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Archive for the ‘Horseriding’ Category

Profile On: Brooke Purcell, Pony Magazine Australia

Brooke Purcell

How much of your day/week is related to horses?
Most of it! I feed and exercise the horses at work in the mornings, treadmilling, swimming or saddling them up, then I am either working my own horse and/or chasing or writing stories for the magazine during the day, and then back to work to feed up again in the afternoon!

And if I’m not with horses, you can guarantee I’m still thinking about them.

What is it exactly that you do?
I work with Endurance Arabians as my ‘main’ job; feeding, exercising, health care, pre-ride care etc. I have always loved the Arabian breed, so it is like my dream job, they are unsurpassed in their intelligence and just such a joy to work with! Previously I’ve worked in racing stables and establishments and have to say that the horses are like chalk and cheese, such difference in intelligence and personalities.

My background in racing and my marketing experience through my magazine have also landed me another position managing the marketing and public relations side of a new company, Colts and Fillies Labour Hire which deals with employment in the racing and stud industries.

On top of this I also produce a magazine, Pony Magazine Australia. I have been freelance writing for a number of equine publications all over the world for over ten years and it has been a long-time ambition of mine to start up a magazine that catered for the pony industry, where breeders and owners could promote their ponies as performance animals.

Some Covers of Pony Magazine Australia

Self-publishing has meant that the magazine is very much my own work, I have full control over what is in there. It has also meant a huge amount of work on my part, as I do everything myself from sourcing the articles, interviewing, researching and writing, to advert design and general layout design. It has been a steep learning curve, my qualifications and background in writing made writing and researching the articles relatively easy, however the design and marketing side of it all was something quite new and somewhat of a challenge!

Mastering all of the various software, getting people involved in the magazine (everyone loves to read them but it’s much harder to get them actively involved), and also producing an entire magazine by yourself within a few months are some of the challenges I have faced.

Brooke Riding

In this field of work, is it possible to be a full time professional and earning a liveable income?
The endurance industry is quite an active one, I am sure there are plenty of jobs in endurance. Some are probably seasonal, but the horses need to be cared for twelve months of the year, and it is quite a long road getting a horse to a ride. It doesn’t take months like racehorses, it takes years to leg them up and ensure that their bodies are properly prepared for the tracks, which can be over quite challenging terrain. They are like the marathon runners of the horse world.

As for writing in the equine industry, as a professional I believe it would be relatively hard to make a living as a freelancer, with the exception of specialising in the racing industry. Most of my writing was done on a volunteer basis. There is the option of trying to get a staff job in some of the bigger equine magazines, and I also did find that some of the overseas magazines paid quite well, but to make a living as a freelancer it would be of benefit to also branch out into other areas, I believe. As for self-publishing, it is a huge amount of work, but highly rewarding!! I don’t believe that it is for all people, but if you are motivated, disciplined and dedicated, and have a passion for something, it is worth having a go at.

What are the general steps taken to be employed in such a role?
As with any job working with horses, passion goes a long way! There are early mornings, it can be messy work, in some instances there is a lot of poop scooping, not all performance horses are a joy to work with (anybody who has had to deal with a sour racehorse will vouch for this), you really need to love the animals and love your job. Most people will start at the bottom, mucking boxes, sweeping, filling waters, etc. but be patient, horses are large animals and can be unpredictable and dangerous. If you aspire to work with performance horses but have no experience, perhaps volunteer at a local riding school where the horses are generally quieter, they are chosen for their ability to deal with beginners. Learn all you can, read, study etc.

With writing, obviously it helps to have a good understanding of the English language. Read a lot, you will find that it helps, also write a lot, practice, practice, practice. You will find the more you write the easier it generally gets. There are plenty of courses on writing and journalism, I would highly recommend completing one of these, there is so much to learn, not only about the writing and researching side, but also about getting published and the legal side of things. Offer to volunteer your services to get your name out there and published, this can help a great deal, plus some editors are fantastic and will offer you plenty of advice!

Favourite horse memory?
I have lots, most of them involve my second pony Jemma (Willawick Celebrity). Our first gymkhana together was pretty memorable, we placed in all our classes which was a big achievement. Also our first show jumping round, which was at the Zone Championships, we flew around the course. She loved to jump and was such a handy pony. She taught me so much, she was not always the easiest horse to ride but this made me learn a lot! Also when I first laid eyes on my first pony Comet, I fell in love instantly! That love was often challenged, he was so naughty and I fell off so many times, but I always got back on again. I have very fond memories of doing stockwork with my dad on the ponies, mine were never as well behaved as his but it was a lot of fun.

Future goals?
I plan to keep going with the magazine, getting bigger and better as I learn more. I’d love to become more involved in the industry, sponsoring a few shows and perhaps a few ponies and riders. I’m hoping to eventually print. I’m currently looking at printing an annual each year, the costs are the main hurdle at the moment as I self-fund the whole magazine and not printing decreases the overheads by a huge amount.

