KEEP and Kentucky Chamber Workforce Center Announce Partnership to Address Equine Industry Job Needs

KEEP and Kentucky Chamber Workforce Center Announce Partnership to Address Equine Industry Job Needs

The two year project will work to build a talent pipeline in Kentucky for the equine industry

Lexington, Ky. (Wednesday, June 20, 2018) – The Kentucky Equine Education Project (KEEP), Kentucky’s equine economic advocate, announced today that it has partnered with the Kentucky Chamber Workforce Center’s statewide Talent Pipeline Management™ (TPM) initiative.

As one of three state chambers of commerce chosen by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation to pilot this initiative, the Kentucky Chamber Workforce Center project will focus on creating a talent pipeline of qualified candidates for jobs in the fields of manufacturing, healthcare, construction and more. Over the next two years, the project will work with these key industries to develop strategies to meet Kentucky’s growing workforce issues.

Recognizing that the horse industry is a unique and critical part of Kentucky’s economy, with an economic impact of nearly $4 billion annually and responsible for more than 80,000 jobs, KEEP and the Kentucky Chamber Workforce Center embarked on this partnership to address the job needs within the industry across the state.

Elisabeth Jensen, KEEP’s Executive Vice President who oversees the operations of the organization, commented on this announcement saying, “During my tenure at KEEP, we have been focused on the economic impact the horse industry has on Kentucky and all Kentuckians. Addressing our industry’s labor issues is an integral part of that and we are looking forward to pioneering this approach to the issue with the Kentucky Chamber Workforce Center.” Jensen also added, “With the improving economy, the demand for a capable workforce has increased at the same time that the industry has faced a shrinking and inconsistent immigrant labor pool. It is essential that we build a talent pipeline of Kentuckians to meet the opportunities and challenges that the horse industry will encounter in the near future.”

The Kentucky Chamber Workforce Center will hold meetings throughout the two year project to develop strategies to improve Kentucky’s workforce issues across six different industry areas, including the horse industry. Participating employers, employer-led associations and education providers will build partnerships while using a demand-driven concept in order to connect employees and employers.

Beth Davisson, Executive Director of the Kentucky Chamber Workforce Center said, “We are excited by the opportunity to partner with KEEP to strengthen the equine talent pipeline in Kentucky. Together we will strengthen the Equine Workforce using an approach that is unique to Kentucky, and the nation through the Chamber Foundation’s TPM™ system.. The Kentucky Chamber’s Workforce Center is dedicated to supporting our state’s economy and ensuring we build the workforce needed to help Kentucky thrive. This partnership with KEEP will allow our state to better support the Equine Industry and honor its critical importance in Kentucky.”

Cheryl Oldham, Senior Vice President of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation’s Center for Education and Workforce, said, “Yesterday’s education systems aren’t meeting the needs of today’s learners and tomorrow’s workers. The state-based TPM Academy™ will empower state, local and industry leaders to tackle this problem. By coming together to develop a statewide strategy for closing the skills gap, business leaders will be equipped with the tools they need to hire and develop a strong workforce.”

ABOUT KEEP
The Kentucky Equine Education Project, Kentucky’s equine economic advocate, is a not-for-profit grassroots organization created in 2004 to preserve, promote and protect Kentucky’s signature multi-breed horse industry. KEEP is committed to ensuring Kentucky remains the horse capital of the world, including educating Kentuckians and elected officials of the importance of the horse industry to the state. KEEP was the driving force in the establishment of the Kentucky Breeders Incentive Fund, which has paid out more than $141 million to Kentucky breeders since its inception in 2006, and pari-mutuel wagering on historical horse racing, which has been responsible for more than $32 million to purses and more than $24 million to the Kentucky Thoroughbred Development Fund.

KEEP works to strengthen the horse economy in Kentucky through our statewide network of citizen advocates. To learn more about how you can become a member or support our work, please visit http://www.horseswork.com.

KEEP Announces New Board of Directors Leadership and Members

Doug Cauthen will serve as Chairman and four individuals join the Board of Directors

 

Lexington, Ky. (Wednesday, June 13, 2018) – The Kentucky Equine Education Project (KEEP), Kentucky’s equine economic advocate, announced changes and additions to the KEEP Board of Directors.

Doug Cauthen, who has served on KEEP’s Executive Committee, is the new Chairman of KEEP’s Board of Directors. Cauthen is a founding board member of KEEP and is currently a partner of Doug Cauthen Thoroughbred Management, LLC. Cauthen’s wealth of experience in the horse industry and his role in shaping KEEP make him a natural choice as leader of the organization.

Cauthen will be joined in leadership of the KEEP Board of Directors by Ken Jackson who will serve as Vice Chair. Jackson is a partner of Kentuckiana Farms and Lexington Selected Sales Company. Jackson also currently serves on the Kentucky Horse Racing Commission.

Elisabeth Jensen, KEEP’s Executive Vice President who oversees the organization’s operations, said, “I am excited about the new additions and changes to KEEP’s Board of Directors. KEEP’s influence grew leaps and bounds under Corey Johnsen’s tenure as Chairman and we will continue to build on that success with Doug Cauthen and Ken Jackson’s leadership.”

Corey Johnsen, the immediate past-Chairman of KEEP’s Board of Directors will serve as Chairman of KEEP’s Legislative Committee. The Legislative Committee advises KEEP’s advocacy and policy goals.

Additionally, four new individuals were added to KEEP’s Board: Kiki Courtelis, David Ingordo, Dan Real and Adrian Wallace. Courtelis is the CEO of Town & Country Farms and a member of the Kentucky Horse Racing Commission. Ingordo is a bloodstock agent for Ingordo Bloodstock Services. Real is Regional President of Caesar’s Entertainment, South. Wallace oversees Nomination Sales for Coolmore America at Ashford Stud.

Jensen added, “Kiki Courtelis, David Ingordo, Dan Real and Adrian Wallace bring fresh perspectives to the Board and we have all of the right components to advance KEEP’s mission and strengthen the economic impact that the horse industry has on Kentucky and all Kentuckians.”

Chairman Cauthen said, “KEEP plays a critical role in promoting, growing and protecting the horse industry in Kentucky. We are at an important moment in determining the future of the equine economy in Kentucky and KEEP’s work is more important now than ever. I have pledged to serve as Chairman of KEEP during this upcoming year while there are plenty of opportunities and challenges ahead of the organization. I plan to pass the torch to another pair of able hands next year. We want vibrancy in our leadership and keeping fresh hands involved is one way to do that.”

ABOUT KEEP
The Kentucky Equine Education Project, Kentucky’s equine economic advocate, is a not-for-profit grassroots organization created in 2004 to preserve, promote and protect Kentucky’s signature multi-breed horse industry. KEEP is committed to ensuring Kentucky remains the horse capital of the world, including educating Kentuckians and elected officials of the importance of the horse industry to the state. KEEP was the driving force in the establishment of the Kentucky Breeders Incentive Fund and pari-mutuel wagering on historical horse racing, both of which have greatly contributed to Kentucky’s continued success across all metrics in the horse racing industry.

KEEP works to strengthen the horse economy in Kentucky through our statewide network of citizen advocates. To learn more about how you can become a member or support our work, please visit http://www.horseswork.com.

KEEP Launches Equine Summit Luncheon Series

KEEP Launches Equine Summit Luncheon Series

Lexington, Ky. (Tuesday, May 15, 2018) – The Kentucky Equine Education Project (KEEP), Kentucky’s equine economic advocate for Kentucky’s horse industry, officially announced the KEEP Equine Summit Luncheon Series. The luncheon series will be a near-monthly event, taking place across the state and featuring keynote speakers who will address topics of critical interest to the horse industry and horse people across the Commonwealth.

Discussing topics such as stallion seasons, marketing and advertising, handicapping, workforce issues, employment, tax laws and more, the luncheon series will feature individuals at the top of their fields in the horse industry, political leaders and academic experts.

In 2016 and 2017, KEEP hosted an annual conference in October, but according to KEEP’s Executive Vice President, Elisabeth Jensen, the luncheon series will allow more individuals around the state to participate in these important discussions throughout the year.

