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OTTB Designs

Recently I was checking out Alex Brown’s website and reading through a list of comments from horse people.  These words related to Alex’s latest release, Missionville.  One of the people quoted was Caitlin Taylor of OTTB Designs.

Curious, I did a search online to find out what exactly OTTB Designs was.  I then contacted Caitlin about the work she does and the possibility of being profiled.  She was quick to give me a reply email.

“As for OTTB Designs/OTTB Identity, I don’t know that we are the best example of how to run a business. Most of our profits go to charity and I work a regular 9-5.

“OTTB Designs could be more profitable, but I feel that would be disingenuous to the purpose of the brand. We keep the margins pretty thin because we know our customer doesn’t have a lot to spend. Many OTTB owners are girls and women on a tight budget so we try to accommodate that demographic.”

Chances are if you are familiar with the thoroughbred world, you’ll know the acronym OTTB.  Many people search for off the track thoroughbreds (OTTBs) to retrain and give a second life in another discipline.  The thoroughbred breed is very versatile and can often go onto dressage, jumping, eventing or even showing or pleasure riding.

Do you have an OTTB? Fancy Branded Gear for when you Ride? Check out OTTB Designs.

Do you have an OTTB? Fancy Branded Gear for when you Ride? Check out OTTB Designs.

For the person who has an OTTB, perhaps it would appeal to them to be able to have riding gear with an associated logo on it!  Saddle blankets could be one such item.  If you check out the OTTB Designs website, you’ll find that there’s even jewellery with an OTTB logo.

What I love about this setup is that there are so many people with off the track thoroughbreds.  The designs are a unique idea, but one that many can utilise!  And of course the fact that a lot of their profits go to charity is also appealing.

Missionville by Alex Brown

Recently Equus Education had the opportunity to profile Alex with regards to his career as an exercise rider. He has newly released a horse racing novel titled Missionville.

I was rapt to be able to receive a copy of this book to read before it’s release. Missionville tells an interesting tale of behind the scenes of racing. It is an intriguing mystery, written by someone obviously in the know about the racing industry.

The reader is first introduced to Pete Wright, a struggling trainer at Missionville, the local Pennsylvania Racetrack. Pete is in the business of claiming horses as cheap as he can for his one owner. He then trains the horse, races it to hopefully win and sells it on again in another claiming race, turning a quick dollar.

Missionville by Alex Brown | Equus Education

Missionville by Alex Brown | Equus Education

Although Pete had grand ideas about being a top racehorse trainer, he has found himself struggling to make bread and butter. In time he accepts a job through local track pony rider, Jake. The job is the lowest of the low in Pete’s opinion. It involves delivering horses to slaughter. Once was enough for Pete and he vows never to do it again, no matter how desperate for money he is.

Cue Amanda, successful bank manager and keen horse lover. Amanda spends her weekends at the track, building up connections. She is working to make the after racing life of thoroughbreds more promising. She hates what is happening in the slaughter world. When Amanda learns of Pete’s connection to driving the horses to slaughter, she realises she has an in that could help to bring the whole sordid industry to an end.

In time Pete and Amanda work together to stop the overt slaughtering of racehorses. When Pete realises something is fishy with one of the other horse owners – who just happens to own the racetrack – he knows he needs to investigate further.

Missionville is a great mix of horses, mystery and romance. It’s also a delightful look at the behind the scenes of racing on a small country track.

Author – Alex Brown
Fiction – adult
In my library – as an electronic copy it is!
Want it? Get it now on Amazon.


A Horse Camp Getaway for Equine Industry Professionals

Recently at a church service I found out about Tree Tops. This is a camp that is provided to missionaries who need a break between outreach programs. They can come somewhere with their family and relax, connect as a group and not worry about having to prepare meals or do house chores. And all this is provided at a base cost so that it’s truly affordable. Those who provide this accommodation are providing it as a service – and a blessing! – to those who are ministering outside of their comfort zones. So why not something similar for horse industry people? A horse camp getaway for equine industry professionals, if you will.

If you Heard about a Horse Camp for Equine Industry Professionals, would you Consider it? | Equus Education

If you Heard about a Horse Camp for Equine Industry Professionals, would you Consider it? | Equus Education

What’s the general idea? Some people work so much in the equine industry. They may be struggling to afford a break, even when the quiet season comes around as they work in an industry for love – not for good hours and pay.

This person could be a horse breeder or land owner, a stud hand or even someone who is working their way up in the equine performance world. Money can be tight, hours are long and the work is hard. But still, they do it with a goal in mind.

