Every year, hundreds of thousands of good horses find themselves in transition of career or ownership. Failure to successfully transition into new opportunities or adoptive homes results in many of these horses suffering or being put to death. When a prospective owner purchases a horse through the sales market, they unknowingly pass over adoptable horses that are ready candidates.
The Right Horse is an initiative funded by the WaterShed Animal Fund, a division of the Arnall Family Foundation dedicated to improving the lives of companion animals. Our goal is to massively increase the number of successful horse adoptions in the United States by working together to reframe the adoption conversation, shattering the stigma surrounding rescue horses and helping horses in transition get placed with the right homes, owners and opportunities.
Stakeholders were interviewed in three key categories: welfare organizations, industry professionals and advocates/adopters. Insights from research identified solutions to address two main opportunities:
OPPORTUNITY #1: Unity
Historically, welfare advocates and the equine industry have not collaborated. Specific issues divided and splintered conversations. Many of those dedicated to helping horses were operating in silos, without an organization unifying their respective expertise, skills, networks and passions. We needed to spark a collective effort promoting adoption as a preferred method of finding a horse.
OPPORTUNITY #2: Perception
While a significant barrier to adoption is public misperception that adoptable horses are "damaged," most adoptable horses find themselves in the system due to extenuating circumstances, like their owners facing financial difficulties. To change how people consider these horses, we needed to change the way people converse about them and connect with others around equine adoption.
Though a complex issue, the goal was to create unity through a simple identity. Representing a broad range of "horse people" from industry professionals to veterinarians, formal dressage riders to western riders, the identity needed a stylistically broad appeal. A bold graphic expression of the letter R was chosen to represent the transition from "rescue horse" to right horse." A subtle form of a horse is reflected in the shape of the letter.
The "R" is a symbol community members can replicate and use to socially signal belonging to the movement. It also draws focus to intention of pairing the right horses with the right opportunities to ensure lasting matches.
PARTNERSHIPS + PROGRAMS
Since launching in 2016, The Right Horse has partnered with 27 industry and welfare organizations, including the ASPCA and Zoetis, the largest global producer of pet/livestock medicine and vaccinations. The intent of the carefully-considered partnerships is to focus on industry innovation, as well as higher care standards.
To demonstrate its commitment to innovation, The Right Horse launched the Right Idea Grant in July of 2017. Non-partner organizations submitting the most innovative plan for increasing adoption and capacity-building to facilitate successful matches are eligible for up to $150,000.
The website serves as the hub for the Right Horse's messaging, as well as houses user-submitted adoption stories. The site also features a growing list of ways for people to get involved in supporting The Right Horse and its mission, as well as points of connection between visitors and Right Horse partners.
The core of the Right Horse's content is UGC #RightHorse stories that serve as organic, authentic inspiration, urging prospective owners to consider adoption. Shared photos curated from the community serve as additional social content. To encourage and reward engagement, we developed ample branded swag to share with community members, partners and influencers. The collection ranges from stickers to note cards, t-shirts to orange "pony paint" that recipients can use on their horses as a social signal and conversation starter.
In just six months, we rallied a group of horse owners and advocates from across the country into an active, engaged, and rapidly growing community of supporters for The Right Horse and its mission.
As of 7/31/17, The Right Horse has 12,057 followers on Facebook and Instagram combined. In just six months, there have been 1,920 mentions of the #RightHorse hashtag, which indicates that we are changing the language used in the online equine adoption conversation. We have received 57 long-form, user-generated adoption stories, along with hundreds of images.
The Right Horse's social media consistently outshines average engagement rates. Our most engaging content on FB averages 12% engagement, compared to an overall industry average of 0.77% for pages of our size. Our most engaging content on Instagram averages 44.2%, compared to the industry average of 2.36% for pages of comparable size.
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