Yep - we just surpassed the 2,000,000 view mark here at Horse Listening!
When I started the blog over three years ago, I had only one goal - to open discussion about all things horse and riding. Thanks to a friend who first encouraged me to put my ideas and thoughts "down on paper", I took the initial steps to start and design a blog. To my surprise, people started reading (!) and soon enough, I found myself being inspired by the readers to surpass my own expectations.
Although I am happy with creating what has now become a thorough resource for horse riders, I am most proud of having readers from almost every horse and riding discipline imaginable, from almost 200 countries, all with the one main goal of being the best we can be for our horses. Some people are just beginning equestrians, others are long-time riding students and horse owners. A big shout-out to the many and varied instructors who are encouraging me in my writing and sharing the articles with their students! Thanks go also to the people who are reading the blog out of interest for the horse, even if they are not somehow connected with horses at this time.
Several milestones were met along the way - the blog received a Top Ten Blog Award from the Equestrian Social Media Awards for both 2013 and 2014 (the only two years it has been eligible so far). A new Horse Listening column was established in our local industry paper, The Rider, here in Ontario, Canada. Two magazine articles were written, one for Horse Canada, and another for Show Circuit Magazine in New Zealand, which became my first internationally published article. Countless association newsletters and local equestrian newspapers have published select articles and my articles have been featured on several industry websites.
And then, in answer to the encouragement of many of you, and after a huge learning curve on my end, the first Horse Listening compilation book was self-published. The feedback has been beyond my wildest dreams and the second book is in the works - launch date will be announced soon!
This year, I made the move to turning the blog into a full-blown self-hosted website and am learning new things yet again - this time, all about plugins, advertising and general website management. The most exciting aspect of this move is that the self-hosted site allows me to be as fully creative as I want to be.
Going forward, I have several new ideas for the website. As we enter 2015, I will be adding new features and working towards putting together even more content that I hope will benefit you. My mission has not only remained constant, but thanks to your feedback, I am surpassing my original goals and looking for ways that I can continue to support your horse and riding goals through the medium of the Internet.
So... thanks! Thank you for reading, commenting, sharing, tweeting, liking and sending me your amazing "Stop In And Say Hi!" feedback. To celebrate this incredible milestone, I've collated the all-time top 10 articles to date for your reading pleasure.
10. 20 Ways Horse Riding Becomes Life Itself: This article is written with a view to literally Horse Listening, in the sense that being involved in horses and riding can inform us about our own lives.
9. How to Halt Without Pulling on the Reins: This one regularly gets incredible readership and very thoughtful feedback.
8. 9 Things You Need to Know if You Want to Ride Horses: Written for novice riders and people new to the horse industry; many people have related to the sometimes less-than-romantic realities of riding horses.
7. Why You Don’t Need to Force Your Heels Down in Horseback Riding: We tend to put so much emphasis on "riding pretty". In this article, I explain why I think that we need to work with the bodies that we have, and how we can improve our flexibility rather than just try to look a certain way.
6. Top 10 Ways to Reward Your Horse: It is very important to constantly give "yes" messages to your horse while you ride (not just afterward). Here are some ideas on how to communicate and encourage your horse in his efforts.
5. Top 10 Ways to Be A Star (Horse Riding) Student: This one got a lot of attention from both students and instructors. Coming from the perspective of being both a student and instructor myself, here are suggestions on how to get the best out of your riding lessons.
4. Here’s How (And Why) You Should Ride With Bent Elbows: In this article, I explain the role of the elbows in riding.
3. Why You Don’t Want to Pull on the Inside Rein, and What To Do Instead – Sponsored by audiohorsebooks.com: This is a very popular article, probably because I discuss something that is very common in horse riding - the use and overuse of the inside reain.
2. The #1 Rider Problem: The Outside Rein! – Sponsored by Benefabproducts.com: Here is another article on the rein aids - this time, breaking down how to develop an effective outside rein.
1. Ten Habits of Competent Riders – Sponsored by o3animalhealth.com: With 221,162 views, this article was widely read when it first came out, and continues to be our most discussed post of all time.