Category Archives: Equestrian Articles

Articles written for The Equine Journal, the Delaware Valley Combined Training Association and US Equestrian.

Save Another Horse; Buy A 2013 Calendar

Raise money to save horses from slaughter and get this beautiful calendar.

Rescue a horse without leaving your office or couch.  Buy another calendar this year and help save hundreds of horses from slaughter.

Last year, horse lovers around the world raised $40,000 just by buying calendars.  Let’s do it again, this year.  Let’s save more horses and make a difference in the lives of these wonderful, spiritual animals.

What could be easier?  I asked that question last year…and I’m asking it again this year.

For $19.95, you will get a beautiful calendar and gift and a horse may just get a second chance at life.

Buy one special calendar and you might be able to help save one of the thousands of healthy, lovely and loving American horses that are slaughtered every year.

Offered by Hoofprints.com, the calendar is the result of a group of horse lovers watching horses going to an auction house and deciding to make a difference.   They created a calendar featuring some of the horses they met.

Printed on heavy stock, the photography is exceptional and even more so because of the conditions under which the horses are being held and the pictures are taken.

As with last year’s calendar, each month features another beautiful horse, photographed by well-known professional photographer Sarah K. Andrew.  Every month you meet another horse whose life path should have taken it to fields of clover and sunshine on its back. The horses, thoroughbreds, Appaloosa’s, paints, chestnuts and Belgian, colts, mares, geldings and stallions, are magnificent, proud, standing tall.

Here’s the good bit.  The profits — all of them — are donated to a dedicated fund with One Horse At a Time, Inc.  Money from the sale of these calendars goes to rescue horses — period.

The calendars are available at Hoofprints and only cost  $19.95.  And they make great gifts for anyone who loves horses or just loves animals.

For each of these horses and countless others, the end of their lives is not going to be spent in a warm, sunny field in a forever home.  It will end with a trip to feedlots like Camelot in the middle of New Jersey and a swift trip to Canada or Mexico where horses go to die.  Many of the horses know they are no longer home but they don’t understand what is happening.

The horse lovers who created this calendar understand and are not standing around, watching. They act.

Sarah K. Andrew makes time to photograph every horse sold to the feedlot. Volunteers evaluate the horses the best they can and a large network of horse people distribute photos and descriptions of the horses, from Facebook to feed stores.They work with the owner of the auction to resell the horses who didn’t get a high enough bid to leave the sale.

Since the effort began in November 2009, no horses have shipped to slaughter from the auction house, and well over 2,000 horses have been purchased and re-homed out of just one feedlot.

I can’t buy another horse.  But I can buy a calendar or two.  And so can you.

Please act.  Please help save these horses whose only mistake was being sold by someone who used to love them.

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Filed under Death & Dying, Equestrian Articles, Life & Death, Mid-Atlantic Horse Stories, World Changing Ideas, Writing About Horses

Writing for The Examiner; An Exercise in Stupidity

Okay, I will admit it.  I was appealed to by the idea that I could write on a topic I love – horses – and get regional exposure.  So I signed on to write for The Wilmington Examiner.  I went through the application process and they did a background check on me that would have made a police department blush.  I was found “fit for writing” and given a chance to provide content to them.

I wrote for them from September 16th of 2009 until March of 2010.  Six months ago I stopped writing for them.  I held off posting this because I needed to decide if I was overreacting.  I don’t think I am.

I published close to 3 dozen articles that were well-written, well thought out, contained original content and included interviews with local, regional and national experts.  Then, one morning I received an email from The Examiner “auditor” informing me that an article I posted on natural fly control was not “local”, got  a verbal slap on the wrist and was reminded that I w0uld not get paid for articles that were deemed not local.

When I was done laughing, I sent them a note telling them why I would no longer be writing for them.

If you write for the The Examiner, you really cannot be writing for money.  Local articles earn the writer $1.00.  No that is not a typo – that’s 100 pennies.  The article in question took me several hours to put together.  At my usual writing rate, I would get $200 for 4 hours of work.  By writing this article, I lost $199.00 in income.

