Thursday, November 13, 2014

Cathy Herbert, Shine On! Shiny Bits of Wisdom
Shine On! Shiny Bits of  Wisdom
Recommended reading!
Welcome from USA, Rider and Writer Cathy Herbert! Cathy is the author, along with DandeLyon Vredenburg, of the lovely new book Shine On! Shiny Bits of Wisdom!
For 12 years, Cathy worked as an associate editor and then as a senior editor for Practical Horseman and Horse & Rider (formerly Performance Horseman). She was responsible for English and Western features and "how to" articles and columns, including Jumping Clinic with George Morris. She continued as a contributing editor for several additional years. On a part-time basis, she also served as editor of The Reiner. During her tenure, she was responsible for implementing a complete redesign and rollout of a schedule of 11 full-color issues per year.  Cathy owns, breeds, and shows reining horses.  Although she seldom writes for the horse industry, she recently penned a feature article highlighting the AQHA stallion Commandalena, scheduled for publication in the January 2015 issue of Horse & Rider. These days, Cathy writes primarily for the health industry and also produces short stories and essays. A short story is available as an e-book in the current issue of The Delmarva Review and a story based very loosely on her experiences as an exercise rider is forthcoming soon in the literary journal The Kelsey Review
Shine On! Shiny Bits of Wisdom is a beautiful book. What was your inspiration?
I think we all yearn for moments of peace and beauty. Our lives are filled with cell phones, emails, distractions, and technology. Watching horses brings us back to the world of nature, of sunlight and landscapes--things that we often fail to notice in our busy lives. Time with horses is poetry—and I wanted to create words to reinforce and extend that sense of beauty, peace, and joy.
Horses symbolize of so much that is wonderful in our lives--beauty, grace, movement, kindness, freedom. I think that, when we interact with horses or watch them, we are often thinking about how our lives should be, what our relationships should be like, and what kind of a world we want for ourselves and those we love. We aren’t thinking about horses as horses, but as reflections of ourselves—our hopes and dreams for love and warmth and companionship and joy. We think about nature and the natural world and—even if it’s just for a few moments--get past all the clutter and hurry that define our everyday life.
The core of the book—both the pictures and the words—came from postings that I, along with DandeLyon Vredenburg, made on the Facebook page Twice As Shiney. I worked on the page from January-October 2014 (DandeLyon is now doing something a bit different with the page). I was struck by how people from all parts of the world came together, united by the empowering and uplifting words accompanied by beautiful images of horses.
On any given day, the people who responded to posts might include an academic in Israel, a teenage girl in Pakistan, a man with a militant-looking avatar from Iran, and thousands of people from the United States, Canada, Europe, Latin America, and Asia.
How amazing is that? People who seem so different all share a common joy in words that help them find beauty and joy in their world paired with photos of gorgeous horses. When the audience got large enough, we talked about doing a book. I have many years of experience as a writer and editor, so I assembled the most popular quotes and images and edited them to form the book. That was a whole other (and challenging) process--trying to take a compendium of words and then modifying them and tying them to specific images, sometimes different from the one they were originally paired with. It was a challenge to keep the tone consistent through the book without being repetitious. I worked with Naina Lal, a fantastic designer, to complete the project. It was quite an adventure, as well, because I’d never before taken a book through the complete process from concept to publication.
Who is to credit for the gorgeous photos in Shine On!?
DandeLyon took many of the photos when she owned Twice As Shiney. She found that she really loved taking photos and used them very successfully in marketing his foals. There’s one (the two colts facing each other) of her 2014 foals, and she’s very excited about them. All of her photos were taken at her farm in Fort Scott, Kansas.
Others photos were taken by two friends of mine--Jesse Reeve and Stephen Baker. Jesse's photos are of one of my foals (the tobiano paint), hopefully named (waiting on confirmation from the American Paint Horse Association) “Sweetini With Olives.” He was born in April, and the photos were taken at Nova Reiners in Goldvein, Virginia, where I keep my horses. Teeny was 3 days old and out in the big field for the first time with his mom, a mare that I’ve owned for many years and had a lot of fun showing. Jesse is a retired firefighter who takes great photos. Stephen Baker, a wonderful photographer in Wales, also contributed. I was glad to include one of his images. And one photograph (the white horses) was by Kseniya Abramova (Tristana), a Russian photographer based in St. Petersburg who does amazing work and has a fantastic portfolio of photographs of horses and other animals.
When was your first encounter with a horse?
The first experience I remember was when I was probably around three. My aunt and uncle had thoroughbred racehorses. They let me sit on one. I had never been so far off the ground! We trotted, with my father running along on one side and my uncle on the other to make sure I didn’t fall off. It was magic!
What is your riding discipline and where do you like to ride?
As a kid, I mostly did trail riding on western on horses owned by relatives. I developed serious allergies and had to stop. But I went back to riding as soon as I could afford it (I still have trouble with allergies occasionally but just deal with it). I started out with dressage and eventing (very low levels) and have been showing reining horses for quite some time.

