Sunday, September 14, 2014

Mina R. Raulston, Author

Mina R Raulston has been a freelance writer for newspapers and magazines for nearly twenty years. Last year she self-published her first book, Home Should Be Safe: Hope and Help for Domestic Violence Victims. Her most recent adventure is forming her own book company, Hat Rack Books, LLC where she will write, publish and sell books at Trade Fairs and online. In November she is hosting her first annual Christian Author Fair in Hilliard, Ohio, USA. In her personal life Mina is a single mother of two married children who have blessed her with 4 wonderful grandchildren.

Welcome Mina!

When did you realize you wanted to become a writer?
I don’t remember a moment when I decided I wanted to become a writer. It’s been more of a journey. Although I was always good at English and writing school papers I didn’t start writing until after my divorce in 1989. I began with journaling for myself, just to get all the pent up emotions out of me. Later wrote Bible studies and became the editor for my church’s newsletter. That led to writing for local newsletters and denominational magazines. Since then I have self-published my first book and expanded my writing opportunities to include writing my own blog, writing for websites and writing speeches for a company called Easy Speech.

Who would enjoy reading your books?
So far I have written strictly non-fiction so I think the people who would most enjoy reading my books are those who are seeking knowledge. I went through a traumatic experience and after surviving it with God’s help and strength I had to tell others so they might find the same healing and deliverance as well as inform those who know a domestic violence victim and want to help them.

What is God's role for Women?
God’s Role for Women is a Bible study that I wrote as a result of my brokenness after my divorce. My family was not religious in any way but God has been my strength and foundation since I was a child. I grew up very unsure of what I was supposed to do or be and never feeling like I was doing what I was intended to do. I studied all the women in the Bible to discover what God intended me to do with my life. In that study I found women who filled a plethora of roles. Eve was the First woman to do anything and everything possible for her in her day. Sara, the wife of Abraham ran a household in a caravan. Miriam, the sister of Moses, was a music minister. Esther, a Jewish orphan, became a queen and saved her people from being destroyed and became one of the first women in history to write a law. Deborah was married but the Bible only talks about her being a Judge in Israel appointed by God. And that’s just the Old Testament. In the New Testament there are women who were leaders in the church, ministers and teachers.

Basically God created each of us with unique gifts and talents and he doesn’t call us, appoint us or anoint us based upon gender. We can do whatever we are naturally gifted to do and as the scripture teaches do it all to the glory of God.

How do you maintain thoughts and ideas?
I have learned to keep a notebook with me at all times to write down ideas and thoughts and if I don’t have paper and pen with me then I’ve learned to use my notepad on my phone. Sometimes I take a few minutes and just brainstorm while other times I just write down ideas when they come to me.

Where do you like to write?
My favorite place to write is sitting in my tilt back chair, holding my laptop while watching television. My favorite time to write is late at night when the rest of the world is sound asleep, no car doors slamming, no doors opening and closing, no neighbors chattering up and down the stairs or clomping around upstairs.

What are you currently writing?
Currently I am working on a memoir about my relationship with my mother who developed mental illness when I was eight years old. From the critiques I’m receiving from fellow students and professors there is a great need for this book from other adult children of a mentally ill parent.

What are you currently reading?
Wow, I read so much and so many different things. I love mysteries and a couple of my favorite mystery authors are James Scott Bell who writes legal mysteries. As a former trial attorney he brings wonderful realism to his books. I also like historical fiction, and Biblical fiction. Other authors I enjoy are Dee Henderson, Lynn Austin, Irene Hannon, Shelley Gray and Sarah Sundin. I don’t watch much television because a good novel is so much more engrossing.

Do you have advice for beginning writers?
Do everything you can to improve your writing: Read books by good writers, take classes in writing, find a critique group, WRITE something every day even if it’s just your own journal. No muscle grows without exercise and your writing muscles are the same. Stretch yourself. Don’t be afraid to step out of your comfort zone and try to write something new and different. Have fun with your writing. It is one of the few professions where you can actually say you’re having fun unlike most office jobs or factory jobs.

List 10 things that your fans may not know about you...
I am a mother of 2 and grandmother of 4.

In my junior year of high school I was the runner up for Miss Junior Achievement in my home town.

I have worked in retail, mortgage and the wireless industry as my “day jobs”.

I have sung in the church choir for most of my life.

I may possibly be a distant cousin of Robert Frost on my father’s side of my family.

We are a family of musicians, teachers and trainers.

I am the first person in my family to graduate from college.

I just started a new business, Hat Rack Books, LLC where I will write, publish and sell my own books as well as sell other author’s books both new and used and offer publishing consulting. Future plans including publishing other author’s books.

