2023 Readers’ Choice Awards: Story of the Year

Horse Nation likes to keep you interested in as many ways as possible — from lists to advice to op-eds, we have it all! Take a look back at our eight 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 2023: which one was YOUR favorite?

The nominees are…

A Common (and Costly) Farrier Mistake

Originally published on February 3, 2023

“Unbalanced feet can be one cause of suspensory or collateral ligament tears. These injuries are costly to correct because it requires veterinary care along with therapeutic shoeing until healing is finished. Injuries like this also tend to require several months of rehabilitation, all while the horse is out of work. Even after the investment in healing, there will also always be a question of “what if?” What if that spot is weaker and more prone to another injury, or will the horse be able to get back to work?”

This excerpt from Shoeing the Modern Horse by Steven Kraus, CJF, and Katie Navarra, the head of Farrier Services at Cornell University, explains one of the ways things can go wrong when you hire a farrier, and what to watch for to keep your horse sound.

Photo by Steven Kraus

The Greatest Match Race Ever Run

Originally published on February 24, 2023

“On February 24th, 1974, one of the greatest match races of all time was run at Hipodromo de las Americas in Mexico City, Mexico. The race was advertised as a contest between two nations, but it was also a contest between two breeds: the Thoroughbred and the Quarter Horse.

“Come Six, an American Quarter Horse, was to face Beduino, a Mexican Thoroughbred. Over the short distance of 440 yards or ¼ mile, the Quarter Horse was expected to be an easy winner. However, Beduino, who was described as ‘The Black Stallion in gray,’ was no ordinary Thoroughbred.”

This recap of the match race between Beduino and Come Six by Katelin Parsons tells how one of the most influential Thoroughbred stallions earned his reputation.

Trailering Young Horses: The Dos and Don’ts

Originally published on March 20, 2023

“Trailering young horses can be difficult. It can create anxiety for you and your youngster as you try to provide great experiences to make them more comfortable with the experience. Providing less than desirable situations can create a horse that tries anything to stay out of the enclosed, tight quarters of a box on wheels.

“But how exactly do you make this an experience that becomes familiar and insignificant to your colt?”

This article by Marcella Gruchalak covers six dos and don’ts when it comes to hauling young horses and keeping the experience a positive one.


Barbie’s Dream Horses

Originally published on July 21, 2023

“Barbie’s first pet was a horse. It makes sense—everyone knows kids are horse-crazy. Everyone also knows that when Barbie takes up a new hobby, she commits. So, it’s no surprise that over the decades the iconic doll has owned a whole herd of horses, sporting a wide range of coat colors, mechanical play features, and whimsical tack.”

This piece by contributor Jess Bowers was written in honor of Barbie’s (sadly, horseless) silver screen debut. It pays tribute to ten of the most coveted equines to ever grace the pink aisle!

Letter to the Editor: Michael Poulin Weighs in on Recent Gwyneth McPherson Article

Originally published on September 27, 2023

“I read the article recently published on Horse Nation by Gwyneth McPherson and wanted to take a moment to weigh in on the issues presented. I found the article to be excellent and, moreover, incredibly truthful. I state this as someone who has been to four Olympic games representing our country, trained three other Olympians, attended four Pan American games in which our riders returned home with gold medals, trained innumerable horses and riders to the Grand Prix level, and as an FEI judge. Without a doubt, there is an unfortunate amount of rough riding and reliance on the horse’s talent rather than a focus on correct training and development in our sport today. This needs to be addressed.”

This letter from Michael Poulin calls for the need to openly address the issues in dressage the sport and return to a focus on training that keeps the horse’s welfare at the forefront.

In the News: Horse Forces Unscheduled Landing at JFK

Originally published on November 15, 2023

This piece covers the story of the horse that got loose on an international Air Atlanta Icelandic flight, forcing the flight to turn around for an unscheduled landing at JFK. Unfortunately, the injuries the horse sustained while aboard the flight resulted in euthanasia upon landing.

Boeing 747. Wikimedia commons.

Mark Wahlberg: The Ultimate Horse Show Dad

Originally published on November 22, 2023

“Okay, so I’m not sure if it’s the ’80s kid in me, my affinity for Paul Thomas Anderson, or the mere fact that I will always have a soft spot for non-horsey parents who support their equestrian kids’ endeavors (probably some combination thereof), but I am totally here for Marky Mark’s Mark Wahlberg’s newest role as a horse show dad. Hearing him talk about his daughter’s commitment to riding and progression from trotting on a pony to showing in Wellington is awesome. The pride is evident, and you can tell that Grace appreciates the support.”

This piece covers Mark Wahlberg’s support of his equestrian daughter, Grace.


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Operation X: Where Do We Go From Here?

Originally published on November 28, 2023

“Ultimately, we have to be more responsible for seeking out appropriate dressage education for ourselves – regarding the training process itself as well as evaluating the professionals we choose to work with. We also need to be willing to speak up about questionable practices as we see them, not turn a blind eye because we are dazzled by talented horses or chandeliers in the barn aisle. Certainly, everyone can have a bad ride, or a momentary lapse in judgement, but when those lapses are the norm there’s a problem. And when it gets to the point that ‘everyone in the industry knows’ the riding is questionable – so much so that a tv station goes undercover to bust them — well, then it’s an official dumpster fire.”

Staff writer Morgane Schmidt penned this op-ed on what she refers to as the “current dumpster fire that is the fall out from Operation X.”

Which of these stories should be the Story of the Year? Vote now and we’ll announce the winner on New Year’s Eve.