Along the way, I also worked as an exercise rider, which was fantastic because it helped me get the job that really gave me my livelihood, as an editor for Practical Horseman and Performance Horseman, which later merged with Horse & Rider. I learned so much working on those publications and later worked as a writer for Rodale Press (publisher of Men’s Health and Prevention) and an editor for Horse Show, Riding Instructor, and The NRHA Reiner. I’ve contributed articles to other equestrian publications and have a feature coming out in the January 2015 issue of Horse & Rider. Horses really gave me my professional life and I am eternally grateful.

Cathy Herbert

What horses do you currently stable?
I have two reiners that I’ve been showing, Wild And Friendly and Black Label Chex. They are both quarter horses. Next year, I’ll also be showing a paint, Briannes Spot. She’s the older sister Teeny, the foal in the book. I ride with Daniel Hoerauf at Nova Reiners in Goldvein, Virginia. As I live in New York, it’s quite a trek to go down there, but I love the philosophy, attitude, and horse-centered program there. It’s worth the extra miles I put on my car!

Do you have a favorite equine anecdote to share?
Laugh when you fall, it keeps you from getting hurt. I learned that the hard way, as you can guess. I was out riding with some friends, and we were jumping whatever we came across. One horse (a very good jumper) had a bit of difficulty with a twisty approach (without a lot of room to gauge stride or speed) to a solid and narrow jump set in between two trees. I should have thought more about that, but I decided to “gun it and go.” My mare veered a bit on the approach and I worried 1) that a tree would take out my kneecap and 2) that she would get hung up on the fence. I decided that I didn’t care about my kneecap, and gave her a solid whack to pick up the rpms. She cleared the fence but, to try to protect my knee, I’d inadvertently pinched her sides with them, which meant I was out of position, and over the fence, we were both airborne… but not together and she was WAY below me. I was laughing because I had done something so silly and landed in a huge heap right in front of her. Gracious mare that she was, she was almost falling down trying not to step on me. Oh well. I got back on and we had a great rest of the day. She was a wonderful horse. I had her from the time she was 2 until she died at 22.

What are your thoughts on the state of the current American horse market?
It’s bad and will get worse. People have so much less exposure to horses today and there are so many competing activities for young people. It’s a shame… kids learn so much from horses that you can’t get anywhere else. I’m sad that so few kids today have the opportunities to spend time with horses that were so important to me.

I am very opposed to slaughter and hope that more stringent regulations to protect horses go into place.

I wish the larger breed associations would be more active in encouraging people not to overbreed and I would like to see everyone become more responsible. I breed a few horses a year and am very careful to do my homework. I am not at all happy with many of the stallions that are aggressively marketed. They are not conformationally correct and, in reining, drug rules are just now starting to go into effect, so you have to do some digging to find out if stallions were trained/shown with pharmaceutical help. I don’t think most people are aware of the magnitude of the problems and the importance of really doing your research. I’m fortunate that a number of horses I bred are doing very well right now for their new owners. Several are with Dutch Chapman, an excellent reining trainer in Maryland, and one is heading to the NRHA Futurity with Tom Hoyt, another trainer who knows what he’s doing. Several are in Daniel Hoerauf’s barn, and it’s so cool to see them with their current owners. I keep up with them.

Do you have a favorite equine organization that you would like to mention?
I love the work that some rescues are doing. Gerda’s Animal Aid is one of my favorites, as is Equine Rescue Resource in Pine Bush, New York. There are so many that do great wok. I’ve never gotten a horse from a rescue, but I have bought horses that were on their way to the killbuyers. One was too thin for the killbuyers! He turned out to be a great horse

Do you have advice for novice riders?
Be realistic in your goals, know that it takes a long time to become a good rider, and find a quality instructor. That’s not always the person with the biggest following or the one who wins the most. I would look for someone who emphasizes safety and the basics—beginners should, in my opinion, spend a lot of time on the longe line and do exercises that build balance and the ability to use different parts of the body independently. That way, you’ll be a functional rider and will make life better for you and your horse.

What does horsemanship mean to you?
Two things: 1) a commitment to lifelong learning to be a better partner to your horse and 2) putting your horse and his welfare first, always.

Connect with Cathy…


Cathy said...

Thank you so much, Gina. I'm so grateful to be included in your blog!
Cathy Herbert

Gina said...

Love it, Cathy! Your book is front and center in my office! Thanks for sharing your love for horses!