Make an Editor Squirm

By Jennifer Paulson | November 03, 2014

You want to know the worst part of my job? Well, maybe not the worst, but one of the parts that makes me the least comfortable?

When I have to step out from behind the camera and move in front of it.

Put the camera in my hands, and I'm in heaven. Give me the reflector and tell me to watch how a shirt's tucked in or fix hair when it gets out of place? You can count on me. Ask me to act like a monkey to get a horse's ears? I'm your gal. Tell me to pose for a photo while listening for a horse's gut sounds? Well, I'll do it, but I won't like it. Not one bit.
Photographer Mallory Beinborn and photo director Joe Paulson put us through our paces last week.

H&R contributing photographer Mallory Beinborn of Impulse Photography was in town last week, so we nabbed her for a day of shooting stock images out at my mom's place. We had a great time, complete with my youngest son serving as "director" of our shoot, and we banked a lot of images that we can use throughout the year. We have to get as much done photographically as we can before the winter weather sets in here in Colorado, and we had a beautiful day to do it.

Thankfully, assistant editor Alexis Bennett was on hand, so she took the brunt of the photo direction of our tyrant 3-year-old. I only had to pose in a few frames for glamorous tasks like cleaning pens. You can't help but laugh when the photographer yells, "Toss that fork of poop again so I can get it flying through the air!"

Mallory is such a pro, that even this photo-phobe felt confident and at ease in front of her lens. And the best part of it? I nabbed a few tips from her for my upcoming shoots. You can't help but learn a thing or two when you spend a day with a girl at the top of her game.

Horsey Halloween

October 31, 2014

We asked and you delivered. Thanks Horse&Rider fans for sharing your horsey Halloween costumes with us!

Extra, Extra! My Print Feature Appearance

By Alexis Bennett | October 24, 2014

“You’re allowed to be excited,” Jen said as she held open our November issue for me to see from my desk.

The magazines were dropped off hours earlier, but I was hesitant to open mine. I’ve been with Horse&Rider for over half a year of issues (time sure flies), but this is the first month that I’ve had my own byline-----that is, a feature solely of my producing, complete with my own photography. Sure, I’d seen the proofs cycle through and had checked out the layout, so knew what it looked like, yet I was a little wary to see it in print. Always ultra-critical, I thought maybe it’d be better if I just didn’t look.

It isn’t that I’m unexcited, or worse, jaded about what I do, it’s more that seeing my name in print is still a reality I have difficulty wrapping my head around. Eventually my curiosity got the better of me, and I even cracked a smile upon seeing the finished product. It’s tough not to smile knowing all of the work I’d put into this piece.

I have a new appreciate of the energy it takes to bring a feature from a concept to full-fledged reality. From the time I initially reached out to Darla Kennepohl; to the early-morning trip to her place; to finally pulling together a cohesive training article, many hours were spent worrying about and fine-tuning the details that culminated in the “Second Barrel Blues.” 

Reader to Writer

This job enables me to have an insider look at the lives of many high-level horse trainers and professionals. And, in this case I was humbled to work with a trainer who has had so much success in and outside of the pen, having trained and jockeyed numerous world champion, futurity, derby, and even rodeo horses. Darla knows her stuff, and I was honored, and even a little celeb shocked, to be at her place asking questions about her training methods and tips to share with our readers. Because this is an event that’s close to my heart, it was fun to approach the topic as both an editor and student of the sport. My trip to SDK Barrel Horses was a learning opportunity, and I can’t begin to verbalize how pleased I am with the result. I hope our readers appreciate and learn as much from Darla’s insight as I did. Be on the lookout for the November issue to hit the stands, soon.

How has training been progressing with Ruby?

Ruby’s training has been a little more consistent lately.  We can get right to work because she’s focused and ready to go.  She accepts new things easier and more willingly goes about the day.

Photo courtesy of Erin Zellefrow
Credit: Photo courtesy of Erin Zellefrow
Ruby helps pony a friend's horse off the trail.
How has the training process been similar and/or different with Ruby for the Equine Comeback Challenge than with other rescue horses you’ve worked with in the past?

Training with Ruby is similar to most rescue horses that come in, in the discovery process of finding out what they know and what they don’t know.  Each horse has their own personality and learns at a different pace because they have their own set of fears, set-backs and strengths.  However, they all learn with the same concept; the release of pressure.  Being consistent and adding pressure as needed, with a release from the slightest try builds a foundation for the horse.  Once the concept is set, more pressure can be added, with the release as the reward.  No matter what you are asking of the horse, this is how they learn.  So, Ruby is not different in the way she learns, just the rate she learns, as they all are.