Beyond the obvious, if I had been writing for money, why would I have spent 6 months writing solid, appealing articles about horses, horse rescue and horse care to earn a total of $12.34?  I earn 4 times that, per hour, for articles written for three magazines for which I am a regular contributor.

So this is NOT about money.  This is about trying to contribute content about a topic I love so that people who live in the tri-state area (or anywhere in the world since the web isn’t geographically limited) would have yet another resource for solid information and entertaining stories about the equestrian world.  My average page views ran 1210; Wilmington Pets ran at a rate of 1228 and the average for pets, in general was 1457.  I’d say I had a readership.

The article in question covered a topic that a LOT of equestrians are interested in and used experts from several companies/places discussing their respective products.  It was linked to different web sites which should increase traffic to The Examiner’s site and was tagged for SEO.

So, who is the editorial genius that says writing from my desk in Pennsylvania has to be limited to….well, Pennsylvania?  And why?  This article was about flies.  Flies don’t limit themselves to the tri-state area.  They aren’t restricted to ADIs or zip codes.  Last time I checked, flies tend to hang around stables and barns.  And Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Delaware and Maryland are… duh…in horse country.

If The Examiner wants to incent writers to leave their enterprise, this is the way to do it.  As a former journalist and a frequent contributor to several magazines with readerships in the hundreds of thousands, I find their approach short-sighted and insulting.  I have written my entire life and the product that I produced for their web site was  top drawer.

The operative word in that last sentence is “was.”  I officially resigned and have not written for the Examiner since the email from the auditor.  To their credit, the auditor did send me an apology for the email but the damage was done.  Theirs is a business model that works for them but, not, I would wager for 99% of the writers toiling over articles for this company.  If you are a writer and you are smart, you will save your words for someone who appreciates the effort, literally and figuratively.

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Filed under Copywriting, Equestrian Articles, Freelance Writing, Mid-Atlantic Horse Stories, Writing About Horses, Writing Articles

Got flies? Get some non-toxic weapons

Most barns have an arsenal of weapons to try to beat back the fly population including fly strips, sprays and traps. A lot of these tools work but they don’t last and they add to an already heavy workload.

Strips are more expensive than sprays and have to be replaced all season long. There is nothing uglier than a fly-encrusted pest strip but somebody has to take the old one down and put the new one up. And there are usually three or four strips in every barn. Changing out the strips is a dirty task and it takes time.

Every horse has to be sprayed before going out in the field, when they come in and before each ride, every time. Spraying one horse may only take 3 minutes a day but if you have 10 or 15 horses in the barn, that’s 30 minutes a day and more than three hours a week spent spraying horses to control flies.

Fly traps can work but before you spend a dime on them, make sure you are getting the right trap for the fly you are trying to catch. You might catch house flies with one but not catch the object of your attention — biting stable flies. Stable flies are attracted to light and fly low so traps have to be in the right place to catch them. Odor traps work on flies too but flies will travel up to a quarter of a mile to get to them. Put odor traps inside your barn and all you are doing is attracting flies from the whole neighborhood.

Workload isn’t the only thing affected by fly control.  If you live in the country, you probably have well water and so do your neighbors. Logically, every chemical that you use goes downstream and ends up in your neighbor’s water.  Your neighbor may be doing the same thing to your water supply.

What if you could find natural solutions that last longer and are not chemically based?

Horse Fly Nets
Horse fly nets get hung up once and last for ten years. Hung over entryways and windows in barns and run in sheds, Horse Fly Nets are made of the same material that tennis court nets are made of – polyester with a fine coating of vinyl. Resistant to rain, rot and ultra violet (UV) rays, they are environmentally safe, durable and made to order.

How do they work? Owner and inventor Karleen Hubley says it’s all in the angle of the sun. “The horse fly net creates shade at an angle based on where the sun strikes.” Behind the net, Hubley says, there is a, “…cool, dark space that the horses like but the flies don’t.”

