How much of your day/week is related to horses?
I work anywhere between 20 – 50 hours a week. It depends what kind of project I have going at the moment and if that assignment requires me to travel, which it does frequently.
What is it exactly that you do?
I own my own PR and Marketing agency called Dreamkeepers PR. I represent a select number of professional equestrians and help them develop sponsorship proposals for companies.
I also develop sponsorship programs for equine products and services companies. I like bringing people together. I frequently act as a liaison between the rider and the company to make sure that the partnership works well for both parties.
A lot of riders do not realize that when they achieve sponsorship, there is a lot of work generated by that award, whether it’s product and financial support or just product. I am also there to assist with the communication between the company and the rider and to help make sure all of that work is accomplished. I’ve helped riders put together video and photographic pieces for the companies which the companies then turn around and use for their marketing efforts and I advise both entities on how to develop the relationship. I regularly work with photographers and videographers, and web and graphic designers.
When riders achieve sponsorship – especially the first few partnerships, riders need to make sure that their brand – and therefore their public image – is aligned with the company’s expectations.
So I help the riders get their social media, website – and basically anything that represents them ready for the local, regional, or national attention they are about to receive. Because once a rider receives an initial sponsorship – once the first company ‘vets’ them if you will, they are likely to receive additional sponsorships afterward. And this process can happen quickly. Riders need to be prepared.
At the same time, I help the riders understand how to continue building their fan base and how to conduct interviews with the media. I also help them put out press releases and articles about their work. At the moment I am also editing a book that will be published for the equine industry.
And lastly – and this perhaps falls outside of a strict definition of PR – I offer strategic business development consulting. I provide a trusted, confidential resource for the professional equestrians as they transition through the various levels within the equine industry. In the business, as with any business really, sometimes it is hard to find a good, trusted “inner circle” of people with whom you can speak freely. There are a lot of pressures on the riders. I can consult and help them sort out various issues; I help them determine where they want to be in their careers and then build a plan to help them get there.
This may sound surprising, but I spend a lot of time reading scholarly works and books or articles on the nature of success, leadership and what motivates people. I am really fascinated by what makes people successful, and I am also fascinated by how equestrians transition between the professional levels.
I have a specific passion for those riders who have dreams of achieving specific goals within the equine industry. Denny Emerson’s book How Good Riders Get Good is a really great read for those who want to see what it really takes to get to the top levels of the sport. I also watch and listen to a lot of what I call the “Equine Industry Thought Leaders” are saying, because this is critical in understanding how this sport works and what changes are afoot or need to come.
In this field of work, is it possible to be a full time professional and earn a liveable income?
Yes, it is possible, but you really have to work hard to make it. A job like this is tremendous fun, but also lots and lots of work. I am constantly reaching out to professional equestrians, equine industry products and services companies, and attending horse events in order to make this work.
What are the general steps taken to be employed in this role?
Well, I had worked in the non profit sector as a program coordinator and during that time, I got a lot of relationship building, PR, and development (and grant writing) experience.
I am a lifelong equestrian, and later in my life I had the opportunity to teach riding and work as a Director of Operations on a Hunter/Jumper farm. I got to see what the life of a professional equestrian is really like with the long hours, the heartbreak, the thrill of winning, the exhaustion, the elation. I got to help manage with the business side of running a profitable horse farm. I had experience in assisting with horse sales and understanding how much it costs to run a lesson barn. I learned about event and client relationship management.
My bachelors degree is in English and I had freelanced for magazines, too. This work demands a good deal of creativity, so individuals should look at university programs with degrees in English or journalism, public relations and marketing.
There are many equine industry PR agencies, and you can see a lot of their work by looking at the Equestrian Creative Network and look for related jobs at American Horse Publications in their “Career Track” section.
Take internships at PR agencies or within the non profit sector, because most non profit experiences will provide you with skills you will need for this type of work. You need to be good at a lot of things: relationship development, community outreach, event management, photography, writing, and digital marketing. There are a lot of hats to wear but it is so much fun.
Favorite horse memory?
There are so many, but my fondest is the day that my OTTB rescue mare, Coco, let me sit on her back for the first time. She was unrideable (without brakes) when we first got her in, and for many weeks I could only hand walk her and groom her. But one day, she just said, “OK, today’s the day. I trust you now. Get on.”
Unfortunately, I had hoped that moment would come when we were working in the round pen – and therefore a smaller enclosed space – but it didn’t and we were in the huge indoor arena. I wasn’t sure what would happen, but I felt she was relaxed and so I got on. We walked quietly for maybe 15 minutes, and I kept expectations low, no pressure. Then I hopped off and gave her a treat and turned her back out. We did that for several weeks and by summer’s end we were jumping cross rails. She passed away last June, but I will never forget the special things she taught me. I miss her every day of my life.
I would like to be nominated for an Equestrian Social Media Award and it would be a dream to work with one of the equestrian sport’s governing bodies. Specifically, it would be a dream of mine to work with FEI and their Solidarity program, which helps developing countries develop their emerging professional equestrian programs, so they can be competitive globally.
I’ve always wanted to meet HRH Princess Haya, FEI’s President; I love following the work she is doing for FEI. My personal goal is to make a profound impact on the equine industry and to help people achieve their dreams within it.
Best thing about your sport/profession?
The best thing about the profession is helping people to achieve their dreams with horses. Dreams keep our lives full of adventure, hard work, dedication, risk and tough decisions. Dreams force us to live our lives a certain way – a way that demands excellence at multiple levels. I can’t think of anything I’d rather be doing!
“If I had a horse, I’d ride off in the sunset, where dreams, and shadows lie. To a life, where pain and sorrow don’t exist, and to where hopes, and dreams become reality.” – Lindsay Turcotte