How I Became An Editor

Here’s how I became a kamikaze pilot  an editor without really trying.

As you know, I wrote for the fall/winter issue of the American Trakehner Magazine. Afterwards I was asked to be the issue  editor for the spring issue.

I said sure, why not. As I assumed (and this is where I should have double checked) that I would just be editing all of the material. I didn’t realize I was going to be responsible for the whole magazine and curating all of its content. That was, until two days ago. Oops.

I think I need a redo.

I shouldn’t have assumed that I was going to be handed the articles. Of course, multiple people sent me ideas (that I should write) but a magazine is supposed to have multiple authors. So, I said great idea and thought that they would write the articles. Imagine my surprise when I contacted them and they pretty much said “Well, I gave you the idea but I don’t have the time to write the articles. Good luck.”

Wait a minute-  you think I’m not busy?

That is the most frustrating thing about the writing world and life in general (and I’m guilty of this too)- we all have great ideas but we don’t want to take the time to follow through with those ideas. We don’t want to get our hands dirty. Oops. I guess I expected people to take responsibility and to help develop and further the Trakehner breed.

My mistake.

This morning, before I took my medication for my narcolepsy, I was fuming. I pretty much wrote out several nasty articles in my head and I had every intention of putting those thoughts down on paper. Except, I stopped and realized one thing.

I’m younger than most of the American Trakehner Members. I don’t think they realize what that means. If they don’t pull in more young blood, the breed will die and/or it will be absorbed by other associations. However, I won’t let that happen. If I have to, I will bide my time. I will breed high quality horses and I will develop my ideas and one day I will be in a position where I can “take the reins” of the association.

Do I want to do that? Do I want to be on the outside until there is no one left? No, I don’t. I want to learn from the veteran breeders but they need to realize that they need to teach; not assume that the newbies know what it takes to be Trakehner breeders (because I know absolutely nothing). With all of the technology at our hands it is the easiest it’s ever been to teach others. We can do webinars and send powerpoints; we can do virtual conferences and online classes. You name it and we can do it; notice I say “we” not “I” because supporting and developing a breed requires the help of hundreds (if not thousands) of people.

I bought my first Trakehner seven years ago and I became a lifetime member because I knew I wanted to be a breeder; I wanted to help further promote and develop the breed. Yep, I bred for my first foal not really knowing what I needed to do as a Trakehner breeder (like make sure I got a breeding certificate from the stallion owner). It’s funny because this correlates to how I became an editor for the American Trakehner Magazine without realizing it.

I wrote a couple of articles for the last magazine. It didn’t take long and I figured why not write some more. I agreed to being an issue editor even though I’ve only ever done peer to peer editing. *face palm*

I have a week to put together the magazine. I downloaded InDesign and I’m going to teach myself how to use it. Oh, and I picked the perfect time to have this catastrophe because I also start my brand new job tomorrow. This job is the gateway to becoming who I want to be. Bring on the ill advised energy drinks. 

I’ll see you on the other side. 

As a side note- if you search for Trakehner/American Trakehner two blogs show up (and one of them is mine). Seriously, Trakehner people, where is our online presence? We have this amazing breed and we aren’t talking about it. How do you expect people to learn about the breed if we aren’t being obnoxious and promoting the hell out of the breed?

American Trakehner Brand

American Trakehner Brand

To Dream is to be Divine.

Who are you?

No, seriously, when you look in the mirror who do you see? It is a question I ask myself every day.

Why am I who I am? What choices led me to be this person? Do I still want to be that person?

I write for the American Trakehner Association. I decided to write for them on a whim and sometimes I wonder if I jumped the gun. Truly, I have too much going on for me to volunteer to write for an organization I want to be a part of. There are days when I scratch my head and wonder why on earth I have horses. I must be insane. What is a girl like me doing dreaming such big dreams? I must be delusional; I should be committed.

When I think those things, I forget how brave I am to be going down this road. I’ve risked a lot. I’ve gambled my health, my hopes and sometimes, my sanity.

At this point in time I tell myself I’ll be happy if I can have my horses in my backyard. After all, I have a handicap (I have a incurable lifelong disease- narcolepsy) and my doctors have suggested I take a break from horses. I’ve written about this before but I want to write briefly about it again because this time I almost believed what my doctors told me. This time, I almost believed the whispers that say I shouldn’t dream nor should I hope to be a competitive rider because I haven’t got what it takes.

So maybe, I don’t have the things I need to be a competitive rider tomorrow, but I do have everything I need to be successful in the long run. I bred for an amazing filly that catches the eye of everyone person that meets her.  I forget how gorgeous she is because I’ve had her since day one. I’ve taken my horses for granted because day after day I shovel their poop and I feed them their food and I ache at night from the chores I do.

