JoAnn Heppermann: Oldham County Outreach
Friday, March 22, 2013 Share on Facebook RSS Feeds

JoAnn Heppermann: Oldham County Outreach

Something small and organic is being exported out of Oldham County in northwestern Kentucky but it may not be what you’d initially expect.  An enthusiastic group of Thoroughbred fans, owners, and breeders with roots in Oldham County are exporting throughout Kentucky a message to “ordinary folks” about the importance of a robust horse industry.

Distraught that research reveals chickens have supplanted horses as the highest grossing “crop” in the Commonwealth, these motivated horsemen and women combined resources to create the Oldham County Thoroughbred Supporters (OCTS) whose goal it is to help reverse the trend of the declining status of horses as Kentucky’s primary agricultural product.

One of the women leading this grassroots organization is lawyer-turned-horse owner-turned racehorse partnership manager, JoAnn Heppermann.  JoAnn and her husband Ken own and operate a Thoroughbred partnership group which strives to “make it possible for ordinary folks to be horse owners”.  After purchasing their first racehorse in 1999, JoAnn and Ken were hooked and that passion for Thoroughbreds has not wavered over the years.  She says, “We have become horse people.  It is who we are.”  Today their partnership includes 8 to 10 members who own various portions of three runners stabled with trainer, Walter Bindner. 

OCTS members present a trophy during “Oldham County Day
at the Races” last November at Churchill Downs.

Managing her Thoroughbred partnership is one example of JoAnn’s commitment to sustaining Kentucky’s equine industry and her leadership role in OCTS is another.  JoAnn says “my passion has become…the promotion of the industry among the ‘ordinary folks’”.  She goes on to explain the mission of OCTS as:

“Educating and energizing the folks in Oldham – and surrounding—counties about the thrill of owning horses and the importance of the Thoroughbred horse industry and its impact on our local and state economies.  It serves as both a support group for horsemen and as a vehicle for fans and horsemen to get to know one another.  Its members are all ordinary people—many of whom are trying to make a living in, through or by way of the Thoroughbred industry.  We want our neighbors to know our stories in the hopes that someday they will join us, either as owners, breeders, trainers or suppliers—or as fans.”

Increasing public awareness about the Thoroughbred industry helps individuals move from potential participant into current fan and client.  Exposure and education about the sport, along with greater accessibility to the horses and people who are at horse racing’s core is a primary function of OCTS.  Through its strategy of grassroots meetings led by local volunteers, OCTS has become a shining example of how an organic organization with limited resources can make a difference.

The dedication JoAnn has to ensuring a sustainable Thoroughbred industry is clearly evident by the generous work she does for both her Oldham County community and the Commonwealth alike.  JoAnn possesses a fresh voice that combines fan and consumer-driven perspectives with accessible expertise and an inclusive attitude and it’s clear her message is resonating with Kentuckians.  The possibilities for future growth in the Thoroughbred industry are boundless with resourceful and unique innovators like JoAnn leading the way.
Visit JoAnn’s YouTube page for more information about her personal efforts, and surely OCTS would love it if you would “Like” them on Facebook.

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