The Ultimate Horse Camp Getaway

What if there was one place they could go for a holiday that allowed them to still enjoy and appreciate horses, but not have to do any of the work? They can be fed, rest and go out riding / be around horses whilst on this holiday.

Is it your heart to provide a service to other people that are working so hard, but their efforts aren’t necessarily recognised? Could you provide accommodation, food and horses for them to enjoy at a small cost so they can take a break as time allows? I am sure an initiative like this could draw lots of sponsors from the horse industry – those who are making a generous living. What do you think?

Profile On: Alex Brown, Former Exercise Rider

Alex Brown recently released a novel relating to the horse racing industry.  As someone who was a professional exercise rider, he has fit a lot of his knowledge into his book Missionville.  He also kindly took the time to answer some questions about exercise riding as a career.

Former Exercise Rider, Alex Brown with a Fan | Equus Education

Former Exercise Rider, Alex Brown with a Fan | Equus Education

How much of your day/week is related to horses?
For now, very little, unfortunately, unless you count writing about them, and my new book, Missionville!

What was it exactly that you did?
I worked in horse racing, in the United States, on and off for more than 25 years. During this time, I mostly exercised horses as a salaried or freelance exercise rider. A typical morning would mean galloping about 7-8 horses, starting around 6, and finishing around 10 in the morning.

This gave me plenty of time to do some other stuff. During the latter years, a lot of my additional time was devoted to horse welfare issues, horse slaughter and the retirement of racehorses.

In this field of work, is it possible to be a full time professional and earning a liveable income?
Yes, an exercise rider can do quite well. My last salaried job, which was for Steve Asmussen, I was earning around about $30k salary. Because of the short working hours, I could do a little extra work, if I wanted. That might have been breaking young horses, freelancing a few extra horses at the track, or working in a role at the races (which I never did).

Missionville by Alex Brown | Equus Education

Missionville by Alex Brown | Equus Education

What are the general steps taken to be employed in such a role?
I was lucky. I’ve ridden all my life, and went to the US to ride for a racehorse trainer who had recently moved to the US too. Basically, you need some decent riding experience before heading to a racetrack, and then you need a trainer who will spend some time helping you get started. You don’t want to be thrown in the deep-end straightaway.

Riding on a track is quite different to equestrian riding. You need to learn how to ride off a neckstrap, bridge your reins, ride with shorter stirrups, and so forth. Strangely, you learn to ride longer, with more experience, but it’s important to get the balance of riding short.

Favourite horse memory?
That’s a tough one, after twenty five or so years. But it will be about a horse winning a race. It’s just a great feeling, after galloping a horse for awhile, to see it do well at the races.

Most recently, probably when Maple Time won a little race at Penn National. When I worked for Asmussen, any time Salty Langfuhn won a race.

Future goals?
Now I’m back in the UK, and retired from horse racing, who knows. I really enjoyed writing Missionville, which is in part based on my experiences at the race tracks in the US. But I’m not sure writing full-time will ever be my calling. I am fortunate to have another career in the sphere of MBA admissions, so that keeps me busy too.

Best thing about your sport/profession?
I just love horses. We owe so much to them.

The Young Black Stallion by Walter and Steven Farley

Many people are familiar with Walter Farley’s series The Black Stallion. Perhaps even reading the first book in this children’s series, the question was raised: how did the Black come to be on the ship in the first place? Written with his third child Steven, Walter explores the origin of the young black stallion named Shêtan.

The Young Black Stallion by Walter and Steven Farley

The Young Black Stallion by Walter and Steven Farley

Bred for great things, it seems that the Arab sheik who has bred Shêtan has to work hard to keep him. Not only is a rival tribe out to secure him, but a wealthy Arab that now lives in Europe sees the value in owning him – however that may come about. And so starts a battle to capture and keep the young black stallion.  This horse appears to be far superior to any of his paddock mates.

Set in the high mountains of Arabia, Shêtan finds his usual life of eating, drinking, playing and sleeping with paddock mates rudely interrupted one day. A raiding party is there to secure the black colt. Wary of humans, Shêtan runs until he can do so no longer.  It is then that he turns on the men who are trying to secure him.

A pawn in a battle between two strong sheiks, young Rashid finds himself suddenly abandoned.  This is even though he was taken on to track the horse. Knowing if he is found by those that cared for Shêtan, that he will be killed, Rashid escapes on foot.  He believes all he can do is head for his home in the desert.  And so starts a long, lonely journey.

The Young Black Stallion is told from the point of view of Rashid and Shêtan as they work to survive on their own in the wilderness of Arabia. A battle to get away from those chasing him and to find enough food to survive leads Shêtan many miles. Eager to get home – but not to be spied by those who left him for dead – Rashid has to often retrace his steps and find another way out of the mountains.

