Headwaters Tourism, as the destination marketing organization representing Dufferin County, the Town of Caledon and the Town of Erin is proud to be the home of Headwaters Horse Country and is now being recognized by the industry for its efforts in innovative rural economic development as it pertains to the equine sector.
Headwaters Tourism was one of the first regions in Ontario to actively identify the economic importance of the equine sector in our rural communities and as early as 2008 began exploring ways to enhance and grow this important sector in the Headwaters region. Specifically, the organization began softly promoting the tourism opportunities associated with equine related events and activities, including introducing an annual stable tour. However, it soon became apparent that focusing solely on equine tourism was limiting the growth opportunities for this sector as a significant driver for our rural economy, and that further work was required to fully understand the breadth, scope and potential of this sector.
In 2012, the organization brought industry stakeholders to the table in an effort to understand the gaps in the marketplace and to ascertain interest in expanding the scope of work for equine sector development. This casual group of stakeholder advisors eventually came together as a formalized working group called the Headwaters Equine Leadership Group (HELG). Since its inception, HELG has created a strong foundation to support the Headwaters Horse Country initiative.
In 2013, the group received financial support from the Ontario Trillium Foundation to help move the project forward. As a result of this funding, the group worked to establish a database of equine assets in the region, developed a framework for measuring the economic impact of the sector in Headwaters region and forged relationships with equine organizations (including the Ontario Equestrian Federation and Equine Canada). 2013 also saw King Township join initiative, and officially become a standing partner on the Headwaters Equine Leadership Group.
In 2014, HELG took Headwaters Horse Country to market, all leading up to 2015, the year Headwaters hosted the equestrian events of the 2015 Pan American Games. In anticipation of the Games, HELG launched the award-winning, Headwaters Parade of Horses. 24 statues remain as permanent community art displays that visually position Headwaters as Horse Country.
With the successful completion of the group’s foundational work HELG is moving forward with a refined focus and targeted work-plan.
The Headwaters Equine Leadership Group will be celebrating excellence in the equine industry at the Headwaters Horse Country Excellence awards gala on Wednesday, May 11th. Tickets are still available at www.headwatershorsecountry.ca