The Loss of a Mentor: Carol Trimmer

While I was on my way to a Turf Publicists of America meeting in Lexington, Ky., I received word that Carol Trimmer, former editor of the NRHA Reiner magazine, had passed. it was like someone punched me in the stomach out of the blue. In a time when I felt lost after completing my internship at AQHA, she reached out to me and offered me a job with the magazine and NRHA that put me on my path that has suited me and benefited me for more than 12 years now. I was at the cusp of possibly moving back to Indiana and sorting my life out, but at the last possible minute, she called me. I hadn’t even interviewed for the position–I had applied for a position to lead the Youth association.
Carol TrimmerIn that year of living in Oklahoma City, she was like a mother to me. I wasn’t able to travel home much, except for Christmas, but she took me under her wing. To be honest, it was a frustrating year because I felt like I wasn’t learning anything and I wasn’t using my talents to their fullest. I didn’t realize that she was quietly molding me and quietly pushing me out of my comfort zone.
Carol is the National Reining Horse Association. She was the guidebook full of stats, facts and anything you needed. She knew every single person who ever swung a leg over a reining horse. She was the one everyone flocked to see in the media room at the Futurity and Derby just to get a hug, and she worried more about others than herself. She wholeheartedly deserved to be inducted into the NRHA Hall of Fame a few years back.

I don’t throw this word around very often, but I was blessed to have her in my life. Her support for me ever since we met in 2006 has been life altering. 

My heart is broken, not just for myself, but for her family and for the reining family. My condolences to her husband, Paul, and her grandkids. The one solace is that she is now reunited with her son, Paul Jr., whom she lost 12 years ago. 

Thank you, Carol, for everything…as a mentor, supporter, friend…



Celebrating Equine Media as an AHP Finalist

Even after so many years in the equine media industry, I’m still humbled and flattered to be named as a Finalist for the American Horse Publications’ Equine Media Awards. I believe this is the fourth or fifth year I have been named a Finalist as an individual member, and it never gets old.

I entered four pieces this year, including a piece on training your barn dogs for Horse Illustrated, a piece on female professionals in the Western performance horse industry shattering the glass ceiling for Horse & Rider and an educational article on how to buy horses online with confidence for The American Quarter Horse Journal. All three pieces have a special place in my portfolio for many reasons.

The barn dog piece features my beloved Corgi, Dallas Mae, and my heart horse, Skip’s Satin Lark (“Lark”) in a photo shoot by my friend, Chelle Zellers. (Note: the photo below is with our other American Quarter Horse mare, ‘Quila.)

Corgi waiting patiently

From “Barn Dog Basics,” published by Horse Illustrated, photo by Chelle Zellers Photography.

The “Dirt Arenas, not Glass Ceilings” piece was a passion article that I pitched and did some heavy interviewing and research that I hope every female can stand up and say, “YES!” and know they can do anything in the equine industry, no matter the show level.

And the “Buy Now” piece features input from my friend, Chad Mendell, and tips that I hope to get to use when I start my horse search sometime soon.

Here’s a snippet of the press release from the AHP:

The announcement of award finalists ends the anticipation for 70 AHP members who have placed in the top five in one or more of the 63 classes in the 2019 AHP Equine Media Awards (EMA).

Held since 1974, the American Horse Publications (AHP) annual awards contest offers members an opportunity to be recognized for excellence in a variety of equine media categories. This year’s competition for material published in 2018 drew 711 entries from 119 members.

The Equine Media Awards, open to AHP members only, offer a Publishing Media Division for print or online publications and freelancers as well as a Business Division for equine-related businesses, nonprofit organizations, and colleges.

The next milestone on the road to EMA Gold is the announcement of the winners. Awards are placed first, second, third, or honorable mention based on the number of entries in the class. Every finalist is recognized for their achievement. The Equine Media Awards presentation will be held on Saturday evening, June 1, 2019, at the Hotel Albuquerque at Old Town during the AHP “High Desert Media Roundup” in Albuquerque, New Mexico.

The results of the Equine Media Awards will be available after the awards presentation in June.