I’d love to also self-publish a few books, I have a few in the pipeline at the moment. As for my horse-related goals, I would love to get back into competing again! I’ve done a few shows and competitions over the last few years but I’d like to get my horse out more. He’s an absolutely gorgeous pure Arabian named Besure with the most charming nature, but he can be a difficult ride at times.

Best thing about your sport/profession?
The horses of course! Their loyalty and intelligence, just getting to spend time with them every day. I absolutely love working with Arabians for their responsiveness, they are so light to handle and so smart (this can work against you on the odd occasion though).

With the writing, I have been lucky enough to interview a few of the big personalities in both the Arabian and pony worlds, which has been great! I love talking to people about their beautiful horses and ponies.

“Who among us has not as a child asked Santa Claus to bring us a pony on Christmas day?” – Author unknown

A Horse Riding Career

You can Improve Your Riding Skills Daily

Planning on getting a career riding horses for a living? If you have access to a horse right now, you may want to consider checking out Strides for Success.

I posted about this idea originally because I thought what a great thing – to get riding lessons and advice via audio that you can utilise whilst riding!

I have also signed up to their mailing list and love that on a regular basis they send out an email with regards to improving your riding.  If you want to ride horses for a living, why not make use of these free resources to develop yourself now?

“When riding my horse I no longer have my heart in my chest, but between my knees.” – Author unknown

Underwear for the Equestrian

Now I thought I’d seen most everything in the world of horse related products and careers, but this one is new to me! Providing underwear specifically for those who horse ride, Derriere Equestrian looks like it has a great set up and product range.

To find a stockist near you, check out  Perhaps if you run a saddlery or the like, they may be worth looking into for your store!

“Beauty, delicacy and position-these were the foundations of courtly equestrianism.” – Henning Eichberg

Eventing Scholarship

Do you know about the Mark Todd Bridging the Gap Scholarship?  I’m sure if you’re a mad keen eventer who dreams of taking on the world at a high equestrian level, you do!  But if not, why not look into it?

For anyone who dreams of making use of a scholarship to further their equine career, knowing terms and conditions is vital. Take a look at the terms for this year’s scholarship that has already been awarded – it may benefit you for future chances to enter.

“Three-day eventing… gruelling test of elegance, skill, and endurance that makes both horse and rider appreciate the fourth day!” – Author unknown

Friday Feature: Horse Rider

What Type of Riding do you Dream of Doing?

This week’s letter is H. If you missed last week’s Friday Feature, take a look at Groom.

Now this is a broad category that probably requires a bit more of a set focus.

It is possible to ride horses for a living, but the discipline in which you do so will dictate your hours of work, skills required in the saddle and even potential to earn income.

Although all are horse riding related, it is very different to play polo for a living, exercise racehorses, ride horses as a jockey, aim to reach the Olympics as an eventer or excel in dressage.

Someone who is interested in pursuing a career as a professional horse rider should consider:

  • Getting as many hours in the saddle on varying horses as possible
  • Finding a good instructor to guide them
  • Setting goals to achieve results at competitions
  • Which discipline they want to focus on after becoming established as a rider

Horse riding is a great sport; if you can make a living from it and are passionate about it – all the better!  It doesn’t necessarily mean needing to have your own horse – you can rider other peoples’ horses for a living.  The difficult bit is proving your capabilities so that others will want you to ride for them.

What Type of Riding do you Dream of Doing?

For posts that relate to this area of work on Equus-Blog, take a look at:

“A good rider can hear his horse speak to him. A great rider can hear his horse whisper. But a bad rider won’t hear his horse even if it screams at him!” – Author unknown

101 Western Dressage Exercises

101 Western Dressage Exercises for Horse & Rider by Jec Aristotle Ballou and Stephanie Boyles is a very handy resource!  Aside from the terms jog and lope, I far from feel this is a book that will benefit those only interested in Western riding! In fact, can I say that everyone who wants to improve their riding and communication with their horse should read this book?

101 Western Dressage Exercises for Horse & Rider by Jec Aristotle Ballou and Stephanie Boyles

These authors have put together an amazing assortment of short exercises for the beginner, intermediate and advanced rider to help them hone the responsiveness of their mount. The diagrams are clear and easy to follow, the instructions direct and the benefits detailed before each exercise – as well as some hints to the rider. They appear to me to be easy to follow, full of enriching information and inspiring action. Seriously, a great book!

If you’re someone who instructs or has a desire to teach others, the 101 exercises in this book will allow you to easily take a hold of one or two and use them to fill a riding lesson for students. They will learn many, many exercises that they can use to effectively make their horse lighter to their aids; able to work straight and have an awareness of where their horse’s feet are being placed.

To be able to carry out such exercises as a rider, you don’t need a myriad of props. The diagrams are explained in a 60 x 20 metre arena, but having cones set out with the usual dressage letters in the same dimension would work, too. Poles are suggested for some exercises.

