BY TPH BLOG EDITOR LAUREN MAULDIN
Writing and riding are my two favorite things, which is why I’m so excited to join The Plaid Horse team as Blog Editor.
I’m probably a better writer than I am a rider. My success with horses has hardly been in a straight line. Growing up riding as the only boarder in a small backyard barn, I spent my junior years with far more time hunting in the field than I ever did in the show ring. I was taught that horse care was a priority above all else. Even though I showed up to my college IHSA tryouts with an unfashionable, bulky velvet helmet and cheap, rubber tall boots, I knew how to wrap, soak, sweat, groom and haul.
Figuring out the intricacies of the show ring has been a lifelong process since that day when my college trained frowned at circa ’95 show bow, but I’ve come a long way. These days, I show my off the track Thoroughbred gelding in the local jumpers. I still am learning and striving to improve, but at least I have leather field boots now.
My path with writing has had far fewer setbacks and poor fashion choices. I minored in creative writing at North Carolina State University when I was an undergrad, concentrating in poetry. Always an off and on again blogger, In 2010 I started a new project about my move to Texas and life as a married adult. That blog has covered many topics since its inception, from the developing relationship with my horse, Simon, to the tragic loss of my husband in 2015. Through writing about my life on the blog, I decided to formally return to creative writing and this fall began a Master of Fine Arts program in creative nonfiction at the University of California Riverside. Currently I’m working on my memoir, a book about my journey through grief alongside animals and of course – horses.
I think blogs are fascinating. For years now, I’ve told my readers (far too many) stories about going off course in the jumpers or shared worries about lameness issues. Through blogging, I’ve found a kindred community deep with a shared love of horses and equestrian sport. It’s easy to feel alone when you’re going through another night by yourself standing in the barn aisle, soaking a hoof and hoping this will be the last abscess for the rest of time, but blogging helps that loneliness.
For me, blogging has shown that I’m not the only one who struggles with low confidence and lingering fear. I’m not the only anxious amateur who re-watches videos of their horse trotting in slow motion over and over to verify that the short stride in the left front really is better (Isn’t it? It is… right?). And on those rare days that I’ve shown up with a sound horse and a good eye to the single oxer, blogging has shown me that I’m not alone in my successes. That the horse world celebrates with us.
That’s what I hope to bring to The Plaid Horse blog – an even greater sense of community, education and respect for good horsemanship. We are lucky to have an amazing team of contributors, from rising young riders to seasoned professionals. There’s value in every voice we publish here, and in the upcoming months my goal is to curate content for every level of hunter/jumper enthusiast whether you are just learning cross rails or concluding another successful year in the AO’s.
I hope old readers will enjoy what we have in store here. I hope that the new ones will join this community of smart, talented and funny equestrians. Mostly, I hope to contribute to a culture that keeps two great classics thriving – writing and riding.