“The KEEP Equine Summit Luncheon Series allows KEEP to take the issues most important to the industry and focus on them in a way that we were unable to during our annual conferences. Additionally, because the luncheon series will travel throughout the state, we can reach and inform more Kentuckians about the importance and impact of the horse industry on the state,” said Jensen.

On May 30, 2018, KEEP will kickoff the luncheon series at the famed Taylor Made Farm. The topic of this first luncheon is “The Dollars and Cents of Standing Stallions.” The luncheon will focus on the economics of Stallion Seasons, from standing to breeding to seasons and shares and everything in-between.

To ensure that the luncheon series is accessible to any individual interested in learning more about the issues that impact the horse industry, KEEP announced that the prices for the inaugural year of the luncheon series will be just $10 for KEEP member and $25 for non-members.

Online registration for the first luncheon is now open. Visit https://horseswork.com/equine-summit-luncheon-series for more information about the series and access to registration for the luncheons. For inquiries about joining the Equine Summit Luncheon Series as a sponsor, email info@horseswork.com.

ABOUT KEEP

The Kentucky Equine Education Project, Kentucky’s Equine Economic Advocate is a not-for-profit grassroots organization created in 2004 to preserve, promote and protect Kentucky’s signature multi-breed horse industry. KEEP is committed to ensuring Kentucky remains the horse capital of the world, including educating Kentuckians and elected officials of the importance of the horse industry to the state. KEEP works to strengthen the horse economy in Kentucky through our statewide network of citizen advocates. To learn more about how you can become a member or support our work, please visit http://www.horseswork.com.
KEEP Members Tell Frankfort to Not Saddle Our Horses with the Pension and Budget Crises

KEEP Members Tell Frankfort to Not Saddle Our Horses with the Pension and Budget Crises

LEXINGTON, Ky. (Thursday, March 15, 2018) – Facing threats in two introduced bills and with other proposals being considered, the Kentucky Equine Education Project (KEEP), Kentucky’s Equine Economic Advocate, urges Kentucky lawmakers to not increase the tax burden on Kentucky’s signature horse industry.

Through an email campaign by KEEP’s grassroots supporters and through one-on-one meetings in Frankfort, KEEP’s message to legislators has been simple: proposals to increase the tax burden on the horse industry would irreparably cripple Kentucky’s competitive edge for equine business, threatening the economic engine that provides 80,000+ direct and indirect jobs for our Commonwealth.

In two tax reform bills that have been introduced so far, the six percent sales tax exemption for the purchase of horses two years old or younger by out of state buyers would be eliminated. With similar sales tax exemptions provided in competing states such as Florida, Maryland, New York and Pennsylvania, Kentucky’s horse industry would be dealt an immediate blow as those states would likely become the recipients of increased equine business.

“Eliminating the sales tax exemption for out of state buyers gives other states a competitive advantage over Kentucky,” said John Sikura, owner of Hill ‘n’ Dale Farm, leading consigner and KEEP board member. “At a time when our industry is shrinking we need to strengthen Kentucky as the center of our industry and not create vulnerabilities to our position as the thoroughbred capital of the world. The industry is not a birth right to Kentucky but one we need to protect and incentivize not tax out of state buyers and give them a reason to buy and sell elsewhere.”

The horse industry contributes significantly to the Commonwealth’s bottom line. In addition to the nearly $4 billion annual impact of the industry, including the rapidly growing tourism sector, more than $21 million was collected in total excise tax from Thoroughbred and Standardbred racing in 2017 alone. When including breeding and other equine related fees, that number raises to more than $40 million.

Duncan Taylor, president of Taylor Made Farm and KEEP board member noted the negative impacts that the loss of the sales tax exemption could have on the Commonwealth, “Kentucky has a chance to become the next Napa Valley with the Bourbon Trail and Horse Country tours allowing people behind the scenes to be our guest. This builds a tax base on food and beverage, hotel rooms and more. Some job estimates for the horse industry range as high as 96,000 when considering secondary impacts such as tourism. That will only grow if the state doesn’t tax us out of the state. Taylor Made sells 1,000 horses a year and 970 of them are sold in Kentucky. If you start to tax out of state horse buyers, the horses Taylor Made will sell in Kentucky will drop to zero rather quickly.”

“With the budget and pension crisis and impending tax reform, everything is on the chopping block. Our legislators need to hear from us,” commented Elisabeth Jensen, KEEP’s Executive Vice President, after multiple meetings with leadership and members of the relevant committees.

KEEP encourages industry participants and horse enthusiasts to contact Frankfort and ask that they do not increase the tax burden on Kentucky’s horse industry. Kentucky residents can go to horseswork.com/advocacy to send a message to their legislators.

 

ABOUT KEEP

The Kentucky Equine Education Project is a not-for-profit grassroots organization created in 2004 to preserve, promote and protect Kentucky’s signature multi-breed horse industry. KEEP is committed to ensuring Kentucky remains the horse capital of the world, including educating Kentuckians and elected officials of the importance of the horse industry to the state. KEEP works to strengthen the horse economy in Kentucky through our statewide network of citizen advocates and our foundation, which has awarded more than $700,000 to local Kentucky equine organizations. To learn more about how you can become a member or make a contribution, please visit www.horseswork.com.

Second Annual KEEP Day in Frankfort Showcases the Importance of Kentucky’s Horse Industry

FRANKFORT, Ky. (Monday, February 19, 2018) – The Kentucky Equine Education Project staged its second KEEP Day in Frankfort, with horsemen and horse enthusiasts of all breeds and disciplines interacting with state legislators to discuss the economic importance of equines in their home districts.

A prevalent message: Kentucky didn’t become the Horse Capital of the World by being a one-trick pony. Horses of all types contribute significant assets to local economies and have a valuable impact on the quality of life all across the Commonwealth.

 

Rep. James Kay with Sharon Ohler of the Kentucky Paint Horse Club and Jerelyn Duncan of the Kentucky Arabian and Half Arabian Breeders Alliance.

“The impact of our breeds on our local economy is underestimated. We have folks in this state who are breeding and exhibiting horses. They’re spending money on feed, spending money employing help in the barns and trainers. They’re spending money on hay for horses, bedding horses, with fencing suppliers,” said Sharon Ohler of the Kentucky Paint Horse Club, referencing the three-day Paint-O-Rama show in April at Frankfort’s Lakeside Arena that is one of the breed’s largest in the world. “And when we have an event like the one coming up, we’re bringing 200-300 people into this area. We’re going to dine in the local restaurants, pump trucks full of fuel and stay at local hotels.”

“There are thousands of horses in the state who will never run on a racetrack but whose owners pump thousands of dollars into the economy.”

Rep. John Sims, Rep. Sannie Overly and KEEP executive vice president Elisabeth Jensen.

Horses of all breeds form a $4 billion industry in the Commonwealth, supporting an estimated 100,000 in direct and indirect jobs and spanning all 120 counties. Kentucky is home to 35,000 operations with at least one horse, totaling 242,400 equines and $23.4 billion when including related assets, according to a University of Kentucky Department of Agriculture survey.

Elisabeth Jensen, KEEP’s executive vice president, called KEEP Day “a great opportunity for us to connect the dots” for legislators, with 20 Kentucky representatives and senators coming by the casual two-hour event.

“I was very pleased that so many individuals from throughout the horse industry in Kentucky – the Quarter Horse industry, Arabian, Paint Horse, the Hackney ponies, different breeds and associations – had an opportunity to interact with legislators who might not have realized that they had horses and horse businesses in their district,” she said.

Jensen said important connections come out of KEEP Day. She cited Horse Country executive director Anne Hardy meeting with Regina Stivers, the deputy secretary of the Tourism, Arts and Heritage Cabinet. Horse Country is an initiative that makes tours at breeding farms and prominent equine facilities readily accessible to the public.

“They talked a lot about the tourism opportunities for the horse industry,” Jensen said.

Those participating in other breeds also expressed appreciation for how Thoroughbred racing helps the larger horse industry. That includes the Kentucky Horse Breeders’ Incentive Fund that provides award money for 11 non-racing breeds, made all the more important with some breeds’ decreasing numbers. The KHBIF is funded by a percentage of the sales tax on the stud fee when a mare is bred to a Kentucky stallion, with Thoroughbreds overwhelmingly financing the program. The incentive awards for horses residing in Kentucky are earned through shows and contests in the state.

