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2018 Readers’ Choice Awards: Tredstep Contributor Series of the Year

We love publishing reader contributions, and these mini-series or regular columns kept us coming back for more! Check out the highlights and vote for your favorite.

At the end of each December, we at Horse Nation like to look back on the year that was and highlight the articles, essays and videos that most inspired readers, triggered important conversations or had everyone rolling on the floor with laughter — and then let readers decide which one is deserving of the title of the Best of the Year.

Today, we’re looking back at the best contributor series of the year: we love publishing reader contributions, and these mini-series or regular columns kept us coming back for more! Check out the highlights and vote for your favorite below.

The nominees are…

Lessons Learned

Sorry, JJ. Mom’s an idiot. (Photo by Ainsley Jacobs of Ride Heels Down)

“So, what’s a girl to do? Clip at the last minute. Except that – other than little things like bridle paths and fetlocks – I’ve never clipped before. What’s the worst that could happen? To prepare, I read articles online and brushed up on “clipping tips.” I had all the things. Clippers, check. Oil, check. Cooling spray, check. Spare blades? Nah, my clippers are fairly new-ish and have only been used for the aforementioned small jobs. They should be fine. #FamousLastWords”

Ainsley Jacobs regales readers with tales of her lessons learned with her horse JJ as she navigates life as an adult-amateur event rider. This column publishes every other week, and you can browse all of Ainsley’s work here.

The Academic Equestrian

Photo by Peggy Shank

“The sleigh runners sliced cleanly through the snow, cutting tracks behind us, and I know that if my grandfather was watching, he would be proud that his sleigh was out again and making an otherwise blustery and cold day magic. I had worried about Slide’s reaction to the videographer’s bulky camera, but even while Zach crouched in the snow in front of him or jogged alongside, Slide plodded along, ears up, curious and interested but never afraid. While I’m glad the venture was a success in terms of holiday video footage, what I’ll remember most is the sound of runners on snow, the snow that blanketed Slide’s back, and the steady ring of my grandfather’s sleigh bells.”

Haley Ruffner chronicles the challenges of balancing a varied and vibrant horse life with a full college schedule. Haley has been documenting her collegiate horse life since her freshman year and is now a senior! Read all of her work here.

So You Want to Get an OTTB

Eve, working on the lunge. Photo courtesy of Clare Mansmann

“Finding a horse is not unlike entering the dating scene (except it is a bit more fun, because horses). Before online dating took off, the steps were rather simple, albeit on the risky side: you saw someone you liked, you got your friends to attract attention, you gave your phone number, waited maybe three days, and went on a date while said friends knew your timing, location, and outfit choices. Pretty much everything after that was a bit of a gamble and the odds were not in your favor. But today, we have tremendous resources and information at our fingertips. There are filters and algorithms and free background checks. You can apply the same standards of modern dating to decide if an OTTB is the right horse for you, which one is THE one, and the best way to get started on your search.”

Off-track Thoroughbreds are becoming increasingly popular as versatile sporthorse projects that are often fairly inexpensive — but finding the perfect partner can be intimidating. Clare Mansmann, an OTTB professional, penned a three-part series to help the OTTB curious get started.

Finding Nemo

Nemo, day one. Photo by Victoria Shields

“The man who sold me Nemo was nothing but honest. I wasn’t being tricked or fooled. The red flags were all on full display, and I decided to purchase him anyway. I think, as horse riders, there come times when we have to know which “warning signs” to try to work through, and which ones to turn and run from. Despite all of the worries gnawing at my brain, nothing I saw made me believe I couldn’t make it work with Nemo with some time and training. And at his price, I could afford to put some professional training on him. I had a good feeling about him, right along with all my worries. Looking back now, with the benefit of hindsight, I had no idea what I was getting into. It would turn into a much bigger ordeal than I ever imagined, including broken equipment, vet bills, surgery, and a few tears. My expectations would be completely shattered, and not in a good way, but I have now come to realize that was exactly what I needed to learn all of the things he was waiting to teach me.”

Victoria Shields’ series about the immense challenges she experienced with her new horse Nemo had readers hanging on every word and begging for the next installment. Victoria’s honest storytelling was released in four parts.

Jumping With WEG Gold Medalist Devin Ryan

From L to R: New BFFs Allison Howell on Tipitina, Devin Ryan, and Dr. Malora Roberts on #tbmakeovergraduate Cassie – who can canter a vertical just fine. Photo by Brenda Howell

“We all, at some point in our jumping career, have probably been told to count the strides between fences. But have you ever, my dear little chickadees, been told to start counting when you’re eight strides out? And not backwards from eight — that’s cheating, because you try to make them fit, for which I was chastised not once but twice. I thought I had been doing this long enough and read enough articles and watched enough George Morris horsemanship clinics and had a million lessons to have seen most everything, but this one was new, and mindboggling.”

Allison Howell shares her clinic experience with WEG gold medalist Devin Ryan in hilarious detail that’s both informative and diffident, like no clinic report you’ve ever read before.

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