The Young Black Stallion is an interesting read that throws a new element into the Black’s life before he knew Alec Ramsay. It also highlights the incredible bond that develops between the boy and the stallion, considering his previous handling. This book is the start to the young black stallion series by Steven Farley.

Authors – Walter and Steven Farley
Fiction – children
In my library – definitely is!
Want it? Get it now on Amazon.


Museums for the Horse Industry

Hearing about a museum recently on the radio, I got to thinking about some museums I have visited. Some of these had horse aspects to them – did you know you can view Phar Lap’s heart? Others are entirely horse focused, like the Living Horse Museum. In time my thoughts moved along to setting up museums for the horse industry.

I know the Irish National Stud was establishing a horse racing museum whilst I was studying there back in 2006. A lot of their money comes from visitors and tourism, as well as their stud. So if you have a passion for a particular sport or theme within the equine world, why couldn’t you set up a museum around this topic? The idea would be that people pay to move through the rooms of your museum and learn the history of your chosen topic.

Museums for the Horse Industry

So what are some examples of museums for the horse industry?

  • Perhaps horses in history and the roles equine species have played in history. Did you know about mules being used to pull people down a canal? Or ponies that were used in mines to gather coal. Or horses used in war?
  • What about various breeds of horses? The Lipizzaner horses have an interesting history as I’m sure many other breeds do! There could be a focus on new breeds (those established in the last 100 years, for example). And of course, you could look at the breeds of horses that have greatly influenced others, like the Arabian.
  • Equestrian sports. Perhaps different sports that can be carried out on horseback could be explored. There are those sports people do for fun, those that have been banned in certain areas (like foxhunting) and those that are done up to Olympic level.
  • Famous horse people. Whether it be jockeys, Olympians, breeders, trainers or educators, the role that celebrity horse people have played in society and our lives could be explored.
Museums for the Horse Industry | Equus Education

Museums for the Horse Industry | Equus Education

There are many topics within the horse world that could provide a great muse for a horse related museum. If you have a passion for a particular area and know a lot of the history and facts within it, could you set up an area that portrays this so others can learn? Of course, a fee could be charged for people to come through the museum.

Making use of Equine Organisations

Recently I was made aware of the Victorian Farmer’s Federation. They were having a young farmer’s evening and I convinced my husband we should go check it out. After all, we plan to have land and work it in the near future. It was an interesting night that made us aware of a few different organisations that could benefit us as land owners and as horse owners in the future.  Generally speaking, if we have a question about farming, we could go to the VFF.  If they can’t answer it, they can point us towards someone who can. So as someone who’s aspiring to work in the horse industry, do you know of and are you making use of equine organisations as valuable resources?

Equine Organisations as Resources

Equine Organisations can be a Great Resource for Your Career

Equine Organisations can be a Great Resource for Your Career

Let’s say you’re based in the United Kingdom and you want to compete professionally, or teach people how to ride. Are you making use of the British Horse Society and their network of people to help you achieve this?

Maybe you have a passion for working with disabled people and know that horses can help them. Have you considered joining up with your local Riding for the Disabled?  Or perhaps the Equine Assisted Learning group that focuses on hippotherapy?

You’re really keen on the idea of dentistry for horses and think this could be a fulfilling career. Do you know of veterinary associations or equine dentistry organisations that could guide you on the right path to take?

Racing is your passion and you’re not sure if you want to be a strapper, an exercise rider, trainer or a jockey. Do you know the racing authority in your local region? Have you looked into what each position offers and what it requires from you?

There are many organisations out there that are set up to be a guide for you. Chances are if you have a question, so has someone else before you! And there’s probably an answer outlined on a website or able to be provided in a reply email just for you. When it comes to your horse future, be sure to look into organisations that are set up in the industry you aspire to get into. This can be your greatest resource for networking, job opportunities and education possibilities. Don’t overlook it.

The Runaway Pony by Angharad Thompson Rees

Those who have read the Girl and Her Pony, will already be familiar with Princess Sophia and perhaps even her perfectly behaved, grey pony. In the Runaway Pony, Sophia is amazed to find herself astride her grey pony Sky, in another world.

The Runaway Pony by Angharad Thompson Rees

The Runaway Pony by Angharad Thompson Rees

Sick of the lack of privacy and restrictions placed on her as a part of the royal family, Sophia longs to escape it all. She finds she has this in common with Sky and the two decide to escape the rules even if only for a little while. Little did they realise that their adventure would last longer than a quick gallop away from the king’s guards.