Norm Luba of the Kentucky Quarter Horse Association and Senate Majority Floor Leader Damon Thayer

“It’s the only breeding fund in the country to include non-race breeds,” said Senate Majority Floor Leader Damon Thayer of Georgetown, who spearheaded the enabling legislation for the KHBIF. “If Kentucky is going to remain the Horse Capital of the world, we need to think beyond the racing breeds because they have an economic impact on their local communities in every county across the state. This is a way, through competition, for breeders’ incentive funds to be earned. And I’m glad to see the fund is alive and well and helping some of these breeds remain viable.”

Rep. James Kay of Versailles said it was important for his colleagues to understand the extent of the equine industry and that it involves much more than racing.

“When you expose the entire world of the horse industry, all the different breeds and many different jobs it creates, it gives the people a new reason to be supportive,” he said.

Rep. Phil Pratt, National HBPA general counsel Pete Ecabert, Kentucky HBPA executive director Marty Maline.

Rep. Phillip Pratt, whose district includes parts of Fayette, Owen and Scott counties, noted the horse industry’s broad reach, using the example of  businesses not directly involved in horse racing that depend on work and services provided to Keeneland.

“It leaves a large economic foot print, without a doubt,” Pratt said. “We need to make sure it stays here in Kentucky.”

Norm Luba of the Kentucky Quarter Horse Association said he appreciated the opportunity to meet with lawmakers, including those who might not have realized the massive number of horses in the state. There are about 45,000 Quarter Horses in Kentucky, according to the UK survey.

“KEEP continues to represent the interests of owners of many breeds of horses important to the health of the horse industry in Kentucky,” Luba said. “Those of us who are Quarter Horse enthusiasts appreciate members of the Kentucky Legislature recognizing the contributions the horse industry makes to economic development within our Commonwealth.”

Eric Hamelback, chief executive officer of the National Horsemen’s Benevolent & Protective Association that represents Thoroughbred owners and trainers across the country and Canada, said Kentucky is the beacon for other states when it comes to the horse industry.

 

Rep. Adam Koenig, Mountain Pleasure Horse Association president Robin Little (middle) and MPHA vice president Becky Layne.

“Kentucky is the shining example of what can be accomplished when horsemen, racetracks and other equine organizations and the legislature work together. So much of the Thoroughbred industry in the Commonwealth appreciates other horse breeds and understands that helping them is in everybody’s best interest,” said Hamelback, who lives in Bourbon County. “KEEP and the various breeding funds we have that are assisted by Thoroughbred racing and breeding demonstrate that we’re all better working together. Not every district has a racetrack. But every district in Kentucky has horses.”

 

 

 

ABOUT KEEP

The Kentucky Equine Education Project is a not-for-profit grassroots organization created in 2004 to preserve, promote and protect Kentucky’s signature multi-breed horse industry. KEEP is committed to ensuring Kentucky remains the horse capital of the world, including educating Kentuckians and elected officials of the importance of the horse industry to the state. KEEP works to strengthen the horse economy in Kentucky through our statewide network of citizen advocates and our foundation, which has awarded more than $700,000 to local equine organizations. To learn more about how you can become a member or make a contribution, please visit www.horseswork.com.

Second Annual KEEP Day in Frankfort to be Held February 15

Second Annual KEEP Day in Frankfort to be Held February 15

LEXINGTON, Ky. (Wednesday, February 7, 2018) – The Kentucky Equine Education Project is staging its second KEEP Day in Frankfort on Thursday, February 15, 2018, providing a convenient setting for those involved in the industry to share with state legislators the importance of horses to their districts’ economy.

The event will run from 12:00 PM – 2:00 PM in Room 129 in the Capitol Annex. The informal setup will allow industry stake-holders, including horse enthusiasts and racing fans, to interact with a variety of state senators and representatives.

Horses of all breeds form a $4 billion industry in the Commonwealth, supporting an estimated 100,000 in direct and indirect jobs and spanning all 120 counties. Kentucky is home to 35,000 operations with at least one horse, totaling 242,400 equines and $23.4 billion when including related assets, according to a University of Kentucky Department of Agriculture survey.

“KEEP Day is a convenient way for people working in businesses connected to equines, as well as those who show, ride and own horses, to meet with our lawmakers and let them know that every county and district benefits from horses,” said KEEP executive vice president Elisabeth Jensen. “We encourage those involved with every breed and discipline to come and show support for our signature industry that creates so many jobs.”

Created in 2004 to preserve, promote and protect the state’s signature industry, KEEP represents and advocates on behalf of Kentucky’s entire horse industry – all breeds and equine pursuits.

“People might be surprised to know how many trail-riding and pleasure horses there are in Kentucky – about 80,000,” Jensen said. “While there are about 54,000 Thoroughbreds in the Commonwealth, there also are 45,000 Quarter Horses and 36,000 Tennessee Walking Horses. All these horses eat grain and hay provided by our farmers, and their owners buy trucks, trailers, tractors and tack, also paying for an array of services such as boarding, instruction and training, farriers and veterinarians. We want those voices heard at KEEP Day and encourage participants to let their state legislators know that they are attending.”

Rep. James Kay of Versailles said at last year’s inaugural KEEP Day that horses are an important economic tool even in areas of Kentucky that aren’t home to high-profile breeding farms or racetracks.

“We absolutely benefit from the horse industry every day in ways that people don’t always understand,” Kay said. “We need to do a better job articulating that, and showing the economic driver that the industry is for our people.”

ABOUT KEEP

The Kentucky Equine Education Project is a not-for-profit grassroots organization created in 2004 to preserve, promote and protect Kentucky’s signature multi-breed horse industry. KEEP is committed to ensuring Kentucky remains the horse capital of the world, including educating Kentuckians and elected officials of the importance of the horse industry to the state. KEEP works to strengthen the horse economy in Kentucky through our statewide network of citizen advocates and our foundation, which has awarded more than $700,000 to local equine organizations. To learn more about how you can become a member or make a contribution, please visit www.horseswork.com.

KEEP Calls on Congress to Lift the Cap on H-2B Visas and Protect Kentucky Jobs

KEEP Calls on Congress to Lift the Cap on H-2B Visas and Protect Kentucky Jobs

LEXINGTON, Ky. (Thursday, February 1, 2018) – Citing the signature horse industry’s increasing difficulty in finding enough workers, the Kentucky Equine Education Project (KEEP) is asking Kentucky’s Congressional delegation for support in getting cap relief for H-2B visas as well as rejecting any measure that would decrease those non-immigrant visas.

KEEP represents all horse breeds and disciplines throughout Kentucky. Whether it’s a racing stable, show barn, riding program, boarding facility, sales consignor or horse farm, the inability to get enough help threatens those businesses’ economic health and hamstrings the ability to grow.

The National Horsemen’s Benevolent & Protective Association, which represents almost 30,000 Thoroughbred owners and trainers throughout the United States and in Canada, stands with KEEP in its letter to Kentucky’s U.S. senators and representatives, said Eric Hamelback, the National HBPA’s chief executive officer.

The H-2B visa program is critical for seasonal and small businesses lacking sufficient domestic workers to adequately staff the unskilled and entry-level positions vital to their success. The H-2B visa program allows those businesses to supplement their American workforce with well-vetted returning workers who come to the United States for up to 10 months of seasonal employment before returning home.

The H-2B program currently has a Congressionally-mandated cap of 66,000 visas for the entire country. The horse world competes with seafood processing, roofing and construction, landscaping and golf courses, carnivals and state fairs, food concessions and fast food, forestry, stone quarries and a myriad of other industries for those visas.

Exacerbating the situation is Congress’ failure to fund continuation of the exemption allowing those granted H-2B visas to return to America for more seasonal work without counting toward the 66,000 cap. The first half-year cap of 33,000 visas for Fiscal Year 2018 was reached on Dec. 15. The second half of the cap begins April 1, with the United States Department of Labor already receiving 92,576 requests as of a week ago.

Research shows that every H-2B visa creates and sustains 4.64 American jobs.

