Hold Your Horses for the Cowboy Edition

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Hey there, partner. This is The Oxer by Pegasus. The newsletter that takes you out of your tack room and into the global equestrian industry.

Today we are releasing our Cowboy Edition.

🤠 In this edition, you will find three sections

  • A story we found from an outside source on one of the latest developments in Western.
  • A written excerpt from our interview with the hosts of The Cowboy Office, a podcast about maturing the Western riding industry.
  • And above that, a shorter version of that interview if you don’t want to have a long read.

Before we get into it, have you signed up to try out Pegasus’s beta?

If not, head to Pegasus, click “get early access,” and sign up today!Screenshot_2023-06-22_at_9.05.51_AM-3

Alright, let’s get into it.


What happened?

  • Yellowstone, a television series famous in the equestrian community, has literally increased demand in local Western riding communities in the United States.
  • The show, which is set in Montana and features horses prominently, has inspired many people in Iowa to learn to ride and own horses.
  • Demand for horses has increased, prices have doubled or tripled, and equestrian trails and campgrounds have seen a surge in visitors.

Our jump on the subject

The article quotes several people who have been affected by the show’s popularity.

Mark Martin, who works at a horse riding center in Iowa, says that he has seen a significant increase in the number of people interested in riding horses since Yellowstone premiered. He attributes this to the show’s beautiful scenery, compelling stories, and charismatic horses.

Peggy Auwerda, who leads Iowa State University’s equine program, says that she believes Yellowstone has helped to boost interest in quarter horses and other ranch-type horses. She also notes that the show has sparked a renewed interest in Western culture and the American cowboy.

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Source

Christine Chappell, who raises horses in northeast Iowa, says that the buyers of her foals are paying double the price they received a couple of years ago.

Kira Frederick, who leads the guided trail rides at Jester Park Equine Center, says that she sees many first-time riders wearing Yellowstone T-shirts and other show-branded merchandise.

She also notes that some riders are disappointed when they learn that the trails are not as wild and rugged as the ones depicted in the show.

While it’s hard to find strong quantitative data validating the Yellowstone effect in Iowa’s Western space, the qualitative data based on these quotes suggests that it certainly exists.

And according to this report on a study by the University of Montana, statistically speaking the show has had a major effect on Montana’s equestrian economy.

🩳 The Shorter Read

Brian and Jody, hosts of the podcast The Cowboy Office, are both experienced horsemen and officials, and they started the podcast to share their knowledge and experience with the next generation of horsemen.

Brian and Jody say that the Western industry is in a state of flux. The top end of the industry is doing well, but the event production business model is not healthy.

The Western industry is largely dependent on added money, which is prize money for competitions. This puts a financial strain on event producers, who are often working hard to break even.

Jen asks about the rodeo industry, which seems to be doing well. Brian says that rodeo has figured out how to transform a horse show into a spectator-friendly sporting event. This has allowed rodeo to attract more fans and sponsors.

Brian and Jody say that the rest of the Western industry needs to learn from rodeo and start putting on high-level competitions that are entertaining for spectators. They believe that this is the key to the future of the Western industry.

Jen asks if the Yellowstone effect has led to an exponential increase in competitions and reining horse purchases. Brian says that the data is not yet available, but that there has been an uptick in economics in the cowboy sports.

Sam asks how it is possible that there has been an increase in interest and economics, but that horse shows are still limping along. Brian says that the answer is simple: the infrastructure for cowboy sports is not yet there to capture all of the extra interest.

Brian explains that the way professional sports make money is through fan consumption. This includes ticket sales, broadcasting rights, and merchandise sales. Western sports are not yet at the point where they can generate significant revenue from fan consumption.

Brian says that the American Rodeo and American Performance Horseman events are a step in the right direction. These events are trying to create a more spectator-friendly experience for cowboy sports. However, it is still too early to say whether these events will be financially successful.

Overall, Brian and Jody believe that the Western industry is at a crossroads. The Yellowstone effect has created a lot of interest in the cowboy lifestyle, but the industry is not yet equipped to capitalize on this interest.

The next few years will be critical as they try to figure out how to create a sustainable business model.


🤠 The Longer Read

Sam: We want to go into detail about your guys’ story and why you started the podcast.

Brian: I come from a long history of horsemen.

I’ve made my living in the horse business as well, but my path and what I did in the horse business was a little bit different.

I’ve known Jody most of my adult life, and so we’re both on this last chapter, semi-retired, call it whatever you want. He’s a far superior horseman than I am, but where we shared expertise was in officiating. And we spent 20, 30 years not only officiating in the field, but then teaching officials how to be good officials and all the research with how do you have an officiating system for a horse sport competition and minimize subjectivity, all of that kind of stuff.

So we’ve spent over 30 years researching, doing, studying that stuff. That’s the common denominator.

The Cowboy Office was my basic idea, and I reached out to Jody because we’re lifetime friends—which was how do we leave the industry better?

And our way of doing it was using modern technology to leave a library of history and experiences already learned so that the next group at least has access to some of that. That was the bottom line.

And the other part is the horse industry’s been great, but it talks to itself. One of the weaknesses is how does the general population get exposed to the modern horse industry? So we can do two things with The Cowboy Office, leave it better, and expose more to it.

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Sam: I think you mentioned this when we first met – Jen and I went back through some of your podcasts and my assessment of where you’re at in life is that you spent the last so many decades focusing on a day-to-day basis in the minutiae of riding, in training, in officiating. You’re in the operations.

You haven’t really had an opportunity to stick your head out of the water and take a breath and look down upon the industry from a strategic level.

But now that you’re at that point, you’ve got this podcast in which you want to stop being involved in day-to-day operations and start looking at, well, what’s the next generation going to experience?

What are some of the pain points that we’ve been through that we can improve upon in the future?

What are some of the things we can steal from other sports that we can bring into this sport to make it financially more viable?

What are some of the things we can do to get more youth into the sport, to try and leave it in a better state for the next generation to kind of move it forward?

Is that a pretty fair assessment?

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