I am hosting my first annual Christian Author Fair titled “Adventures in Creativity” November 15, 2014. Details are available on my Facebook Event page.

Last but not least, I am a born again Christian and my desire is to use my writing talents to glorify God.

Connect with Mina…

Friday, September 12, 2014

Sergeant Clyde Hoch, Award Winning Author

From Pennsburgh, Pennsylvania, USA, welcome today's guest writer Sergeant Clyde Hoch !
Clyde is an award winning author, Vietnam War Veteran, public speaker, and much more. In his books, Clyde shares his experiences of wartime, life, and beyond.  

Clyde has written five books, with his sixth book to be introduced September 27, 2014 at the Lehigh County Heritage Museum, 432 W. Walnut St. Allentown, Pennsylvania. He will be a Speaker during Museum Day Live.
Lehigh Valley Heritage Museum will join over 1,400 other participating venues across America for the tenth annual Museum Day Live! The event is free. Tickets can be obtained at - granting free admission to participating museums on this date.  Clyde welcomes you to stop by the Museum and say hello!

Thank you, Clyde, for your service for our freedom and for sharing your story of Spike! A fond childhood memory of a beautiful horse that affirms the important role horses play in our human existence.
Spike: A childhood memory

I remember my father taking me to this large farm when I was young boy. I loved it there. It had large fields surrounded by woods. They had a working dairy farm. This was better than any amusement park to me.

Each cow knew its own stanchion, and went to it when let in the barn for milking. Charlie put food at each one's place in a trough. As soon as the doors were opened the cows came almost at a run. I asked Charlie why they liked the food so much. He said, "It has molasses in it and they love molasses. Taste it!" I did, it was very sweet. The cows and barn were well taken care of. They milked the cows by hand.

I remember asking my father how he knew them. He said they are relatives.  I asked him how. He said they are your second cousins, I guess. I went with him every time he went there.

There were four sisters and a brother. Their names were Charlie, Anna, and Julie Krauss. They stayed in a small summer house. They were great people and seemed like they would do anything for anyone in need.

The other two sisters, I don't remember ever meeting. They stayed in the main house and took care of their mother.

On our trips my father would talk to Charlie while I roamed the farm. There was always something new to find, from the old wooden working water trough to the old hand dug opened well. By opened I mean there was nothing to stop you from falling into it. Everywhere you looked there was something fascinating to a young boy.

They also had a great big Clydesdale. He was a giant compared to a little boy. I remember just watching him eat grass. I thought he was awesome with his big hairy hooves.

One day when my father was ready to leave and they continued talking, I mentioned I would love to stay here. It was spring time, a great time of the year. My dad said, "Pitch a tent in one of the fields." I asked, "Can I do that?" Charlie said, "Sure if you want." My dad said, "That's OK with me."

As school came to a close I had my stuff ready. I had everything I would need--a tent, a sleeping bag, and cooking utensils. My dad even gave me an old 22 long rife and plenty of ammo.

I was going to be a mountain man. I was going to live on my own. I would shoot animals to eat. I was so excited.

Everything went well. Most of my mountain man time was spent at the farm even eating there. The Krauss's enjoyed me being there and, I loved it there.

Soon after settling in I was talking with Charlie as we watched the big Clydesdale. I asked Charlie how old was he. He said, "He is about 27, I bought him when he was a little colt. We used to use him to plow and do all kinds of chores around here." He said, "I named him Spike." I thought that was the coolest name in the world for a giant horse.

Charlie said," We used him up until a couple of years ago, then we retired him. He just does what he wants now." He said, "He needs to be brushed." I said, "Can I brush Him?" Charlie brought out a curry comb and showed me how to use it. It wasn't long before I was a pro with the curry comb.

Spike looked younger and cleaner after a few brushings. He was a gentle giant; if you touched his hoof he would lift it up for you. I thought it was rather amazing this big horse would listen to a little boy. He would lower his head to let me brush it and to pet him.

The brushings became almost daily. One day Charlie and I walked up to the fence that Spike was in. Spike came walking right up to me. I thought this was odd, he was Charlie's horse and he came to me. Charlie said, "He likes you." I said, "Why?" He said, "Because you brush him and he likes to be brushed." I was proud of myself. I had a giant friend.

After one of my excursions in the woods I was walking along the fence, Spike spotted me and came to me. I wondered if you could ride a working horse. After petting him for a while I climbed up a fence post. I got on his back with some effort. He was a big animal.