It’s a bit silly because I have this lovely horse (Julie) who is a dream to ride and I just say “eh, no thanks, not today.” I forget how many people would love to have the opportunity to ride a horse of her quality and training.

I also forget how much I have accomplished with how little I have. I look around me and I see people who have to sell their horses or starve their horses or have to give up riding because they can’t afford it. I’ve been stubborn enough to keep my horses when most other people would fold. This past week I almost caved. I threw a hissy fit because I was frustrated and certain all of my hard work was for nothing.

I stayed the course though and I’m still here. Things are (for the moment) looking up. I even have this little flame in my mind- I want to breed Julie again. I won’t (although, if the funds were there I would), not until my debts are paid and I am financially sound. In fact, I am using breeding Julie as a carrot to force myself to become financially sound. When I get my debts paid off and I have plenty of savings I will breed Julie- as long as she is physically fit and healthy. I love raising babies and I love how fast they grow. I love how inquisitive they are. The next time I breed, I intend to savor each day I get to watch the foal grow up. I intend to be more aware of the pitfalls I befell the first time around. The next time around I will make sure I plan and then plan again.

On Monday, I start a new job; a new career. One that has the capacity to support my horsey habits and then some. The past ten years (yes, it’s been a long time) have been a journey to discover who I am and what drives me. As a horse person that means that I had to figure out that I do not want to own a commercial horse farm nor do I want to spend hours teaching lessons. I figured out I’d rather have a private facility where I breed Trakehners to help better the breed; not to line my pockets.

As I’ve written before- I know that there will be more traps and more times where I despair. I just hope that every time I feel like I should give up; I  stop and remind myself of all I have accomplished and all I will accomplish. So, I won’t get everything tomorrow- I will get everything I dream of (and sometimes more than I dreamed of) by just being me and by remembering that I am lucky to have what I have.

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Trakehner Thursday

Why do I blog?

It’s a good question. One I often answer with- I just do. I started this blog to talk specifically about my favorite breed. More importantly, I started it to write about my journey with Trakehners.

It’s a journey that so often seems to be stagnant. I take care of my horses twice a day. I dream about the day when they will be in my backyard and I get frustrated when their care isn’t exactly how I want it. Which is why I am nursing a stiff neck and a headache today. It is also the first time I’ve felt this sore after a fall.

The scene: 

It’s about 9PM and I just got done with work. The barn is dark and the doors are all closed except- SH*T the front sliding doors to their barn aren’t closed all the way. I park my truck while my thoughts rush around fuming and growling and all sorts of angry. My inward rant about how I hate boarding my horses etc begins. Oh, how I love those rants. While ranting, I grab hay from the feed room. I listen to the squeak of my shoes against the snow as I walk back to the mostly closed barn doors. The gap isn’t big enough for me to get hay through so I try to open them further. Stuck! Frozen to the ground. Now, I’m cursing mother nature and the stupid winter etc.

Undeterred, I wiggle myself in sideways and throw my back against the door. It budges. The other one is the problem. “I’ll be back!” The doors are unimpressed. My horses nicker at me and I forget about my nemesis while I give my horses their evening snacks and refill their water buckets. Fae is attention starved so I tell her how pretty she is and I pet her neck. She loves on me and I close her door. I go into Julie’s stall because she can’t be forgotten. “You’re such a pretty mare. Oh, you are the best. I love you.” I close her door and face my enemy.

The doors are about a foot and half apart. My nemesis. I will conquer you! I think as I set to closing the doors. I turn off the lights and began yanking on the door handle. It’s screwed into old, rotted wood. I pull and pull and then… well, I fly backwards handle in hand. SMACK! my head connects with the rubber mat on the aisle. Julie and Fae whinny as I lay on the ground in the dark. I see stars and I can tell I’ve freaked out all of the horses. They dance in their stalls and one of the horses bangs on his door. After a moment I get up; my blood is hot. I turn the lights back on. First I try the shovel to lift the door up. Still stuck. Then I kick it for good measure (several times). I tug on it and still, the damn thing won’t budget. After another five fruitless minutes Julie whinnies at me like she’s telling me I need to stop. “I’m ok, Julie.” My head is throbbing and I decide she’s correct. With a flick of my finger the barn is drapped in darkness and the damn door is laughing at me. The gap between the two is about ten inches.

I love a little bit of snow but how I hate winter. 

This morning I woke up to a stiff neck and a headache. The whole left side of my neck hurts. I really shouldn’t fought with the doors; but I get so tunnel focused and determined. Which is probably my biggest asset and my biggest weakness. It means that I will do whatever it takes to get what I want but it also means I have a hard time surrendering. I hate giving up and I hate defeat. I lost to a freaking door! 

