They work and play near us, in relative anonymity and obscurity. They go about their business and pleasure in the shadows of our cities and mountains. They enjoy a lifestyle many of us have seen in fashion magazines, yet few of us have ever experienced ourselves. They have money. Theirs is a world to envy. And yet, they are also to be admired. Because they show passion and dedication. They work hard. They uphold tradition. They enjoy a timeless connection with the earth, and a profound relationship with their majestic four-legged partners. We do not need to be “horse people” to appreciate the beauty, power, elegance, heart, and benevolent, almost spiritual nature of those beautiful creatures, and to consider ourselves one of them: The Equestrians.
The Equestrians will be an entertainment series about the exciting and diverse equestrian world.
The Equestrians will explore the unique partnership between people and horses.
A goal of The Equestrians is to increase the public’s understanding of and appreciation for this often exclusive world.
By making this world more accessible and inclusive, The Equestrians can provide relevant brands, sponsors, and partners with greater marketing opportunities, to deliver greater collective reach, impact, and selling power.
The annual economic impact of the industry is huge — $300 billion, four million horses, and 1.6 million full-time jobs.
An equally important goal is to focus more attention on the number of unwanted and neglected horses, and to dramatically increase support for horse rescue organizations and therapeutic riding centers.
Because to live and love with both passion and compassion is the quest of The Equestrians.
The Equestrians will include eight episodes, to cover these main topics:
DANCE FOR YOUR LIFE
Importance of Horsemanship
Care of Horses
SO YOU WANNA BUY A HORSE?
EVERYBODY LOOKS GOOD IN BRITCHES
THE POWER TO MOVE US
Therapy and Healing
YOUTH MUST BE SERVED
A MATCH MADE IN HEAVEN
These episodes will integrate many specialized equestrian businesses and people, including shows, events, entertainment industry, historians, riders, owners, trainers, vets, farriers, grooms, handlers, feed producers, stables, transporters, breeding, real estate, insurance, suppliers, law, apparel, décor, lifestyle, art, culture, therapeutic riding centers, mounted police units, horse rescue operations, colleges and universities, young rider programs, international brands, airlines, tourism, celebrities, influencers, philosophers, teachers, and the zeitgeist.
DANCE FOR YOUR LIFE
“These are drab materialist times. Drab!
Surely, if we can let into them one beam of elegance, of splendor, of glory, from the ancient classical world…
that would be worth a man’s life, no?
When I am tired, I tell myself, yes, it would.”
“I can make a good General in five minutes,
but a good horse is hard to replace.”
Most non-equestrians probably don’t begin to realize the extent of communication that happens between horse and rider. The Olympics may be one of the few opportunities they even see competitions. Though jumping can be relatively easy to understand, the discipline of dressage can seem abstract, even silly. Why are the horses dancing? Why is the rider not doing anything?
Episode One explains the origins of dressage with the cavalry, where precise footwork and movements were critical to survival on the battlefield.
This episode will explore and feature the classical training of The Spanish Riding School, how U.S. General George Patton helped saved the Lipizzan horses during WWII, noted trainers who train horses for movies, the impact of horses on warfare (and vice versa), and even how the Comanches became arguably the greatest horsemen ever.
When the difference between winning and losing is life or death, there is no second place ribbon for The Equestrians.
“You become responsible forever for what you’ve tamed.”
Antoine de Saint-Exupéry, The Little Prince
Just as race car drivers need a pit crew, crew chief, and mechanics, horses need a stable of full-and-part-time specialists each and every day: Trainers, grooms, handlers, vets, farriers (horse shoers), and a whole list of suppliers. Unlike cars or even pets, they demand constant attention. They need to be exercised, fed, cleaned, shoed, stalled, and transported.
For their relative size, horses are also quite delicate, and susceptible to sickness and injury. In many ways, domesticated horses are more dependent on human care than even infants or the elderly in nursing homes.
This episode will feature people at top equestrian centers and facilities such as New England Equine Practice and Cummings Veterinary Medical Center that provide better care for horses than many of us might receive from our own doctors.