I didn't know what to expect, would he throw me off? I sat there nervously for a while. I didn't have permission from Charlie to get on his horse. Spike didn't seem to care. After this I would take him to a fence post and climb on his back often. His back was like a large living lawn chair. I could lay there with my arms spread. It was so comfortable.

Some of my fondest childhood memories were just lying on Spike's back with the sun shining down on us. I felt so comfortable and safe. Spike went back to wandering around the pasture looking for the best spots to eat grass, and I was left to let my mind wonder through all kinds of boyhood day dreams. I could be whatever I wanted to be. I could be a knight or a cowboy, no one would mess with me and Spike. Me and my trusty steed Spike. As long as I live Spike is with me in my mind. I will never forget him.

Connect with Clyde…

Clyde’s Books…

Tracks Memoirs of a Vietnam Veteran This is Clyde’s military experience as a tank commander in Vietnam.

A Tribute to Tankers has a short description on a type of tank and follows with stories of people who served in that type of tank in combat, starting with WWI and ends with Iraq.

B. A. R. Man Browning Automatic Rifle Man is the story of a young man who does some amazing things in the Korean War until he is wounded and captured by the Chinese. He is forced to march 200 miles with no medical attention. He is held as a POW for two and a half years.

A Man Down
Readers Favorite
Bronze Medal
A Man Down is the story of four young men who gave their lives for their country. This book won a bronze medal from Readers Favorite.

Albion is Clyde’s first work of fiction. It has eight chapters. Each chapter is a different story and different period in time.

God Help Me! Cause No One Else Will is Clyde’s sixth book. It is about post traumatic stress disorder and veteran's suicides and how to prevent them.


Tuesday, September 9, 2014

The Legendary Karamati: Stallion of India

The Legendary Karamati:

Stallion of India

Story by Sumaer Sira

Intro by Gina McKnight
Photos by Sumaer Sira & Manu Sharma
Artwork by Zorka Velickovic
Archived Freelance
1st Publication True Cowboy Magazine February 2014

The famous Marwari horses of India are known for their gently curving ears, noble ancestry, and kind disposition. Marwari, meaning war horse, are reclaiming notoriety in the world of horses. One of the most intriguing and beautiful Marwari stallions left this world in 2012; sought after for his athletic physic, inherent good nature, and stunning conformation, the legendary stallion Karamati will always be remembered. 

A pure Punjabi breed stallion, Karamati exemplified the tale of India’s invasions and conquests. Karamati’s story is best told by Sumaer Sira, a native of Patiala, Punjab, India, and one of Karamati’s closest friends…. 

I will like to throw some light on the background of the lineage of the Great Karamati.  First, as you know, Punjab, my home State, was a battleground for centuries. You talk about Tribal Armies of North West, Afghans, Mangols, Mugals, Persians, and Alexander; everyone has fought fierce battles in Punjab. They all came on horses, yes different kinds and breeds of horses. Many horses stayed back, intercrossing for centuries with the local breed made our present day horses as one of the best and unique war horse. Punjabi breed of horses are bigger in size and strength then their peer in other parts of the Indian subcontinent. 

Nihangs (a sect of Sikh warriors who travel on horses in the group of hundreds) are known for their valor and love for horses all over India. As they are scattered all over Punjab and other parts of India, their headquarters is in Malwa Belt of Punjab. I was appointed as a Professor at the same place where the headquarters of Nihangs is, the place is basically a small town called Talwandi Sabo. It was there where I saw Karamati for the first time. I still remember that it was dusk. Karamati was tied to a big Bayanan tree and his head held high. His mane falling on his forehead, he was looking at me as if he was trying to recognize me, know me, and was calling me.

Yes, he fascinated me, the biggest horse of the Dal (Nihang group). I asked the guy accompanying me who was a Nihang himself that who was that horse. And over the big bowl of tea (Tidd Fookni, Belly Burning… that’s what they call it) he told me the story of Karamati. 

Karamati was the son of Neela Farangi (Blue British). Neela Farangi, Karamati’s sire, was called Gaddi Wala Ghora - the one on whose back the Guru uses to ride while the Nihangs celebrate their festivals. The stallion Neela Farangi leads the procession of thousands of Nihangs on horseback. In actual, nobody rides the Neela Farangi as it is thought that Guru Ji (Lord) is riding the horse. So Neela Farangi was a sacred horse of Nihang Dal. And after him now his son, Karamati, got the crown to be called Gaddi Wala Ghora (One which leads the procession).  Yes, he deserved this position. He walked like that; looked like that. 