However, it’s incidents like these that make me realize I don’t want to own a farm by myself. There is too much that can go wrong. Too much that could happen. If I hadn’t had on my hoodie and if I had hit my head on cement would I have been as lucky? I went to the barn alone and no one knew I was there. The owner lives there but she’d already done her nightly walk through. Something so small as trying to close a door could have ended so many of my dreams. The older I get, the more I realize I need to think things through.

How does this relate to Trakehners? Well, they are a smart and sensitive breed. Fae is so smart and easy to train. She respects me and doesn’t try to push my around when I lead her. It’s things like daily interaction and daily training that have made her so easy to be around. I hear horror stories of horrible young horses and I am so thankful Fae isn’t like that. She has the propensity to be bad. Especially because she hasn’t been out much due to the weather. She’s starting to grow into herself and I hope she continues to be well behaved. As a horse owner, breeder, and trainer my constant thoughts are: how do I want her to behave as an adult? Am I teaching her what she needs to know?

Julie, in her own way, does her best to teach Fae. For example: when I get on Julie, she usually walks away before I’m settled. The funny thing is that when I get on her with the intention of Ponying Fae, Julie stand stock still until I tell her to walk on. I think the greatest thing about breeding Julie is watching her teach Fae how to be a modern sport horse. I feel so lucky to own such smart and well behaved horses.

I’m so thankful I have the privilege of working with a breed as marvelous as the Trakehner.

The New Year

Greetings, one and all.

On the first of January all Thoroughbreds celebrated their birthday. Some received cakes and beer as well as treats and for others, it was just another day. It’s quite an interesting tradition we have and it’s a bit outdated. Did you know that because we traditionally have Thoroughbreds’ birthdays on the first of the year breeders of all breeds are fixated on making sure foals are born as close to the new year as possible. When we think about that it is a bit silly, especially in the northern hemisphere where temperatures are below freezing and newborn foals need heavy blankets and heating lamps. I’m thankful that Fae was born in August, she was able to spend her first few months warm and running in the sun. Truth be told how I’ve raised her has been outside the normal breeders’ standards.

For this first post of the new year I would like to give you two tips on how to keep horses on a shoestring budget, because believe me, if I can keep horses on my budget you’ll be able to keep horses on yours.

Tip #1:

The various news outlets are filled with neglect, abuse and horrible stories about how horse owners let their horses starve and the images of those poor horses are dreadful. However, those stories don’t have to be the norm. My first tip is to assess what your budget is. If you are truly a horse person you will give up fast food, starbucks and that shiny new cellphone. The money from those things will be enough to buy food for your horses. In addition to that, contact your local rescue. There are many in every state and most have some kind of food bank. Honestly, most rescues would rather you keep your horses and are willing to help you out in a pinch. The caveat is that you also have to make financial changes which leads me to tip number two.

Tip #2:

When you bought your horse everything was going fine, you had a good job and you were paying the bills. Unfortunately, somewhere along the way your expenses increased while your pay stagnated or went down. It happened to me and it has happened to scores of other horse owners. As mentioned above when times get tough, a smart horse owner will get tough on their budget. Too many horse people (myself included) ignore proper budgeting practices and instead they think “everything will pay itself…” that mindset is destructive to your health as well as your horses’ health. It is based on the notion that you have no control over your expenses but you do. The other thing to remember that your expenses increase by one and a half times for every additional horse that you have.

How do I know this? I have owned one horse for over six years. I was able to pay my bills and pay hers it was tough but I did it. Then I had the brilliant idea to breed her. I knew my expenses would increase, but instead of being smart and saving up, I bought a third horse from auction. The goal, of course, was to train and resell her. When I bought the third horse I realized that I wouldn’t be able to sell her as she had been abused and had lumps on her girth area (two very unmarketable traits). Most people would have turned around and dumped her back into the auction. I didn’t, I did end up spending a lot of money on her and most days I wonder why I did.

The moral of the story is: don’t buy an additional horse if you are already strapped for cash, yes, you could turn around and make a quick buck; but the more likely outcome is that you will have an additional horse to feed and you will bury yourself in debt. Owning one horse is relatively easy, but if you don’t have a barn in your backyard and your income is less than ideal adding additional horses isn’t a smart move.

I eventually surrendered that third horse to a rescue. Unfortunately, I made that decision way after I buried myself into debt. Sometimes be nice and doing the right thing is actually detrimental to your long term health. Remember that before you purchase that fixer upper horse.

Stallion Prospect Alert

My goals for my breeding program: breed high quality, colorful Trakehners. I’d also like to line breed for the Matador line. I like the way this colt moves. His hind end is a bit hitchy but he has a good shoulder.

Ideally, I’d buy both him and his dam (really dreaming right now).

I also want to buy an arabian mare for refinement and some older broodmares to keep the older look. I love big bodied, big joined warmbloods that float above the ground.

