The very first printed Pennsylvania Equestrian was only four pages and mainly focused on the Pennsylvania Horse Farms Open House.
As Pennsylvania Equestrian moves into its 21st year in 2014, we would like to reflect on the past 20 years of business. Each year the newspaper continues to grow and produce the news horse owners in Pennsylvania (and beyond!) need to know. We would like to thank our dedicated readers for allowing Pennsylvania Equestrian to be your number one source for excellent editorial content, advertising design, and print production. With 38,000-70,000+ readers per issue, we are proud to represent the special occupant of your heart: the horse.
Pennsylvania Equestrian writes special features each month, such as the Barns and Arenas feature in March and the Real Estate Showcase in August. We partner as a sponsor with the major national events held in the region, providing previews and exposure before the event and coverage following. For the February issue, we print the official program for Pennsylvania Horse World Expo, and distribute an additional 10,000 copies at the event. Our Dressage at Devon Preview in August is mailed to the proprietary Dressage at Devon list of elite competitors and ticket buyers.
The print edition is mailed to 4,500 subscribers, and to about 485 tack shops and feed stores in five states. We also have bonus distribution at equestrian events throughout the region. Another 8,000 people read the issue online each month.
Now in print 12 times a year, starting with this month’s first-ever January issue, Pennsylvania Equestrian offers active equestrians an extensive calendar of events for every season. As well as keeping Pennsylvania’s $10 billion horse industry informed about the issues that affect its members for the past 20 years, Pennsylvania Equestrian also provides advertising, sponsorships, promotional, market research, public relations, and consulting services for the equestrian community.
Peep At First Cover From 1994
In 1993, owner Stephanie Shertzer Lawson founded Pennsylvania Equestrian as well as Shertzer/Lawson Marketing and Publishing. Pennsylvania Equestrian started as a way to promote the Horse Farms Open House, which was first held in Lancaster County in March of 1993. Before the internet, a handout was needed to direct visitors to the farms, and the first Pennsylvania Equestrian, printed in 1994, was a crude four page publication with hand-drawn maps. It was so enjoyable that Ms. Lawson began printing quarterly, and within the year had left her full time job to pursue Pennsylvania Equestrian and other marketing projects.
Content Quickly Gains Momentum
Pennsylvania Equestrian’s fourth issue, published in July of 1994, moved the paper away from only being printed quarterly towards a bi-monthly publication. It doubled in size from four to eight pages and started to bring in more advertisements, including a flyer for the $50,000 Budweiser Grand Prix. The classifieds were still relatively small and did not have a specifically marked section.
The front page changed slightly, however, to include two cover stories stories as well as an “Inside” preview of the upcoming stories.
The very next issue, the combined November and December paper of 1994, introduced Sylvia Sidesaddle’s “Horse Droppings” column to bring the inside scoop to the masses as well as a “Professional Help” column that Helen Friedrichs, from Bridge Acres Stables in Lancaster, PA, answered. Only five issues into its career, Pennsylvania Equestrian was already estimating approximately 5,000 enthusiastic readers.
This issue also premiered the first Holiday Gift Guide, featuring the most loved equestrian products for the holidays. The Gift Guide was one encompassing article with a header for each product.
The combined March and April issue of 1998 displayed a whopping 20 pages and again featured the Pennsylvania Horse Farms Open House. Printed images replaced homemade maps, and 17 farms were included on the tour. There were several pages dedicated to real estate, with flashy and bold classifieds, and advertisements on every page. There was an official mailing list for subscribers, and the Calendar of Events section had grown to encompass equine affairs all over the state. Email was not yet a primary form of communication, and all event submission were to be mailed by post to the editor. Notable advertiser at the time were Triple Crown Feed, Cox Trailers, Farnam, and multiple local boarding stables.
Turn of the Millenium References, Readership, & Raffles
The tradition of the Pennsylvania Horse Farms Open House continued in the combined March and April issue in 2000. The participating farms dwindled to twelve but Pennsylvania Equestrian’s readership was up to an astonishing 40,000+ readers -- comparable to modern numbers! A survey showed that most readers had three or more horses and 99 percent predicted that the amount of time they spent with horses would stay the same or increase in the next several years.
By the time of the combined September and October issue, the Pennsylvania Newspaper had expanded into a sizable 32 pages and added bylines to the front page articles. To better understand its readers’ desires, there was a detachable “Pennsylvania Favorites!” slip where readers could fill in their favorite breeds, brands, and disciplines and mail it back to be entered for a $50 prize drawing. In addition, there was a notice that the upcoming Holiday Gift Guide would now offer free 300 word editorials for advertisers with qualifying ads.
A (Horse) World of Color
The ten year anniversary of Pennsylvania Equestrian dawned bright and cheerful with bursts of color in photos, headlines, and the new logo. Pennsylvania Equestrian’s February 2003 issue featured the official program of the Pennsylvania Horse World Expo to inform readers about the event. A few known Expo clinicians at the time were John Lyons, Pat Parelli, GaWaNi Pony Boy, Jane Savoie, Lynn Palm, as well as the renowned Theatre Equus.
February 2003 also featured the second annual pull-out Breeding issue. A stallion directory listed prospective sires by breed and type so interested readers could easily find worthwhile candidates for their mares. Stallion profiles showcased local stud farms and the top stallions within their respective disciplines.
The March/April 2003 issue displayed a simple stable directory with boarding, training, and lesson stables divided by county and by discipline. This graph was a necessary catalogue of contact information for the influx of newcomers as the horse industry continued to expand.
PA Land of Plenty
2003 was a wonderful year. A Penn State study confirmed that horses were a prime contributor to the Pennsylvania economy-- a $10 Billion contribution, to be exact. With approximately 216,000 horses statewide, the industry was thriving and consequently preserving more than a million acres of state farmland.
In May 2003, Judgement ISF, a Pennsylvania native from Iron Spring Farm, continued his rise to stardom as he captured the $100,000 Cosequin U.S. Open Jumper Championship on the Winter Equestrian Festival circuit in Wellington, FL.
In December 2003, Pennsylvania Equestrian continued the Holiday Gift Guide in the same style as ten years prior, with one overall article featuring individual products and services.
Recession Hits Horse Industry
Pennsylvania Equestrian galloped enthusiastically into its 15th anniversary in 2008 with the paper’s largest issue ever printed with 99 full color pages and the official program of the Pennsylvania Horse World Expo. Unfortunately, the bucolic years of equine expansion and plenty abruptly halted shortly after as the economic recession battered the country.
March 2008 ominously forewarned readers of a “perfect storm” that was brewing for the majority of horse owners and lovers. Malorie de la Mare underscored the high cost of horse-ownership with a timely “Am I Ready to Own a Horse?” question in her advice column. After the grim issue in March, April 2008 featured an “Equine Economics” column to assist readers with their financial decisions.
As the recession kicked into high gear, thieves snatched saddles and accessories from several stables and leaving whole tack rooms bare. Luckily, most of the tack was recovered within a few weeks.
Despite the financial hardship, the month of December still managed to be a joyful and festive season with a modern-looking Holiday Gift Guide. Unlike the past 15 years, this gift guide separated each advertiser’s product into individual editorial sections to complement their advertisements. The gift guide feature was the most updated section throughout the years. Like the rest of the country, horse owners ended the year with heads held high and a resolute determination to move past the stressors and focus on what is really important: the horse.