Few years passed by when the head of the Nihang Dal, Baba Santa Singh, died and left behind him the battle, the bloodshed, and the bloody war of succession. Few got bullets, she the one surviving, whose four close relatives died in the gun battle, succeeded the post of Head Nihang Dal. This bloody feud had its impact on horses and thousands of other Nihangs. Many got uprooted. Hundreds went absconding, many behind bars…! Horses were the first to get affected. And this was the time I saw Karamati - the second time. Tears in his eyes, limping from his front leg, structure of barebones; may his soul rest in peace.
I went to meet the Dal head at some function at Anandpur in Punjab. Amid high security, he met me after a day long wait in 42° C hot weather, and not even a drop to drink. I offered him money, he accepted. Looking at me he uttered, “What you want?" His jaws dropped when I asked for a horse, as he never expected money for a horse. Horses were headache for him. He promised me that I will get Karamati when Dal traces him and finds where Karamati is, in which part of India. Here it is pertinent to say that Nihangs travel all across India on horse back.

Finally I got Karamati after two months of my meeting with Nihang Head. He was in bad shape. I still have that picture of him I clicked when he reached my farm in bad state. Now was the time to nourish him, feed him, treat him. Karamati was home finally, but my happiness was short lived when I got a call from Nihangs that they require Karamati at some religious procession at Talwandi Sabo. I was comfortable with his going there as he belonged to the Guru (Lord). I arranged everything from medicine to fodder and transportation to send him there on the promise that he will be back with me in one week’s time.
It was April when I sent him, and it was November when I was still waiting for his return as the Nihangs wanted more money. I paid three more times to again transport him back to my farm in November, but this was not Karamati I got. It was a skeleton. He was dying of wounds on his back and fore left leg. 

Yes we cried. I felt his pain. After six months I sent him to Gujarat State for his treatment in the best Veterinarian Hospital of India, but his condition worsened when he came back from there after few months. I was at Toronto, Canada, when I got the call that he had fallen and not eating anything. I knew that he was dying. I tried to save him, adore him, but failed. Just like a helpless father, I waited for the bad news and it came two days later. 

We had religious ceremonies at my farm later in November 2012 for the wellness of his soul. This is a materialistic world, everything changes. Now people don't have time for their companion of ages. They hold us on their back, and we could not pay back what they deserved. Long Live Karamati. 

For more information about Marwari, visit and

Friday, September 5, 2014

Warda Al Barbar, World Poetess

Cavalier kiss
By Warda Al Barbar
My cavalier wants to see me
My cavalier wants to kiss me
My cavalier is far away from me
I’m here begging you to call..
A part of you is twinkling
In my heart
you’re the man
of tenderness, a Lover of peace
The best of all
Ink of jealousy
Is Running in my poetry tonight
..angels around you
Wearing white and blue
And I’m here singing I miss you
All I want is to dwell in you..
it’s like a dream I confess ..
holding a moon in my hand
so is hearing your voice
before I slumber..
be my man or a passenger of my lines..
you get the choice..

Warda Al Barbar is the literary name of the Algerian poet and writer Warda Atroun. She is a 25 year old teacher of foreign languages at private schools in Oran. Warda writes in English, French and Arabic and has authored a poetry collection in Arabic called Lady between the sun and the moon (2013), edited and published by Al Adeeb Editions; it is being translated into English and French.

Connect with Warda and read more of her beautiful poetry …

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Cody Jeffery, Equestrian & Freelance Writer

