Thankful for a Successful 2014

The time between Christmas and New Year’s is usually a time to reflect on the previous 365 days and how far we’ve come. I’m always guilty of this because I’ve caught myself saying that the year has gone by so quickly, but then again, you feel as though it hasn’t.

It is better to fail in originality than to succeed in imitation. — Herman Melville

This past year has seen MA Communications grow exponentially. What started as just a side gig to fill in time and keep in touch with my favorite industry has turned into a second full-time job with a growth in contacts that I appreciate everyday. Last week I sent in my last article for 2014, and I have already been working on articles for the 2015 editorial calendar.

Overall, in 2014, I wrote 80 articles–both online and in print–and covered four live events in person, as well as a couple from afar. I’ve been published in eight print magazines, as well as eight websites.

It was exciting covering the World Equestrian Games for two websites, bringing the excitement of reining to everyone.

It was exciting covering the World Equestrian Games for two websites, bringing the excitement of reining to everyone.


I launched my Facebook page.

I love sharing my work and experiences on my Facebook page for everyone.

I love sharing my work and experiences on my Facebook page for everyone.

I traveled to South Carolina to receive my first independent award from the American Horse Publications.

First time entering an awards contest independently =  not too shabby.

First time entering an awards contest independently = not too shabby.

I’ve expanded my horizons and stepped out of my comfort zone to bring the best of what I could offer to different audiences–and I’ve loved every challenge.

I’ve brought along clients for social media marketing and to help grow their business from just starting to thriving in just one year.

I’m looking forward to another great year in 2015. I already know there will be challenges (in February the newest member of the MAC family will joining us as Matt and I welcome our little girl), but that will only make it more interesting!

Thank you for supporting and reading everything from MAC. If you have any article suggestions or topics you’d like to see covered more in any genre, please let me know!

Thank you to the following websites and publications that worked with me in 2014:

America’s Horse
American Paint Horse Journal
American Quarter Horse Journal
American Quarter Horse Journal Online
Canine Chronicle
Clean Run
The Daily Corgi
Equine Chronicle
The Reiner
Rodeo News
Western Shooting Horse Magazine
The Wrangler–Horse & Rodeo News


Helping Wounded Veterans: Oscar Mike

While I’m a day late for Veterans’ Day, I’m still always thankful and supportive of our veterans. My husband is an Air Force veteran, and my grandfathers were veterans. Like others, I’ve gone to school with veterans and call veterans my friend. Everyday I’m thankful for the sacrifice veterans give for our freedoms, so I can continue to celebrate my freedom of speech with my career. So every day is Veterans’ Day for me.

I wanted to shine a spotlight on a growing upstart that is dedicated to helping wounded veterans live their lives in manners maybe they could not afford. I was lucky to do a profile on Oscar Mike, an apparel company with a mission–assist injured veterans in achieving their physical rehabilitation goals–for Western Shooting Horse Magazine.

As the company says: The term “Oscar Mike” comes from military radio jargon used on the front lines. It translates to “On the Move”. To us, being Oscar Mike means being active, staying positive and living life to its absolute fullest.

Illinois native Noah Currier started the American-made company on Nov. 11, 2011. The products are high-quality and inspiring to wear.

Read more with this PDF: Oscar Mike: Keeping Disabled Veterans on the Move

WSH-Oscar Mike1 WSH-Oscar Mike2










Horse Health–Botulism: More Deadly Than Wrinkles

Botulism in horses is a very misunderstood disease. My current full-time employer actually makes the one (and only) vaccination against botulism Type B, but it isn’t a very popular vaccine…yet. In order to combat the misunderstanding of the disease, and the unfamiliarity of the importance of regular botulism vaccinations, I worked with my company to try to help educate horse owners more on the fatal disease. In doing so, I wrote articles for both the Equine Chronicle and Western Shooting Horse on the disease, with hopes of opening up a discussion among horse owners and veterinarians. Horses have survived the disease, but many haven’t. Either way, Neogen wants to hear personal stories about horse owners’ experiences with the disease. It’s not a disease of mistreatment or lack of care on the horse owner’s behalf, as some might think, so it’s nothing to be ashamed of.

If you’ve had a horse that was affected with botulism, Neogen would like to hear from you. You can read personal stories about horses that were affected with botulism on their Botulism Blog and share your own experiences. The more knowledge researchers have about the disease, the easier it will be to understand and treat.

