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Best Babies 2011 Contest

For all the same reasons we kicked off our inaugural Best Babies 2010 Photo Contest, we pursue it again this year.

Because it’s a beautiful spring day. Because we await our own new arrival here at the log house. Because it’s difficult to think of any subject which can loosen the words “grab the camera” from any horseperson’s lips more readily. Because I can’t wait to show you the first set of submissions to our Best Babies Photo Contest. Because I fell in love with photographing foals when we had our first three years ago. Because I want to encourage you to capture those short-lived days of foalhood.

Send us Your Best Foal Shot

If your latest beauty of an arrival has you running for your camera, we invite you to share your foal photos with Western Horse Review readers in our 2011 Best Babies Photo Contest. Send your photo to editorial@westernhorsereview.com (along with a line describing foal’s parentage and location). With that you will be automatically entered in our Best Babies contest and eligible to win our fantastic foaling welcome package, valued at $200.00.

(Please note, photos may be posted on www.westernhorsereview.com or published in the magazine. Contest runs until June 30/2011.)

Taking Vintage off the Shelf

I like what the American Quarter Horse Youth Association has chosen as it’s theme for the AQHYA World Championship Show, August 5-13, in Oklahoma City.

They’ve dubbed the theme, “Taking Vintage off the Shelf,” and it’s all about keeping traditions alive, says Courtney Martin, AQHA manager of youth and education.

“It’s all about respecting and remembering the roots of the Association and what it stands for, but enhancing it with new experiences. AQHYA is still a young association, but carries traditions that helped it develop into what it is today and deserves our respect and tradition.”

I’m not planning on travelling to the Youth World Championship Show this year, but I hope we can hook up with someone who is. Would love to get some photos of the stall-decorating with the vintage theme. Let me know if you’re going.

It seems keeping the old alive is what it’s all about at the AQHYA this year, but we also have our own take on vintage coming up in our inaugural Spring Digital. Here’s a sneak peek.

That’s all I’m allowed to give you. Western Style Editor, Deanna Paulsen has put together a fabulous feature on fashion entitled Then and Now. You’ll love the vintage shots and the new fashion. And yes, cat-eye glasses are coming back, girls!

Also in the issue – results and photos from the Canadian Cutting Horse Association Finals, as well as an inside look at how the care of the beautiful and brilliant Cavalia horses is handled.

Look for it in the Spring Digital, coming at you next week. To be sure you receive it, sign up for our e-newsletter on our Home Page. It’s free. Cause we love yah.

Marketing Mondays: Is it Working?

For this week's Marketing Monday, I'm going to share Elisabeth McMillan's four signs of a successful marketing plan. Elisabeth is owner and editor of EquestrianProfessional.com. She speaks at equestrian organization meetings around the United States and has worked for high-profile equestrian athletes and equestrian-oriented businesses – including companies such as Monaco Coach, Equestrian Designs and Patagonia Clothing Company. She also has 25+ years of experience directly in the horse industry. Check out her site for a wealth of horse business marketing advice and resources.
Here's Elisabeth's four signs of a successful marketing plan:

SIGN #1 –  You receive a steady stream of new customers
The first benefit of a well executed marketing plan is that it creates predicable growth both in numbers of new customers and type. A good marketing plan doesn't just attract “any ole” customer. It attracts the best customer for you.If your business is not predictable in terms of growth- check the consistency of your marketing. An inconsistent approach to marketing can create inconsistent growth. If your marketing is not attracting the right type of customer – check your branding and marketing message. Your marketing may be connecting with “Mr. Wrong” instead of “Miss Right.”

SIGN #2 -  Your current customers are “on track” and extremely happy about it
It's easy to just think about how marketing can be used to attract new customers. However, one of the biggest benefits of a good marketing plan is its ability to positively influence current customers. The horse business requires long term relationships and unified goals (i.e. customer goals must be in tune with the business goals in order for both to be successful.) And this is where a marketing plan that includes current customers can really help you. For example: If  customers enter your business early in their riding career as riding school students, your marketing plan can encourage them to progress into horse owners. Once they are horse owners, your marketing plan can encourage and support them in competing at more horse shows.  In other words, your marketing plan can be instrumental in helping your clients and business progress.

