I was tagged in a post yesterday to alert me to the fact that one of my blogs was the second most read in the “Amateurs Like Us” section of Chronicle of the Horse. This brought me a smile to my face, and I literally giggled out loud in glee.
I started this blog in 2013 as a joke. My boyfriend had begged me to get off of social media, and I told him that 90% of the reason that I post on Facebook is for my family. I don’t get to talk to my mother and siblings every day, and my aunts and cousins even less. And yet when we get together for weddings and funerals, they all tell me how much they love being updated about my journey through life.
His response? Write a blog.
And with that, A Yankee in Paris began. AYIP. Ha ha. Get it? COTH? AYIP? No? OK, whatever. It makes me happy.
That first year, I had a total of 1,000 views. And I’m fairly sure that 700 of them were my mother and the other 300 my Aunt Holly. Since then, this crazy thing has grown tremendously, or in an exponential fashion for those nerds of you out there in reader land. This year, almost 300,000 people viewed my blog, and thats not even counting those of you who have read it on sites such as the previously mentioned Chronicle of the Horse.
So as 2016 wraps up, and we all wait anxiously for the clock to strike midnight on this ridiculous year, I thought it was only fitting to look back on the most read blogs on my own site. I also thought it was appropriate to thank every person who has helped spread the word of AYIP, and supported me on this journey.
To John Wilkinson, my editor at Horse Network who has had my back since day 1, and is probably the most supportive outsider of my writing. To Natalie and Ray from the Paulick Report who give me so much renewed energy towards this industry that we support. To Molly at COTH who is always getting my words to the masses. And to the rest – to Horse Illustrated, Eventing Nation, Western Horseman, and every other website or magazine who has asked to share something that I had deemed important. Thank you all – every single one of you.
So here it is, the top 5 blogs of 2016 from A Yankee in Paris. I hope you enjoy:
This was a blog that I didn’t know if I ever should have written. I had never met Philippa, but had appreciated her excellence from afar. But I couldn’t stand to read the outcry for eventing to change, strangers turning her families unimaginable suffering into their own sounding boards. So with that, I began to type. It is only fitting that this amazing woman be supported with the most clicks on this site, and I was honored to be written to by her family and friends to let me know how appreciated the words were. This one is for you Philippa.
“Left to left, this world keeps shuffling us around. Left to left, we keep going. Keep galloping. Keep jumping. But left to left, we must keep loving. Keep thinking. Keep inventing. Keep changing. Because left to left, we must keep riding.”
From the saddest of posts to the most humorous, that is what I find the most enjoyable about writing my feelings and sharing these stories. And after a trip to the Kentucky Horse Park for Country Heir I, these words needed to be shared. I know that it caused a huge outpour of both giggles as well as rage, so why not poke the beast again?
“And at the end of the day, I conquered yet another goal on the bucket list. Right there next to “play hunter princess on a thoroughbred you brought along yourself” I get to put a big fat check mark. Lets be honest, thats all that really matters. My pony was phenomenal. My posture didn’t suck. And my pearls, well my pearls are placed safely back in my jewelry box – polished and glistening, ready to play another day.”
Anyone who reads this blog continuously knows how I feel about the misconceptions about the thoroughbred breeding and racing industry. One of these misconceptions is the belief that live cover causes the production of unwanted nurse mare foals, and the use of this misconception for the adoption facilities to gain funds. I have written of this a few times, but this was my most recent post, and also one of the most read and shared. I can’t thank those enough who use my words for their own ability to spread the truth, and hope I can provide you with more ammunition in 2017.
“But we – both as scientists and industry – can actually solve this problem. While we can’t eliminate the need for nursemares, as the risk of a mare suffering a catastrophic injury or illness while pregnant or post-foaling will always be there, but we can stop the production of the nursemare foals. And you can help. How? Take the $5, $10, or $500 you would donate to this fraudulent activity and instead give it to an equine researcher.”
This blog was a long time in the making, as I both watched and assisted Danielle in her journey. I wasn’t sure if I should ever write it, and the threats of legal action were dangled in front of my face numerous times. But I knew that I had the facts, and I knew that they were true, and therefore stuck my neck onto the guillotine. And I’m so happy that I did. For this blog sprung the facility in question into action. Management has shifted hands, horses have been rearranged, and I am hoping that they are cleaning up their act. And if my blog can play even the smallest role in the betterment of those horses lives? Well then, line up the guillotines.
“And she decided that she wanted her story to be heard. She wanted people to learn from her own personal heartbreak and decisions, even if it meant a cease and desist or a lawsuit. And she asked me to help her; to be the voice. So please, listen. Be a critical judge of character and a constant skeptic. Not all rehoming organizations are created equal, and not all rescues are in it for the horse. And heed the red flag’s – or the glaring billboards. Go with your gut. Your instincts can protect and preserve the lives of that animals that you love. Learn from Valencienne and MyHeart’sreserveds, and let their story affect your actions. Do it for the horses – for no one else will.”
And last but not least, coming full circle, is this story. I decided to write this specific list of the top blogs because COTH had posted my own story amongst the Amateurs Like Us section, and its only fitting that the story of my transition to professional rider makes my own list for the best of 2016. It ended up being quite the easy decision, and hasn’t affected me all that much. Well, except for the fact that I have gotten to teach a few really amazing “students” and that I can now almost afford that cup of Starbucks.
“So here goes kids. As of Friday, I am a professional rider. I am now (obviously) great. I woke up on Saturday with lower heels, higher eyes, and a left arm that suddenly and miraculously listens to my brain. I am Mary King, William Fox Pitt, and Buck Davidson all rolled into one. I will obviously get sponsored by Amerigo and Vespucci, Eskedron and Eby, and tackle all of the 4*’s in the world. And maybe, just maybe, now that I am a professional rider, I will stop getting bucked off of Frank.”
Thank you, all of you, for reading, supporting, and sharing this tiny little platform. Your positive messages have brought me so much joy, and your negative ones so much motivation to be better. Bigger. Stronger.
Lets ring in this new year with a bang. From all of us here at AYIP. From me, Manfriend, the terrible two (Nixon and Kennedy), Mak, and the love of all of our lives – Frank.