A junior at Meredith College in Raleigh, North Carolina, USA, 
Cody Jeffery’s passion is riding and writing. Majoring in Business Administration with a double minor in Professional Writing and Communication, Cody’s goal is to fuse her two passions of horses and journalism and work as an equine public relations professional or write for publications that specialize in the cutting, reining, or reined-cow horse industries. Some of her favorite things include traveling, soaking up the sun, teaching (academic or equestrian), volunteering, and of course, riding her horse!
Recently returning from a trip abroad, Cody shares her journey, as well as her insight to horses…
Welcome Cody!
What was it like to climb the Great Wall of China?
It was one of the most amazing experiences of my life!! As I climbed, I met so many people from all over the world, including a South African man who wanted to climb the entire wall in a business suit! At one of the ancient lookout points along the wall, I stopped to rest and wandered into a small shop that was selling murals and Chinese finger paintings. I stumbled upon a beautiful finger-painted scroll of a Chinese horse and knew that I had to have it! I climbed the rest of the Great Wall with the rolled up scroll in my bookbag and now it is hanging up in my apartment! I have to admit, I love when people ask me where I got it and I can say, "I bought it while climbing the Great Wall of China!"
What did your visit to China entail?  
My study abroad trip to China fulfilled 6 credit hours in my major and provided me with an opportunity to be immersed in a nation that has experienced rapid economic growth. While in China, I traveled around Shanghai for one week and then Beijing for another week. I toured many of the historic places in China including The Great Wall, the Forbidden City, and Tian'anmen Square. I also participated in several corporate visits, some of which included Mercedes Benz and Hewlett Packard. 
I did not go horseback riding in China, and honestly, I'm glad I didn't! Since I've grown up with horses (and natural horsemanship) I really don't like touristy horseback riding programs because the horses are generally overridden and participants are not allowed to ride away from the group (which is what I would have wanted to do!). 
Your passions are writing and riding. How do you combine the two? 
In order to combine my passions of writing and riding, I try to include horses into as much of my course-related and work-related writing as I can. For example, I wrote for a statewide equine magazine called Carolina Hoofbeats for a few months. That opportunity allowed me to contact and network with equine professionals all over the United States as well as write about equine topics that truly interested me. In addition, while interning for the Wake Education Partnership, I was able to create and present an interactive presentation about Western/Natural Horsemanship to K-4th graders at a local elementary school. I truly hope to one day work in a field that allows me to combine horses and writing as much as possible!  
When was your first encounter with a horse? 
I honestly don't remember the first time I ever met a horse because I was only a few days old! After returning from the hospital with me, my mother carried me out to one of our oldest horses to meet him. She says when he laid his nostrils on my hand was when I fell in love with horses. I like to think I was just lucky enough to grow up around these amazing animals and couldn't help but fall in love with them!  

What horses do you currently stable?
Since I go to school in Raleigh, North Carolina (NC), I keep my horse at my parents' farm in Siler City, NC. On our farm, we always have a wide range of horses. My mom used to do some rehabilitation work with NC State's vet school and we had many cases of severe mental depression and physical rehab, such as post-colic surgery horses. On top of that, we board 2-3 horses per year for people in the Chatham County, Southern Pines, Raleigh area. Currently, we own four American Quarter Horses. Our boarders include an Egyptian Arabian and a retired Irish Sport Horse. My personal horse is a seven-year-old red roan mare out of Peptoboonsmal named Boons Jenny Lee (Velvet). I've had her for almost five years and I use her to do a variety of things including Cowboy Racing, horseback riding lessons, little bit of team roping, trick teaching, and most of all, for stress relief!!
Describe your favorite horse… 
My favorite horse that I've ever had the opportunity to ride and work with was a Quarter Horse named Clancy (I don't remember his registered name). I used to team rope a lot with an old family friend and he bought Clancy as his next roping project. Clancy was 7 years old, 16 hands, jet black, sound as a bull, stocky, powerful, kind, forgiving, comfortable, and most of all, he was one of the fastest rope horses I've ever seen. But his unbelievable speed and his desire to get to the steer never made him pushy or out of control - he always had the perfect balance of power and intelligence. If I could've ever owned Clancy, I would still have him to this day. A few years later, he was sold to another roper and I was lucky enough to be able to warm him up at a few more ropings before he was sold again. Even though I will not ever get to ride Clancy again, I will always think of him when someone asks me what the perfect horse would look like and be like to ride. 
Where do you like to ride?  
I've grown up riding Western, which is why my interest lays in the Western horse-related events. I did take English lessons for about a year, but ended switching back to Western full-time. Besides typical arenas, my favorite place to ride is in the Uwharrie National Park in North Carolina. I grew up riding my ponies and horses through those mountains with my friends and family -- it always seemed like a home away from home to me. There's something about waking up with the smell of leather and camp fires all around you-- it's my form of perfect happiness and great riding! 
Cutting, reining, and reined-cow horse events seem to be your specialty. Are you a competitor?   
Although I LOVE everything about the cutting, reining, and reined-cow horse industries, I have never competed in any of the events-- but it's my life-long dream to make it to a Futurity event! I was fortunate enough to ride for some cutting horse trainers in Liberty, NC for a couple of years and I learned almost every technical maneuver I know from them. Ironically, one night while I was warming up horses for them I rode a 16 hand gray mare that was a couple months pregnant with a Peptoboonsmal baby. Two years later, I found out that my mare, Velvet, was the baby in that gray mare's belly! And my mom ended up buying the gray mare a month after I got Velvet. Now we always joke about riding mother-daughter horses.
Where is your favorite arena?
Although I do not compete in any of the events that I just discussed, I do compete in Cowboy Races. My favorite place to compete is at the Double G Ranch in Denton, NC because they have a huge arena, round pen, and course all set up in one location. The owners of the property are also full time trainers so they allow competitors to practice on the course before the competition begins, which is nice for horses that have never been on the property or competed in a Cowboy Race.
My favorite arena that I've ever been to would have to be the Will Rogers Memorial Center in Forth Worth, Texas. I spent almost a week there for an Extreme Mustang Makeover and I absolutely loved the entire facility. The layout, the footing, the size, and the history make it the perfect venue for any equine event.
Of all the equine media available, which is your favorite?
It's so hard to choose which channel of equine media I use/enjoy the most, but my top two would have to be Quarter Horse News and American's Horse (the official publication of the AQHA). These two magazines are my favorite because they focus on AQHA, they are accurate, interesting, and easy to read. Both magazines have reader-friendly layouts and articles stocked full of valuable information.
What does horsemanship mean to you? 
This is the hardest question of all because horsemanship to me means more than just one person's relationship with his/her horse. I am currently reading The Revolution in Horsemanship and What It Means to Mankind by Rick Lamb and I agree with Lamb on many topics, but especially about how progressive/natural horsemanship is not about winning more ribbons or saddles, it's about the kind of people we are becoming. I'm a firm believer that how you treat your horse says a lot about who you are. To sum it up, horsemanship to me is about partnership and mutual understanding. If we could all incorporate those two things into our daily lives and relationships, we'd all be better people. Everyone who rides horses knows that horses teach you a lot more about yourself than anyone else every could, I just hope that one day everyone can learn how to effectively communicate with their horse in a way that never inspires fear or aggression. 

