Welcome to my new blog (... and my apologies to Jane Austen)! I'm Stephanie Church, the new editor-in-chief of The Horse. The landscape around The Horse has been changing these past few weeks, and as our digital editor/producer, Christy West, said in her Transitions post over on the former editor's blog, we will miss the members of our team who have moved on to other pastures, but we're excited about the formation of our new editorial team. I'll be engaging with you via this space about horse health and issues in the industry that affect the equine animals we love.
A little about the face at left (the human one): I've been with The Horse for almost 11 years, and I've served in six different positions here. My riding background is mostly in eventing, although I was riding my mom's Tennessee Walking Horse and Saddlebred before I could walk, and I also had a few years of hunter/jumper experience in there. Years of 4-H and Pony Club and taking care of our ponies and horses in our backyard led to my desire to find a career in the horse industry. I double-majored in journalism and equestrian studies at Averett College (now University) in Southern Virginia, and I ended up blending the two interests. My family still has a motley group of horses back in Central Virginia, from Minis and a Belgian/Quarter Horse mare that came to us as a filly from a PMU farm, to a Norwegian Fjord and our seasoned OTTB eventer, Icy Edge. Over the past several years I haven't had a horse here in the Bluegrass with me, but I've been fortunate enough to ride friends' horses here in Lexington and get my horse "fix," along with caring for these horses when my friends are traveling. One of these friends, Gin Preston, owns Gandalf (the horse at left), a newer addition to her herd that I haven't ridden yet, but hope to ride this spring. (He's a delightful horse and quite the model, isn't he?)
If you're a longtime reader of The Horse, we've been through a lot together: We've watched the emergence of West Nile virus (WNV) in the Western Hemisphere roughly 10 years ago and the release of the first WNV vaccine. We've seen incredible advancement of new imaging techniques for deciphering lameness, and treatments for common conditions in the horse. We've held our breath and done what we could do to help when disaster has hit: One of my more excruciating reporting experiences I've had in my time at The Horse was following horse owners in the wake of Hurricane Katrina in 2005/2006 (but, then, there was also the flip side in getting to tell the inspiring story of Molly, the amputee pony). All along we have worked with amazing veterinarians, learning tips on how to better care for our horses. These are just a few glances in the rearview mirror just to remind us where we've been. We're forging forward, however, and I'm looking forward to walking more closely with you, the hands-on horse owner, and ensuring The Horse meets your horse health care information needs.
Now, to introduce our team, because I think it's important you know who puts their hard work and passion into making The Horse what it is:
I'm pleased to announce that Alexandra Beckstett, author of our popular blogs Thrifty Horsekeeping and Horse Lover's Guide to Kentucky, is our new departments/features editor. Alex is a lifelong horse owner and hunter/jumper enthusiast who joined Blood-Horse Publications in 2008 as assistant editor of its book division, Eclipse Press. In that role, she edited and produced book content, contributed regularly to the award-winning Keeneland magazine, and developed/marketed Eclipse Press' library of more than 100 titles for multiple eBook formats. Welcome to the team, Alex!
In the realm of changing-but-not-entirely-changing, you might recognize the name of our digital editor/producer, Christy West. Her career with The Horse magazine and TheHorse.com goes back to late 2000 when she started as managing editor. She moved to warmer pastures in 2006, but she's continued to work remotely as webmaster for TheHorse.com until the recent expansion of her duties. She's excited to get back to TheHorse.com full-time, and she's looking forward to finding new and improved ways to serve your horse health information needs (which she acknowledges as sounding cliché, but trust me, she's serious!). If you have any suggestions, she'd love to hear them--feel free to shoot her an email at cmwest@TheHorse.com, or perhaps even better, post them to The Horse's Facebook page at http://www.facebook.com/TheHorse for discussion.
Photo/newsletter editor Megan Arszman grew up with horses, competing in many events such as hunter under saddle, barrel racing, reining, breakaway roping, and halter with her Quarter Horses. Megan will continue to illustrate our magazine articles and award-winning e-newsletters by selecting the best and occasionally the most graphic photos available (hey, we all know horse care isn't always pretty!). She'll also keep picking out the latest and greatest news on horse health, welfare, nutrition, lameness, breeding, equinomics, and more, and bringing it right to your e-mailbox as a variety of e-newsletters.
Dawn Garner, a rare rockstar combination of horse owner, writer, photographer, and programmer, is still around as well, continuing to provide invaluable insights and the technical wizardry that keep TheHorse.com running like a well-oiled machine. If the Web site were a car, it would have started life as a Yugo and Dawn has spent her 5 ½ years here transforming it into the website version of--oh, let's say an Acura: Faster, better-looking, and better-handling. Of course, there are plans in the works to upgrade it to something like a Lamborghini with far more exciting capabilities.
Charlie Payne, who has a background primarily in foxhunting, will be joining us next week as associate publisher. He's owned several riding horses over the years, and he looks forward to getting back in the saddle once he's settled in to Lexington. Charlie worked for many years at Practical Horseman, and we're happy to have him joining our team.
I'm working on hiring another team member, our news editor, as we speak.
Now, I'd like to get to know you and your horses better. What have been your favorite features in The Horse and on TheHorse.com that you've been able to use? What would you like to see more of here?