You can read the article from Equine ChronicleBotulism: More Deadly than Wrinkles




Throwback Thursday: Kayce Amsden Finds Balance

For this #ThrowbackThursday post, I found an article published in the October 2012 issue of Western Shooting Horse Magazine where I spoke with one shooter who learned how to balance life as a mother, trainer, and shooter. Considering I’m going to have to learn that delicate balance of mother and professional, I thought this would be perfect to share:

Kayce Amsden Source

Kayce Amsden Source

Kayce Amsden: Finding the Balance

One look at Kayce Amsden’s daily schedule will exhaust you just by reading it: wake up and start working to wake up son Kaleb, fix breakfast and try to wake up Kaleb again, finally lure Kaleb out of bed and rush him to school before heading to work—and that’s just the morning. After work, it’s time to pick up Kaleb from school for wrestling practice, head home and work a couple head of horses, clean stalls, fix dinner, do a little schoolwork, and then head to bed before getting up and doing it all over again the next day.

Kayce is a mom, horse trainer, advisor, student, cheerleader, chauffer, groom, chef, and more. For some, it’d be way too much to even think about, but for Kayce, it’s all about finding that balance.

Life Before Mounted Shooting
Kayce grew up in a horse loving family—her parents actually met at a 4-H horse show. “The story is my mom asked my dad, ‘Here, little boy, will you hold my horse?’ and that’s how they met,” laughed Kayce. Thus started the Amsdens down the path of horse shows and trainers.

While growing up in North Dakota, her parents started training with Mac McEwen, who later quit. It was then that her parents started training out of their own 30-stall barn. Kayce started riding with her dad and showing on the Arabian circuit, finishing her first horse at the tender age of 12. A few years later she was eventually named a national champion in trail. She started giving lessons to help pull her weight around the farm.

Ten years ago, Kayce and her family moved back down to Missouri after her father’s retirement from the military. They “downsized” when they moved onto the Amsden family farm–a 700-acre ranch at the foothills of the Ozarks off a dead-end road. Surrounded by a creek, big bluffs, woods, and lots of open fields, it’s no surprise Kayce loves to trail ride on the property whenever she can, save for the few months of hunting season when the family takes over.

The ranch consists of aunts, uncles, cousins, grandparents, Kayce’s parents, and of course Kayce and her 14-year-old son Kaleb. Everyone in the family rides horses, some of them more focused on showing Arabian horses–but all of them as horse crazy as Kayce.

An all-around rider, Kayce has shown in a plethora of events: trail, hunt seat equitation, Western pleasure, side saddle, hunt seat pleasure, over fences, reining, and working cow horse. It seemed like Kayce would be up for anything on horseback…that is, until she heard about cowboy mounted shooting.

Her grandmother’s former boyfriend, Danny Dees, introduced her grandmother to the sport. The idea of moving fast with guns blazing and making sharp turns surprised Kayce some—she was used to moving slower, being a little more prim and proper in the show ring. But one ride on Danny’s horse, Cheyenne, and she caught the shooting bug.

“My grandmother encouraged me to do (mounted shooting),” says Kayce. “I rode horses all my life and I could do that part, but I was a horrible shot to start with—I never hunted, nor never used a gun of any sort, besides a BB gun.

“Danny drove me around and got me started,” explains Kayce. “I had to beg, borrow, and steal horses, and I kind-of just made it work. I eventually got better and better horses.”

Now, eight years later, Kayce is hooked and competes as a Ladies Level 4. She’s won the East Coast Classic and Nationals, as well as a few Missouri state championships. Kaleb competed for a few years as a Wrangler, and her grandmother still competes as a Senior 1.

All in the Family
“I eventually had both sides of my family involved in horses and mounted shooting,” says Kayce. “We’ll go to a shoot, and if my grandmother is competing, there will be five generations there shooting. It’s a neat thing for us to do as a family.”

Horses are a huge part of the family. They work together on the ranch, with Kayce helping to start three-year-olds for her mom’s side of the family, as well as assisting at different shows. If Kayce’s aunt needs a junior rider at an Arabian show, Kaleb jumps into the saddle to help out.

“Kaleb tells everyone he was riding horses before he was born,” jokes Kayce. “I think he’s quite the horseman. He still rides quite a bit and every once in a while they’ll have a horse that someone wants him to show, so he’ll still show.”