Connect with Cody...

Saturday, August 30, 2014

Andie Fessey, Stadium Arcadium

Stadium Arcadium aka Rico
Flaunting his regal lineage at his first horse show.

From Weedon Bec, Northhamptonshire, United Kingdom, Andie Fessey is the owner of beautiful ex-race horse, Stadium Arcadium - barn name Rico.

Stadium Arcadium is Rico’s Passport name and Andie is trying to find out Rico’s beginnings. As a retired thoroughbred racer, Rico has raced at Wincanton, United Kingdom, with an extremely promising start, but Andie discovered later that Rico received an injury and was dismissed from racing.

Andie is asking for help in finding Rico’s history. If you know of Rico’s beginnings and his famous connection in the horse-world, please leave a comment for Andie!  

Andie explains, “In short, Rico has had a hard life before he came into our life. Now, he has found his home. He will never be sold on. Without wishing sounding like a cliché; he is more than just a horse. He is a member of the family, a best friend, a confidante, a soul-mate.”

How did you acquire ex-TB racer, 'Rico' aka Stadium Arcadium?
When my son blessed me with a grandson, Harley (at an early age, I hasten to add, I am only 46!), I wanted to get something which the family could share and enjoy together (I was sorely tempted to buy a sports-car for myself but I now am glad I did not take that route even though I do on occasion say I wish I had bought the Subaru instead of the horse!). I looked at adverts for horses in Equine publications and on web-sites but, being a novice I could not tell the difference at the time between a decent horse and a rocking horse.

Rico's original advertisement photo.
A few horses were looked at but then we saw Rico advertised on a ‘horses for sale’ website. There was just something about him even in those initial pictures; he just stood out from the rest. We went to see him and fell in love with him. He was in the ownership of a young couple who had several horses and seemingly a lot of bills. He was really calm which we later found out to him being sedated. After we had him loaded on the transporter to take him back home, I was passed his passport. I joked that what did I need his passport for as he would not be flying anywhere with me. We settled him into his stable and later on had a chance to look at his passport in detail. That is when we realized what his registered name was.

Is he the famous racer?
Yup. There is only one other Stadium Arcadium (Kiwi). Rico is detailed with Weatherbys as Stadium Arcadium (IRE). Rico in detail... Rico is a 16'2 hh chestnut gelding. Born in 2003 (see bloodline below). He is bar and pin fired on both front legs. He walks with an aura of regal grace around him.

What is Rico's disposition?
Where to start lol? Rico is in some ways a typical ex racer, a typical TB. However he has the sweetest most quirky character. My partner says he is different than any other horse she has ever met in the 40 years she has been around horses. He is incredibly fast and can jump anything in front of him (when he wants to). Literally.

