A Monopoly In The Horse Industry?

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.

9 thoughts on “A Monopoly In The Horse Industry?

  1. What an interesting post. I had no idea all those mags were owned by one and I am not really following any one thing online. (I’m so disconnected I’ve not heard of the Equine Network) I use to subscribe to Equus magazine back in 2000 and before that Horse and Rider. I had that mag coming for quite a few years when I decided to end the subscription. Equus was one of my favorite mags. I had stacks and stacks I was saving. I finally got rid of them though. I get so overwhelmed with everything out there that I’ve lost touch clearly with everything equine related online. Thanks for the info and your thoughts on this interesting monopoly. Sure makes one think! 🤔😊

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hi, Diana! I’m not always quite sure what is going to resonate with folks so I appreciate the feedback that you found the post interesting. I’ve long been drawn to “behind the scenes” sort of stuff-what drives people, organizations and companies to think how they think and do what they do. Anyhow, thanks so much for reading and commenting!

      Liked by 1 person

  2. My bet is the money is expected to come from data-mining. The more info Equinenetwork can get on horse people and what they spend their money on, the more money they can make selling that info to people who want to market to horse people. Whether data mining is a good thing or a bad thing for horses depends on how people respond to marketing.

    Liked by 2 people

  3. A private Equity firm…..well well well. The Palm Beach International Equestrian Center which is where the Winter Equestrian Festival is held ( the largest and longest horse show in the world) now belongs to Helgstrand Dressage and a Private Equity firm. Yup! This Friday I am going to the WEF showground to watch the CDI5*. That is being held at WEF. WEF is traditionally only Hunter Jumper. The Grand Prix and The GP Special and the Freestyle will all be held in the big international ring. I have no idea where they will stable the horses however. For a CDI the horses all must be sectioned off from other horses. Why are they not just leaving the CDI at the Global Dressage showgrounds? I have no idea. Seating is free in both places so it is not about making money on selling seats. They charge for parking but not that much. I will be interested to see the classes on Friday and see how many people are in the stands and how the horses are reacting to this huge stadium. I have a sneaking suspicion that this is about money and power but I can’t put m finger on it. BTW “Horse Sport” is a Canadian magazine and I think it is still independent.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hi, Anne! Thank you for commenting here. That’s an interesting situation with the Palm Beach International Equestrian Center. I can’t imagine how expensive it would be build and maintain something like that. And that is likely how/why a private equity firm was brought into the mix here. I understand the need for money. On the other hand, if increasing aspects of the horse industry (like with the Florida center and Equine Network) are financed (and therefore in many ways controlled) by companies that are not horse-oriented, I wonder how good is that for all of us horse-people and our horses in the long run.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. I ran across this blog when looking for the Equine Network Magazines that just charged me $41 USD on my credit card. But I have no idea why… I don’t recall making any purchases of what they have to offer. I have (had?) a subscription to Practical Horseman but when I went to its website, its yearly cost is only $15 US/$22 Canadian.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hello, Jaimie. I have not had the personal experience of having Equine Network incorrectly charge me for their products, but I am disappointed that you have had the experience of being potentially overcharged. Have you called the Practical Horseman customer service phone number yet? They have been pretty responsive to me when I’ve contacted them regarding missing magazine issues in the past. If you go that route, I’d be curious to hear what they have to say and how they resolve your issue.

      Like

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s