Have you noticed the recent growth of Equine Network? Over the last few years, Equine Network has been busy snapping up major equine businesses left and right.
Reminds of the game Pac-Man with the yellow head moving steadily down the row, gobbling up one dot after the other until there’s none left.
Mostly, Equine Network’s acquisitions are horse-media related. Horse magazines and websites. Outside of the world of publishing, Equine Network now also owns US Rider, the horse trailer road-side assistance service.
Equine Network’s most recent purchase is The Horse Magazine: Your Guide to Equine Welfare. Purchased, in fact, just this year. Equine Network already owned the big-three USA horse magazines: Equus, Practical Horseman, and Horse & Rider (plus more- see the list near the end of this post). When I look at my horse magazine subscriptions, that leaves me with just a few that aren’t under their umbrella (yet).
All this got me to wonder who is behind Equine Network and what motivates this buying spree. I was thinking maybe a big horse organization ran Equine Network. Maybe a sports governing body, a major breed association or even just a generic publishing house with an Equine specialty. I was wrong.
Equine Network was acquired by Growth Catalyst Partners (GCP) from Active Interest Media in early 2021. GCP is a private equity firm.
This is how the Growth Catalyst Partner’s website describes Equine Network: “Equine Network is a provider of proprietary sports content, information, and tech-enabled services to the USD130 billion US equine industry.”
Clearly, Growth Catalyst Partners thinks substantial money is to be made through the Equine Network and its expansion.
That sounds all well and good for its investors. But as a horse owner, I wonder what does that mean for the quality of the publications and services within Equine Network?
What does it mean for horses and all the people involved in the equine industry who are affected by the content produced by Equine Network? From equine professionals to backyard horse keepers like me. Exactly how harmful or helpful?
I have more questions than answers at this point. And I remain skeptical.
I also know that I still enjoy and find valuable many of the Equine Network offerings. Equus has long been my favorite horse magazine even as it changed owners. And I’ve linked to Equine Network resources numerous times on this blog due to the quality of the information offered. But I question how long my favor will last.
I suppose if I get to the point where I no longer feel comfortable tossing any money towards Equine Network, I can still read their as-of-now free online reading materials. That is one little bright spot for me in the midst of my concerns.
For example, each of Equine Network’s publications offers a form of a monthly “extra”. You can sign up for “free to your email inbox” mini-magazines including
Equus Extra (multi-discipline horse care)
Practical Horseman Extra (dressage, eventing, hunter-jumper)
Dressage Today Extra (dressage only)
Horse & Rider’s Monthly (western riding)
Horse & Rider’s Trail Riding Extra (trail riding and otherwise traveling with your horse)
Stable Management Extra (for those with their own horse properties or those who board)
The Team Roping Journal’s Extra.
Just reading through that list gives you a sense of the scope and reach of the Equine Network. If you’d like to subscribe to any or all, go to https://hub.equinetwork.com/equine-network-extras.
In the meantime, I’ll be keeping my eye on Equine Network, watching for changes in the quality and quantity of education and services offered. Wondering what they are going to snap up next and what increasing consolidation means for the horse industry. Wondering what will happen to Equine Network, and everything under its umbrella, if and when Growth Catalyst Partners decides Equine Network is no longer part of a winning portfolio strategy.