Posts Tagged ‘equine’


A Horse’s Stride is Very Special.

March 31, 2010
This week I’m evaluating and advising Special Strides Therapeutic Horseback Riding Center on its social media activities.  I previously volunteered for this organization and strongly support its mission. Located in Monroe, New Jersey, Special Strides is a nonprofit organization dedicated to improving the lives of children with physical and developmental disabilities.

The program is registered for operation through the North American Riding for the Handicap Association and the American Hipponotherapy Association

Hippotherapy (originated from the Greek word “Hippo” meaning horse) is a therapy where the natural movement of the horse promotes awareness, communication skills, strength, mobility, balance, and coordination for people with disabilities.

~Children with communication and auditory problems find companionship with horses.

~Children with low muscle tone/ poor motor skills can find treatment through the horse’s gaits to improve the child’s physical ability.

therapists working with a child
“Horse therapy is used as a strategy to elicit change and rehabilitation as part of a physical and occupational therapy program for children who have Cerebral Palsy, Autism, and many other sensory and motor conditions.”

Recently Special Strides was the subject of an episode on Table for 12, a TLC program that films the life of the 12 members of a New Jersey family.  One of the children, Rebecca Hayes, has cerebral palsy and has improved her muscle functioning drastically since she began treatment at Special Strides.

Now for Social Media

I had the opportunity to speak with Laurie Landy, director of Special Strides organization.  She informed me of the current social media tools the organization uses.  The woman who heads-up the social media activities for the organization is Karen Goldberg, director of marketing and development.

Audit and Recommendations

The Special Strides Web site is its most prominent and utilizable social media outlet. Sub-pages include information about the therapeutic program options, rider testimonials, donation information, and volunteer information.  A few suggestions I would make are to include a forum for parent support, a gallery of photos, an option for people to upload their own photos, a blog covering topics relating to equine therapy and how to train horses for equine therapy, media mentions, and more details about fundraisers (currently it just lists general information on fundraisers)

I recommend Strides, a nonprofit with a similar mission, as a case study of a valuable Web site and Online news letter.

Special Strides’ Facebook page is up but does not have much activity.  It has 91 fans, but the content on the page is lacking.  It must be updated with news and contest opportunities in order to keep it alive.  There is no description of the organization, videos of therapy, discussions/testimonials, or news updates.

Special Strides also has pages on Razoo and Guidestar, sites that allow individuals to search for organizations for their donations.  I would suggest that these pages include links to further information on the organization.

The Special Strides Junior Committee, a group of teenagers that meet to improve the organization, are good candidates for running a social media campaign.  They could help to create new content, create new accounts on Twitter and equine networking sites, and create personal blogs about their experiences at Special Strides.

If  you are interested in sponsoring Special Strides as a corporate sponsor or private/individual donations. Please call 732-446-0945 or email Karen Goldberg at


Hello, Phelps Media Group.

February 17, 2010

A few weeks ago I mentioned Phelps Media Group (PMG), a public relations firm that specializes in equine sports.  I want to discuss PMG some more, because if you are interested in the horse industry and social media, this firm is the holy grail.

I am intrigued by PMG because it would offer me my ultimate dream job; it links my passion for equine sports and public relations.

About PMG

PMG launched in 2002 when founder and president, Mason Phelps, secured his first client, the National Horse Show.  He successfully promoted the transition of the National Horse Show, the most prestigious horse show in the US, from Madison Square Garden in New York City to Palm Beach Polo Club in Floridia (PMG headquarters).

Clients hire PMG for its specialized knowledge in the equine industry, ‘out-of-the- box’ thinking, quick media response, proven results, and fresh concepts. PMG’s clients can expect coverage in various media outlets, because the firm produces customized promotional plans, which raise recognition of clients.

PMG Client Roster

To name a few, PMG’s client roster includes: American Invitational (a show jumping event that offers $150,00 in prize money), Dr. Josh Hall DVM (horse performance vet), and Devon Kane (championship rider).  Clients extend to stables, trainers, Olympic riders, equine foundations, and horse and rider matchmaking services.

