Developing Fell Pony Tourism

Developing equine tourism doesn’t necessarily come naturally.  In Kentucky, considered the heart of horse country in the United States, tourist interest in tours of the horse-breeding area were an unmet need for many years.  However, when a company was formed to organize such tours, both tourists and horse farms benefited:

  • “Horse Country has been a good liaison to the farms in understanding the needs of tourists – like restrooms, varied tour times, information about the farm – and helping tour operators appreciate the expectations of the farm, since they are working farms and the safety of their horses is always a top priority.”

  • “These experiences are as authentic as it comes. This isn’t an amusement park or fabricated attraction. This is simply our way of life. Visitors appreciate our authenticity.”

  • “The average stay is about three days, so we know they’re booking hotel rooms, eating at restaurants and shopping, spending dollars in our local economy.”

  • “Horse farms have been largely pleased with their foray into equine tourism, with several eager to expand not only what they offer to the public but how they offer it.”  (1)

Happy tourist in Iceland

Happy tourist in Iceland

The most-studied connection between equines and tourism is in Iceland. Not surprisingly, then, there is a very useful report from Iceland for aspiring equine tourism entrepreneurs called the Good Practice Guide to Equine Tourism Business. This document is of special interest to the Fell Pony community because it was focused on the use of native equine breeds in tourism. The guide’s overall message is that equine tourism businesses are still businesses, and good business practices are therefore important and at the same time may not be well understood by equestrian entrepreneurs. “…a lifetime of learning about horses is necessary but not sufficient to build a sustained successful equine tourism business. Operating a successful tourism enterprise is not necessarily like operating a riding school or other core equine enterprise. Relations with customers can be very different, and the use to which horses are put can be so too. Further, equine tourism businesses exist within a tourism sector and are subject to competition from other types of activities.” (2)

The Good Practice Guide discusses an initiative to create a Breed Centre for native equine breeds that is similar to the proposed Fell Pony Heritage Centre. “A model for such a visitor center is for instance the Center for the history of the Icelandic horse in Hólar where a compact multimedia exhibition with historical artefacts tells the story of the breed and its role in Icelandic society. The center also collects photographs and other reference material about this topic and hosts art exhibitions with the horse as theme. The center has a small and focused selection of souvenirs; photographs, horse hair products and publications featuring the Icelandic horse.” (3)

  1. Roytz, Jen.  “Taking Up the Equine Tourism Reins,” August 9, 2017, Lane Report, Lexington, Kentucky, as accessed 3/31/19 at

  2. Evans, Rhys, et al.  A Good Practice Guide to Equine Tourism.  HLB Rapport Nr. 2 – 2015, as accessed 3/31/19 at , p. 103.

  3. Evans, p. 23