Publisher Puts Focus of Horse Magazine on 'Folks Under the Helmets'

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Spotting an opportunity in the equine market, People Media Group has launched a controlled-circulation magazine for Californians passionate about horses.

The magazine, HorsePeople, targets California households with homes worth more than $750,000 and where at least one resident is a horse lover. Initial circulation is 50,000.

"Horse publications typically dwell on the horse shows and competitions and don't talk about the people that horse people really want to get to know," said John Lockhart, publisher of People Media Group, Ventura, CA. "Photographically, the typical horse magazines have great shots of horses, but you can't really see the people. We bring the camera closer and focus on the folks under the helmets."

Lockhart said potential exists in the niche he is targeting. There are 2 million horses in California, one for every 10 households. With good weather, the passion is year round. It is a segment of this market that HorsePeople reaches out to. The circulation is based on purchased lists as well as files associated with horse-related businesses with which Lockhart works through his Goodenough Horse Farms Spa in Fillmore, CA.

"Fifty thousand is the start number," he said. "We'll grow with requested circulation as people return response cards from mailings and from the publications."

Frequency is twice this year, quarterly in 2005 and six times yearly after that. Plans call for expansion circulation in Florida, Virginia, Oregon, Washington and Nevada.

The first issue, which went out in May with another due in November, features articles on Glendale, CA, show jumper Richard Spooner, horse whisperer and trainer Laura Stinchfield Freeman, orthodontist Nancy Goebel and animal law attorney Sandy Toye. There also is a section on barn gossip.

Wendy P. Basil is HorsePeople editor. Advertisers in the debut issue include Kubota Tractor Corp., Wells Fargo's equine insurance division, The New York Times Photo Archives and Goodenough Farms Horse Spa. A full-color page ad costs $4,500 for the magazine's oversized 9-by-12-inch format.

"We're covering horse shows, distributing the magazine at those shows, generating publicity in consumer magazines reaching our target and distributing sample copies through advertisers and potential advertisers," Lockhart said.

HorsePeople, he said, was inspired by consumer interest in "Seabiscuit," a book and movie about a racehorse of the same name that captivated so many hearts. Similarly, "Hidalgo," another movie in the genre, dwelt on man's redemption and transformation with the help of a horse.

Meanwhile, People Media is applying the same formula to an October launch for FireSafe People, another magazine styled on HorsePeople and with the same ad rate. That magazine, which seeks to be the official publication of the FireSafe Councils, will reach 50,000 targeted households quarterly. In early September, People Media will drop 100,000 postcards to its target audience to gain subscribers.

Once people respond, the publication will mail to households in upmarket "urban interface zones" prone to wildfires in Southern California. The footprint includes Los Angeles, Santa Barbara, San Diego, Orange, Ventura, San Bernardino and Riverside counties.

As with HorsePeople, FireSafe People's readers are identified as households with homes worth more than $750,000. They are major buyers of luxury goods, appliances, insurance and equipment to keep their homes, gardens and properties pretty and safe.

"They're especially concerned as last year California experienced a record fire season, and this year's season is also expected to be challenging for homeowners and fire departments," Lockhart said.


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