The nets don’t touch the ground so a few flies may fly under the net but that means that hundreds of flies are on one side of the net and the horses are on the other. Keeping the net off the ground has the added benefit of keeping it from being trampled or pulled down and keeps it from getting muddy.

Standard sizes are available but Horse Fly Nets also sells custom nets. Both are reasonably priced and can be ordered on the Internet, paid for with credit card or check and delivered in less than 10 days.
For more information, visit  Hubley’s website or email her at info@horseflynet.com

Fly Predators
Most people rely on sprays and strips but rising slowly through the ranks of fly control is a slightly different product — beneficial insects. Organic gardeners have been using beneficial for years to control predatory bugs. Now these warriors are being put to use in barns across the country to help control flies.

Fly predators are not new. Tom Spalding’s family has been making and selling Fly Predators™ for more than 30 years.  “This is a different approach — biological control. You put out the bugs before you have flies and you won’t have flies all summer,” says Spalding, who is President of Spalding Labs.

Created at Spalding Labs early in the 1970’s, Fly Predators™ uses beneficials to kill the larvae. Fly predators keep flies from hatching rather than trying to kill them so you may still have to use fly strips and sprays while you get control over your fly population.

Some of the biggest names in the equine industry use Spalding’s product. Darren Chiacchia, Olympic Medalist, Tyler Magnus, nine-time NFR competitor, and Julie Goodnight, host of Horse Master on RFD-TV are just a few of Spalding Labs’ customers.

If you want to learn more about flies and fly control, visit Spalding Labs.   Spalding gives away a fly control guide that shares three decades of knowledge on how to use or buy the least amount of our product and spend the least amount of money to have the best control.

Zip-Loc Bags
If you are up for an experiment in fly control, another unproven but non toxic approach involves Zip-Loc bags and water!

First mentioned in 2003 by San Francisco Chronicle columnist, Richard Fagerlund, the method is simple. Fill a sandwich-size Ziploc bag about half full of water. Tape the top of the bag to the outside of the barn entrances. Add more water as needed. There is no scientific proof that this works but Fagerlund claimed that mail from his readers ran 9 to 1 that it did.

Why would flies avoid bags filled with water? Another mystery but the possible answer is they scare flies. So if you feel like experimenting and don’t feel like spraying yet another chemical, give them a try. You might get some relief from flies this summer and, at the very least, you’ll might a laugh or two from friends or boarders.

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Filed under Equestrian Articles, Mid-Atlantic Horse Stories

Gray Dapple Thoroughbreds Rescued by Actress and Former A Circuit Rider

Anyone who owns horses knows just how much the current economic downturn hurts. In fact, The Unwanted Horse Coalition conducted a survey to find out just how deep this issue runs and learned that the recession is hitting horse owners hard; it is also hitting horse rescues hard.

Up until a few months ago, acclaimed Hollywood actor and Broadway star, Paul Sorvino was able to fund one Pennsylvania-based horse rescue pretty much singlehandedly. That’s because Gray Dapple, which currently has 18 horses in care, is run by his daughter, Amanda Sorvino.

But the recession has cut her father’s ability to cover all the costs. “At the ranch, Dad wrote the checks and I brought in horses and we had a staff – a barn manager and my boyfriend and me. It was a family operation,” says Amanda Sorvino.

It is still a family operation but funding is tight.  Some people think because she is the daughter of a famous actor, Amanda’s rescue doesn’t need donations. But with 18 horses in care right now and more sure to turn up, Amanda says costs are going up because of the kind of horses she rescues.

“Some horses are not going to be adoptable. They are young but they are lame, injured. We tend to have horses that have special needs. And some will never leave my rescue.”

An A Circuit rider in her childhood, Amanda got into the rescue business because of one horse – Pastel. “…probably the most beautiful horse I have ever seen. But Pastel was not going to make it in the circuit,” Amanda pauses to collect herself. “We purchased another horse for me. We kept Pastel for awhile but she was just forgotten. I never really knew what happened to her. I looked for her for years but never did find her.”

