Three years ago, I joined the Nation Media family after hitting “send” on an email containing a humor piece I titled, “How to Train Your Horse Show Husband.” I got an email back almost immediately from Kristen Kovatch, the editor of Horse Nation at the time, who seemed excited to have received my submission and told me it was on the schedule for publishing. And so my career as an equestrian writer began with a piece that made fun of my sweet, supportive, but utterly clueless horse show husband, Wayne.
“It’s only after you’ve stepped outside your comfort zone that you begin to change, grow, and transform.”
I started out with a submission every now and then when time allowed but was later encouraged to submit weekly articles if I could. After a month of writing regularly for Horse Nation, I was invited to begin writing pieces for its sister sites, Jumper Nation and Eventing Nation, as well. Over that first year of freelancing, I published countless pieces, some funny, some serious, and some with specific call-to-actions. I loved the opportunity to share my thoughts freely, to document my journey of horsemanship, and the chance to connect with so many amazing equestrians along the way.
Kristen became my mentor almost immediately, grooming my writing skills and encouraging me to step outside of my comfort zone. While Kristen will probably deny this, to this day, I know I would not be the writer or rider that I am today without her guidance.
When the opportunity came up two years ago for me to apply for the position of Editor for Jumper Nation, I again found myself at my keyboard with shaking hands trying to gather the strength to hit “send” on an email containing my resume. Everyone on the Nation Media team knew me; I had become a familiar face on our web chats. Anytime we logged on, everyone knew to expect lots of dogs and deer heads in the background (I am from Southeast Missouri, of course there are animals on my walls- haha). Yet, despite our connection to one another, I knew I wasn’t exactly a shoo-in for this position. This was a giant leap for me, and I knew if I received this opportunity that I was going to have to work my butt off to prove that I was willing to make up for what I lacked.
But the team at Nation Media trusted me, and so I slipped into my role as Editor where I have proudly served for just over two years now. In my time at Nation Media, I have had the chance to cover some amazing things, but I am most proud of the fact that I grew stronger in my ability to voice, share, and stand behind my opinions. Writing articles online is not for the faint of heart. The keyboard warriors will come out in drones and call you every name in the book. You have to have thick skin (and sometimes a nice, full bottle of wine) and be willing to stand your ground for what you believe in. Working with Kristen and Leslie Wylie of Eventing Nation has helped me grow as a writer, editor and person in that regard.
If you ask anyone in my family what I wanted to do when I grew up, they would say that I never really knew, but I always wanted it to involve horses. My mom encouraged me to pursue veterinary school, but science was never my strong point. My dad encouraged me to look into equine pharmaceutical sales, but I was never the best at pushing things I didn’t believe in. It was my late Grandpa John and my high school senior English teacher who advised me to put my love of writing to good use in a future job. And somehow, over the years, I have managed to merge my love of writing and riding into a career. I feel so lucky and so blessed to have had the chance to be a part of the Nation Media family and to truly do what I love for the past two years.
I have recently gone through a transitional phase in my life. I suppose some would call this “growing up,” although I still feel as if I have so much more growth to do. With this transition comes new change and opportunities: I have accepted a position with Phelps Media Group as a Senior Account Executive. Working for Phelps has always felt like a pipe dream, and I know it would not be possible without everything that Nation Media has taught me, and for that, I am beyond grateful. To say that at just under 30 years old, I have finally acquired my dream job feels so surreal. Most people spend years of their professional lives trying to do the same thing. I still feel as if I will wake up from a dream any minute now.
Photo by Snowfall Designs Photography
So with this new career opportunity, I am handing over the reins to another deserving writer to learn and grow with Nation Media just as I have. The feeling is beyond bittersweet. For the past three years, I have dedicated my heart and soul to Nation Media. If you skim the archives of any of our three sites, pages upon pages of articles about my life, my thoughts, my failures, my successes, etc. pop up. My growth as a writer and a rider are all on record for the world to see. I spent this last weekend filtering through some of my “best hits,” so to speak, and laughing at how grown I thought I was. It truly is funny to see how much three short years can change a person, and I have the team at Nation Media to thank for that.
Before I part, I want to share a few short remarks:
To John, our fierce leader: Thank you for taking this chance on me and giving me this opportunity to be a part of this wild, crazy, cat-loving family.
To Kristen, my mentor: Thank you for curbing my comma-vomiting habit and for beating the Oxford comma out of me (although I must say, I LOVE a good Oxford comma). Thank you for always looking at my pieces with a new perspective and challenging me in a way that many might not.
To Leslie, my voice of reason: Thank you for always having an open mind and an open heart when reviewing my work. While our lives may be different, you always greeted my differing viewpoints with a smile and encouraged me to share my perspective, even if it was different from your own.
And to our readers: Thank you for taking the time to read what I had to say, and for always sharing your thoughts. From writing about my poor, poooooor horse show husband, to challenging some of the more difficult topics in our industry, you continued to come back and allow me the chance to share my voice. Many of you have become close friends, and I am so grateful to have had the opportunity to share my life with you.
On that note, I welcome JN’s new leader, Lynn Mueller. I knew within five minutes of chatting with Lynn on the phone that we were kindred spirits. A fierce, firecracker of a woman who strings words together in such an eloquent fashion that you can’t help but stop to listen, Lynn will undoubtedly step into this role with ease. Her passion for the industry is unrelenting, and I know that will carry over into her work. She is going to be a great addition to the Nation Media family.
So for now, farewell, my friends. I hope to pop back into your lives every now and then with my name on a byline, but until then, Go Jumping.