A healthy horse sure does wonders for the well-being of The Equestrians.
SO YOU WANNA BUY A HORSE?
“Some of my biggest friends are big time horse owners.”
“The hardest thing about learning to ride is the ground.”
It’s easy to see why owning horses is a romantic dream for so many people. But it can be a gamble. The newbie who jumps in with blinders on is likely to be saddled with expenses and headaches never anticipated nor imagined:
Huge property, trainer, grooms, handlers, stables, vaccinations, dental, deworming, farrier, vets, breeding fees, hay, grain, bedding, utilities, manure removal, property maintenance, riding lessons, equine insurance, association fees, truck, trailer, and tractor payments, insurance, tack and supplies, riding apparel, show fees, boarding, travel, and transportation (for you and the horses).
It’s why there are equine industry business majors at schools such as the University of Louisville.
This episode will feature equestrian real estate companies, breeding farms, private jets (for people and horses), equine insurance, betting (including design, equipment and IT for casino booking rooms), and other cottage (and mansion) industries that cater exclusively to The Equestrians.
Try as they may, it’s hard to separate business from pleasure for The Equestrians.
EVERYBODY LOOKS GOOD IN BRITCHES
“People on horses look better than they are.
People in cars look worse than they are.”
The equestrian world is kind on the eyes. It’s fashionable, on the trail and the model runway.
Even the horses are sexy.
It’s a lifestyle of luxury and adventure. Where celebrities sip champagne as they watch Argentine studs on million dollar horses play polo and then star in cologne ads.
The average equestrian is a clothes horse. The leather, silk, stretch-fit pants — all smell like money.
What’s ugly to witness about this world are its excesses, while it often puts blinders on to the staggering number of unwanted, neglected, and abused horses, and horses headed to slaughter.
Certainly so many wealthy who rely on their equine friends can take better care of their own.
Knowing when not to look the other way always looks good to The Equestrians.
THE POWER TO MOVE US
“My horse’s feet are swift as rolling thunder
He carries me away from all my fears
And when the world threatens to fall asunder
His mane is there to wipe away my tears.”
“All I pay my psychiatrist is the cost of feed and hay,
and he’ll listen to me any day.”
How does the equestrian world reconcile its extreme differences, where for every horse in the winner’s circle there are 600 more headed to a slaughterhouse?
Where there can be a $70 million horse and yet 170,000 unwanted horses?
It does so with compassion. Because for every selfish owner, there are many people at horse rescue operations and therapeutic ridings centers who understand horses have healing powers of their own.
This episode will feature organizations like Bravehearts, Pegasus Therapeutic Riding Center, Save The Horses, Our Farm Equine Rescue, mounted police units, and others who show how horses can help us.
Never underestimate the heart and soul of The Equestrians.
YOUTH MUST BE SERVED
“Who among us has not as a child asked Santa Claus
to bring us a pony on Christmas day?”
“What the colt learns in youth he continues in old age.”
Parents of a young amateur equestrian jumper noted with amusement how their daughter won’t clean her own room, but will spend hours grooming and cleaning the stables of her horse.
Riding and caring for horses can teach young people valuable life lessons.
So why shouldn’t every young person have the same opportunity to pursue equestrian interests as, say, soccer? It can be an expensive pursuit, but judging by the results, perhaps worth every penny.
This episode will feature renowned schools such as Foxcroft, trainers such as Michael Page at Kent School, and some of the more than 370 schools of the Intercollegiate Horse Show Association.
More may be learned in the saddle than in school for The Equestrians.
“I think it was much better when you got on your horse
and rode two miles to talk to your neighbor.”
“The history of mankind is carried on the back of a horse.”
We’ve come full circle. China and Mongolia, where horsemanship evolved thousands of years ago, now host some of the most exciting equestrian events in the world.
In South Africa, a black jockey wins the Durban Derby, 125 years after the first Kentucky Derby, where 13 jockeys were black.
What other sport allows men and women to compete against each other at the same time?
Where amateurs can compete against professionals?
Where teens compete against senior citizens?
This episode features people, places, and events that give the equestrian world such universal appeal.
