The management firm for the International Equestrian Festival will involve Eastern Kentucky University marketing and public relations students in helping plan the event and work with international media and visitors during the World Equestrian Games next fall.

Executives of Horse Capital Productions (HCP) met with EKU President Doug Whitlock on Friday to announce the collaboration.

Horse Capital Productions chose to involve EKU students in the event based on its several years of experience with students it has employed or used as interns, said Annie Buchanan, the firm’s founder.

The EKU-HCP partnership was first discussed last year as Buchanan and her business partner, Kimberly Eilers Brown, were on campus as keynote speakers for EKU’s Communications Now seminar.

Beginning in January, five EKU communication courses will use the International Equestrian Festival’s wide-ranging events planning and implementation process to create an interactive marketing and public Relations curriculum, said Dr. Renee Everett, EKU communication’s department chair.

During the Sept. 25 through Oct. 10 festival, EKU students will get to help run events, field questions and act as guides for festival guests, including international media, Brown said.

“We have always taken great pride at EKU in providing our students opportunities to apply their classroom learning and enhance their skills in hands-on settings,” Whitlock said. “This partnership with Horse Capital Productions will immeasurably enrich the education of participating students and help prepare them for successful careers in their chosen fields. At the same time, their contributions will be integral to the success of this exciting international event.”

The president said employers tell him they value the practical skills of EKU graduates, as well as the critical and creative thinking skills emphasized in the university’s curriculum.

The International Equestrian Festival is a multi-million dollar event that will take place in Lexington during the World Equestrian Games, which is expected to attract 600,000 spectators, Brown said. The festival will include a 16-day equine seminar series along with an international trade fair and a full-service hospitality center.

Planning for the event began two years ago with a focus on providing unique access to all things horse, she said.

For the past two semesters, EKU communications student Ayla Eichenhofer said he has had firsthand experience working in a fast-paced environment as a Horse Capital Productions intern.

“I never imagined that I would get so much hands-on experience during my internship,” she said. “I feel really proud to be part of something so exciting.”

Buchanan, who has a 20-year history in education consulting and integrated critical thinking, said she quickly recognized the common focus of EKU’s critical-creative and hands-on educational culture and her company’s community development goals.

Additional details about the EKU-HCP collaboration can be obtained from Dr. Kathy Keltner of the EKU communications department at Information about the International Equestrian Festival is available at

Bill Robinson can be reached at or at 626-6622.

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