2020 Readers’ Choice Awards: Ride Heels Down Best Series of the Year

At Horse Nation we work hard to keep our readers informed, entertained and inspired all year long. In 2020, 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 2020, 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…

Rehabbing Funny Bunny B

Catch up on the series here. 

Photo by Catching Dreams Photography

“Since my accident, Buns and I have participated in six mounted shooting competitions. My doctors told me that they wanted me to continue doing whatever it is that I do for my everyday routine. That by doing this, my brain and eyes would remake the connection with each other quicker so that there was no lag between the two. Our first two shoots back were challenging for me. Buns did well for them being his first competitions post injury but through watching the videos you can tell he’s gotten so much stronger from his first competition back to now.

“He was more than ready to be back to work. I think we took it easy more for me than him. That sure wasn’t in my plan. My plan was to ease him back into it, to make sure he was really ready, but he was easing me into it.

“Despite taking it easy, our first shoot back was a qualified win in our class. I may have cried — a lot. I could not believe it. I was so nervous to see how he was going to maneuver patterns and react to the gunfire. He acted as if he had never taken an eight month break from it. Buns shone in the arena. After every ride I got the chills. Buns was nothing short of amazing.”

After a potentially career-ending injury to her five-year-old off-track Thoroughbred, Marcella has been keeping 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 hasn’t and all the challenges she is facing as she helps her horse heal and brings him back into competition.

Gibson and the Apocalypse

Catch up on the series here. 

“Jenny, a seasoned equestrian and heavy metal fan, can’t imagine a better friend in life than Gibson, her big, huggable, Quarter Horse/Draft cross gelding. With his perpetually cheerful disposition, inquisitive nature and habit of showering everyone in his path with affection, Jenny knew from the day she met Gibson that they’d stick together until the end of the world.

“But what happens when the world actually does end and the fabled Four Horseman arrive to recruit Earth’s remaining equestrians for the cause? Do these two have what it takes to make it in a post-apocalyptic society, or will they become the least effective horse people of Armageddon?”

On great thing to come out of 2020 was Jenny Kammerer introduced the world to Gibson, the ever-optimistic QH/draft cross who, along with his pal Jenny, has been tasked with assisting Four Horsemen during the end o the world.

Hitting the Trails

Catch up on the entire series here.

Photo by Marcella Gruchalak

Overall impressions: This is a great riding destination that benefits from state-funded maintenance — most of the time (I’ll get to this later). It’s easily accessible from multiple regions, and with the overnight camping options, one could easily make a full weekend of riding with 55 miles to access.

“I’ve taken two recent trips to Allegany in August and September, and hope that my experience will encourage you to hit the trails yourself!


“With 55 miles of trails, even on a busy weekend you feel like you have the park to yourself as far as other riders are concerned. There are several routes out of Horse Camp to get you started that then link with other looping trails all over this part of the park. In August, we crossed paths at a trail intersection with a pair of riders, swapped some trail notes, and then carried on in opposite directions and never saw each other again. In September, we left Horse Camp at exactly the same time as another pair of riders, struck out in opposite directions, and then happened to get BACK to Horse Camp at exactly the same time having never seen each other out in the woods. You will likely see a car or two on the sections of trail that double as roads, especially if you ride into the Thunder Rocks area — a popular hiking destination. You’ll also hit park traffic on the tiny sections of trail that run along the main park paved roads, but most park users are pretty respectful and expect to see horses in those sections.”

This series, built by a couple of our writers (and riders!), offers an honest look at various parks and locations where you can trail ride your horses.

A Day in the Life of a Pony Named Pony

Catch up on the series here.

Illustration by Jenny Kammerer. 

“Dear Diary,

“They say it’s bad luck to change a horse’s name (I don’t know who “they ” is, but “they” seem to say a lot of crap). So what does it mean when you change a horse’s name constantly? Before coming to my current confinement center, I was called Sara — and occasionally that name comes up. However, since arriving here, my name has been an ever-evolving term of disappointment.

“The list of things I’ve been called is long: Sara, Elsa, Anna, Rainbow, Minimus, the ever-embarrassing Rainbow Lovey Heartstring, Pain In The A__, Butthead, You Little $4!#… and the list goes on. Some of the names are clearly the result of being thought “cute” by the small humans. Others are things large humans seem to spout when they’re being impatient or unaccommodating.

“For some reason, they have settled on the name Pony… and by “settled,” I mean the large humans are too lazy to call me by my proper name, so they refer to me by this term. Are the other animals at the confinement center called Horse, Horse, Horse or Horse? Nope. Just me.”

This series gives us a glimpse into the mind of a sassy pony named — you guessed it! — Pony. She’s opinionated and full of antics that keep her handlers entertained and annoyed, but also provide ample fodder for a series.

Joe’s Journey

Catch up on the series here. 

2nd in RFD-TV’s The American Qualifier. Photo by Monroe Photos.

This series is following Joe (Packin French Socks) as he gets diagnosed with kissing spine and recovers from the surgery.

“Packin French Socks, also known as Joe, grew into everything I thought or hoped he might be. He showed on numerous occasions during his training that his talent had no ceiling. It was too good to be true, but he did have his quirks, which as with any good horse, you just learn to accept because of all the amazing things you get in return.

“But let’s fast forward to 2014. This is where the real story and mystery merry-go-round begins.

“We find ourselves at the International Barrel Racing Association (IBRA) Finals in Cloverdale, Indiana, where the year prior we finished 9th overall in the first division at our first National Finals competition. But this time was different. Instead of finding ourselves in the winners circle, we ended our trip at Rood and Riddle Equine Hospital.

“The week started off with our first run resulting in a disqualification due to going off pattern. The way we did so was just an over-execution of  our turn at the first barrel, which does occasionally happen. I called it a whoops moment. The next run is a new day and we could try again.

“We headed into the arena for our second run, but this time Joe completely ran past the first barrel without giving it a thought. He disregarded my cue to turn completely, very out of character for the likes of him. He has always been a horse who aimed to please, and that’s no exaggeration. After our run, the first thing I did was call my long-time veterinarian Dr. John Bennett of Equine Services LLC. He was just as alarmed as I was and recommended taking him to Dr. Hopper for a lameness evaluation.”

Which series was your favorite? Let us know by voting now!