“It is difficult to see how Kentucky’s horse industry escapes harm without the cap being lifted,” Elisabeth Jensen, KEEP’s executive vice president, wrote on behalf of her board in the letter to Kentucky’s Washington contingent.

“Kentucky is leading the country when it comes to the horse industry and its economic impact. With nearly 100,000 jobs, more than 242,000 equines and 35,000 horse operations in Kentucky today, we are confident about the future of the industry and its positive trajectory for the future. However, without a lift in the cap of H-2B visas, that future is in danger. I hope that you will take on this issue and work to benefit all Kentuckians by ensuring a full workforce for the industry that has the No. 1 impact on the state’s economy.”

Jensen said KEEP is pushing for long-term labor solutions through recruiting and retaining a home-grown workforce. Remi Bellocq, executive director of equine programming at the Bluegrass Community and Technical College’s North American Racing Academy, will chair a new KEEP workforce development task force, she said.

KEEP asks industry participants and horse enthusiasts to contact Washington, including through social media, about the H-2B program’s critical role. Kentucky residents can go to horseswork.com/advocacy to send a message (prepared or personalized) to their U.S. Representative as well as Senators Mitch McConnell and Rand Paul.

The H-2B Workforce Coalition recommends using the Twitter hashtag #saveH2B and tagging @SecretaryAcosta (Department of Labor), @DHSGov (Department of Homeland Security), @USCIS (U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services) and @WhiteHouse. KEEP encourages Kentuckians to tag @SenMajLdr (McConnell), @RandPaul and @RepAndyBarr, with Lexington Congressman Andy Barr a co-sponsor of H.R. 2004, the Strengthen Employment And Seasonal Opportunities Now (SEASON) Act.

ABOUT KEEP

The Kentucky Equine Education Project is a not-for-profit grassroots organization created in 2004 to preserve, promote and protect Kentucky’s signature multi-breed horse industry. KEEP is committed to ensuring Kentucky remains the horse capital of the world, including educating Kentuckians and elected officials of the importance of the horse industry to the state. KEEP works to strengthen the horse economy in Kentucky through our statewide network of citizen advocates and our foundation, which has awarded more than $700,000 to local Kentucky equine organizations. To learn more about how you can become a member or make a contribution, please visit www.horseswork.com.

Elisabeth Jensen Joins KEEP as Executive Vice President

Elisabeth Jensen Joins KEEP as Executive Vice President

LEXINGTON, Ky. (Wednesday, January 3, 2018) – The Kentucky Equine Education Project (KEEP) has tapped lifelong horse enthusiast and Race for Education co-founder Elisabeth Jensen as its new executive vice president.

Joe Clabes, KEEP’s executive director since April 2015, is leaving KEEP to become senior consultant and strategist with the business-management consulting firm Loch Harbour Group and to pursue other business opportunities in the Thoroughbred industry.

“Elisabeth has a passion for the horse industry and is a proven leader and administrator,” said KEEP chairman Corey Johnsen. “She is perfectly positioned to embrace KEEP’s core mission and move the organization forward. Joe Clabes and his team accomplished a number of important achievements, and we wish him all the best in his new endeavor.”

Under Clabes, KEEP helped pave the way for equines to officially be recognized as livestock in Kentucky – an integral step in the push for sales-tax parity, launched the popular Seattle Slew license plates to raise money for the organization’s charitable foundation and created a multi-breed conference that brought prominent policymakers and officials in to address issues facing those who own or work with horses.

“KEEP is the economic advocate of the Kentucky horse industry and has been the driving force behind more than $200 million in additional purses and breeders’ awards since 2006,”  Johnsen said. “We continue to make progress towards sales-tax parity and will make sure KEEP is on the cutting edge of all issues affecting our industry such as immigration and workforce development. Elisabeth will be a strong leader in those areas while also expanding our important grassroots efforts.”

Jensen, who started her new position this week, said KEEP’s priorities mesh with her own interests and she embraces the opportunity to tackle those challenges.

“That’s my passion – immigration, labor, workforce development and education,” she said. “At Race for Education, our focus is educating young people and attracting them to the industry. That falls into one of the goals of KEEP. I’m really, really excited about it. I think there is a lot of good work we can do.

“Having a sufficient and capable workforce is a huge issue to our industry, to all facets – whether it’s the racetrack or the horse farm. Even inside the tracks, for hospitality and other positions. Those jobs are hard to fill, and we need to find a way for the industry to address those things.”

In other changes: Stephen Huffman, a partner in HCM Governmental Relations, is replacing Clabes as KEEP’s chief advocate with the Kentucky State Legislature. KEEP staffer Will Glasscock also is assuming an expanded role in the organization’s legislative efforts. Veteran horsewoman Mary Midkiff, a prominent horsewoman and author with extensive background in multiple disciplines, takes over grassroots development.

The Race for Education, which Jensen co-founded in 2002, now will be administered by the KEEP Foundation. The program provides services such as scholarships and financial literacy training to students in the equine industry with financial need. The Race for Education has provided more than $7 million in scholarships and educational programs, earning recognition from the White House Office of Faith-Based and Community Initiatives. Jensen and The Race for Education received the University of Arizona Race Track Industry Program’s Outstanding Contribution to the Racing Industry Award in 2011.

Jensen grew up in Indiana, attending New York’s Fashion Institute of Technology and the Wood Tobé-Coburn School, earning a degree in design and merchandising. She worked as an executive for Disney Consumer Products in California, where she rode and showed on the hunter-jumper circuit before moving to Kentucky to pursue a career in the Thoroughbred industry.

Jensen is married to Kentucky Horse Racing Commission executive director Marc Guilfoil and has a son, Will. They raise cattle on their farm in Lexington.

Inspired by Will, Jensen in 2016 founded a basketball camp for young athletes with special needs in 2016 in association with Special Olympics. She served for six years on the State Advisory Panel for Exceptional Children, advising the legislature and governor on policy related to special education. She continues to serve on the Kentucky Department of Education’s Parent Advisory Council. She also serves on the boards of the Groom Elite Program, Old Richmond Road Neighborhood Association and was appointed by Lexington Mayor Jim Gray to the Fayette County Greenspace Commission.

ABOUT KEEP

The Kentucky Equine Education Project is a not-for-profit grassroots organization created in 2004 to preserve, promote and protect Kentucky’s signature multi-breed horse industry. KEEP is committed to ensuring Kentucky remains the horse capital of the world, including educating Kentuckians and elected officials of the importance of the horse industry to the state. KEEP works to strengthen the horse economy in Kentucky through our statewide network of citizen advocates and our foundation, which has awarded more than $700,000 to local Kentucky equine organizations. To learn more about how you can become a member or make a contribution, please visit www.horseswork.com.

2017 KEEP Equine Industry Conference

2017 KEEP Equine Industry Conference

KEEP Equine Industry Conference: Dialogue among breeds critically important to betterment of signature industry

 

LEXINGTON, Ky. (Monday, Oct. 23) — The push to have equines treated the same as other agricultural livestock, the potential to use the lure of horses to further expand the commonwealth’s considerable tourism industry, the effort to cultivate a trained workforce and how historical horse racing is growing the industry were among the topics examined at the Kentucky Equine Education Project’s second Equine Industry Conference last week.
Kentucky Agriculture Commissioner Ryan Quarles said the vast majority of horse farms in the Commonwealth are family-owned. Credit: Grace Clark

“Our second Equine Industry Conference highlighted many of the most important issues Kentucky’s horse industry faces,” said Joe Clabes, KEEP’s Executive Director. “Bringing industry leaders and policymakers together to discuss how we capitalize on recent gains and address ongoing challenges is critically important to the betterment of the Commonwealth’s signature industry.

“Kentucky is seeing growth in its horse industry, across many breeds and disciplines, at a time when the vast majority of other states are moving in the opposite direction. These discussions will help us continue to build on that success.”

Kentucky: Horse industry about family farms – and $15,000 for seed

Kentucky Commissioner of Agriculture Ryan Quarles stressed that the Kentucky horse industry “is about family farms,” using as an example KEEP board member Fred Sarver’s saddlebred farm in Carlisle.

