New Direction: Ellis Offers Olive Branch From CHP
Andrew Ellis is an up-front kind of guy and although he's been director of operations for the Carolina Horse Park for only two months, he's identified and acknowledged some of the mistakes made in the past and is ready to correct them.
Ellis' first order of business is to offer an olive branch to the equestrian community.
"The relationship between the horse park, which focuses on the sport of eventing, and other disciplines and breeds has been handled with less than open arms in the past," Ellis says.
"Although eventing will still be our No. 1 focus, we want to expand and include dressage, driving, hunter/ jumpers and other English discipline breed shows."
Ellis wants to see the different disciplines work together rather than be "camped out in different forts." And it's more than just a job to the 37-year-old single father. He recently moved here to raise his 9-year-old daughter, Taylor, near her grandparents, Effie and Nick Ellis of Southern Pines.
"It's more about passion and challenge than making a tremendous amount of money," Ellis says. "It's a way to contribute to the sport and my new hometown."
Ellis feels he has the background and connections to attract multi-disciplined competitions to the 250-acre horse park located in Raeford. He's been involved in all aspects of horse show management since 1991.
"I've done every job you can do at a horse show," Ellis says. "I've been an announcer, a judge, a course designer, right down to managing the in-gate."
Ellis manages or designs courses for 35-40 horse shows a year. He has worked under the tutelage of Linda Allen, Blake Alder and Richard Jeffries.
Ellis also serves on the Board of the United States Equestrian Federation (USEF) and serves on numerous committees. Ellis is very committed to safety issues and is chairman of the USEF Safety Committee. He was instrumental in passing the rule that hunter /jumper riders must wear ASTM-FEI approved helmets at competitions. Since that rule was passed, there has been a reduction in catastrophic head injuries and no deaths due to head injuries.
Ellis' connections with the hunter/jumper world have already attracted an "A" rated hunter/jumper show scheduled for May 22-25 at the Carolina Horse Park that will benefit the Carolina Horse Park Foundation.
Ellis realizes that repairing community relationships and fundraising go hand-in-hand.
"There is a lot of revenue that comes into Moore County as a result of the horse shows," Ellis says. "You don't hear about the economic impact that horse shows have in this area as much as you hear about the impact golfers have on the local economy.
"It behooves all equestrians who depend on the industry for their income to work together."
Ellis hopes to increase community and corporate support, in addition to raising revenue through events and facility rental. The horse park has taken a financial hit for the past two years of the Stoneybrook Steeplechase because of bad weather conditions. In order to get back on better financial ground, the park needs to attract more events.
In order to attract more events and take a more hands-on approach to the everyday management of the facility, the horse park office will be located at the facility rather than in downtown Southern Pines as of June 1.
"We will be able to provide better service and on-site management," Ellis says. "We were renovating the office there anyway (for horse shows) and it will save on the expense of maintaining two offices."
Besides Ellis and Executive Director Gwen Parkins, another recent addition to the staff is Dana Diemer.
Ellis doesn't have an easy race ahead of him but he seems to be holding his own at the 1/2-mile pole.
It's even odds that he will accomplish his goal of building community relationships.
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