Describe a break-through moment you’ve had in your training so far.

The biggest break-through we have had thus far is patience.  Ruby was not a patient or respectful gal.  We have struggled and spent hours together, moving her feet when and where I wanted her to, and making her stand still when it was my idea.  Standing was hard for Ruby.  So when she decided to dance or run me over, or spin in circles we would work, but on my terms; making the reward her rest.  She has a busy mind, but is very sharp. She wants to please her rider, which is so nice because she learns quickly.  Her try is backed with a lot of heart.

What challenges are unique to preparing a horse for an event in a limited period of time (i.e. 90 days)?

Preparing for an event in a set period of time is tough no matter what the event or level of discipline.  That’s why so many futurity event competitors start with a handful of horses.  Some horses can take the pressure, some can’t.  It doesn’t mean they won’t make a great horse, just not in that time frame.  Whether it is mental, physical, or emotional, there are circumstances.  The important aspect for me is to do what’s best for the horse.  If the horse is ready for the next step or to be pushed, then we do that.  If that horse isn’t ready, and steps are skipped, it’s not fair to the horse in the end.  Holes in training will always show up later. A solid foundation full of knowledge, exposure, experience, and confidence prepares a horse to have the future they deserve.  If you listen, a horse will tell you when they’re ready for new challenges.  It is often easier to teach a young horse, rather than an older horse that hasn’t been handled or ever asked to do anything as they are set in their ways of “being a horse.”  This is often the case with rescue horses. 

Describe a typical training session.

A typical training session for Ruby and I starts on the ground.  Ground tie, groom, saddle, and bridle.  We spend a lot of time with the bit.  Ruby works well in a snaffle, but hated getting bridled.  She is getting much better now through patience and consistency.  We start with a little bit of groundwork, flexing, and then work in the saddle.  We start with where we finished the day before and go from there.  If what we worked on the day before goes well then we move on.  If there is hesitation, or confusion, we work on that particular thing for the day.  And the next day, same approach.  I often introduce or expose Ruby to new things, like swimming, or horse shows, camping, obstacle, etc.  I want her to be well rounded and confident in herself and trust her rider/handler. I really enjoy my time with Ruby and I feel very blessed to have her in my life. 

Perk of the Job: A Preview of Cavalia "Odysseo"

By Jennifer Paulson | September 17, 2014

When I was invited to a media preview of the Cavalia "Odysseo" show in Denver, I wasn't quite sure what to expect. I didn't get to go last time Cavalia was in town in 2010 due to a conflict, but I'd heard rave reviews from my friends who went. From barrel racers to eventers, they all thought it was pretty amazing.

Before the 50-minute preview began (the actual show runs two hours), Founder and Artistic Director Normand Latourelle shared a few statistics about the show.

  • It took 100 trailers to transport all of the animals and the sets from Cavalia's last stop in Edmonton, Alberta, to Denver, Colorado. The transport and setup took 16 days.
  • Sixty-two horses—Appaloosas, Arabians, Holsteiners, Lusitanos, Paints, and Quarter Horses, among other breeds—compose the equine performance group.
  • Fifteen riders and acrobats appear on the "stage."
  • Speaking of the's a performance arena, twice the size of an average hockey rink, complete with a hill in the background, and the front of the set fills with water at one point in the show. 
  • The stage is housed in what they call a tent, but it's far from any "big top" you might envision. It's a 17,225-square-foot, white enclosure, reminiscent of Denver International Airport.
  • Additionally, Latourelle wanted to ensure that no view was obscured by equipment, so the arches that make the peaks of the tents support 80 tons of weight and stand as tall as 125 feet. (This allows a carousel to be lowered from the ceiling at one point in the show!)
  • While all of this setup took place, the equine stars spent two weeks resting and relaxing on a ranch in Wyoming. 

I was pleasantly surprised at the ease with which "Odysseo" marries its acrobatic and equine elements. There's trick riding and drill-team maneuvers paired with extreme tumbling and dancing, all by skilled athletes, both human and equine. Not to mention some great dressage maneuvers paired with breathtaking visuals. 

If you're in Denver any time during through October 5, 2014, I'd recommend attending a performance. It's suitable for all ages (I wished I had my 6-year-old with me to experience it), and there are matinee and evening performances. Find tickets here.

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