Scaling Back
Now that Kaleb’s 14, life has gotten more hectic for Kayce, a single mom. She’s cut back on the amount of horses she’s training and the amount of shoots she goes to, but she’ll never totally stop riding or shooting. “Kaleb understands that I’m not sane unless I have my horse time,” says Kayce. “It’s a huge balancing act, but I only have a few more year left with him—I’m down to four years and then he graduates from high school—and I don’t want to miss anything.”

Kayce’s days are filled with working for the Farmington School District at-risk program for kids who don’t have enough credits to graduate. She keeps track of their work hours, helps them study for their GED, and helps with the recovery program in the high school. Meanwhile, she’s studying speech pathology through Lake Region State College in North Dakota. “There’s more job security with speech pathology—I can work with stroke victims, the elderly, and little kids—there are so many options,” she explains.

Kaleb’s extra-curricular activities also take precedence in Kayce’s life. He’s an emerging wrestling star and plays on his school’s football team. And Kayce wants to be there for every grapple and every tackle to cheer her son on. “I’m the ‘loud mom’ at the wrestling matches,” she laughs. “I don’t think anybody would say I relax during a wrestling match—I’m there for every match I root for everyone on the team.”

On the flip side, Kayce has her own cheerleader and supporter in her son. Even though Kaleb’s schedule doesn’t allow him to shoot much any more, he still likes to attend the local shoots with his mom and stand by the gate to cheer her on. “I have a great time,” says Kaleb.

Kaleb also helps out his mom at home, helping to clean stalls so she can ride when they get home from practice. “He’s a big help,” says Kayce. “I don’t think I could do it all without him. I’ll ride horses while he cleans stalls, or some times I’ll clean stalls so he can ride. It’s a balance, and a team thing.”

Making a Comeback
Kayce’s anticipating coming back to the shooting arena full-force in a couple of years. “I’m so excited (for Kaleb to get his driver’s license)—I’ve got a year and a half left. I’m counting down the days when I can go and ride and I don’t have to be waiting at practice to bring him home.”

Her new horse, Go Groovy Go (“Sam”), is ready to hit the road with Kayce. The 11-year-old, 16.3 hand Appendix Quarter Horse gelding started his shooting career in Kayce’s barn, but went through a few hands before returning home, when she could afford to buy him. “He’s huge and white and very forward and elevated in his movements,” she gushes. “You feel like a princess when you ride him. Absolutely nothing in the world affects you when you sit on Sam.”

Until that point comes, when Kaleb moves off to college (he’s hoping to get a wrestling scholarship to Penn State so he can also study in the equine program there), Kayce will have to continue to rely on that delicate balance, relying on the likes of Kaleb and Sam to reinstall her sanity when life gets a little overwhelming.

Arabians Gone Shooting
It’s rare to see a shooter astride something other than the stock horse breeds of Paint and Quarter Horses, but there are some Arabians, Half-Arabians, Tennessee Walking Horses, and more in the mix. While Kayce Amsden started mounted shooting on a Half-Arabian, she’s since completely switched over to competing on American Quarter Horses. “I love Arabs and I like to show them and still have some, … but they don’t have the quickness that a Quarter Horse does,” she explains. “They can’t compare (to Quarter Horses) since we’re not running a race—(shooting) is a sprinting thing, not a long distance event.”

While Kayce believes she could have put her first shooting horse (Half-Arabian) up against any horse of any breed, she feels there’s a place for Arabian horses to have their own class in mounted shooting for the people who are passionate about the breed. “We get to go to the Arabian National Championships and put on a demonstration, and they love us there.”

AHP Seminar Wrap-Up: Awards, Networking & Friendship

It was an awesome four days in Charleston, South Carolina! Not only is the city beautiful, but the experience of the American Horse Publications Seminar was spectacular. I learned a lot, met a lot of new people, rekindled old friendships, and did lots of networking.


The event was capped off with the annual awards, where I earned Honorable Mention for my article on Tammy Sronce and her recovery from a head injury in Western Shooting Horse MagazineRefilling the Glass.


I networked with editors from The Chronicle of the Horse, Horse Illustrated, Western Horseman, Paint Horse Journal, Equine Journal, and the Quarter Horse News–all great publications with huge followings. I also got to spend some time exploring the city, including taking in Charleston’s weekly farmers’ market that took place across the street from my hotel.



