2018 Readers’ Choice Awards: Kentucky Performance Products Best Staff Series

Our talented staff writers work hard to keep our readers informed, entertained and inspired all year long, and in 2018, a number of our staff penned regular or semi-regular columns on a variety of subjects near and dear to their hearts. Which one was 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.

Our talented staff writers work hard to keep our readers informed, entertained and inspired all year long, and in 2018, a number of our staff penned regular or semi-regular columns on a variety of subjects near and dear to their hearts. Which one was your favorite?

The nominees are…

The Idea of Order

Morgane Schmidt Gabriel of The Idea of Order illustrates a weekly comic putting an aspect of equestrian life into sharp (and hilarious) relief. Her cartoon horses and equestrians capture everything it means to be a horse person with witty captions and dialogue. View her ongoing series here.

Happy, Healthy & Horsey

“The extent of my injuries was such that I could not do yoga for months. Truth be told, walking was a challenge for a while. And the damage in my headspace, especially to my confidence, was even more traumatic. All the old demons such as, ‘you’re too fat to ride,’ ‘you’re too uncoordinated to ride,’ ‘you should just give up and let yourself go,’ ‘why don’t you just accept your age and grow old,’ etc., etc. screamed louder than ever before. But I am one of the very fortunate ones for whom complete healing is possible, including the mental trauma, and I hope to resume riding before the end of this month. #SoGrateful”

Formerly titled “Fat to Fit to First Level,” Esther Roberts’ weekly chronicle serves to inspire riders like her seeking to stay happy, healthy and horsey through life’s various challenges. Faced with some unplanned time out of the saddle in 2018, Esther’s series tackled some real challenges and asked some important questions this year. Catch up on the entire series here.

Going the Distance

Shae still has many finish lines to cross in her lifetime. Photo courtesy of Angela Gross Kemerer.

“Whether on foot or on hoof, preparing for such a feat of endurance will be a huge undertaking. Angela and I will share and compare the challenges and triumphs we experience over the course of our intense training programs. We are pumped, and we couldn’t be more excited to take all of you over at Horse Nation along with us for this crazy adventure! In addition to our updates on Horse Nation, be sure to keep up with us on social media by following the hashtag #ShaeMeansBizness.”

With the charming hashtag #ShaeMeansBizness, Biz Stamm has teamed up long-distance with Angela Gross Kemerer and her Arabian mare Shae to prepare for the 2019 Vermont 100 — a unique race for both endurance riders and trail runners contested over parallel courses of 100 miles. Over the course of this series, Biz details the training and challenges for both horses and runners to prepare for a race of that length. Follow the series here.

So You Want to Rescue an Auction Horse

Photo courtesy of Heidi Carter Adams

“If you want a stock horse that’s trail savvy and eight to ten years old, keeping that in mind will help you walk past the adorable green yearlings and the elegant four-year-old Arabians and all the others that are not what you have in mind for your riding partner. Nonprofit organizations typically have some sort of ‘take back’ policy if a match does not work out, but auction houses do not. So if your emotions take hold and you buy that cute three year old mini stud at auction, the animal is now your responsibility.”

Rescuing a horse from auction can be a rewarding experience not only for the rescued animal but the caretakers as well — but there are plenty of snags and pitfalls to try to avoid in order to do the most good and keep everyone safe. Esther Roberts, in this mini-series, detailed the many ways one can rescue a horse, plus plenty of considerations for those seeking to go the auction route. Read the whole series here.

Race Horse to Ranch Horse

Photo by Amelia Sting

“And while there’s certainly a blend of excitement and total panic (mostly in regard to the logistics of organizing and packing all of the random detritus one needs for a comfortable and successful horse show), the overwhelming sensation I’m feeling here at the two-weeks-out mark is not anxiety, but relief. Because, you see, two weeks before this point, I had the sneaking suspicion that this entire Makeover thing was falling apart, destined not to happen at all. With roughly 40 days to go, my horse was lame and all of those ego-driven goals to show the world how great Jobber was suddenly struck me not only as a silly exercise in vanity but very likely not to happen at all.”

After years of reporting on the Retired Racehorse Project’s Thoroughbred Makeover, Kristen Kovatch finally decided to try this whole OTTB thing herself. With no arena and just wide-open pastures filled with cows for her training space, the journey was not without its challenges and setbacks, but Kristen and “Jobber” certainly enjoyed quite an adventure in 2018. Read the whole series here.

Meagan’s RRP Journal

Photo by Meagan DeLisle

“But what I do have that some of our competition may or may not have is a phenomenal young horse. I have a horse who went on his first off-property experience and did not blink an eye. I have a horse who I can take cross-country schooling, a feat that terrifies me to the bottom of my soul, and still have a smile on my face the entire time. I have a horse who I can trail ride beside concrete mixing trucks who is not bothered when a jackhammer fires off just a few feet away from us. I have a horse who can go to his first horse show and do so well in the crossrails class that I make a last-minute decision to add in the 2′ and he will go around like a seasoned packer. I have a horse who, for the first time ever in my life, could win a flat class because we weren’t off galloping around like crazy heathens (hence why Joey was a jumper).”

Similarly bitten by the Retired Racehorse Project bug, Meagan DeLisle spent 2018 preparing her own horse for the Thoroughbred Makeover, chronicling her challenges and triumphs for both Horse Nation and Jumper Nation along the way. “Flash” rapidly became not a resale project but a permanent fixture in Meagan’s barn. Read Meagan’s series here.

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