Whilst at the stables, he had been turned out into the gelding field. At the end of the day as the last horse in the field, he seemed to be enjoying his own company and did not wish to return to his stable. The stable-manager came out and started to shout at him, Rico trotted towards the stable-manager who said with his usual arrogance that some horses will ‘try this on, and this is how you stop them and show who is boss’ as he raised his arms above his head in front of Rico, who, went straight into full gallop, leapt and cleared well over the stable-manager (with a lot of room to spare) who stood there frozen in shock as Rico proceeded to just slow down and munch grass! He is very scopey. He doesn't really know how to canter, he falls and stumbles into this pace, often looking exactly like Bambi on ice for the first 20 or so strides. He is socially awkward when it comes to other horses and prefers the company of humans - though he will adopt the milder smaller horses in as such as not letting any of the larger horses in the field ‘bully’ them. He will not back down under any circumstances and has to be top of the pecking order in the field.

Rico is also extremely very clever. He has worked out how to open his stable door. He also figured out that if he stretches enough then he can reach the neighboring stables feed box, pulling it over to be in front of his own stable and therefore eating the contents (please be aware that the feed box in question is approx. 6ft wide and made of heavy wood with a heavy hinged lid!). He has a liking for a rare treat of coca cola, chocolate, mints and jelly tots. He becomes very 'alert' when he smells coffee or chocolate and will do anything to get them. Whilst being ridden he can be the most sweetest, adorable, obedient horse, doing everything you ask of him. However at other times he will simply decide that he does not want to be ridden and will try to unseat his rider anyway he can. He must still have flashbacks of being a racer, as when being schooled or when he is in the field, if another horse runs past him he will go from halt to full gallop without giving notice. Rico can be unpredictable (however we are now able to spot little changes and nuances in his behavior and the odd mannerism that gives us an indication that he may misbehave).
Rico does not like being lead in-hand and will often rear up when being turned out to graze. We have now learned how to prevent this. However, on a windy day, or if there is a mare in season, or if one of the dogs who live on the stables are near (plus several other incidental things) then we have to carefully plan the short walk from his stable to the fields gate to prevent any silliness. If you can imagine a 109 stone bouncing Tigger on the end of a lead rope then that may give you an indication of what he is like on these occasions! He has a very sweet nature, but he can figure out very quickly who he can get the better of. He seems to be able to read people. He started acting differently towards my partner when she became pregnant, from acting like a spoilt, obstinate child to gently nudging her when he wanted to get her attention. He is also extremely gentle with children allowing them to do anything to him.

Rico being a role model for the young ones.
What is your event/riding discipline?
I am currently under-going training with a fantastic coach, Rose, as I aim to be competing in dressage in 2015. My partner is multi-discipline and has been very successful in XC.

Training: Not applicable in regards to training, however, my partner has re-trained Rico from being what can only be described, as one other horse owner deemed, a 'dangerous animal' to being something that we can trust enough to have a small child enter his stable and pick his feet out. There has been lots of de-sensitizing (black bins). Rico was incredibly head shy due to mistreatment in the past when he was competing, yet now we can pick up a whip and stroke his face with it and he simply stands there with a 'okay, that feels nice, but can I have a treat please' kind of look on his face.

What's in the future for you, horse-wise?
A biggie, but every now and then you have to chase your dreams before they fly away. After long months of negotiation, we are about to have a dream fulfilled. The establishment / running / owning of an equestrian Centre. Not just a normal equestrian centre, though livery will play a part. An equestrian therapy centre. We will be taking people on a personal journey of recovery. People who have suffered loss, trauma, victors of cancer, ex-service-people, people with disabilities etc.
My partners dream is to also provide the opportunity to young people who live in cities and towns made of concrete to experience what it feels like to ride. To feel the adrenalin rush when cantering towards a jump. We would like to say that we would want to rescue horses that have been mistreated and provide them with a loving home where they felt safe and secure but to be honest, at the moment, that isn't going to pay the bills. But what we do intend doing however is when we are looking to purchase horses as therapy horses then these animals will come from rescue centres. Sadly, it is not only people which need rescuing.

When was your first encounter with a horse?
For me, I was a late starter in my equestrian life. My first real encounter was about 5 years ago whilst staying in Mexico (a psychotic cob named Zeppo). My partners’ first encounter was when she was 2 years old. Her aunt, on seeing her face light up with delight when visiting a riding school bought her a Shetland pony on the spot and her love of horses started then.

What does horsemanship mean to you?
It is a way of life, is our life. It's about having an unbreakable trust with an animal that could at any time hurt you but still getting onto its’ back and feeling that connection. It is about looking into the horses’ eyes and feeling love and pride. It's a feeling of freedom, human and horse joined as one in union. It is a skill, an art, a commitment to myself and to my horse. It is a journey along a very long road, learning something new every day. It is about having a best friend who can read you like a book, who knows when you are happy or sad without being told and who happens to have a mane and tail. It's about teamwork. 
Rico's first day at his new home.
Rico getting ready for his first show.