I have to thank the editors and fellow freelance writers that I met for their time and camaraderie, especially those who worked behind the scenes to put together the annual seminar. If you’re interested, at all, in equine media, I highly suggest joining the American Horse Publications (students, corporations, freelancers, websites, and publications are all invited to join). It’s like one giant family.


Writer buddies: Rachel Florman (Assistant Editor, Paint Horse Journal), Abigail Boatwright (Abigail Boatwright Communications), Kate Bradley (Kate Bradley Creative), Kelsey Pecsek, Features Editor, Quarter Horse News), and myself


AHP Seminar roomies! (Rachel Florman, Assistant Editor Paint Horse Journal)

AHP Seminar roomies! (Rachel Florman, Assistant Editor Paint Horse Journal)

First time entering an awards contest independently =  not too shabby.

First time entering an awards contest independently = not too shabby.


One last gorgeous scene from Charleston's boardwalk.

One last gorgeous scene from Charleston’s boardwalk.

American Horse Publications Finalist!

Big news today!! I just received an email from the American Horse Publications that I have been named a Finalist for the 2013 awards!

Here’s the official press release:

The Wait is Over! American Horse Publications Names Finalists in 2014 Awards Competition

APRIL 21, 2014Sixty-four American Horse Publications members are named finalists in the 2014 AHP Annual Awards Contest for material published in and dated 2013. Over two-thirds of the 97 AHP members who submitted entries will receive 171 awards for placing first, second, third or honorable mention. This year’s contest included a total of 736 entries in over 50 classes. Held since 1974, the AHP Annual Awards Contest provides members with an opportunity to be recognized for excellence in equine publishing. Twenty-five professional judges placed the classes and provided critiques for all entries to encourage members to strive for journalism excellence.

The Valiant Human-Animal Bond Award will be presented to the author of the article that best reflects and promotes the special relationship between human and horse. The winner of the award will receive an engraved trophy presented by Adequan.

The Alltech A+ Equine Journalism Award will be presented to the author of the best article that focuses on increasing awareness and love of equestrian sport to mainstream readers. The award-winning author will receive an engraved award, a LIFEFORCE gift basket, and a free registration/travel certificate to the Alltech annual Animal Health and Nutrition Symposium in May, sponsored and presented by Alltech.

The Awards Presentation will be held on Saturday evening, June 21, 2014, at the Francis Marion Hotel in Charleston, South Carolina, during the AHP “Gallop n’ Grits” Seminar. The entries of the finalists will be on display on Saturday to provide seminar attendees a chance to review them. Finalists will be notified of their entries that placed and requested to e-mail an image file of their entries for use in the awards presentation. Finalists are encouraged to attend the seminar and accept their awards in person. If a finalist is unable to attend the awards banquet, a representative may be designated to accept the award(s) on their behalf and must be willing to deliver all awards to the recipient.

The results of the Awards Contest will be available on the AHP web site after the awards presentation in June as a PowerPoint presentation and as a digital edition of the awards program provided by Publishers Press. First Place winners will be sent an AHP Award Winner logo to promote their achievement for the year 2013.

Congratulations to the following AHP members who are award finalists for 2014.

American Farriers Journal
America’s Horse
Barrel Horse News
Daily Racing Form
Dressage Today
Equestrian Quarterly
Equine Journal
Eventing USA
Holistic Horse
Hoof Beats
Horse & Rider
Horse & Style Magazine
Horse Illustrated
Keeneland Magazine
Mid-Atlantic Thoroughbred
Midwest Horse Source
Miniature Horse World Magazine
Modern Arabian Horse
Paint Horse Journal
PATH Intl. Strides
Practical Horseman
Quarter Horse News
Ranch & Reata
Southern Racehorse
The American Quarter Horse Journal
The Blood-Horse
The Chronicle of the Horse
The Florida Horse
The Saratoga Special
The Whip
USHJA In Stride
Washington Thoroughbred
Western Horseman Magazine

Megan Arszman
Ryan Bell
Jennifer Bryant
Diana De Rosa
Amy Dragoo
Deb Eldredge, DVM
Tracy Gantz
Natalie DeFee Mendik
Kathryn Navarra
Dusty Perin
L.A. Pomeroy
Patti Schofler
Lisa Wysocky

Blood-Horse Publications
SmartPak Equine, LLC

Center for Equine Health


UK Ag Equine Program

For further information contact: Chris Brune, American Horse Publications, 49 Spinnaker Circle, South Daytona, FL 32119; (386) 760-7743 or A schedule of events and information on attending the annual seminar or awards banquet in Charleston is available online at


American Horse Publications is a non-profit professional association dedicated to promoting excellence in equine media and better understanding and communication within the equine publishing industry. For more information, please contact: Chris Brune, American Horse Publications at or 386-760-7743 or visit the AHP Web site at

I entered the article on Tammy Sronce’s fight to coem back from her head injury in two different categories. (You can read it here: Pure Inspiration–Tammy Sronce and her Recovery)  However, I do not know if I am a finalist in both or just one of the categories.

