselves or have been successful for our horse. This is one of our core beliefs.


What's the upcoming plans for #HorseHour?

#HorseHour has even more to give over the next year, we are working closely with industry leaders and have a variety of new initiatives which I hope will be as well received as our other ideas have been. We are incredibly grateful for the tremendous support equestrians and the industry have shown us and will continue to be advocates for horse welfare, scientific research, industry growth and every day education.


There are so many people I would like to thank for contributing to the success of #HorseHour, but this last note is why we do what we do…

I received a call from a 16 year old girl last week, who we’re taking to a special VIP clinic with 4* rider Aaron Millar. It was a complete surprise for her. Her riding school is closing down due to lack of funding, she is struggling to pay for her horse let alone lessons, she is currently working at the riding school so she will also lose her job when it closes. She’s losing her confidence and is considering giving everything up.


This girl has so much passion, but her options seem to be disappearing before her eyes. So the visit to Aarons yard is a boost to her self-esteem and to show her that there are ALWAYS options, we just need to help her find the right one for her.

So when she called, she was screaming with joy at the thought of going to a 4* eventers yard and being able to take her horse for the day. She’s cleaned all her tack, her horse has had a bath and she’s spent extra time training him this week in preparation.

For me, this visit isn’t about how good she is at riding, or if she’ll make it to a certain level, it’s about keeping that spark in her to keep going. Her exact words were, ‘You’ve made my dreams come true, I never thought I would have an opportunity like this’. I felt a lump in my throat, I nearly gave up on my dream all those years ago, now I’m fortunate that #HorseHour can make other peoples dreams come true. I’ve set her up for an equine apprenticeship (but she doesn’t know yet) and this is what #HorseHour will continue to do in any way we can… Inspire equestrians to KEEP GOING!


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So, it's been a VERY busy period for Amy over the last few years, but all worthwhile effort to now be able to see the success of the networking hashtag, the podcast, but also for the upcoming development and plans to come to life.

Make sure you tune into #HorseHour, and get the latest podcast via iTunes or Acast. There’s over 150 episodes for you to choose from so whether it’s expert veterinary advice, training techniques, sports psychology tips, or an Olympic Riders story, there’s something for everyone. You can also get the latest news straight from the horse's mouth at the HorseHour website


Enjoyed this post? Don't forget for to vote for me in the Equestrian Blogger of the Year 2017 final! It'll only take you 30 seconds...I promise!

2 comments:

  1. I loved reading this because I was an early Tweeter during #horsehour. Sadly, my work schedule now (I'm in California) prevents me from participating in the weekly chats, but I still have many blogging friends as a result. I heart #horsehour even though I'm not active in the chats.

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  2. Thanks so much Susan! It’s been lovely having you join us as part of the #HorseHour community since the early days! We enjoy seeing your journey. You are always welcome.
    Best wishes
    Amy

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