New Year- New Focus

As 2014 winds down I have to say I am thankful that this year is done. It has been one of change, frustration and growth. I watched my filly grow from a foal into a yearling. I had the opportunity to develop new friendships with other horse people. I moved back home and reestablished stagnant relationships.

I’ve also lost things. I’ve lost pride and the sense that my worth is defined by being famous or recognized or important. I’ve grown more humble and more aware of the struggles of others. I’ve lost the feeling that I have to be perfect. In 2014, I lost a lot but I gain a whole lot more.

In 2014, I learned to reach out. To make crazy leaps and to be who I want to be. I learned that I can’t wait for someone to say “yup, now you are ready to be x,y or z.” I graduated college two years ago and I finally realized that being educated is great but being certain of who you are and of what you want to be is infinitely more important. This year, I ranted, raved and had several emotional break downs. This year I was stretched and pretty certain I was going insane. Growth often hurts (I remember growing pains and how much they hurt) but after that pain is the realization that you’ve changed and become something different and new.

The feeling of New is something we all strive to feel. We want to create new products, new ideas and new innovations. We believe that New will solve all of our problems. That isn’t always the case because New becomes old if we forget what we learned while we were growing. I vow to remember what I learned while growing. I vow to be fiscally responsible, to stay stubborn and to hold onto my dreams even when I’d rather let them go. I also vow to accept that I’m not perfect and that sometimes dreams need to shift in order for you to be the best possible version of yourself.

When I was younger I wanted to be the best; I wanted to compete in the Olympics and I convinced myself if I didn’t make it there then I was worthless. For me, competing in the Olympics isn’t likely; I have Narcolepsy which means that I am unable to compete at international levels. Why? because I don’t have the drive nor the dedication to devote my life to being the best rider. I used to chide myself on that but now, I realize that there are other ways I can contribute to the horse world.

I bred for my first foal in 2012. She was born in 2013 and I have to say she is amazing. She has surpassed all of my expectations and she is beautiful. I didn’t expect her to be what she is but I am so happy that I have to opportunity to own her. Raising her and teaching her to be a good baby has given me so much joy. I know now that I want to be a Trakehner breeder. I want to help the breed grow and I want to promote high quality, sane and good moving horses. I want to help others learn to be responsible horse owners and I want to teach others how important it is to keep the welfare of the horse first when caring for them. Sure, I could be a famous rider but that wouldn’t be as rewarding as seeing the next generation of competitors be horse savvy and focused on the betterment of the horse world.

In 2015 I will be rolling out interviews with horse breeders, competitors and the greats. I already have a couple of interviews set up. My focus isn’t on what I think but on what will be the most beneficial for all to learn. As I work on creating a place where thoughtful, intelligent and innovative horse people can collaborate I hope you join me in building an environment of positive growth.

Stay tuned and see what the new year will bring.

September post

Hey everyone,

Thank you so much for following this blog. I’m excited to develop my readership and I’m excited to connect with other people. Most of all, I’m excited for the opportunity to bring awareness about the noble Trakehner to those who might not have heard of the breed. I’m thrilled that I have the opportunity to help shape the next generation of sport horses.

Currently, I’m working on an article about why I decided to breed my mare. That is due in the beginning of October. I’ve also just procured a full time position working at a company with lots of upward mobility. I’m excited for the opportunities there.

While things are hectic I am at my best during those times. The more I have to juggle the more efficient I become- I guess I’m a workaholic.

That being said I would suggest you check out my blog http://feliciajane.com there I write about the stories I create and the struggles I deal with outside of the horse world.  It’s chock full of musings and writings that you’ll find interesting. My mare Julie, has even written on there a few times.

Check it out and tell me what you think.

Sincerely,

Felicia

Horse Breeding in the 21st Century

In the United States horse breeders are struggling. The horse economy is treading water but many horse people are leaving.
It’s too expensive. It can’t be a sustainable career. There has to be a better way to do things.
There is.
The horse industry is aging. Many young and talented horse people are forced to look elsewhere because those around them tell them that horses are money pits.
I believed that for a while. It’s easy to believe that when your wallet laughed at you when you try to buy horse grain. It’s easy to believe that horses are too expensive when you have too many past due bills.
It’s easy to say “I need to sell my horses” when you don’t see a way out.
However, those who stick it out will succeed. I will succeed. I will make my horse business sustainable and I will help others do the same.
Horse people of the 21st century- the time is now. Let’s stop believing what yesterday’s generation told us and let’s starting making our own truths.
Keep your horses and keep your head up. Come with me and let’s make some changes.
Email me at felicia.j.fountain@gmail.com to get things going. or check out http://newenglandequineconsulting.wordpress.com for more information about the services I offer.
Sincerely,
Felicia