This is my first time entering as an individual member, and I’m super excited! I have been named an AHP award winner once, winning as the Newsletter Editor for’s Horse Health ENewsletter in 2009, which was a great experience. I’m hoping I can attend the AHP Seminar in Charleston, S.C., in June, but I might need some help raising the money to attend. 🙂

Big congratulations to some of my clients for being named finalists as well, including the Paint Horse Journal, The American Quarter Horse Journal, and America’s Horse!

Horsemanship & Humanities: Class is in Session at the Orme School

Growing up, I would have loved to have attended a high school that also had horsemanship classes. Granted I grew up on a horse farm and had my own horses that I could ride everyday, but I know how much I enjoyed breaking up my regular classes with a couple of rides on team horses during my college years.

The Orme School in Mayer, Arizona, does just that. Started in 1929 as a college preparatory school for the children of Charles and Minna Orme, the Orme School is located on the Quarter Circle V Bar Ranch and serves around 100 students. On top of world class education, students are invited to enroll into the Intensified Horsemanship Program, which is open to riders of all levels.

I wrote about the Orme School for Western Shooting Horse Magazine:

What young boy or girl doesn’t dream about being a cowboy at some point in their childhood? Wouldn’t it be perfect if you were able to attend a school based on a ranch, where part of your curriculum could include something with horses? That’s what is unique and special about one school based on 26,000 acres outside of Phoenix.

Close to 100 teenagers attend the Orme School in Mayer, Arizona. The school, located on the Quarter Circle V Bar Ranch, offers students the chance to get a world-class college-preparatory education, while competing on one of the top high school rodeo teams in the Southwest.

Founded by Charles and Minna Orme in 1929, the school was originally designed to provide a solid, college-preparatory education for the Orme’s three children, as well as the children of the ranch hands working at the Quarter Circle V Bar. As news of the school’s unique ranch setting and academic reputation spread, it wasn’t long before neighboring ranchers and some of the Orme’s fellow Stanford classmates started inquiring about sending their children to the school.

Today, Orme still holds true to the very values on which the school was founded. The academic program emphasizes mastery in all subjects, offering advanced placement courses in all major subject areas, along with instruction in the fine arts to balance out the rigors of the academics. However, it is the Intensified Horsemanship Program that has set the school apart.

Led by world champions in mounted shooting, Brian and Paula Bausch, the horsemanship program of the Orme School is rooted in tradition.  No strangers to the Mounted Shooting world, both Brian and Paula bring years of expertise to Orme’s program. Originally established as a means for teaching children the basics of riding skills needed for cattle drives, today the program aims to develop young riders into tomorrow’s rodeo stars.

“I personally get great satisfaction in seeing the students be able to come outside with the horses and just see the release of the pressure from the academic day just melt away,” says Brian. “But while you see that release, you also get to see these kids learn a great work ethic and really enjoy the Western heritage that Orme offers.”

This year Orme has several students working on refining their riding and rodeo skills, including Leone Mayer, an avid barrel racer and member of the Orme High School Rodeo Team.

“I am so excited about this rodeo season,” says Leone, a junior from Germany. “I love getting to work on a daily basis with my fellow teammates and getting to travel around to the different rodeos and barrel races. The talent of the other competitors is amazing. They make me want to be a better rider. It’s great living at a school where I can practice every day.”

What makes the program unique, as well, is the first-class equestrian facility that Orme has. “Up-Top”, as attendees call it, boasts a full rodeo arena, capacity to house 80 horses, and several warm-up pens.  “It is such an advantage to be able to provide our high school rodeo team members with the opportunity to work, on a daily basis, in a full rodeo arena,” explains Paula. “It gives them a level of comfort when they step into a competition arena where they truly feel at home and confident in. Not many high schools around this area have such a great facility to train in. We are truly blessed.”

Read more on Orme School: Academic Exellence