My first article in an equine magazine was a show report for The Chronicle of the Horse in the late 80s. My most recent was a short interview on equine jobs for USDF Connection. I’ve learned a bunch over the years, not all of it concerning the content.
We differ by discipline. Dressage riders have theories. An interview with a dressage expert is simplicity itself. Ask a question. Press go. Try not to run out of tape. Jumper riders are more right-brain based. What did you think of the course. “It was good.” How did the course suit your horse? “He went well.” Eventers fall in the middle of the continuum. Paso Finos are all about the sound. Those clever little hooves are moving way too fast for human eyes to follow, so aficionados listen to the rhythm, “the judge may even look slightly away or down to concentrate on the sound of the hoof beats’ rhythm going over the sounding board”. [FAQ]
We can’t speak. Few of us speak in full sentences. We stop. We rephrase. We wander off on a tangent. Even the blessed few who speak in a straight line can’t get through a sentence without, you know, verbal tics. Tape yourself a few times. Thou shalt be appalled. I learned to speak more clearly just so I didn’t shudder as I transcribed tapes.
The writing advice is wrong. Write what you don’t know. The first time I wrote about the Rolex Kentucky 3-Day Event for the then-AHSA, I had hash out what was true from what I thought was true. Much of the latter wasn’t. When I interviewed a pest control expert on mosquito breeding habits for The Horse, I didn’t know enough to make a mistake.
A horse job doesn’t necessarily help your riding life. There have been outside benefits. From one interview, I met a trainer who went on to help me make the switch from eventing to jumpers with Previous Horse. From another interview, I found out about a rental farm when I finally got to have my horses in my own backyard.
As for actually helping me on horseback, not so much. They say read as much as you ride. The implication being to read more. I need to read less. I’ve written about the transition from Intermediare to Grand Prix in dressage as one of the biggest steps on the ladder. I have yet to fight my way out of First Level. I can analyze a jumper course that I couldn’t begin to ride. I can point out the terrain questions on a three-star cross-country & panic over Baby Novice log. Less theory, more saddle time.
How has your day job informed your riding? If riding is part of your day job, how have the other duties (lessons, marketing, updating owners), influenced your riding?