PMG Staff

The staff at PMG have strong equine and mixed marketing backgrounds.  The team is led by Mason Phelps who holds a list of accolades in the equine world and began branching into public relations through managing equine events.  Other team members- all with equine backgrounds- are corporate communication, financial, writing, photography, and marketing experts.

PMG  Equestrian Sports Network

Phelps Equestrian Sports Network was launched in 2006.  It is a subscription-based social media tool for those seeking equestrian sports news, focused on hunter jumper, dressage, and eventing.  The network represents a hub for equine news, columnists, show results, interviews, and videos.

Check out PMG’s website www.phelpsmediagroup.comYou may be my future competition for an account executive position at the firm!


Show Arena = Social Media

February 3, 2010

Mickey and I at a CJHA show in Freehold, NJ.

I’m learning about the principles for a successful blog. These principles are reflected in the show arena as measurements of success.

For the purpose of this post, “judge” refers to both the blog reader and show evaluator.

The first impression…

When competing in a crowded show arena or for readership on the blogger-dense internet, first impressions count the most.  “In the ribbon” equestrians are first to enter the ring, secure their space, and create the picture.  If the horse is positioned in the herd or has an unkempt appearance, the judge will immediately lose interest.  Successful bloggers lead with strong headlines, blunt points-of-view, and a visual;  this is how bloggers gain and keep the judge’s attention.  The judge must be able to identify what is in it for them from the start.

A perfect ten..

The structure of both the horse and the blog is what matters when attracting the judge.  In the show ring, proper equitation and strong fluid gates are what accounts for a well structured appearence.  If the rider’s balance is off or the horse’s head is out of carriage, the judge will not award points to the duo.  When blogging structure is attractive to the judge, it keeps the eye flowing through the content.  By using sub-headlines and bullets, the judge’s eye can skim through the post.  Short paragraphs encourage the judge to read on.

Practice makes perfect…

Both the rider and the blogger will appear inept to the judge if their presentation is not fine-tuned.  For the rider this means ample preparation prior to the show day; the equestrian will train daily and seek outside advisement through lessons.  For the blogger this means writing daily and commissioning an editor.

The loss of control…

Key to both the rider and blogger is identifying where the control is.  Experienced riders know you can’t force the animal; a tight hold of the horse’s mouth will cause a battle of strength that the 700+ pound horse will always win.  The rider can, however,  use  his or her body (leg, seat, balance, and position) to ask the horse to perform.  The judge can identify a horse that is being forced rather than asked by the rider’s hand positioning and the horse’s shifting head carriage.   When blogging, judges should be open to feedback- negative or positive; this is what makes the conversation.  Bloggers can find control by posting a comment policy and responding to comments.  Judges will identify if a blogger is trying to control feedback by having to register and having comments approved.

Can you think of any other show ring principles that can be applied as blogging techniques?


Social Media Tools for Equestrians

January 27, 2010

Social media sites advance how equestrians communicate and make decisions in every aspect of the industry.  The horse industry produces goods and services to the tune of $25.3 billion yearly according to the American Horse Council.  Those who profit from the industry ought to be involved in the conversations on equine based social media sites.

Some public relations firms have formed that focus entirely on clients in the equine industry; one leading equine based public relations firm, Phelps Media Group (, monitors social media conversations on behalf of its clients.

As an equestrian enthusiast, I use social media sites to make many decisions regarding my buying behavior.

In search of the perfect farm for pleasure riding under an advanced trainer in central New Jersey, I use (  The site allows me to filter out the farms that push competition or merely train beginner riders.  Instead of visiting several farms and spending money on sampling lessons, I find my perfect fit through the Web.

When I need to purchase a new saddle, I use ( to search product reviews.  This allows me to bypass ordering and sampling many saddles.

When I purchase a new horse, rather than being limited to the horses in my area or having to travel to find the right match, ( has classifieds of horses for sale.  This site lists the horses’ credentials, shows videos of horses at hack, and puts you in touch with the current owner.

I exchange advice with fellow equestrians at (   The site helps me rectify my equine issues without running to a professional with every rudimentary worry.

To keep abreast of equine sports news, ( has important information relating to prominent equine issues and show results.

Although I have not experimented with this one, ( is a dating website for those who want to find an equine enthusiast as a lover.