One of the best things about writing this blog is that I feel it is my professional duty to read other blogs. It’s a guilty pleasure that I might not be able to enjoy without a compulsion to feel part of the wider blogger community. Blogs are available in infinite quantity and on every imaginable subject, including the special event and celebrity bloggers here on Equisearch.com, and my fellow editor Juli Thorson of Horse and Rider magazine.
I’ve mentioned here before how I derive vicarious pleasure from the trashing of irresponsible horse owners and breeders on the outspoken but oh-so-true Fugly Horse of the Day blog by a tearing-her-hair-out horse welfare advocate whose last name and exact whereabouts we don’t know…and who constantly pushes the envelope, in every direction. (It needs to be pushed, in my opinion.) When she posted recently on the politics of hoofcare, I counted something like 200 comments within two hours of the post’s publication. I wish she was making up the abuses that she records–people “moving” horses by tying them to SUV bumpers, “trainers” riding 18-month-old colts, and shudda-been-gelded-long-ago backyard stallions “accidentally” breeding their own fillies.
Along the same lines, this blog and my lameness-news-only Hoof Blog are part of the fledgling Thoroughbred Bloggers Alliance, a quickly-growing (in both reputation and size) network of professional and budding commentators from the racing world. TBA is unique in the horse world, as it is the only organized group I’ve discovered, plus the clever founder, Patrick Patten, figured out how to make a group RSS feed, so viewers can scan the headlines of all the blogs in one place, and then choose which stories to read. The TBA home page recently hosted a photography contest that drew hundreds of people who were disappointed with the 2008 Eclipse Award winning photo; the TBA provided the alternative: a grid of fantastic images of racetrack moments by sage pros and budding talent who just may be tomorrow’s pros. TBA home page visitors could vote once and only once for the favorite photo of the year, and they did!
The blogging world for equestrians is sometimes a strange place, with lots of extremes. Endurance riding, out of all the horse sports, seems to have embraced blogging. Among my favorites is the Barb Wire, a wonderfully visual blog written by an endurance rider known only as “Tamara” at In the Night Farm.
I couldn’t have survived the Olympics without the blog of Will Connell, chef d’equipe of the British teams, who held nothing back, and that of Dutch dressage diva Anky van Grunsven, who probably had someone writing it on her behalf, but it was superb, nonetheless.
If I had a wish list, on it you’d find a wish that Madonna would launch a blog chronicling her pursuit of riding. (Madonna is reportedly in Wellington, Florida with her British trainer, Daisy Trayford, for a few weeks.)
For western performance news, I regularly check Sally Harrison’s cutting horse blog. As so many people are commenting lately, there are dedicated enthusiasts who blog, there are writers who blog, and there are experts who blog. When you can find a blog written by someone with good writing skills and who is an expert in his or her field, it’s a real find. Sally’s blog surely fills that bill.
Some blogs have very specific missions: the Racehorse Memorial Wall blog records the deaths of Thoroughbreds at racetracks. On the artistic side of things, I love to check the Hay in Art blog, which is a work of art in itself and posts photos and paintings of (you guessed it!) hay, primarily in landscape paintings.
There are hundreds more blogs, and there are hundreds of subjects in the horse world that need bloggers. There are also many uses for blogs; you can create a blog post on a cell phone and it shows up on a blog, which would be great for disasters and evacuations. Vet clinics could make great use of blogs to keep in touch with customers and post information about disease outbreaks, products the clinic sells, or reminders about shots or safety as the seasons change.
Blogs only work if people read them, and setting yourself up with a good RSS reading system is key. I use the Google Reader interface, so that I can read all my blog headlines in one place, but for years I simply had an iGoogle home page, which I think requires the FireFox browser (which is superb, anyway). The iGoogle system is a personalized home page on which you can post all sorts of widgets for the weather, stocks, news headlines, international time clocks, and lots and lots of RSS feeds of blog headlines and sites like Equisearch that have the little RSS feed symbol in the browser window.
Along the same lines, Facebook is growing rapidly in the horse category, and you can read many of your favorite sites and blogs on your Facebook home page.
I’m looking forward to the next wave of tech to see what the clever web programmers can do faster, better, and more intuitively. But first, I need to check my blogs….