With their passion their common bond, all are equals amongst The Equestrians.
A MATCH MADE IN HEAVEN
“The essential joy of being with horses is that it brings us
into the rare elements of grace, beauty, spirit and fire.”
Sharon Ralls Lemon
“A man on a horse is spiritually as well as physically
bigger than a man on foot.”
What other creature but a horse could carry and be completely in step with a human?
What other creature but a human could be as wild and tame as a horse?
Maybe the connection we have with one another is meant to be.
To help us re-connect with ourselves, our origins, our earth, our hearts, and our souls.
Maybe we’d all have our feet more firmly on the ground if we lived like The Equestrians.
“I grew up in New Mexico, and the older I get, I have less need for contemporary culture, big cities, and all the stuff we are bombarded with.
I am happier at my ranch in the middle of nowhere, listening to silence, riding my horse, and being in open space.”
“If heaven don’t have horses, I ain’t goin’.”
Maybe the quest for all of us should be to live and love like The Equestrians.
The lives of The Equestrians are not all glamour, romance, and excitement. There are untold hours of hard work and sacrifices. There is an obligation to care for the horses 24/7. There are expenses and health issues. There are injuries and disappointments. There is the need for intense focus, now uncommon in a modern world of numerous distractions and short attention spans. There is an appreciation for tradition, precision, and a timeless art form. There is a level of communication between horse and rider so nuanced and fluid, it exceeds what happens even in the best of human marriages. The majority of riders, trainers, owners, grooms, vets, and other staff take great pride and care in what they do. They demonstrate both passion and compassion. Many would trade prestige and prize money for the protection of horses everywhere and the opportunity for others less fortunate to experience the joys of an equestrian life.
Similarly, the lives of everyday people who might envy The Equestrians are not all toil, drudgery, and oppression. In a way, the modern world, with all of its distractions, diversions, gadgets, games, and vapid entertainment, has helped create a large section of society without real connection, ambition, or purpose, and a culture all too willing to stand in line for the next smart phone or Black Friday sale. However, there are also those who deserve our empathy because they aim to be part of something bigger than themselves, or to master a timeless art form, or who work to overcome the challenges they have faced — disabilities, special needs, limited means, trauma, sickness, loss, and tough environments. For them, the opportunity to be with and to care for horses teaches valuable life lessons, and develops a strong sense of responsibility, accountability, and even spirituality. Like The Eighty Dollar Champion, they illustrate the therapeutic power of horses, and what anyone can achieve when given a chance.
The equestrian world has all elements to take viewers on an emotional rollercoaster:
Winning and losing.
Wealth and poverty.
Heroes and villains.
Stars and unknowns.
Fashion and function.
Superficiality and spirituality.
Show and substance.
Business and pleasure.
Tradition and trendiness.
Generosity and greed.
Hope and fear.
It brings out all that is admirable and loathsome about people.
Carl Jung said horses symbolize natural forces mastered by human beings.
Just as we harness a horse to ride it or use its power, we can harness our own energy with nature’s to serve us and bring us further.
The Equestrians have an inseparable bond with their four-legged partners.
To be an avid rider is to be different than an avid skier, wine connoisseur, or car collector. Horses require unconditional and constant commitment.
Babies and nursing home patients require less time, care, and attention.
How many of us can truly claim to be that fully vested in anything?
The equestrian world is only partly about horses.
It’s mostly about people: our desires, our dreams, our ambitions, our longings.
Horses and riders may form a partnership, but the horses don’t get a vote. Or do they? Experienced riders will say you can’t get a 1200-pound animal to do anything it doesn’t want to do. Still, without humans taking the reins, horses are no different than deer.
However, what if we are meant to learn from them, and take their lead?
What if that partnership was divinely pre-ordained?
What if horses are the messengers for enlightenment vital to us all?
Like The Equestrians, we are all on a quest.
A quest for equality, freedom, purpose, meaning, redemption, glory, fame, power, atonement, connection, honor, respect, serenity, harmony, peace, beauty, justice, love.
