Oregon Horse Country (our original name) was the creation of the Wilsonville Area Chamber of Commerce’s Tourism Director, Jennifer Johnson. Jennifer was charged with creating a new tourism initiative that would help fill local hotel rooms on weekends. She quickly realized that the area was rich in equine lifestyle and as a equestrians herself, saw an opportunity to unite and promote equine events, activities, and businesses.
Launched in late 2008, Oregon Horse Country was a variety of local equestrians who informally met monthly for lunch at a local ranch and discussed issues in the industry and how they could help each other. By mid-2011 it was apparent that the format of Oregon Horse Country to focus solely on tourism was to narrow as most of the engaged people were equine business owners. There was also a need for the group to become more formally structured and assist the local equine community in new ways. Since Jennifer’s tourism position allowed her to only work on projects that directly resulted in additional local hotel nights, Brandi Ebner was brought in to help with the non-tourism elements. Brandi was the Membership and Events Director at the Wilsonville Chamber and quickly determined that a membership trade association was the best model for the organization.
While restructuring, it was discovered that there was no organization existed to help the greater equine industry in Oregon leaving a huge hole in helping the industry grow and be successful. In January 2012 Oregon Horse Country was re-launched as a state-wide equine association. The goal was to represent, support, and promote the equine industry across the whole state, while at the same time bringing new equine related tourism dollars to Oregon and provide a resource so that any horse person (or non-horse person) could use us to find what they are looking for.
Jennifer resigned in early 2013, in order to focus on other pursuits, and Brandi took over the full responsibility of the program. By mid-2015 the Wilsonville Chamber acknowledged that the Oregon Horse Country program was strong enough to stand on it’s own and really did not fit with the mission and purpose of the Chamber any longer. On November 10, 2015, the initial Board of Directors meeting of new Oregon Horse Country established an independence that allowed the organization to flourish in any way that was needed by the equine industry. In early 2018, OHC became the official Oregon representatives with the American Horse Council and State Coalition of Horse Councils. By the end of 2018, it was apparent that the name Oregon Horse Country was deterring support and recognition for the work that we were doing. In November 2018, we officially changed our name to the Oregon Horse Council, which better reflected the work that our organization was doing for Oregon’s equine industry.
OHC Staff and Board are continuously working to take the organization to the next level and strive to support all levels of our industry.