“It’s no different than on the production-ag side,” Quarles said. “There are 76,000 farms in our state; 95 percent of them are owned by families. We have a very small corporate presence in Kentucky. Our overall agriculture impact is $45 billion. And in the horse industry, it often rivals the total production of production agriculture. There are 35,000 horse farms in Kentucky, almost all owned and operated by people like Fred, family operations that contribute to the local economy.”

Quarles noted that while he grew up on a tobacco and cattle farm, his mother spent summers working at Turfway Park and his grandfather was a horse trainer.

“And every time he sold a load of hay off our farm, that was an economic impact,” he said. “People forget Kentucky is the eighth-largest producer of hay and a $300 million industry for us. It’s important to start connecting the dots. One of the jobs I do is to educate not just the public but the rest of the farm community about the $4 billion impact that the horse industry has. It’s about equipment sales. It’s about health and veterinary supplies, feed, hay, bedding, farm equipment, fuels, truck and trailer rentals.

“One thing we have to do in the horse industry is to remind people and correct misperceptions. Every single week we try to remind people that the horse industry is a reflection of dozens of breeds…. Also remind our policymakers in Frankfort that the horse industry is about family farms. Yes, we do have some beautiful properties out there. But that is atypical. As the General Assembly continues to look at the future of what tax structure Kentucky should have to fund itself, it’s important that we have advocates there who understand the economic impact of the equine industry. And yes, we do advocate for sales-tax exemption and parity for the horse industry not only for farm inputs but also for veterinary supplies.”

Craig Bandoroff, who with wife Holly started and operates Denali Stud in Paris and whose 25-year-old son Conrad is about to join them, is an example of the industry reality that Quarles described.

“Especially in the Thoroughbred industry, when so much of the perception is we all are the Arab sheikhs or some of the other titans of industry who come in here,” Bandoroff said. “But so many of us are family-run operations that provide a huge economic engine to this economy. I looked at my financials last week. We spent $15,000 this year on seed. We have a mowing contract that’s tens of thousands of dollars. Hay, straw, not to mention veterinarians and blacksmiths. That’s the thing to really keep in mind and not lose sight of: The economic engine that this industry, every single farm, provides is very significant.

Sales-tax equity: Who packs a horse in car as a ‘companion’?

The bill passed by the Kentucky legislature and signed by Gov. Matt Bevin last spring classifying equines as livestock stops short of providing horses the same 6-percent state sales-tax exemption on feed, supplies and equipment in place for cattle, pigs, chickens, sheep, alpaca etc. Jay Ingle, an attorney with Jackson Kelly law firm, said in his legislative update said he found 18 different sections in Kentucky’s statutes that were impacted by the change.

Ingle said provisions and clarifications that impact horses include water resources, highways and transportation (including vehicle licensing and exemption for maximum weight) and pesticides, along with easements and economic grants for agri-business through the Kentucky Economic Development Finance Authority.

“Others see it as the possible next step to sales-tax equity,” he said.

Frank Penn, a KEEP board member and owner of Lexington’s Pennbrook Farm, called the legislation “a good first step” toward just that.

“Equine has been known as a companion animal in the state of Kentucky for a long time. I have a yet to meet anybody who took their horse in the back of their car and went by McDonald’s for a burger, let alone took them in the house with them,” Penn said. “We’ve been fighting this for fifteen years. It’s very important what Senators Robin Webb and Damon Thayer did (getting the bill passed) that let’s us classify equine as animal production, as production agriculture. Why should we be called production agriculture? Because we sell forage through our horses, just like cattle and sheep do.

“… Fifteen years ago, if I told (someone who raises horses) that he was a farmer, he’d say, ‘No, I’m a horseman.’ It took the disease that came with caterpillars (Mare Reproductive Loss Syndrome in 2001) to realize that those of us who produce horses are no different. We’re subject to the weather, subject to all the other assets and liabilities of being a farmer. My hope is that when we get the tax-reform issue before the legislature that it levels the playing field for equine. The other thing is that on a national level we’ll be considered agriculture and will be eligible for disaster loans when it comes to weather.”

Penn had a message for his fellow Thoroughbred farmers: “We are part of a group called equines, and it takes the walking-horse people, all the other breeds. We have to go to Frankfort with a unified voice and we have to talk about what’s best for equine. And what’s best for equine is also best for Thoroughbreds.”

Thayer, the Kentucky Senate Majority Floor Leader, told the conference that he expects tax reform to be addressed in the 2018 regular legislative session.

Referring to walking-horse enthusiast Linda Starnes’ plea to keep the Kentucky Breeders’ Incentive Fund in tact because of “how important it is in trickle-down effect” for non-racing breeds, Thayer vowed: “I will lay my body down on the track to make sure that the Breeders’ Incentive Funds do not go back into the General Fund. The good news is that, unlike when I joined the General Assembly 15 years ago, there are a lot of advocates like Chairman Adam Koenig (chair of the House’s powerful Licensing, Occupation and Administrative Regulations Committee and who attended the conference), Speaker Pro Tem David Osborne, Senator John Schickel, Senator Steve West and others I believe will work with me to ensure those dollars continue to be reinvested” in the various breed funds to expand the overall horse industry.

As far as tax equity for equines, Thayer said. “Meetings already are taking place with the administration…. All things are possible; I don’t want to predict what’s probable.”

Penn closed with noting that the inequity between charging sales tax on feed and equipment used for equines and not for other livestock puts feed and equipment companies near Kentucky’s borders at a huge disadvantage with their competitors just across the state line.

“Most tractors nowadays cost between $60,000 and $100,000,” he said. “Would you pay 6 percent on $60,000, $80,000, $100,000 if you can drive your truck and gooseneck across state lines, save that money and bring it back to your farm? Of course you wouldn’t. So that’s lost. The other thing is large consumers of feed that are close to mills, not necessarily in central Kentucky but southcentral and western Kentucky, are being pressured to put horse feed in cattle bags in order to save that 6-percent sales tax. You know what happens if the guy at the mill puts real cattle feed in horse bags (delivered) to a horse farm? You’ll kill the horses. We don’t need to make crooks out of honest people just because of the 6-percent tax incentive to do this. Those are two just pragmatic reasons you want to think about this.”

Historical horse racing: Brand-new revenue stream

Denali Stud owner Craig Bandoroff said about six or seven years ago he contemplated opening a New York satellite breeding operation because Kentucky was suffering from an exodus of broodmares from the state. Today he said his Paris farm is at capacity and can’t take anymore horses unless Denali acquires more land.

“We are in so much better shape today because of historical horse racing and what that’s done for primarily our racing circuit,” Bandoroff said. “Racing is the locomotive that pulls the whole train. If you don’t have a strong racing circuit, you’re going to suffer. And Kentucky suffered very badly. We were really worried about our economic well-being.”

Historical horse racing, a topic of one of the KEEP conference panel discussions, is the innovative technology that provides a different betting experience through game terminals that use the parimutuel system that is the crux of American wagering on racing but with results based on the outcome of previously-run races. Since Kentucky Downs put in the Commonwealth’s first HHR terminals in late 2011, the track’s purses have skyrocketed to the highest in America, with Ellis Park soon afterward getting its own operation, Keeneland and The Red Mile launching a joint Lexington venture two years ago and Churchill Downs building a $60 million facility scheduled to open next year. Turfway Park also is working on plans to install the games.

Bandoroff noted that while the mares bred in North America have dropped significantly, the Kentucky population has increased, from 15,636 in 2011 (39.4 percent of overall population, according to The Jockey Club) to 17,862 (more than 50 percent) last year.

While the Kentucky Breeders’ Incentive Fund is largely funded by the 6-percent sales tax on stud fees, Bandoroff pointed that historical horse racing also contributes and is a reason for an 8-percent increase in the fund. The Kentucky Breeders’ Incentive Fund provides financial incentives to breeders whose horses go on to win the better races in Kentucky and in important stakes throughout the U.S. and world. It also funds the Kentucky Sire Stakes in standardbred racing and the Kentucky Horse Breeders’ Incentive Fund that provides money to non-racing breeds, providing revenue for shows, trails and facilities improvement.

