every great equestrian business is a great horse story... What's yours?
|My great story? Swapping T-shirts with German Gold medalist Klaus Balkenhol at the 1996 Olympics
I've had the great privilege of building
a communications career in the equestrian sport industry and getting to know, on a first-name basis, the riders who were my
heroes as a child. That professional bridle path began with graduating summa cum laude with a degree in Equine Business
Management from Johnson & Wales University to complement a B.A. in Journalism earned at SUNY-Albany under professor and
Ironweed author, Bill Kennedy, and post-graduate work at Harvard under the Wall Street Journal's Liz Roman Gallese, 'Guru of Gnu' animal behaviorist, Richard Dephard Estes, and aesthetics/arts
theorist, Clive Dilnot.
I stepped directly into public relations service for the U.S. Equestrian Team,
Winter Equestrian Festival, Gladstone Driving Association, and Hampton Classic. It was 1992 and Sports Illustrated had
broken the horrific show jumping scandal of Tommy 'The Sandman' Burns putting unsuccessful show horses permanently to sleep,
paid off by owners/investors seeking to recoupe on a losing proposition by collecting on the unfortunate animal's insurance.
A year later, I saw the U.S. horse industry go from nadir to apex as the personal dream of the late Finn Caspersen came to
fruition and Gladstone, NJ, hosted the first-ever World Pairs Championship, bringing the finest combined driving athletes
from around the world together and introducing an American teenager with an almost preternatural ease at the reins named Chester
Weber, who has since won an unprecedented nine National titles. (I've a really good story about an emotive, but still
media-green Weber in front of the international press, but you'll have to ask me for that one in person).
I was working with World Cup director Max Ammann coordinating Equestrian Press services for the Atlanta Committee for the
Olympic Games and had the best seat in the house at the Georgia International Horse Park arena, overseeing the interviews
with each rider immediately following their performance. I saw the contemplative expression of U.S. Show Jumping team
rider Peter Leone as he earned an Individual Silver medal on his 40th birthday. Shared dinner (and a cigar in the limo)
with U.S. Dressage's Michelle Gibson and her family after her Individual Bronze -- and final ride -- on the beautiful Peron.
Watched Anky van Grunsven break into tears as her Olympic journey became an emotional endurance test compounded by the loss
of her grandmother and a bomb scare at her hotel. Yes, it was Atlanta and even though the Horse Park was technically
in Conyers, each pre-dawn morning those of us working the Games had our vehicles scrutinized by bomb sniffing dogs and telescopic
mirrors scanning undercarriages. All in all, it was a heady start to a career and I have worked hard to try and learn
from the phenomenal stable of equestrians, publicists, journalists, and photographers that I have met.
My first movie as a kid
was The Horse in the Grey Flannel Suit, and three decades later, much like Dean Jones
and Aspercel, I was at Madison Square Garden for The National Horse Show and promoting a jumper named Paul Harvey. A
racetrack dud as Stand By For News, the bay gelding found his calling over fences and kept me busy publicity-wise because
every time Paul Harvey won a championship, I was to call the personal home phone number of his radio celebrity namesake.
When Paul Harvey the horse won, Paul Harvey talked about it the next day on his show. The last hour, of the last night
of the last National Horse Show ever at 'The Garden,' I walked into the center of that arena as the grand prix fences
and sponsor banners were being taken down, and stood and thought of Dean Jones.
Fast forward to the digital age, when a group
of close friends were working night and day to launch an equestrian news and information website. As impossible as it
is to imagine now, in the mid-1990s if you searched the 'World Wide Web' under 'horse,' you got about 300 sites. One
was Equisearch.com and life changed dramatically when Robert Redford called. The film, The Horse Whisperer, put Equisearch.com on the map, or rather, on movie screens everywhere, as the website
Kristin Scott Thomas used to find a trainer to work with Pilgrim and her daughter. I went from writing editorial for
my friends in exchange for bags of groceries to Western Content Director for what Forbes
Magazine called the best equestrian site on the internet. I covered Reining as it became a USET-recognized discipline
and joined Dressage, Driving, Endurance, Show Jumping, Three-Day Eventing and Vaulting on the world stage. I reported
on the first U.S. Reining team winning its first Nations Cup. I've interviewed the late Bill Horn and dined with amiable
think I have lived during one of the greatest eras of the American horse industry. I saw the introduction of the Polish
Arabian and how Bask* and others like him enraptured a new audience. I watched Riva Ridge, Ruffian, Affirmed, Secretariat
run and took for granted that Triple Crown champions would occur more often than not. I saw Stanley Dancer drive Albatross
to a pacing world record. Discussed the sad state of quality trophy engraving with William Steinkraus, and sniffed
muzzles with Born to Boogie, Gem Twist, Niatross, and Rugged Lark.
I can weave your great
story because I've lived great stories, too, and can apply award-winning communications skills to your message: Journalism
and digital reporting, social media, public relations, sponsorship management, online radio hosting and video production.
My expert voice appears as Contributing Lifestyle and Fashion columnist for international breed and style publications, and
will be heard on Horses in the Morning beginning Spring 2013 as Elite Equestrian's lifestyle host with Glenn and Horse Radio
|Sharing the Fleet Jumper Classic Grand Prix ring with JL Parker - thanks Tony DeCosta Photography