101 Western Dressage Exercises provides chapters on softness, looseness, rider development, engagement, adjustability and a last chapter on ground work. This is followed by a glossary of terms that are consistently used in the book.  The book does not explain how to carry out actions such as the turn on the forehand or haunches, but instead this is assumed knowledge and it makes use of such movements to bring about certain responses in the horse.

Being a NetGalley copy, I only had access to read it over a short period, so will now need to go buy myself a copy – I can see it will have many, many benefits to myself as a rider and help with guiding others, should I pursue the road of teaching horse riding once again.

Authors – Jec Aristotle Ballou and Stephanie Boyles
Non Fiction – horse riding
In my library – Not yet!  But I’m rapt to have had the opportunity to read it.
Want it? Get it now at Amazon.

“If training has not made a horse more beautiful, nobler in carriage, more attentive in his behavior, revealing pleasure in his own accomplishment…then he has not truly been schooled in dressage.” – Col. Handler

Gap Year Equine Experiences

On Trail in South Africa

Uni sent out a message to the equine science students about conservation work in South Africa and I thought I’d scout the website for horse related work!  Found two that may be of interest to the student keen to take some time off school next year and get in some horse experience overseas – what could be more appealing?

  1. South Africa Horse Riding and Conservation Experience – this one seems to me a great opportunity to clock up hours in the saddle, gain conservation experience and perhaps add to the resume with the view to being a game ranger or even zoo worker in the future.
  2. Australian Jackaroo / Jillaroo School – a great chance to visit the land down under and learn about the cowboy way, mustering cattle and shearing sheep!

“How to ride a horse: Step One – Mount the horse. Step Two – Stay mounted…” – Author unknown

Land and Horses

Fees for Public Use

Hubby was kind enough to indulge me last month and take us for a drive to a nearby reserve that is utilised for a local Pony Club.  This particular reserve is open to the public and can be utilised for a small fee for those in need of horse riding facilities.

Keen to offer something similar on our future property, I was eager to see what was on offer and how good the facilities were.  It was exciting to see an area with fenced off and maintained arenas, tie up areas for horses and a relatively spectacular collection of cross country jumps dotted about cleared areas between native trees.  Definitely got me dreaming about future goals!

Cross Country Jumps at the Reserve

Perhaps you have a love of horses and some land that could be put to use for the fellow equestrian. There would definitely be establishment costs and ongoing maintenance and gardening, but perhaps this is an area where you can invest and find a return in the equestrian world?

“You know you’re a horse person when you consider a golf course as a waste of good pasture land.” – Author unknown

Friday Feature: Track Rider

This week’s letter is T. If you missed last week’s Friday Feature, take a look at Steward.

Many people love the idea of riding fast horses – not me, I’m a sook!  Although they may aspire to be a jockey, their physique may not make this possible.  It is however possible to be taller and weigh more than a jockey and still ride track work.  That is, ride horses on a racecourse in anticipation for race day.

Does Riding Fast Horses Appeal to You?

In fact for many, the opportunity to become a jockey is first formed through riding track work.

If riding racehorses appeals to you, consider:

  • A need to know racing rules and regulations
  • The need to ride horses at timed work
  • Early hours will be a non negotiable
  • Busy days will often be race days, which will include weekend work
  • Riding happens at most stables 6 days a week and will involve riding many different horses each morning

You need to have your track rider’s license to be able to ride racehorses for a trainer.  For other posts that relate to this area of work on Equus-Blog, take a look at:

“What a creature he was! Never have I felt such a horse between my knees. His great haunches gathered under him with every stride, and he shot forward ever faster and faster, stretched like a greyhound, while the windbeat in my face and whistled past my ears.” – Arthur Conan Doyle

Ambition by Natalie Keller Reinert

I was able to gain a copy of Ambition around it’s release and have just finished reading this entertaining and informative eventing novel by Natalie Keller Reinert.

Ambition by Natalie Keller Reinert

Well titled, Ambition follows the desires and hard work of twenty one year old Jules Thornton.  Jules wasn’t in the equine industry to make friends; in fact people seem a lot more work than her trustworthy equines.  Ambitious to a fault, the young woman focuses all her energy and time on running the 10 acre property she has secured in a bid to make it to the big time as a trainer and rider.

Hard working and talented, Jules’ riding capabilities are noticed, but it seems a young woman with ambition isn’t what horse owners are looking for in a trainer.  Jules finds frustration in others telling her to take her time getting to the top.

The most frustrating of all is the confusing advice from rival rider Peter Morrison.  Convinced she can prove them all wrong, Jules keeps her eye on the goal at the expense of friendships and something that could blossom into more.

A realistic and humorous novel, Reinert displays her obvious knowledge for horses in this story that focuses on event riders and their desire to make the big time.  A great adult novel, well worth the read.

Author: Natalie Keller Reinert
Fiction – adult
In my library? As an eBook, yes!  I was able to gain a copy around the time of it’s release and thoroughly enjoyed the chance to read and review it.
Want it? Get it now on Amazon.

“Three-day Eventing … a gruelling test of elegance, skill, and endurance that makes both horse and rider appreciate the fourth day!” – Author unknown

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