New business opportunities thanks to American horses

Are cowboys really and only a stars and stripes exclusive? This is a myth that simply has to be dispelled because enthusiasts of the horses and disciplines associated with traditional American riding styles by now form a large part even in Italy. involving 75,500 people, 32,000 registered horses, three main associations and 2,500 stables and breeding centres, generating direct turnover of 9 million euros. And Veronafiere, through Fieracavalli, seeks to be a spokesperson for this world by creating a bridge between Italy and the United States. The intention is to explore new opportunities for sharing and business in this sector, especially in sporting fields, equestrian tourism and the food-experience.

American breeds in the forefront

Everything focuses on a passion for the three main horse breeds renowned during the Old Wild West: American quarter, Appaloosa and Paint horses – the latter being preferred by Comanche Indians for the dappled coat and camouflage properties. And these very same breeds, after the Westernshow during the 124th Fieracavalli, were once again the absolute protagonists at Veronafiere 9-19 November. Until last weekend, the show halls of Veronafiere hosted two key appointments for reining – the “queen” of American equestrian sports disciplines: the IRHA IRBHA Futurity, where the most promising three-year-olds made their debut, and the national championship finals organized by FISE, the Italian Federation of Equestrian Sports. All in all, 700 horses took part, including numerous “Million Dollar Horses” – authentic champions included in a special international ranking based on the prize money won in the course of their careers which, for the Verona event alone, reached a total of 800 thousand euros.

The meeting at Veronafiere

And it was precisely on this occasion that a b2b meeting was held at Veronafiere with all the main reference sporting and breeding associations in Italy for these breeds. Objective: identify new sales and cultural initiatives on both sides of the Atlantic through Fieracavalli with American horses as the common denominator. This mission also involves the collaboration of the Transatlantic Investment Committee (TIC) – a platform that works closely with diplomatic missions in the United States and Italy to strengthen ties in the field of strategic co-investments between the two countries.

Left side: Andrea Gumina, president of Transatlantic Investment Committee. Right side: Federico Bricolo, president of Veronafiere.

American Equitation,” explained Federico Bricolo, President of Veronafiere, “is undoubtedly one of the areas at Fieracavalli that – together with the TIC, breeder associations and companies – we can expand even further by looking into the natural affinities with the United States market. The idea is to turn horses into ambassadors of new transatlantic cooperation and sharing in sporting, business, tourism and food&wine fields. Veronafiere is already active in North America through events promoting wine&food and natural stone supply chains: and today, with Fieracavalli, we want to take another of our historic and successful brands overseas to further strengthen our presence in this area.”

“The success of the mission to the United States that the TIC organized in October in collaboration with the Italian Embassy in Washington DC and the US diplomatic mission in Italy,” said Andrew Gumina, Chairman of the Transatlantic Investment Committee,” demonstrates that economic-trade relations between our two countries attract considerable attention. This is why we decided to join the Veronafiere proposal, through Fieracavalli, and launch a project that will help us to maximize the potential of reining as a vehicle for joint Italy-USA investments and the promotion of Made in Italy.”

The associations in attendance

In addition to Federico Bricolo and Andrea Gumina, the meeting at Veronafiere was also attended by the following people: Armando Di Ruzza, Fieracavalli event manager, Maria Baleri, Fieracavalli senior consultant, Eleuterio Arcese, President of IRHA (Italian Reining Horse Association), Silvio Camanini, Vice President of NBHA (National Barrel Horse Association), Stefano Serni, President of FISE Toscana and national contact person for Reining and American equitation for the Italian Equestrian Sports Federation, Franco Amadio, President of FITEREC-ANTE (Italian Federation of Equestrian Tourism and Trec-Ante), Roberto Cuoghi, President of IRBHA (Italian Reining Breeder Horse Association), Michele Bongiorni, President of AIQH (Italian Quarter Horse Association) and Michelangelo Fasoli, member of TIC.

American horses in Italy

Talking about American horses today does not only mean referring to the passion for a lifestyle associated with the folklore of jeans, belts, check shirts, Texan hats and line dancing. This world also embraces a sporting value chain which boasts as many as 11 “specialities” in addition to reining: from high-adrenaline events (barrel racing, pole bending) to those inspired by work on ranches with cattle (cutting horse, working cow horse, team penning and ranch sorting), obstacle courses (Western gymkhana) and full scale performances highlighting the flexibility of horses (western pleasure, trail horse, western riding and horsemanship). And even here, Made in Italy once again proves itself capable of competing and excelling. And even in the original “homeland” of cowboys and their horses: in fact, Gunnatrashya – a Quarter horse that in just six months of global competitions has won 7 million dollars and enrolled the special USA Hall of fame – actually comes from an Italian breeder!

Sector facts and figures.

In Italy, this sector generates direct turnover (i.e. excluding allied business) of approximately 9 million euros/year. The numbers are easily explained: 4 million euros from trade in reining horses; 1 million from sports tourism; 1 million from the sale of equipment, clothing and products for breeders; 1.8 million from the prize funds of competitions on the calendar; 800 thousand euros for transport and handling horses. These figures are destined to grow, especially after the pandemic, as confirmed by the continuous expansion of membership of the main associations in Italy that focus on American horses: IRHA (Italian Reining Horse Association), NBHA (National Barrel Horse Association), IRBHA (Italian Reining Breeder Horse Association), AIQH (Italian Quarter Horse Association), FISE and Fitetrec-Ante (Italian Federation of Equestrian Tourism and Trec-Ante).