“Our industry is like every business: It’s all about the economic incentives,” Bandoroff said. “If you give people reason to move to New York and breed their horses there, or West Virginia, you name the state, that’s where they’ll go…. This program rewards people for horses that win everywhere, not just this state. We are here as an export product. We want horses to go everywhere around the world and the country and perform. We’re coming off a very strong September (yearling) sale and all North American sales. And participation from Europe was stronger than I had seen in the last 15 years. American horses are going over there and running at the best race meets and are competing and winning.”

An example he provided: the top four finishers in England’s Group 1 Dewhurst for 2-year-olds were bred in Kentucky.

Bandoroff said that historical horse racing has been a game-changer for Kentucky, with Ellis Park exhibit No. 1. With its own HHR operation still evolving, Ellis Park is coming off two transcendental meets thanks to a transfer of $3 million in purses and Kentucky-bred purse supplements from Kentucky Downs, done in collaboration with the Kentucky Horsemen’s Benevolent & Protective Association that represents owners and trainers at the Commonwealth’s five Thoroughbred tracks.

“You had a track that struggled for a long, long time, the fact that that track now has purses that are able to keep horses in the state and provide a year-round circuit is critical,” Bandoroff said. “… The breeding industry has been a huge beneficiary of a stronger Kentucky racing circuit.”

Historical horse racing ‘next big step’

Corey Johnsen, Kentucky Downs president and KEEP chairman, said major advancements in parimutuel wagering generally have a 10- to 15-year span from inception to really taking off. He says that’s where historical horse racing is now.

Johnsen said for generations betting on horses involved win, place, show “and maybe the daily double, maybe an exacta” — and all on track. But in 1978, federal legislation for interstate wagering was passed. While that led to simulcasting across state lines, it didn’t really explode until the mid-1990s, he said. That led to online advance-deposit wagering (ADW), with betting from the home and other remote sites via an account “really taking off 10 to 15 years later. It’s a real growth factor in our wagering in Kentucky.”

“Historical horse racing started in 2001 at Oaklawn Park in Arkansas,” Johnsen said. “The first real step forward, in my opinion, was 2011 at Kentucky Downs. So what I see is that historical horse racing over the next 10 to 15 years is going to grow exponentially and is going to be an economic driver like simulcast wagering, like ADW. I think the next big step is going to be historical horse racing.

“Why do I think it’s such a great development? Well, here’s the difference between historical horse racing and casino gambling: The fact is that it’s our product. It’s parimutuel wagering on historical horse races. It’s not something you can take away or offer some other place. You’ve got to offer it at racetracks. So we have greater control over what happens with the revenues, and we can invest those back into the industry, like we do with other parimutuel wagering.

“The other thing is that it’s had minimal or no effect on the regular parimutuel wagering. An example: September at Kentucky Downs, we had five live racing days and during the month of September, our historical horse racing handle was $57.8 million — an all-time record. Also, our (five-day) live meet handled $30 million all-sources, an all-time record. So those two complemented each other. I think you see that more with historical horse racing than a track that might have a casino or slots-machine operation as well as live racing.”

Johnsen cited Jockey Club statistics that Thoroughbred purses in Kentucky totaled $67.79 million in 2009, $65.34 million in 2012, $78.46 million in 2016 and “I think in 2017 it will be greater than $80 million.”

Katherine Paisley, General Counsel and Vice President of Compliance for the historical horse racing games-provider Exacta Systems, agreed that statistics show that historical horse racing is a new revenue source, rather than cannibalizing from the existing revenue streams. Paisley said annual betting on live racing in the United States has held steady at between $10.55 billion and $10.88 billion since 2011, but that historical horse racing handle has gone from $171 million in 2011 to $1.1 billion in 2016. That’s while being meaningfully conducted only in Kentucky, Wyoming and Oregon, with Arkansas now having very few HHR terminals, she said.

“That’s 10 percent of the handle in the country being wagered from three states — and three states that aren’t offering the wager at every facility,” she said of combined wagering on live and historical horse races.

“If more venues offered historical horse racing, we would continue to see a significant increase in the parimutuel handle in the country,” said Paisley, whose company provides the games to Kentucky Downs and Ellis Park in Kentucky. “As Craig (Bandoroff) said, breeding in Kentucky is an export product. The health of our industry grows with the health of the parimutuel handle everywhere…. I think we can expect in 2017 to see a $1 billion in handle on historical horse racing just in Kentucky alone…. It’s interjecting a brand-new revenue stream. We’re not just moving ADW dollars around. It’s brand new money coming into the sport, driving the economy, driving the industry and continuing to keep Kentucky at the front of the field.”

‘If you were a horse, this is the place to be’

With a large assist from historical horse racing, money going into the Kentucky Thoroughbred Development Fund has almost doubled since 2010, from slightly more than $4.5 million to approaching $9 million. KTDF, funded by a percentage of betting, provides purse supplements to the owners of registered Kentuckybreds competing in maiden-special weight and allowance races at the commonwealth’s tracks, which have the option of using that money to also enhance stakes purses, as Kentucky Downs has done to great effect.

Jamie Eads, Executive Deputy Director of the Kentucky Horse Racing Commission, also said in her KEEP conference presentation that nearly $130 million has been distributed since 2006 through the Kentucky Thoroughbred Breeders’ Incentive Fund to the breeders of registered Kentucky-breds that win certain types of races in the state and designated races throughout the country and world. That fund comes from the 6-percent sales tax on stud fees when a mare is bred to a stallion.

Eads said that in a recent Commission Kentucky Thoroughbred Development Fund advisory committee meeting that the state’s racing secretaries are seeing “how much larger the 2-year-old population in the state is this year and how our horse population has stuck and around and stayed through with us.”

Eleven non-racing breeds in Kentucky have received almost $10 million since 2006 through the Horse Breeders’ Incentive Fund. The vast majority of that comes from the HBIF receiving 7 percent of the total assessed from the 6- percent state sales tax on stud fees, almost all of it from breeding mares to Thoroughbred stallions.

“I don’t know if there’s another state that shares the Thoroughbred money with the other breeds, but I think it’s something that makes us a much-stronger industry,” said Corey Johnsen, the Kentucky Downs president and KEEP chairman.

“There are pockets of Quarter-Horse programs in Texas and Paint programs somewhere else,” Eads said. “But we are the only state that recognizes 11 nonracing programs…. The state recognizes the opportunities to have the horses in our state and to breed in Kentucky. If you were to be a horse, this is it. This is the place to be.”

Vision Awards: U of L’s Capps, Central Kentucky Riding for Hope

Conference moderator Alan Balch, who has almost 50 years in the horse business and ranks among the most-respected executives in both racing and the show-horse world, pointed to the 1984 Olympics in Los Angeles as a textbook case of breeds helping each other.

“The all-time biggest year we had at Santa Anita was the year of the Olympics,” said Balch, who was senior vice president at the track as well as the Los Angeles Games’ competition director for the Olympic equestrian sports staged at Santa Anita. “And I have no doubt that it was because of the synergy among all types and pursuits of horses.

“… The horses are innocent of our prejudices, you might say, our likes and dislikes of types of horses. And if we can all together — which is one reason I love this organization — and see racing benefiting the non-racing equestrian sports and see them benefiting racing in return, that’s really what we need to market the sport properly.”

Balch used his impassioned pitch for breeds working together as the prelude to the late Tim Capps being honored with the KEEP Vision Award for outstanding contribution to the overall horse industry. Capps served with distinction as a turf journalist and publisher, breeding and track executive before joining the University of Louisville’s Equine Industry Program in the College of Business, for which he became the director in 2011.

“He had a great many assets,” Balch said of his contemporary. “Not only did he teach at the University of Louisville and was extremely productive, proficient, popular, educational. But teaching was the last stop in his life. Because he had done so many things in racing, as a journalist, association administrator all over the country.”

KEEP and the University of Louisville’s interim program director Terri Burch, announced the launching of the Tim Capps mentoring internship where the winning U of L equine student will have monthly meetings with KEEP board members and hands-on experiences to get insight and connections with all facets of the equine industry.

