Vacationing with your horse is great fun but finding horse-friendly campgrounds can be trying. Kim Ayers speaks with us about Horse Country Campers Club, which is seeking to bridge that gap.
Here’s how it works: For a small membership fee ($24.99 plus taxes per year) Horse Country Campers Club connects you with a network of horse-friendly campgrounds throughout North America via an online directory, plus offers a 50% discount at all Club campgrounds on your first night’s stay when you reserve two or more nights. Additionally, members gain access to special incentives, discounts and savings off a range of products and services to save you more money when you vacation with your horses. Kim Ayers kindly took a few moments to answer a few of our questions about the club, which sounds like a great new resource for trail riding enthusiasts.
You must be a trail rider yourself, I take it?
Very much so. My background is as a Western Pleasure trainer, but my move to North Carolina has convinced me to getting back to the basics of why we ride — for the love of it! Trail riding right off the farm vs. circles in the arena? It’s a no-brainer!
How did the Horse Country Campers Club get started?
Horse Country Campers Club started like so many other products, finding a need and coming up with an idea on how to fill that need. Club President Larry Davis and his wife traveled from Connecticut to Washington the old-fashioned way 15 years ago: Calling a month ahead and trying to locate campgrounds and stables that they could lay over with the horses, dogs and humans. It was quite an adventure, they met a bunch of real nice folks and saw a lot of country but it was stressful at times. This experience formed the idea of developing campgrounds for horsemen and a better way to plan for traveling with horses for the purpose of camping and trail riding riding. They came up with the concept of a dedicated travel club offering members 50% off the second night’s stay along with other member benefits such as fuel discounts and deals from various vendors, and Horse Country Campers Club was launched in spring 2014.
There are so many trail riding enthusiasts out there but surprisingly few informational resources for them. How does the Campers Club aim to address that?
Campers Club has been warmly received by everyone that has come in touch with it. My background in the camping industry has been abundantly useful in making a connection between the trail riders and the campgrounds that they are looking for. I get to see the issues from both sides of the fence — literally. HCCC continues to grow its membership via reaching out to breed associations and numerous horse councils, as well as looking to bring the horse friendly campgrounds up into their experience. Digital media has been a great tool, but we find that actually being out on the trail, participating in events and getting real-time feedback from riders is the best way to make the connection.
What are the benefits of membership?
This list continues to grow. The first benefit is, of course, the 50% off on camping stays. January will see the launch of an online booking agent with a mobile app, Book Your Site. This app ties us into the huge database of ARVC associated campgrounds. We are working towards the Book Your Site app having an “equestrian” button, much like booking a cabin. We have paired with the Ride America Program through the APHA and hope to have a bonus point program in participating campgrounds with them. A big perk of membership is access to our Fuel Card. This program is available through Pacific Pride Fueling Program. We have an ever growing list of vendors and suppliers that offer our members discounts on purchases. If it is horse related, we are on it! Our e-newsletter is a great way to stay up with all of the things we are adding.
The club is young but growing in leaps and bounds. What do you envision for the Club’s future?
After our start this past spring we have made some significant movement forward in bringing companies on board that provide member savings. We continue to engage companies that will increase the “value added potential for our members.” The common thread throughout this process is the positive response we have received from virtually every person we have approached — it has always been “what a great idea, the industry needs this” With this encouragement we intend on pushing this from coast to coast in the U.S. as well as Canada. We have joined forces with several other clubs who have the same vision as we do and that is to get people horseback on the trails and logging miles. While they are trail riding they may as well save some money at one of our participating campgrounds.
Just out of curiosity, what are some of the best trail rides you’ve been on? What’s on your trail riding bucket list?
One of my favorite rides I have attended is the American Heart Association Beach Ride in Myrtle Beach. Held each year in honor of Jack Monroe, the ride hosts upwards of 1,000 riders annually. I have had the joy of taking my daughters on the ride, the first time at ages 6, 8 and 10. Granted the ride back along the beach was interesting, with one in a buddy seat, a fretful mini in tow on a lead, and hoping that the spicy Arab my oldest was on didn’t dart down the beach without me, but it is a memory I wouldn’t trade for the world. We have since gone back with them being older and had an amazing time loping down the beach on horses that we have bred and raised. It doesn/t get any better than this! As far as a bucket list, I have already informed my daughters that when I am old and gray, I am going to have a nice LQ trailer, load up Cutter, my red roan APHA stallion, and travel the USA. I live vicariously through the pictures of all of the beautiful places there are to ride, and plan on seeing them all myself.
Anything else you think readers might like to know?
HCCC loves to hear from its members about how we can grow the club, its membership and benefits. We are all horsemen, from all over the United States and Canada. It is fabulous to get to connect with other horse people, from all walks of life. The connection between us all is the love of the horse and sharing all of these fabulous places that we get to see from their backs. A great reward of the club is finding those hidden jewels of campgrounds that otherwise you wouldn’t hear about. Making new friends and creating memories, finding adventure that maybe would not have made it into your experience. We have a lot of fun, and really enjoy sharing it.
Learn more about Horse Country Campers Club by visiting its website here. Go Trail Riding!