I have also been asked to be a panelist to present my tips for surviving event coverage, and I’m excited to present alongside friends and mentors Jennifer Paulson and Larri Jo Starkey, as well as fellow freelancers Diana DeRosa and Jenifer Bryant.

Also, big congratulations to my clients who have been named finalists for the AHP Equine Media Awards: Horse Illustrated, Horse & Rider, The American Quarter Horse Journal, NRHA Reiner and Quarter Horse News.


Sandra Bentien: Alone at the Top

When I am able to cover events live, I love to hear everyone’s stories. It’s part of my job: to listen and share your story. I met Sandra Bentien at the NRHA Futurity a couple of years ago and fell in love with her stallion, Gotta Twist It Up. The pair ended up winning the Level 3 & 2 Non Pro Futurity Championships in 2016, then came back to win the Level 4 Non Pro Derby Championship in 2018.

It was my privilege to share her story in the January 2018 issue of Horse & Rider magazine. She tells me how she survived her first pony, a black Shetland named Thunder, and moved on to teach herself the intricacies of reining.

“Competitors all dream of winning on the big stage. For reiners, that’s often at the Jim Norick Arena in Oklahoma City during either the National Reining Horse Association Derby or Futurity. Riders and trainer fantasize about being crowned the NRHA Futurity Champion, the penultimate title. Breeders hope they’ve produced the next prospect to wear the roses. Owners dream of taking those roses home to their mantels. 

“Rarely are all four of those people–rider, trainer, breeder and owner–under one hat. But when you’re the ultimate do-it-yourself non-pro, the stars can align for that to occur, as they did for Sandra Bentien at the 2016 NRHA Futurity.”

Sandra Bentien NRHA Non Pro Derby Championalone-2

Read the whole article on Horse & Rider’s website: DIY Rider Alone at the Top

A little behind the scenes look when Sandra was named 2018 NRHA Level 4 Non Pro Derby Champion with her homebred, Gotta Twist It Up.

2018 NRHA Derby NP Champion

Catching up with Sandra Bentien right after she’s named 2018 NRHA Level 4 Derby Champion.

Andrea Fappani – Getting the Most From Your Horse

(From the January 2017 Reiner Magazine)

Andrea Fappani Spooky WhizThe surprise wasn’t really that Andrea Fappani had won the Lucas Oil NRHA Level 4 Open Futurity, but the surprise was what horse he won it on, and how he did it.

Spooky Whiz joined the Fappani training barn at the end of his 2-year-old year after Fappani purchased him through agent Eduardo Salgado for Rancho Oso Rio, an NRHA Million Dollar Owner. While the dark bay gelding was a bit on the small size, Fappnie could tell, even at an early age, that he had exactly the mind he was looking for.

“What I liked was his mind,” recalls Fappani. “As a 2 year old he was very mature, and you could tell he took different things that he wasn’t used to and handled them well. That’s what I’m looking for when I train young horses.”


Learn more about how Fappani got the most out of Spooky Whiz, and why he chose to break tradition and ride in romal reins: Trainer Talk: Getting the Most From Your Horse

