One of the greatest things about writing for EQUUS Magazine for the past 26 years has been the ability to rely on my own horse-keeping experiences for inspiration and guidance. Any question I have can become fodder for the Consultants column. Any clever grooming hack I observe can become a topic for Hands On. And if I need to write a hypothetical horse into a feature, I almost always name it after a horse I’ve known in real life.
But one of the most important things about writing for EQUUS Magazine is remembering to not just rely on my own horse keeping experiences for inspiration and guidance. The horse world is a huge, diverse place and although I’ve been lucky enough to see more of it than many people. I’ve still only seen a fraction of it. How horses are cared for varies greatly from barn to barn; even more so from one end of the country to the other. The EQUUS audience, in print and online, comes from all of those places and we are constantly keeping that in mind as we work.
Take, for instance, the seemingly simple topic of hay. Recently, Laurie Prinz and I were working on a feature about refeeding starved horses (you’ll be able to read it in our upcoming spring issue) and one protocol referenced mentions the use of alfalfa hay. That’s all well and good, but what about readers who live in areas where alfalfa isn’t readily available? How is this information useful to them? That question led us to do a bit more research and confirm that other types of hay could also be used for refeeding. We made sure to include that information in the story.
The ability to catch, and correct, these potential regional biases means continually fighting our own. Years ago—back when people mailed printed photographs to publications and magazine editors worked in offices—I kept a picture that a reader sent me pinned to the bulletin board by my computer: The picture showed a single horse standing in a small dirt corral with pipe metal fencing. In the background was a glimpse of the city of Los Angeles. The scene was a stark contrast to what I was used to seeing in the Maryland suburbs: large herds of horses wandering expansive grassy fields that were surrounded by wood board fencing. But the horse in the photo was happy and healthy right where he was.
I kept that photo in my office for years because it served as an important reminder to write for horses and horse keepers everywhere. Today, instead of looking at that photo, I follow farms and horse people across the country on social media. So I am always reminded that the horse world we serve is varied in geography and diverse in its interests. But while our challenges and methods may differ, we all want what's best for our horses.
You can help us with this ongoing effort: Go to our Facebook Page and share a photo of how your horses live under the post promoting this column. Each one will make us better at serving all horses.