SIGN #3 – Profitability
Successful marketing plans don't just promote – they educate. When your customers are clear about the value you provide, it is far easier to price your services accordingly. Horse business owners who successfully market themselves are typically able to price their services based on value not just on the “going rate.” They are able to charge more and their customers are happy to pay it because they understand its value. This can help you avoid the trap of “competing on price” with other barns in your area.

SIGN # 4 – Reach
A good marketing plan reaches beyond the first layer of people that it touches. It doesn't just reach “to” – it reaches out “through” your customers. A clear value proposition is paramount. Word of mouth is powerful and a business whose loyal customers accurately tout its praises is destined for success. For example: When you “overhear” your customers saying “just the right thing” about you to other people – you know your marketing message is clear and effective.

Hope you enjoyed this edition of Marketing Mondays, see you next week!

Kentucky Derby Traditions & Tales

I love this weekend, it's green, the birds are singing, spring has most definitely arrived, and, the Kentucky Derby is tomorrow! Yes, it's the 137th running of Thoroughbred racings first of the Triple Crown races – the Kentucky Derby. I can't wait, and though I think I have my favorite picked, this morning's scratch of Uncle Mo may change it all for me.

Here at the log house, we're still partially suffering from Royal Wedding withdrawal. Far too much of it, that is. Still, we loved the hats of the Royal Wedding, didn't you. If you think the Brits have the outrageous hats market cornered, check these out from past Derby events.

Is it just me, or is there an odd likeness here?

A head-top re-enactment of 2009's race. Why do I just want to eat this hat?

Lost on the way to the Tournament of Roses?

Wearing this hat actually looks like a riot. Of fun, that is.

Check out this link for a slide-show of comparisons of Royal Wedding hats and Kentucky Derby hats. There appears to be no boundaries.

Here's a really great link to the 13 worst Thoroughbred names in Kentucky Derby history, including such memorables as The Winner (who unfortunately didn't live up to his name and finished second to last in the 1896 Kentucky Derby), Degenerate Jon and Air Forbes Won (yes, it really is a bad pun).

Of course the official cocktail of the Kentucky Derby is the Mint Julep, but if that doesn't spin your wheel, www.foodandwine.com offers up nine Kentucky Derby cocktails in this slideshow, from the Wager to the Aqueduct.

If that's too much alcohol infusion for your tastes, you can indulge a teensy bit and pay tribute to the excellent bourbons brewed in the state with a Chocolate Bourbon Walnut Pie. I may have to break down and make this one.

Whatever hat your wearing this weekend, enjoy, indulge, cheer and have a fabulous one and thanks for checking in with Screen Doors & Saddles this week.

The Mane Event

It was my first trip to the Mane Event last weekend in Red Deer, Alberta. We made it a girl’s weekend: Wee, Teenager and I, setting up the Western Horse Review booth Thursday evening and working through until Sunday night. A great aspect of this equine education and trade fair is it’s all-encompassing dynamic – all breeds, all disciplines. Which makes it one of the few shows of the year where we are able to connect with all walks of life in the horse world. It’s an enlightening experience, and well worth the trip.

Here’s some scenes from the show.

Debuting and most conveniently placed next door to the Western Horse Review booth was the first of 100 Vic Bennett-built Calgary Stampede commemorative saddles. Each of 100 individually numbered saddles are to be built and sold in honor of the 100th anniversary of the Calgary Stampede in 2012. Kindly posing for me with said saddle, is CS Agriculture Program Coordinator Tracey Foster, and saddle maker, Vic Bennett.

Ninety-eight of the saddles will be sold for $4,995.00 each, but the first and the twelfth will be extra special catches, for they are to be auctioned off – date and occasion to be announced.

I’m told this is a unique stamp. Gorgeous.

Over on the other side of our booth were these three lovely ladies – who were busy as bees all weekend at the Riva’s Remedies stand.

From across the way permeated the scents of mint, aloe vera and other calming smells from the Dynamint booth, keeping all of us in the near vicinity groovily peaceful during the hectic moments.

The trade fair represented every sort of equine product, program and gadget imaginable, and represented all walks of the equestrian lifestyle.