Thursday, August 28, 2014

Fred Taylor, Founder Mojo Racing

Mojo Work: Cool Hand Butte breezed 5F
in a steady 1:03.6 and he galloped out in good order.
Mojo Racing Partners

From Texas, USA, Fred Taylor is the Founder, CEM, and President of Mojo Thoroughbred Holdings, LLC (aka Mojo Racing Partners), an international company that buys race horses and offers reasonably priced opportunities for people to co-own and participate in the exciting sport of thoroughbred racing.
In 2006 Fred began Mojo Racing Partners. He continues to maintain a quality environment for Mojo’s thoroughbreds, ensuring their success; providing only exceptional handlers, trainers, and jockeys.

Welcome Fred!
Where are your stables located?
FT: The business office is in Fort Worth, TX, and the horses are stabled with the trainer at the different tracks that we race. Currently, they are in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma for the Remington Park race meet.

Describe Mojo’s horses…

Mojo currently has three two-year-olds: A bay colt named Cool Hand Butte, a dark bay colt named Luckbyjimminy, and a dark bay filly named Bling It On Baby. I'll be purchasing a Yearling in a couple of weeks at the Keeneland September Sale.

Mojo’s colors are intriguing. Why did you choose those specific colors?
FT: Thank you. I styled them based on a Bob Marley sweater.

How do you select a winning jockey?   
FT: The trainer selects the jockey. That's typically done based on the business relationship between the trainer and the jockey. (Jockeys are independent contractors.)

Which horse at Mojo’s stables do you favor?
FT: To me, they are all special. To be able to own racehorses and offer affordable participation opportunities to the people is a blessing that I have the utmost respect to be able to do. I appreciate them all, really, because each (past and present) have created wonderful memories that are unique for me, my partners, and our families.

How does Mojo Racing choose a winning horse?
FT: We acquire Mojo Bloodstock based on their pedigree, conformation, and the price we are willing to pay. The strategy is to buy the best pedigree/condition for the lowest cost.

Is there a limit to the shareholders for one horse?
FT: Yes. I typically offer up to 25 interests; but I'd offer more if there were a lot of people looking to put together a racing group of that size.

Where is your favorite track?
FT: I'm from Louisville, Kentucky, so Churchill Downs holds a special place in my heart. It's the place that inspired me to want to own racehorses. It's the home of the Kentucky Derby. It has such a storied racing tradition. I also think Keeneland is a wonderful racecourse. And, I have to say, Lone Star Park and Remington Park are also very nice facilities that I'm happy for the Mojo Runners to race on a regular basis.

Do you have an intriguing Mojo racing ‘moment’ to share?
FT: One of the best racing experiences we had recently was with a horse named Jackrabbit Fast. Every time we entered him in a race, we knew he was going to do well because he was instinctively competitive. Jackrabbit ran five races for us, and he won one race, finished 2nd three times, and came in fourth in a four-horse photo finish by less than a head at the wire. He was the quintessential race horse that anyone would be proud to have in their barn. Jackrabbit Fast makes me smile every time I think about him. (His photo is at the top of every page on the Mojo Website.)

How can I participate and how do I stay connected to my investment/horse?
FT: It's easy to participate. You just read the terms and conditions for becoming a partner; fill out the participation agreement; and send in your capital contribution (i.e., payment). All of this information can be found on the Mojo Racing Partners website:

How do I know that my investment/horse is given the best training and care?
FT: That's a service we promise to provide and it's one of the core principles of the Mojo Mission (which you can also read on the Mojo Site). And, to answer your second question about staying connected, I provide regular (weekly) updates to all Mojo Partners about the horse they are participating in, all Partners are welcome to go out to the barn/track to see their horse(s) train, talk to the trainer, and ask as many questions as they like. I have nothing to hide and I want my Partners to be the most informed owners out there.

What happens when you retire a racehorse?
FT: One of the philosophies that I have about owning racehorses is that Mojo won't have a racehorse that I can't find a good home for after their racing career ends. I'm fortunate to have very good connections and associates in the sport who help me find trustworthy, caring owners that will transition a Mojo racehorse into a productive/healthy second career. Mojo has owned 15 racehorses. Nine of the 15 have been claimed (bought by other owners while still in their racing career). The remaining six were retired by Mojo: Four have been converted to hunter/jumpers, one is a polo pony, and one participates in rodeo shows.

Connect with Fred…
Mojo Work: Cool Hand Butte
2013 Alarming Afleet, Race 10, Lone Star Park! (Post Time 9:00p CT)
Oldtimers Special (the average runner age is 7).
Big fireworks show after the race...