KEEP and the University of Louisville’s interim program director Terri Burch, announced the launching of the Tim Capps mentoring internship where the winning U of L equine student will have monthly meetings with KEEP board members and hands-on experiences to get insight and connections with all facets of the equine industry

“Tim was very important for this organization. We have an empty seat for him today,” said KEEP Executive Director Joe Clabes. “We hope to provide a very rich experience for the young folks that Tim was so passionate about helping, providing a start we hope he would be proud of. We look forward to working with the department that Tim so ably led to help serve our next generation of leaders.”

The 36-year-old non-profit Central Kentucky Riding for Hope, located at the Kentucky Horse Park, was honored with the Vision Award for an organization. Executive Director Pat Kline observed that CKRH has been the recipient of KEEP grassroots grants for its array of programs making life better for children and adults with special physical, cognitive, emotional and social needs while using horses as the conduit.

The 36-year-old non-profit Central Kentucky Riding for Hope, located at the Kentucky Horse Park, was honored with the Vision Award for an organization. Executive Director Pat Kline observed that CKRH has been the recipient of KEEP grassroots grants for its array of programs making life better for children and adults with special physical, cognitive, emotional and social needs while using horses as the conduit.

“Our horses in our program are much more than horses to us,” Kline said. “They are team members. We have about 30 horses. They are all breeds, everything from little minis to draft horses, with Thoroughbreds in the mix. Because every kind of breed helps fill a need in the clients we serve. Our mission is to provide equine-assisted activities and therapies to those with disabilities.”

Getting enough (and prepared) workforce

Eric Hamelback, Chief Executive Officer of the National Horsemen’s Benevolent & Protective Association, asked Bryan Brendle, the Washington D.C.-based American Horse Council’s Director of Policy and Legislative Affairs, about getting racetrack stablehands classified as agriculture employees, which would have a significant impact on visas for guest-worker labor. Currently backside employees are in the same category as landscapers, roofers, etc.

Brendle said his understanding is that the Agricultural Guest Workers Act “intends to make the regulatory and statutory definition of agriculture and agricultural operations as expansive as possible. The only certain thing at this point is that definitely covers the breeding farms. But we’ll be glad to repeat our request to staff on the House Judiciary Committee that we’d like that definition to be expanded further.”

Developing a domestic workforce prepared for all capacities of the industry is increasingly important with the uncertainty over federal immigration policy.

“There is a crisis in our industry,” said Remi Bellocq, Executive Director of Equine Programs and the North American Racing Academy (NARA), which is operated through the Bluegrass Community and Technical College. “We need to have a healthy workforce.”

A KEEP conference panel featured four entities working to alleviate the problem: NARA, U of L, the University of Kentucky and Locust Trace, a magnet school in Fayette County that opened in 2011 and offers six agricultural pathways, including equine studies and a veterinarian tech program.

Bellocq said one of the things that NARA enforces with students “who come to us to become a rider or assistant trainer or work their way up in a racing stable or to run a farm is how to learn to drive a tractor. Which a lot of them have no idea how to do. Or to pull a trailer. Locust Trace has the kids do all that, which is fantastic.”

“… It’s kind of like it takes a village, we’re all working together to bring resources to future workforce for the equine industries,” he said. “…. Some of the observations and comments I have are ‘How do we take 139 students and evaluate whether they have what it takes to succeed?’ Whether it’s with a racing stable, breeding farm or any other discipline, we can find those kids, but do they have the work ethic? The desire and passion to work in racing or any of the disciplines where it’s seven days a week, rain or shine, travel a lot. That’s going to be the big challenge for the industry. Because with the loss of guest-worker visas, we have to find a way to make these industries something that the kids at the high-school level really want to do again.”

Bellocq said NARA has evolved from being a rider-oriented program to emphasizing overall horsemanship. He said that when the program places a student into a barn, that leads “90, 95 percent of time into a full-time job. How long that lasts is up to them.”

Bellocq, who like his father Pierre (known as PEB) is a talented cartoonist, drew a caricature of a millennial at the barn holding coffee and his phone, saying, “Yeah, so like I hear you. You need American workers. Whatever. So when do I get my BMW? And I need wifi.”

“This is going to be a problem we have,” Bellocq. “We have a lot of kids coming in here. But they have no idea about the demands of the sport, that you’ve got to wait your turn when you start working for farms, trainers, things like that. So a lot is not just what we teach them about horsemanship. But it’s also about those social skills, about learning and how to work in this environment.”

Mick Peterson Ph.D., the new Director of Equine Programs in the University of Kentucky’s Ag Equine Program, said the industry must “rethink how we manage the horses… Thinking about how we can increase efficiencies to support the equine industry to reduce labor force. Every other agricultural industry has addressed a number of these issues. The equine industry hasn’t. That’s not on the equine industry. That’s on us. Because we have not stepped back and thought, ‘Where can we increase the efficiencies on the farm?’

“You walk into a barn in 1920, you want into a barn right now. I don’t think you notice any difference. We need to think about that. But we need to think about it in the context of what is the demand side. The demand side is equine safety and welfare. Everything we need to do needs to be clearly focused on the safety of the animal and the safety of the rider. We need to step back and think about how this all fits together. Because this is our market, this is our future. And that’s what creates this multi-billion industry in the United States and Kentucky.”

Notable: On tourism and marketing

Kristen Branscum, commissioner of the Kentucky Department of Tourism, challenged the equine industry to come up with new ways to broaden its reach into attracting out-of-staters and foreign visitors to the Commonwealth to grow an overall tourism industry that in 2016 produced $14.5 billion in revenue.

“I am driven to get what I call OPM,” Branscum said. “As a Kentuckian, I want other people’s money outside of this state, and I believe tourism is the way to do it… We want to make the world aware of what Kentucky has to offer, and on the function side, get OPM. If you’re talking about needing budget money, I think that’s how we do it.”

Conference moderator Alan Balch, an executive in both racing and the showhorse world, pushed for renewed commitment to marketing in its various forms.

“I’ve seen a shift come back in racing everywhere, including Kentucky, frankly, to an accounting mentality,” Balch said. “…. Accountants love to count those beans and put them in the bank. We marketers do not look at marketing as an expense but as an investment. But marketing is an investment you cannot depreciate.

“What we need in racing is a very strong renewed commitment to marketing, which takes investment in advertising, sales, promotion, communications, all the tools in the toolkit now for marketers to try to translate this interest in historical horse racing into on-track betting, on-track attendance and greater expansion of the gaming market for racing. We are in a struggle with every other form of gaming… It takes marketing, marketing, marketing and all the tools to get it done. And that’s attitudinal. And I don’t think we have it in racing.”

KEEP to Honor Tim Capps, Central Kentucky Riding for Hope with Industry Vision Awards

KEEP to Honor Tim Capps, Central Kentucky Riding for Hope with Industry Vision Awards

The presentation will take place during the lunch program at the Equine Industry Conference on October 16 at the Embassy Suites.

LEXINGTON, KY — The late Tim Capps and Central Kentucky Riding for Hope will be honored with the Industry Vision Awards during the Kentucky Equine Education Project’s second KEEP Equine Industry Conference this Sunday and Monday at the Embassy Suites Hotel in Lexington.

The Industry Vision Awards — which recognize an individual and an organization for outstanding contributions to the equine industry — will be presented during Monday’s luncheon.

Capps, the University of Louisville’s Equine Industry Program director who died April 22 at age 71, was among the industry’s most knowledgeable and respected voices, having worked as a racing and breeding executive, turf journalist and an industry analyst before joining the College of Business’ equine industry faculty in 2006 and becoming director in 2011.

Capps at various times was The Jockey Club’s director of operations, editor and publisher of The Thoroughbred Record, vice president of Matchmaker Racing Services and executive vice president of the Maryland Horse Breeders’ Association, the Maryland Million and the Maryland Jockey Club. He also wrote books in Eclipse Press’ Thoroughbred Legends series about Secretariat, Spectacular Bid and Affirmed and Alydar’s legendary Triple Crown rivalry.

Central Kentucky Riding for Hope is dedicated to enriching the community by improving the quality of life and the health of children and adults with special physical, cognitive, emotional and social needs through therapeutic activities with the horse. CKRH, located at the Kentucky Horse Park, started as a grassroots effort in 1981. It is a Premier Accredited Center of PATH Int’l (Professional Association of Therapeutic Horsemanship International). CKRH and its approximately 30 horses service 12 counties. CKRH also provides clinical/intern opportunities for UK Health Sciences, Eastern Kentucky University, Asbury University, Markey Cancer Center and Midway College Equine Program.

