2018 Readers’ Choice Awards: SmartPak Story of the Year

It’s time for the final Readers’ Choice Award: story of the year! Take a look back at our five most popular pieces and pick your favorite in our poll.

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.

These are our most-read stories of 2018: which one was YOUR favorite?

The nominees are…

Sorry, Folks: No Budweiser Clydesdale Super Bowl Commercial This Year

“If you’re one of the many equestrians who watch the Super Bowl expressly so you can eat junk food and watch the annual masterpiece that is the cinematic Budweiser Clydesdale commercial, I have a bit of bad news this year: there is no Budweiser Clydesdale commercial.

Budweiser did attempt to mollify what it probably foresaw as a wave of public outcry, however, and released this Internet spot, featuring a noble Clyde thundering all over the country like some sort of harbinger of beer.

Budweiser has also promised that it will again be hosting its Clydesdale Super Bowl party, so you can keep an eye out for a quick spot during the game’s many commercial breaks that will let you know where you can watch the big horses on live cam just being horses. (Or, you know, you can go outside and look at your own horses. That works too.)”

It’s no longer a secret: y’all love those Budweiser Clydesdales. And we placated the angry mob that was upset about the lack of new 2018 commercial by sharing every Clydesdale commercial created to date. Readers liked this collection so much that it actually became one of our most-read stories of the year. Read the whole story here.

April Fools: World-Famous Las Vegas Bellagio Breaking Ground for New Thoroughbred Racecourse

Photo courtesy of the Bellagio

“With construction slated to begin in the spring of 2019, the world-renowned Bellagio hotel and casino in Las Vegas, Nevada will break ground on an eight and a half acre thoroughbred track — on the spot where the famous lake and fountains used to call home.

With expenses of $3.5 million a year just to keep the famous fountains running, with 22 million gallons of water needed plus another 12 million gallons needed to refill the lake yearly due to evaporation, Bellagio leadership made a radical decision: ‘We felt it was our responsibility to keep water conservation at the forefront of the conversation,’ stated Bellagio media relations director Sam Groupon. ‘As the Bellagio is already a leader in so many other fields, why not conservation and horse racing?'”

Sorry, readers — we just can’t stop trying to pull one over on you on April Fools’ Day, and for 2018, it looked like we were fairly successful. (#sorrynotsorry.) Maria Wachter’s fake news alert about the famous Bellagio casino’s plan to open a Thoroughbred track and make a bid to host the Preakness Stakes duped a lot of folks, most of which eventually figured out the joke and took it pretty well. Read Maria’s full story here.

Rescue Horse & Young Rider Make Heroic Ride to Catch Loose Horse

A wild ride… Still shot via Facebook

“Ice’s young owner was frantically following her runaway, a broken halter in hand. A man with a halter and lead rope was also running behind Ice.

Shoults’ life philosophy is simple and straightforward: ‘Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.’

Ice’s owner was sobbing as she stood and watched her horse disappear. ‘She had tried her best, but she had no chance of catching her ex-racehorse mare.’ Shoults was mounted. She rode Tink up to her fellow competitor and said, ‘I PROMISE to bring your mare safely back to you!’ The man, also winded, tossed Shoults his lead rope, and the race was on.”

The internet was captivated in May by the story of Caroline Shoults and her horse Tink, who went on a wild ride to chase down and capture a loose horse escaped from a local show. In a time when “news fatigue” is very real as we’re slammed with political stories and world events, Esther Roberts’ piece reminded us that good things do happen! Read the whole story here.

Diary of a Mule: My Owner Is Trying to Kill Me

Photo by Maria Wachter

Day 1: I’m just minding my business, eating my breakfast and my owner sneaks up on me and tries to blindfold me. Of course I react, I mean, wouldn’t anyone? It’s not like she’s blindfolding me and surprising me with a cake and dancing girls. She tells me it’s for MY benefit, to keep the flies out of my eyes. I call bologna.”

Maria Wachter, Horse Nation’s resident mule whisperer, kept us laughing with her “Diary of a Mule” written, no doubt, from the point of view of the some of the real-life long ears that live on her ranch. Read the whole piece here.

Dream Job Alert! Budweiser Clydesdales Are Hiring Again


“If you are a lifelong fan of the Budweiser Clydesdales and have always dreamed of the opportunity to work with the gentle giants of the famous hitch, now is your time! The official job of Clydesdale Handler is posted on the InBev website (the parent company of which Anheuser-Busch is a subsidiary; Anheuser-Busch owns the Budweiser brand).”

Remember what we said above about y’all’s obsession with the Budweiser Clydesdales? Not one, but TWO Clydesdale stories made our top five of 2018 list: our news about a new job posting for Clydesdale handler broke the internet in late November. (The job may still be open if you’re reading this in December!) And no, for the third time, we don’t make any hiring decisions for Anheuser-Busch. Read the whole story here.

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