Pastel inspired the name for her rescue – graydapple.org – but New Holland was what really got Amanda started on the path to rescue. “I have been rescuing for more than 4 years, after my first visit to New Holland. I was shocked that a kill buyer could buy show horses and ship them to slaughter.”

Rescuing horses also led Amanda to begin finding, investigating and exposing illegal slaughterhouses in the mid-Atlantic region. “I grew up in an actor’s family and on movie sets. A lot of life is acting so when I went undercover to investigate the Bravo operation, – I was playing a role. I never had any fear while I was doing this.”

But Amanda has paid for her activism, receiving death threats and unable to disclose where her rescued horses are being kept. “Because of all my undercover work, I don’t like to give the location out. I have exposed so many kill buyers and there have been threats made,” explains Amanda. “The horses are now in three boarding operations.”

Amanda relies on volunteers to help her recover, rehabilitate, retrain and adopt out the horses she rescues and like other rescue operations, she is always looking for funding. “Because we are boarding all the horses right now, we need to get something back for all of the money we put out when we rescue and rehabilitate.”

She has horses available for adoption and uses fees to help defray costs but adopting one of her horses is not easy. “The application is really restrictive; we charge a non refundable adoption fee.” Once you adopt one of Amanda’s horses, you can’t, “…re-sell, give away or trade the horse. The horses come back to me.,” Sorvino laughs. “It’s not really a rescue. We are a rescue in spirit, a combined rescue and sanctuary.”

Even with adoption fees, there is never enough to cover costs. Amanda makes it easy for people to donate to her rescue, accepting checks, major credit cards and PayPal.

“When we rescue a horse from slaughter we make that horse a promise that life will be wonderful from her on in.”

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Filed under Equestrian Articles, Freelance Writing, Mid-Atlantic Horse Stories, Writing About Horses

Top dressage riders and trainers offer online learning at Dressage Training Online

Top dressage riders and trainers offer online learning at Dressage Training Online.

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Filed under Equestrian Articles, Freelance Writing, Mid-Atlantic Horse Stories, Writing About Horses

Horse World Expos Coming to Maryland & Pennsylvania!

January always brings Horse World Expo to the tri-state area starting with Maryland, January 21st through January 24th.  There is no where else in the horse world where you can pay $10 (Pennsylvania tickets are $12 per day) and get access to top riders, trainers and equine stars.  And did I mention that all events are held indoors in heated facilities?

This year’s lineup includes John Lyons, legendary horseman and trainer known around the world, Julie Goodnight, “The Horse Master” and host of an award-winning RFD-TV television show,  Scott Hansen, retired mounted police officer and top trainer in self defense for trail riders, Steuart Pittman, Jr. owner and rider of Salute The Truth, eventer and the driving force behind the “Retired Racehorse Training Project” and Colleen Kelly, who is one of the leading speakers on rider biomechanics.

Daily, flat-price tickets give you access to ALL the seminars, demonstrations and vendors on site.  There will be breed demonstrations, a whole section dedicated to stallions and vendors selling everything from run ins to electric fencing, in one place and in easy driving distance whether you are going to the Maryland show or the one in Pennsylvania.

The Horse World Expos in Maryland and Pennsylvania are an unbelievable bargain but if you want to pre-order tickets for Maryland, you better hurry.  Online ticket sales will close for Maryland on January 14th.  Pennsylvania online ticket sales are open until February 24th, the day before the show.

Oh, and if you want to see one of the top entertainment events in the country, get your tickets for Theatre Equus, A Musical Equine Revue, a professionally choreographed and scripted show with performers like Tommie Turvey, Jr and Stacy Westfall partnering with horses to perform remarkable feats of daring and beauty.  You have to get a separate ticket for this one but it will be worth it.