Arszman to Speak at AQHA Racing Summit

Award-winning freelance writer and social media marketer Megan Arszman travels to Los Alamitos, Calif., to speak about marketing for racetracks and racing groups at the 2018 American Quarter Horse Association Racing Summit on November 14-17. The Racing Summit is an educational event held in conjunction with the Bank of America Challenge Championships at Los Alamitos Race Course. This is the second year in a row AQHA Racing has invited Arszman to speak at the event.
Meganbrand2In her second year in charge of the marketing and communications for the Indiana Horse Racing Commission and its breed development programs, Arszman’s position is a unique one—Indiana is the only state to have a dedicated marketing person for a commission. This was due to a change in a bylaw regarding the Commission, it was tasked with promoting the state’s horse racing industry.
“Having Megan on board with the Commission has been a wonderful addition,” says Jessica Barnes, Director of Racing and Breed Development for the IHRC. “She is so driven to promote our industry not just in Indiana, but across the country, and we’ve already seen growth because of that.”
In her short time with the Commission, Arszman grew their social media presence from non-existing to one that gets a lot of attention. She’s also pushed for better branding for the programs and increased awareness of marketing not only for the programs, but also for the horsemen that participate in the program. Arszman’s presentation at the Racing Summit focuses on the challenges most tracks and horsemen’s groups have with the image of horse racing and some ways to combat those challenges.
“I’m honored that Janet VanBebber and AQHA asked me to come back to the Summit this year,” says Arszman. “I had such a good response after last year, I’m excited to see what we can accomplish this year.”
Megan Arszman has been involved in the equine publishing and media industry for more than 12 years, with roles stemming from intern to Enewsletter Editor to Web Producer to Freelance Writer. She has earned accolades with the American Horse Publications group and the Livestock Publications Council. She is a member of AHP and the Turf Publicists Association. She works full-time doing the marketing and communications for the Indiana Horse Racing Commission and its breed development programs, while running her communications company on the side. She is a mother of a horse crazy toddler, married to a patient man and fourth generation horsewoman and dog trainer.
The Indiana Horse Racing Commission ensures that pari-mutuel wagering on horse races in Indiana will be conducted with the highest of standards and the greatest level of integrity.

Riders4Helmets – IHAD

Every year I have the privilege of helping with the marketing efforts of a noble cause–International Helmet Awareness Day. I work alongside Lyndsey White and Chad Mendell of Riders4Helmets to do press releases and stories to help increase awareness for the day and spread the word about the great deals riders can get to purchase a new helmet one time a year.

Riders4Helmets International Helmet Awareness Day

Aubrey and I always wear our helmets!

In the past, I’ve written short articles regarding concussions and the longevity of a helmet. This year, I wrote an educational article on the makings of a helmet, featuring some of the top helmet manufacturers like Troxel, Back on Track, Ovation, etc.

What Makes A Helmet Safe? 
Gone are the days of simple hard plastic with a velveteen outer layer. Nowadays, helmets are held to a much higher standard of safety testing. They’re more aerodynamic and better padded, without adding extra weight, and they are stylish so riders will want to wear them. The safety of every ride is the main goal for each helmet manufacturer as they strive year after year to develop the safest helmet they can, while keeping it comfortable, attractive, and easy to wear.

A few of the top helmet manufacturers around the world shared with us some of their most important components when it comes to making helmets…

Then, this one article…the kind that makes you stand up and take notice and really think about “what if” when it comes to the smallest decisions you make.

Train accident with helmet

Megan’s Troxel helmet was broken in eight places, but her head was safe.

Back story: I was assigned a story by the American Quarter Horse Journal to tell the story of a veterinary student’s fateful day, but after the interview, I knew it was such an eye-opening story that it needed to be shared during International Helmet Awareness Day. I’m thankful to editor Becky Newell for allowing me to share the story with Riders4Helmets, understanding the importance of educating all horsemen and women about wearing helmets, even for the shortest of trail rides.

This is only a small snippet of Megan Richman’s story–the rest will be shared in a later issue of the American Quarter Horse Journal (you can subscribe online).

Helmet Versus Train
There are some decisions you look back on and wonder what would have happened had you chosen a different option. For 26-year-old Megan, she’s gone through all the “what ifs” and “should haves” repeatedly the past two months. But things remain the same: She’s still alive.

Keeping Up with the Johnsons

One of my favorite things to do is write profiles on the people of the horse industry. I love to tell their stories, and to share with the world something that maybe nobody else knew. When I am assigned a story about a subject whom you think everyone knows everything about, I see it as a challenge to dig a little deeper…

Bob and Karen Johnson of Burns, Tenn., are those kind of people–their personalities are so big that everyone wants to be their friend. They met at a horse show, and now they spend their time together at horse shows all across the country, showing their American Quarter Horses in ranch riding and halter.

This story earned an Honorable Mention at the 2018 Livestock Publications Council awards in the Feature/Human Interest, Association category for the American Quarter Horse Journal. Continue to read more to learn about this awesome couple.

Bob and Karen Johnson feature in American Quarter Horse Journal

Read more: Keeping up with the Johnsons