Finding themselves in the land of Faerie, Sophia and Sky question what is most important to them. This comes to mind as the question is raised by an unusual talking snake in the land of Faerie. As horse and rider try to work out this upside down land they’ve ventured into, they soon find themselves in trouble.  And they are unsure how to get out of it.

Their adventure consequently turns into trying to find a way home and solving the snake’s riddle.  And along the way, ultimately they learn about true friendship.

The Runaway Pony is a delightful tale for young readers with a great moral. The fact that one of the main characters is a pony adds to its appeal. This is yet another great read by Angharad Thompson Rees. If you’re looking for some horse themed books for your youngster, be sure to check out the Magical Adventures and Pony Tales.  It contains all 6 horsey adventures in one!

Author – Angharad Thompson Rees
Fiction – children
In my library – as an eBook it is.
Want it? Get it now on Amazon.

The Farrier Guide for Aspiring Farriers

I have recently started a new writing gig that will be a regular thing.  As I was looking over the site, I realised it’s a resource I should be writing about here!  So how could it be of benefit to you?

Well, you have a love for horses and their feet in particular.  You’re up for a physically demanding job and love the idea of looking after horses’ health care.  And of course, correcting conformation issues and dealing with many different horses on a daily basis!  Did you know about the resource the Farrier Guide?

Working as a Farrier

This is an online resource that provides many things for those who are already employed as farriers, or for those who aspire to be.  There is a farriery guide that highlights the basics of this career.  There is also an education and employment guide for those wanting to be up to speed on the industry.

And if you’re looking to study, there’s a selection of horseshoeing schools and farrier courses that are detailed in a directory, worldwide.  To make this even more appealing, users can rate and comment on individual schools/courses to give an unbiased view.  There are even interviews with instructors and owners of schools to help potential students determine what would suit them best.

The Farrier Guide as a Career Resource

The Farrier Guide as a Career Resource

With a blog that has monthly educational posts relating to horses and the industry and a book store, the Farrier Guide seems to be a great online resource for someone wanting to get into this industry.  As with many things in the horse industry, having skills and an education is important.  If you’re interested in pursuing farriery as a career, check out this resource that provides so much to make you well-informed.

Horse to a horse owner: ‘I saved you some money; took the shoe off myself!’

Microfinance for Horse Small Business

You may have already read the post on Equus Education about providing finance to people who have a horse business plan. Of course, this often happens in the form of a loan, on which you need to pay interest. Recently on Vision Radio I heard an interview with a gentleman who is involved in microfinance in the Philippines. And of course I got to thinking about microfinance for horse small business. (No I’m not obsessed!)

So what’s the general idea? Well, if we use the example from the Philippines, $150 USD was provided to people who had a business idea. With this (small) sum of money they were able to start a business.

It could be to buy product or something to help them provide a product or service that they could sell. Alongside this money, they were also provided with training and encouragement to get their business off the ground. Within a short time span, they were also expected to pay back the money that they had been loaned. This was interest free. Any other money they made after paying back the loan was theirs to live on / provide for their family and future.

Microfinance for Horse Small Business | Equus Education

Microfinance for Horse Small Business | Equus Education

I love this concept of empowering people to do things for themselves. Sometimes all someone needs is a helping hand to get out of a poverty cycle.  This could be a cycle that may have affected their family for generations. With the accountability of paying back what they’ve been loaned, they aren’t being given something for free.  Rather, they are being provided with an opportunity to earn and be responsible for themselves.

Microfinance for Horse Small Business

So how could microfinance apply to horse small business? What if a particular setup provided $150 USD to individuals to start a horse business? Is this enough? For some things, sure!

  • $150 could help to buy a website and pay for hosting – it would cover the hosting and .com renewal of Equus Education for a year.
  • It could be used for someone to undertake a course that educates and enables them to earn, like with my Equine Passive Streams Course at Udemy.
  • Maybe the money could be used to pay an editor, get a book cover designed and publish a book. Electronically, you can publish a book for free on many platforms and earn a return as soon as someone buys.

So how would such an initiative benefit the person providing the money? Not in the form of interest earned on the money loaned. But what about in the form of raising the economy in particular areas, or even worldwide? In time, if the concept grew, maybe different people could volunteer their time and resources in various areas.

For example, maybe $150 USD in a third world country could buy a horse or donkey that could be used as a pack horse or trail horse for tourists. In this way, it could be bringing in consistent money for the owner. Buying second hand horse books off eBay or in opportunity shops and selling them in sets could generate a handy return.

There are so many little things that could be done with $150 to turn it into a greater sum of money and in time, maybe even a viable business. With so many people in the world below the poverty line or on government benefits, for those with an interest in horses, could you see microfinance for horse small business working?

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