Horse World Expo is a horse lover’s paradise, a place to see top equestrians, meet legendary practitioners and meet your friends for a day of all things equine.  Check it out and get your tickets early!

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Filed under Equestrian Articles, Mid-Atlantic Horse Stories, Writing About Horses

What Do Healthcare and Horses have in common?

No, that’s not a trick question.  It is the question I get when I tell people I write for Advance Magazine for Nurses, The Art Times Journal, MD News and The Equine Journal.

The answer is really simple.  A good writer can write about anything!

Good writing is not about being an expert in any one subject, although that can make it easier but it also limits your freelance opportunities to just that one area of expertise.   Good writing is all about knowing how to write.  The basic elements of hammering out an article, a brochure, a corporate report and even a short story or a novel are about the same:

  1. Select a topic.  Getting an assignment from an editor makes this easy.  The more you write on a topic, the more ideas you will get on your own.
  2. Get a handle on your audience.  You won’t write the same way for teenagers that you would for adults or the same way for engineers as you would for bankers.  Your target audience will help you to find the right voice and vocabulary to use.
  3. Do your research.  No matter how often I write about horses or web site planning or healthcare, I ALWAYS do research before I ever contact anyone for interviews.  TIP:  if you are writing an article, make sure you save documents and sources so you can cite them.
  4. Determine which sources, which people you want to interview.  Your research may help with sources; your editor may as well.  And as you build experience in a subject area, some of your professional acquaintances my help, too.
  5. Conduct interviews.  My editors don’t care what I think or know.  They are looking for insights and information from industry experts.  That’s where interviews come in.  Interviews will form the meat of your article.  TIP:  I always record my interviews to make sure I accurately represent what the subject matter experts have told me.  A small digital recorder that connects to your cell phone makes this incredibly easy.  I got a TinyTEK from www.pimall.com and have been using it for 4 years.
  6. Type up your notes.  Why you ask?  There are two reasons — it makes it much easier to find an answer while you are writing if you can word search or scan a type written documents rather than notes on a legal pad.  Secondly, typing the notes actually begins the process of writing.  My brain, my subconscious, starts to put together connections and write the story while I am actually typing the notes.
  7. Read your notes then walk away!  Vacuum.  Mow the lawn.  Do something mechanical and repetitive and wait for your brain to begin the magic of writing.
  8. Clear your desk off.  Get a cup of coffee or tea.  Sit down and begin to write.  Write quickly, almost in outline form, inserting quotes from the notes and creating the beginning, middle and end.  TIP:  if you are having trouble getting started just think to yourself, “What am I trying to say?  What story am I trying to tell?”  Then tell it.
  9. Read your first draft OUT LOUD.  That’s right, read it out loud and you will instantly find places where the language doesn’t flow or the logic doesn’t work.  Mark up the draft, revise it and read it out loud again.
  10. Follow this process and edit until you are comfortable that it is in pretty good shape then read it again and this time ask yourself these questions.  Does it tell the story logically?  Completely?  Compellingly?  Does it make you want to know more?  Take action?
  11. Check your references and citations.  Make sure they are correct and that the format you use works for the publication you are writing for.
  12. Ask a “neutral 3rd party” to read the article.  You will be surprised what someone who hasn’t lived with the story, who doesn’t really love it or isn’t invested in it, can find.  TIP:  take the observations, changes and questions with good grace.  If this reader misunderstands or gets lost, you can bet the magazine, report, brochure readers are going to misunderstand or get lost, too.
  13. Make the final changes then, guess what?  Read it out loud one more time.  TIP:  if my gut says, “Don’t send the article right now.” I wait, sometimes overnight.  My subconscious is seeing something I am not seeing so I give myself another chance to read it through before hitting the Send button.
  14. Send your article, report, brochure, short story winging on its way to your editor and get started on the next one!

Follow this approach and you can write about horses, cardiology, surrealism, defense contracting and any other topic.

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Filed under Art Journal Articles, Equestrian Articles, Freelance Writing, Medical & Nursing Articles