Horse Country Inc., an industry-led initiative to promote farm and other horse industry-related tours in Central Kentucky, held a formal grand opening Sept. 29. The program actually did a soft launch the week of the Breeders' Cup World Championships last year and has since sold more than 20,000 tickets to visitors from 49 states and five countries. Saxony Farm is one of the organization's 36 members. Owner Broussard Hundley talked to BloodHorse MarketWatch editor Eric Mitchell about why the farm got involved.
BloodHorse: For Saxony, what is the motivation to be a part of Horse Country tours? Is it brand building, marketing, or something else?
Broussard Hundley: At first we wondered why anyone would want to come and see us, but agri-tourism is going to become a very important part of what family farms do. We may not be selling hats and merchandise, but there is value in raising the awareness about people who are passionate about horses and passionate about horse racing. We don't do it for the money, we do it because of the horse; it is who we are and what we do.
The tours are good for our brand, but we didn't go into this thinking we would sell a horse. Too often it seems the only side of the story being told about horse racing is the bad news, and we want to be out there telling our side of the story. We want to change people's perception, help promote racing, and promote horses in general.
BH: What do you talk about on your tour?
Hundley: We do an hour-long walking tour. We talk about the barns, talk some about the champions my parents raised here, and some about Tepin, who we broke. Because we are a nursery, we also talk about the cycle on the farm from breeding through foaling to sales prep.
People want to hear about what the great horses we've been involved with were like, and we get fantastic questions. The number one question is what happens to them after they race. We go through all that. If they are not a stallion or broodmare prospect, then they can become hunters, jumpers, eventers, polo ponies, trail horses, cow horses—all these different things Thoroughbreds can do.
BH: Had you been giving tours or did you have to prepare?
Hundley: Before Horse Country, I could count on one hand the number of farm tours I gave in the over 40 years my family has been doing this. We quickly realized we needed to be on our game, so we went to Charleston and did plantation tours. Horse Country also has been tremendously helpful in guiding everyone in what to do and how to do it. Our average tour is six to eight people, so we really get to talk with each one of them. We have had up to 25 people. A lot of these people own horses of their own and you can talk about a lot of things. It is all been pretty wonderful, really.