Apparently people weren’t kidding when they commented on the Western Horse Review Facebook page they were coming for the shopping. It was a buyer’s weekend, and most of the exhibitors I spoke with noted positive sales, which left all of us feeling hopeful about the general state of affairs.

Many clinicians travelled from all over North America to instruct at the many clinics held over the weekend, including the ever-popular Stacey Westfall.

photo courtesy of Elke Kennepohl.

American Quarter Horse Association World Championship Show judge and renowned trainer, Mark Sheridan, travelled from Cave Creek, Arizona, to offer up his expertise on everything from diagonals to proper clipping. He has an incredible set of DVD’s teaching lead changes which we’re going to feature in a future post.

Outside, the parking lot was filled to capacity with trailers, RV’s and trucks. . . .

and inexplicably. . .  this.

We’re not sure which of the three trainers in the highly contested and most popular Trainer’s Challenge arrived in it. . .

. . .but, as you already know from our announcement on the WHR Facebook page, it was Kade Mills who stole the show. Congratulations Kade!

And a really special thanks to everyone who stopped by the booth!

Marketing Mondays: Get Internet Famous

Last night as we drove home from the Mane Event, my thoughts centered on the various clinicians who had taught over the weekend. For one in particular – Jonathan Field – the window of fame is currently wide open, most recently, propelled by his appearance in a Blackberry Bold commercial. As horsepeople we all appreciate the positive light shone on the horse world through this commercial, but the 75 second film has really brought Field's training program to the center of a world of attention.

This led me to thinking about internet fame. It may be unpredictable, fickle and short-lived, but if you have the opportunity to gain internet fame for yourself, your horse business, or your program, it's likely worthwhile to rein it in for as long as you can to achieve exposure for your business. It's about getting your brand out there!

Jayne Wayne of Jaynewaynedesign.com, a California-based horseperson and web designer, has blueprinted the websites of the like of Teddy Robinson, Sandy Collier, California Cow Horse and many more. I've excerpted this text from her site to share with you, her tips on what it takes to get us on the road to “internet fame.”

Focus on what might make you famous. While fame and becoming famous can be an elusive concept, what have you got to offer other people that will set you above the online masses?

Define your idea of “fame”. Do you want to be famous everywhere for being an amazing personality, a tech goddess, or the most followed social butterfly? Or are you more focused, hoping to become famous for being the best in a particular area, such as being the best blogger on women’s fashion, the best video creator of science fiction spoofs, the best nature photographer online, etc.? Determine your style of fame so that you can remain focused on your online purpose.

  • If you’re wanting to earn a living from being famous online, remember that a lot of “Internet fame” leads to speaking engagements, books, and a following of people keen to trust your expertise.

Publicize yourself. Publicize your IM screen names, URLs, and Net addresses everywhere and often, and reply to everyone. Treat the web like your house: when people knock, be there to answer.

  • Use real photos of yourself for avatars and profiles. People will want to be reassured that they’re connecting with the “real you”. Remember that the brand is “you”.

Build a website with personality if you want to build a fan base. People need to feel that you – and not an anonymous webmaster – are personally available at least on a regular basis, if not daily. Make sure to update every single day, and remember: if it’s not interesting, users will click to the next page and move on.

  • Update your site with new audio and video clips as often as you can. Give your visitors stuff! For example, give them video, streaming audio, images for their PSP, etc. If you want to offer rich content, you’re going to have to spend a lot of time and a little bit of money, but it’s worth it.

Upload something that goes viral. Although it can be difficult to predict what will and won’t rock the socks off viewers, give things a go and publicize them well.

Realize the fleeting nature of fame. Fame comes and goes. Even movie celebrities have their zenith and tumble into obscurity or have their downward spiral “problems” splashed across the tabloids or blog equivalents. It always comes back to working it constantly, staying fresh, and enchanting your readers, followers and viewers. If you’re up to it, you might be able to maintain your online fame for a long while. Aim for fame of the sort that will cause you to be written up in the annals of Wikipedia, proving you’ve reached adequate notoriety. In this way, your fame will live on unassisted, unless someone deletes you, of course, but that’s the internet for you!

If you have a chance, check out Jaynewaynedesign.com, and read her entire piece on internet fame here.

Happy Monday!