2019 Readers’ Choice Awards: Ovation Riding Best Series of the Year

At Horse Nation we work hard to keep our readers informed, entertained and inspired all year long. In 2019, a number of our staff and contributors 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 writers work hard to keep our readers informed, entertained and inspired all year long, and in 2019, a number of our staff and contributors 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…

Happy, Healthy & Horsey

Kaliwohi, my beautiful wild mustang and riding partner. I have earned his complete trust, and that means more than any ribbon or trophy ever could.

“My clothes, my measuring tape and my endurance all tell me I am getting thinner and stronger, despite the three numbers on the scale. So, … I decided to take full control of my feelings about myself and toss the scale out the door.”

Esther Roberts’ weekly-turned-monthly chronicle serves to inspire riders like her seeking to stay happy, healthy and horsey through life’s various challenges. Faced with some unplanned challenges in 2019, Esther’s focused on letting go, winnowing and being present in the moment this year. Catch up on the entire series here.

Lessons Learned

Photo by Erik Jacobs/P.TEN Marketing

“I’m glad I trusted my gut and got him checked even though he wasn’t lame and showed zero solid “signs” of anything wrong (other than just being lazy, but that’s so unusual for him!) – my only regret is I wish I had him checked out sooner!”

Ainsley Jacobs is an adult amateur based out of Atlanta, Georgia. She started riding huntseat equitation when she was eight, and has tried practically every discipline since then. In 2014, Ainsley discovered eventing and it changed her life! She purchased her first horse, JJ Spot, in February 2016 and chronicles their successes (and struggles) of learning to overcome literal and figurative obstacles in her blog at www.RideHeelsDown.com. You can catch up on her series here. 

Rehabbing Funny Bunny B

Photo by Marcella Gruchalak

“I answered the phone, and unfortunately it was not just a butt dial. One of my worst nightmares quickly became a reality. I could hear the concerned and upset tone in her voice. She stated that my five year old Thoroughbred gelding, Funny Bunny B, aka Buns, did not come in from the pasture. I immediately thought he was loose. He’s the least accident prone of my horses and low man in the herd, so confrontation isn’t his cup of tea.

“The situation was worse than Buns gallivanting around the premises. The barn owner uttered the most terrible news I have ever received over the phone — Buns was standing at the bottom of the pasture, his leg was bleeding and something was hanging out of the wound. At that point I didn’t know whether to vomit or bawl my eyes out.”

After a potentially career-ending injury to her five-year-old off-track Thoroughbred, Marcella has been keep us abreast of the ups and downs of rehabbing a horse with a serious injury. She’s letting us know what has been working, what doesn’t and all the challenges she is facing as she tries to help her horse heal. Catch up Buns’s rehab here.

Trekking the Trans-Albanian Trail

Nothing better than watching the sunset with happy horse in view. Photo by En Selle

“Not long after we were in bed, a truck rumbled past the building, its weight so heavy the building shook. This woke me up enough that I decided to check the horses once more.

“Outside the door stood a crowd of twenty-five people, presumably the entire village. As I walked into the street, a woman rushed to me, grabbing me by the hand and in perfect French began to ask all kind of questions about our trip.

“‘What brought you to Albania? Do you like it? We are not rich people but we do our best. The man should not have put you in the empty building, you must come sleep in my home. What do you need? What can we give you?’

“In the midst of this huge outpouring of hospitality, she also managed to explain that the truck that woke us up was actually AN EARTHQUAKE! Naturally, this caught my attention – why wasn’t it the first thing said?! This is why the whole town was in the street at eleven pm: protocol.”

Ashley and Quentin trekked all 600km (nearly 400 miles) of the Trans-Albanian Trail with three horses. They loosely followed the route traveled by Lord Byron, Edith Durham, and most recently, Robin Hanbury-Tension and his wife Louella. They went through Inner Albania, through the most rural and secluded parts of the country. Fortunately for Horse Nation, they took us along their journey with them, even if it was vicarious. You can read their entire series here. 

The Wild Mustangs of Onaqui Mountains

The Joy of Being. Photo by Kisa Kavass

“These wild Mustangs are part of the Onaqui Mountains herds just southwest of Salt Lake City, Utah. The images show how close the horses are to each other … Imagine them being taken away from the land on which they run freely and the families that clearly love each other.”

This year, Candace worked with the talented Kisa Kavass, a photojournalist who has formed a connection with the wild Mustangs of the Onaqui Mountains. Togther, they brought us this beautiful series of photo essays, showing the characters of the herd and the fate they could suffer. See the entirety of Candace’s series here.