Meet the Team


John Thier feels the sum of his life experience is best expressed by the following: “So, one spring I was riding horses for Phillip down in Aiken. Phillip would put the working student riding assignments for each day in this big notebook. I would always get the little red mares because Phillip has a sense of humor, or something. But one morning, I looked in the book, and next to my name were the three nicest horses in the barn other than the ones that Phillip was riding. I felt like the luckiest guy on earth. At the end of the day, Phillip asked me how the horses had felt. Feeling like a big shot and pretty full of myself, I gave him a really objective answer. I said that I thought they needed improvement in this area and that area and what not. I think it either annoyed Phillip, or I was completely wrong about the horses because I was put on nothing but red mares for the rest of the spring.” [Email John]



Leslie Wylie was a professional writer, then a professional rider, before managing to combine the two into a dream job with Nation Media. She helped launch Horse Nation in February 2012 and also contributes to HN’s sister site, Eventing Nation. Her favorite part of each day is racing to the barn after work to snuggle with her equine bestie, Esprit. Follow Leslie on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram (lesliewylie1), and email her at [email protected].



Jenni Autry: Eventing Nation Content Egghead-In-Chief. Interwebz Clairvoyant. Facebook Czar. Meme Pundit. GIF Rule Breaker. Cat Lady. #ponypower Read this: Some Thoughts and Musings About Making Things For the Web. [Email Jenni] [@jenniautry]



Heather Benson is a former racetrack executive, professional handicapping analyst and owner of a Triple Crown winner (well, at least a horse that played one in a movie). But far more importantly, she is a is still that girl who gets giddy when the starting gate opens and cries every time she watches a replay of Secretariat’s Belmont Stakes. Join her each month as she takes you on a journey through the world of horse racing, from top to bottom, with a little bit of everything in between!


Lila Gendal is an event rider all the way who found her unique niche at Denny Emerson’s Tamarack Hill Farm in Strafford, Vermont, where she has spent the last eight years. She spends her days riding horses, writing blogs and teaching lessons. She can be found on Facebook at LG Equine Media and Riding Instructor or reach her via email at [email protected].


Leah Hinnefeld is a lifelong equestrian who spent over a decade studying hoof health and metabolism in horses before turning her attention to rider fitness. Leah is a personal trainer certified by the National Academy of Sports Fitness and offers Virtual Fitness Training for riders and horse lovers. You can learn more about how to get fit to ride at http://theathleticrider.com/. Please contact Leah if you are interested in learning more about the virtual posture assessment offered by The Athletic Rider.


Lorraine Jackson of Sanpete County, Utah has been a lifelong daughter of the American West. A graduate and employee of the University of Utah, she has made a study of the history, science, and horsemanship that give the region its distinctive identity. She is enamored with the smart and hearty wild horses and burros gathered from the range, and earnestly works to promote their potential as wonderful sport horses. A die-hard eventer at heart, she is starting her own young BLM mare’s eventing career this season. She has been with Horse Nation since its inception, and is incredibly proud to share stories of the moving, the awesome, and the ridiculous alongside her incredible fellow Horse Nation contributors.


Kristen Kovatch is a self-proclaimed horseback writer located in Jamestown, New York. Formerly the western teacher and trainer at Alfred University, Kristen now trains working cow horses and freelance writes for the web on equestrian subjects. Follow Kristen online via Twitter (@KristenKovatch), Facebook (The Horseback Writer) and Google+ (Kristen Kovatch). For a steady stream of horse, cattle and dog photos, find her on Instagram at thehorsebackwriter.


Carla Lake is a native of Maryland, a very horsy state where she grew up riding at a hunter-jumper barn, but has since dabbled in eventing, dressage, reining and foxhunting. Currently she leases and takes lessons, but hopes to buy a horse in the not-too-distant future. Since 2012 Carla has maintained a personal blog called the Collegial Equestrian chronicling her adventures in riding without breaking the bank. Send hate mail and love letters to [email protected].


Erin McCabe, HN’s longtime book critic, rides two OTTB mares and hopes to someday soon get back to competing at horse trials. Her first novel, I Shall Be Near To You, was published earlier this year. You can learn more at erinlindsaymccabe.com.


Morgane Schmidt Gabriel is a 30-year-old teacher/artist/dressage trainer/show announcer/ who still hasn’t quite decided what she wants to be when she grows up. A native Floridian, she now lives in Reno, NV, where she’s been able to confirm her suspicion that snow is utterly worthless. Though she has run the gamut of equestrian disciplines, her favorite is dressage. She has completed both her USDF bronze and silver medals and is currently focused on bringing along Stormy, an APHA gelding, at PSG/I1 and introducing Willie, her coming four-year-old Dutch gelding, to the ways of the show world (though she tries not to be the one with the ‘harpy on a string’ in the warm-up ring). Generally speaking her life is largely ruled by Woody, a 14.2 hand beastly quarter horse, Willie, Stormy, The Husband, and writing gross grad school papers.  In her ‘free time’ (i.e. the time she should be sleeping) she draws horses. Visit her website at www.theideaoforder.com or her training site at www.xhaltsalute.com.


Sally Spickard joined the Nation Media team in 2013 and now utilizes her internet-stalking/creeper-status skills to write for both Eventing Nation and Horse Nation. She recently relocated from one part of the Midwest to another and resides in Kansas City, MO. Sally can always be spotted by the exorbitant amount of purple she wears, and also prides herself on being an expert chinchilla wrangler. [Email Sally]


Amanda Uechi Ronan used to be very serious, but then she graduated Kindergarten and decided life was too short. A few decades later, deep in the heart of Texas, she can be found teaching her three horses to play soccer with a yoga ball (choreographed with music, obvs), gossiping about British boys (Will Herondale, she loves you!), and eating tacos (like, seriously, her whole diet consists of tacos and Reese’s Pieces). Her claims to fame are being cast as the “titular Horrible Hogglewart” in her 3rd grade class production, marrying the most tolerant man in the universe, and being mother to one awesome kid named Sydney Elise. Find Amanda on Twitter @u_ronan, www.auronan.weebly.com, Smashwords, and check out her epic fangirling posts on www.thats-normal.com.


Go Riding.