Category Archives: Writing About Horses

To all of us who don’t ride as much as we “should”

When I turned 50, something in my brain changed. I stopped caring what anyone else but me thought. I decided that “should” was a word I didn’t want to say or use again.

Riding Buzz on a fall morning.

Buzz and I enjoying a moment.

 

My horse Buzz

Buzz and I talk.

And I decided that where and how I get my pleasure with my horse was up to me.

In the saddle, on the ground, just hugging his neck, picking his hooves, wiping his eyes and nose and talking, yes always, talking to him.

This beautiful bit of writing from Katy captures, precisely, how I felt and feel about horses.

I lost Buzz on May 20th of this year. Don’t wait. Don’t waste time on what you “should” do. Enjoy your horse or horses any way you want to. This moment really is all we have.

Katy Had a Little Farm

There is something about the outside of a horse that is good for the inside of a man.-Winston Churchill

My friends say it a lot: we don’t ride as much as we should.  Our horses are pets, farm ornaments, and fertilizer machines.  It is a common theme for those of us still clinging to our equestrian identities.  If you are in a stage where you can live your productive, horsey life, that is awesome and I’m so happy for you.  I’m living the endurance and dressage circuits vicariously through my friends who are back in the horse world.  I’m telling myself I’ll be back on the trails with my people someday.  

So many of us let the rest of our lives get in the way.  The job, the kids, the fact that it will really hurt if we hit the ground in these adult bodies…

I was an awkward…

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Filed under Death & Dying, Inspiring People, Mysteries, Uncategorized, Writing About Horses

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

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

When A Writer Runs Scared

Fear!  How is it possible that an experienced, mature writer can be struck by knee-knocking, palm sweating fear about submitting her writing?

It has struck me and struck me hard despite the fact that I have written for 30 years and been published that long, writing for magazines, papers, companies and venture capitalist.  My tween novel is done.  All the final edits came in from my proofreader and in the manuscript but it is still sitting on my desk.  The “why” is easy.

Rejection.  I don’t handle it well and this is a big opportunity for rejection — my first novel.

The query letter will be written today and the manuscript will be sent to the publisher of choice, tomorrow.  Wish me luck!

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Filed under Copywriting, Writing About Horses