The Industry Vision Award recipients are selected from nominations provided to a committee assembled by the KEEP Board or Directors. Last year’s inaugural winners were KEEP founder Brereton Jones and Old Friends Thoroughbred retirement farms.

“Few people have been such a positive and progressive force for the entire equine industry or in as many capacities as Tim Capps,” said Joe Clabes, KEEP’s executive director. “It’s heart-breaking that we were unable to recognize him before his untimely passing. His legacy lives on in many ways, including the influence he had on his students and future leaders produced by the University of Louisville’s equine business program.

“The aptly-named Central Kentucky Riding for Hope provides an invaluable service for countless families, with its wonderfully compassionate instructors and horses providing immeasurable benefits for their riders, young and old. The special bond between horse and rider has an uncanny way of helping participants not only with physical but cognitive and emotional issues, including instilling a sense of pride, companionship and self-esteem. They represent an outstanding example of the many ways horses provide tangible benefits to the lives of Kentuckians.

“KEEP is proud to recognize Tim Capps and Central Kentucky Riding for Hope as our second Industry Vision Award recipients.”

The two-day Equine Industry Conference will bring together representatives of all breeds and disciplines, legislative and regulatory policy-makers and emerging leaders from across the Commonwealth. The conference begins Sunday afternoon with partner organization meetings and a communications workshop designed to help horse breeds and organizations get more exposure and attract new enthusiasts by embracing the Internet and social media. An evening welcome reception will provide networking opportunities with industry leaders and state legislators.

Some of the most influential and knowledgeable people in the industry will join Monday’s panel discussions, including Kentucky Commissioner of Agriculture Ryan Quarles, Kentucky Tourism Commissioner Kristen Branscum and American Horse Council Director of Policy and Legislative Affairs Bryan Brendle. The program is designed to inform and promote constructive discussion about strategies for protecting and growing Kentucky’s horse economy. Topics will include the horse industry’s impact on Kentucky’s economy, state and federal legislation, the success of historical horse racing in strengthening year-around racing and workforce development challenges. Monday’s panel discussions will be moderated by Alan Balch, one of the best-known executives in both the racing and show-horse worlds.

Registration for the conference is $75, which includes the Sunday reception, Monday’s continental breakfast and lunch. College students can have the fee waived by using the code STUDENT100. KEEP also offers a lunch-only registration special for $40. Additional information available online at: www.horseswork.com.

Registration information

http://events.r20.constantcontact.com/register/event?oeidk=a07eec485xz64255025&llr=pjiquldab

Agenda

http://files.constantcontact.com/f212847d001/339a8949-cdea-4e95-ad09-cdaffdbd2098.pdf?ver=1507140459000

Communications workshop

https://horseswork.com/news/keep-equine-industry-conference-to-offer-kentucky-equine-organizations-communications-workshop

ABOUT KEEP

The Kentucky Equine Education Project is an all-breed grassroots organization created in 2004 to preserve, promote and protect Kentucky’s signature horse industry. Support for KEEP’s activity comes directly from the horse industry and horse industry supporters that we represent. To learn more about how you can become a member or make a contribution, please visit www.horseswork.com.

-30-

KEEP Convening Second Equine Industry Conference

KEEP Convening Second Equine Industry Conference

Topics will include the horse industry’s impact on Kentucky’s economy, state and federal legislation, the success of historical horse racing and workforce development issues.

LEXINGTON, KY – The Kentucky Equine Education Project (KEEP) will convene the second annual statewide gathering of leaders representing all aspects of Kentucky’s horse industry on October 15-16 at the Embassy Suites on Newtown Pike in Lexington. This year’s conference will bring together 300 representatives of all breeds and disciplines, legislative and regulatory policy-makers and emerging leaders from across the Commonwealth.

“The KEEP Equine Industry Conference is the only annual event held for the benefit of all aspects of Kentucky’s horse economy,” said Joe Clabes, KEEP Executive Director. “We’re excited to build on the success of last year’s inaugural event.”

Some of the most influential and knowledgeable people in the industry will join Monday’s panel discussions, including Kentucky Commissioner of Agriculture Ryan Quarles, Kentucky Horse Racing Commission Chairman Frank Kling and American Horse Council director of policy and legislative affairs Bryan Brendle. The program is designed to inform and promote constructive discussion about strategies for protecting and growing Kentucky’s horse economy.

Panel topics will include the horse industry’s impact on Kentucky’s economy, state and federal legislation, the success of historical horse racing in strengthening year-around racing and workforce development challenges. Monday’s panel discussions will be moderated by Alan Balch, one of the best-known executives in both the racing and show-horse worlds.

Included on Sunday’s agenda will be a workshop to help participants learn to utilize their Internet presence and social media to more effectively implement marketing and communication strategies. The opening reception scheduled for 4:30-7:00 PM will provide an excellent networking opportunity with industry leaders and members of the Kentucky state legislature.

Online registration is open and a limited number of sponsorship opportunities remain available. Visit www.horseswork.com for more information on the conference agenda,registration and sponsorships.

ABOUT KEEP

The Kentucky Equine Education Project is an all-breed grassroots organization created in 2004 to preserve, promote and protect Kentucky’s signature horse industry. Support for KEEP’s activity comes directly from the horse industry and horse industry supporters that we represent. To learn more about how you can become a member or make a contribution, please visit www.horseswork.com.

-30-

Seattle Slew Specialty License Plate Now Available to Kentucky Drivers

Seattle Slew Specialty License Plate Now Available to Kentucky Drivers

Proceeds will support the KEEP Foundation which funds industry-related grassroots programs, education resources and other charitable giving

LEXINGTON, Ky. — The Seattle Slew specialty license plate was officially made available to Kentucky drivers today. The new license plate features a photo of the legendary Seattle Slew, and proceeds from the sale of each plate will support the KEEP Foundation’s Grassroots Funding Program and educational activities.

“This license plate, bearing the image of one of the greatest racing champions of all time, means a great deal to us,” said Fred Sarver, Chairman of the KEEP Foundation. “The revenue from the sale of this commemorative plate will allow us to bring greater awareness of the importance of the horse industry in Kentucky. We are truly grateful to Bobby Shiflet and the Tony Leonard Collection for his donation as well as permission from the owners of Seattle Slew, Karen and Mickey Taylor.”

The KEEP Foundation’s Grassroots Funding Program has distributed more than $700,000 to more than 900 non-profit equine organizations throughout the Commonwealth since it began in 2005.

“The additional revenue raised by this specialty plate will allow the Foundation to expand its funding program that benefits 4-H, FFA, trail riding, therapeutic riding programs and breed associations,” said Joe Clabes, Executive Director of the KEEP Foundation.

Seattle Slew, considered by many to be one of Thoroughbred racing’s greatest champions, was undefeated as a 2-year-old and won the iconic Triple Crown in 1977. Following his retirement from racing, Seattle Slew left another legacy as a sire, producing more than 100 stakes winners including Horse of the Year and leading sire A.P. Indy and the dam of Cigar, a two-time Horse of the Year and all-time leading money winner in North America at the time.

ABOUT KEEP FOUNDATION

Founded in 2015, the KEEP Foundation is committed to educating the people of the Commonwealth about the importance of horses to the state, its economy, its heritage and its people. The KEEP Foundation spreads its mission by providing education units, speeches, presentations and by participating in equine events throughout the state. As a part of this outreach the Foundation allocates grant funds to help local horse organizations, equine youth clubs and educational institutions promote the importance of the horse industry in Kentucky. To learn more about the KEEP Foundation and its programs, visit www.thekeepfoundation.org.

ABOUT KEEP

The Kentucky Equine Education Project is a not-for-profit grassroots organization created in 2004 to preserve, promote and protect Kentucky’s signature horse industry. Support for KEEP’s activity comes directly from the horse industry and horse industry supporters. To learn more about how you can become a member or make a contribution, please visit www.horseswork.com.

###