Like horses, we are creatures that have both a wild side and a tame side,
perhaps representing our hearts/desires and our consciences/values.
Finding an equilibrium may be the key to experiencing true joy in our lives.
“No hour of life is wasted that is spent in the saddle.”
INTERVIEWS ALREADY FILMED
MCLAIN WARD, TWO-TIME U.S. GOLD MEDALIST
ANNE KURSINSKI, FIVE-TIME OLYMPIAN AND TRAINER
DEVIN RYAN, CHAMPION JUMPER AND TRAINER, RIVER RUN STABLES
ALAN GRIFFIN, TRAINER AND GENERAL MANAGER, OX RIDGE HUNT CLUB
CYNTHIA WILLIAMS, RIDER, TRAINER, MEMBER OF U.S. HUNTER JUMPER ASSOCIATION COMMITTEES
JAYNE MARINO, RIDER AND TRAINER, MISTOVER FARM
MIKKI KUCHTA, EVENTER AND TRAINER
CHRIS DEFILIPPIS, RIDER AND TRAINER
NIKKA THERRIEN, RIDER AND TRAINER
MO SWANSON, RIDER AND BREEDER
ELIZABETH NIEMI, RIDER, OWNER OF NIEMI DRESSAGE
ANDREW PHILBRICK, GENERAL MANAGER, HUNTER FARMS, NJ
MARIA AZEVEDO, INTERNATIONAL COURSE DESIGNER
MATTHEW ELIOTT, DOCTOR OF VETERINARY MEDICINE
MARK BAUS, DOCTOR OF VETERINARY MEDICINE
CHRIS JOHNSON, EASTERN HAY & GRAIN
MELISSA MONARDO, ONTARIO EQUESTRIAN FEDERATION
CANADIAN JUNIOR WOMEN DRESSAGE TEAM
JUSTIN GALLI, FARRIER
TUREA WILSON, BRAND MANAGER, CWD SELLIER
JOSEPH DER, PRESIDENT, DER DAU BOOTS
BENOIT BREARD, TRAINER AND OWNER OF BREARD STABLES IN ONTARIO
TERRY RUSSEL, ROYAL CANADIAN MOUNTED POLICE
SHINING STARS PERCHERONS
DAVID CARSON CLYDESDALES
ADVISORS FOR THE EQUESTRIANS
ANDY BASHKIN, VETERAN JUMPER AND POLO PLAYER, ATLANTA, GA
CHRIS DEFILIPPIS, TRAINER, AUTHOR, NORTH SALEM, NY
CANDACE FITZGERALD, DOBBIN GROUP PR/MARKETING FOR THE EQUINE INDUSTRY, NEW LONDON, NH
ALAN GRIFFIN, TRAINER AND GENERAL MANAGER, OX RIDGE HUNT CLUB, DARIEN, CT
JAYNE MARINO, TRAINER, MISTOVER FARM, PAWLING, NY
NIKKI NEGREA, EVENTER, MEMBER OF GOLDENS BRIDGE HUNT CLUB, GREENWICH, CT
NIKKA THERRIEN, TRAINER, WASHINGTON, CT, AND ONTARIO, CANADA
ABOUT THE EQUESTRIANS FILMMAKER
A communications and marketing veteran with more than 30 years’ experience, Don has been recognized around the world for excellence in creativity and effectiveness. His expertise includes writing and design for all media, branding, strategic planning, photography and directing. He led the teams that created the popular Budweiser Whassup and OfficeMax Rubberband Man campaigns. A winner of the Grand Prix at the Cannes International Advertising Festival and a three-time Emmy nominee, Don was once cited as the world’s most-awarded Creative Director by Boards magazine, a leading publication about commercial broadcast production. In 2002, with support from State Farm and Barnes & Noble, Don created the book Our Flag Was Still There, a photo-journal of his travels to all 50 states in the aftermath of 9/11. An avid traveler and photographer, Don has presented at creative conferences around the world. Don’s own business Sticky is a creative marketing agency and multimedia production company that specializes in dynamic branding, integrated marketing, and original content. He lives with his family in Ridgefield, CT.