By Erin Gilmore
A little over one year ago, amateur jumper riders Barbara Phillips and Simone Coxe were having coffee together and griping about entry forms. They had been doing their own entries for years, and were sick of all the repetition, endless handwriting and the holdup when mistakes were made. Then and there the two equestrians decided that instead of wishing there was an easier way to enter horse shows they would create an easier way to enter horse shows.
Equestrian Connect is Barbara and Simone’s answer to the tedious task of filling out show entries. The quickly growing company provides a way for exhibitors to create accurate paper entry forms for every “A” show on the Pacific Coast Horseman’s Association’s yearly show calendar.
Equestrian Connect is a lifesaver for riders with multiple horses, or trainers who fill out entries for their entire barn. Available primarily for west coast shows since December, the system supports 80 shows, including Blenheim EquiSports, Langer Equestrian Group, Spruce Meadows and HITS by providing show information and entry forms online. The company plans to launch on the east coast in July, and will initially support approximately 20 horse shows including HITS on the Hudson and the Washington International Horse Show. After registering with Equestrian Connect and initially entering horse, rider and membership numbers, all information is saved and automatically reproduced on a new entry form when the exhibitor selects the next show. Legible, accurate entries can then be printed out and mailed to the horse show office.
“We began using the system for our show entries this year,” says Toni McIntosh, of McIntosh Stables in Menlo Park. “We used to spend hours on our entries, making sure they were correct and fixing mistakes. Now that we’re on Equestrian Connect, everything is right there and it’s so much easier!”
Simone and Barbara have been thrilled with the response they’ve received from the horse community. They began in Northern California, where both women live and ride, and by word of mouth, Equestrian Connect caught on like wildfire all the way down to Southern California.
More than 1,000 riders are currently registered and as word continues to spread, the site gains about 200 new people monthly. “When I first heard about ‘the one minute entry service’, I had to try it!” says Jenni Martin McAllister, of Martin McAllister Training in Burbank. “I signed up and will never look back. I can’t believe how fast it is.” Equestrian Connect is free of charge for the 2010 horse show season. Barbara Phillips comments, “Our early customers are providing us vital feedback that helps ensure the performance, stability and usability of the service. The company is in the process of finalizing its pricing for 2011.”
Eventually, Simone and Barbara want to expand Equestrian Connect to list show results, track points and even put together show reports by rider and horse. They’ve also received interest from riders competing in other disciplines, but plan to stay focused on the hunter/jumper market for the foreseeable future.
Quite an enterprise that evolved from a conversation over coffee! Visit www.equestrianconnect.com to learn more and to take a guided tour of the system.