Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Happy 50th, Arabian Horse World!

It’s been so long since I’ve added a new post that I’m almost embarrassed to come back. I’ve had several ideas running through my head, but always wind up procrastinating and putting off writing. However, I’m finally going with one of those ideas – the anniversary of a very special magazine.

While you might wonder how a magazine could tie into the other topics I’ve written about, I can honestly say that Arabian Horse World (AHW) has impacted my life more than any other magazine or literary creation. Recently, I had the chance to bring this glorious, slick celebration of the Arabian horse into my life again through an irresistible e-mail offer. Receiving that first issue brought back so many memories, and was a very emotional experience…

When we had to give up our horses in 2003, I had no reason or desire to have AHW in my life anymore. As the pain receded, though, I found myself drawn to their website from time to time. 22 years of devotion to the breed is hard to let go of. Though not actively involved, I still have my opinions; that fire that once consumed me still glows in the corner of my heart. So, while I didn’t have a really good reason to subscribe again, and there were other more logical ways to spend the money, I did it anyway. I’ll give some of the “credit” to my mom, who, when I told her about the offer, said that I’d better do it:-)

I’m sure this doesn’t sound like a big deal to you. After all, it is just a magazine. However, I spent a lot of years obsessed with AHW. And, um, obsessed is putting it mildly, lol!

We started subscribing in 1981, after we purchased Farrah, our mare. The first issue we received was June 1981, with the stallion *Serafix on the cover (Farrah’s grandsire). Keep in mind that I no longer have my collection, just my memories. We had no way to take it with us when we lost everything in Oregon, so all 20 some odd years minus one issue stayed in the garage of that rental home. Picture several hundred pounds of magazines carted with us through several moves prior to that point – obsession!

From that first issue, I was enthralled. I was only 12, but soon found an infinite number of ways to use AHW for educational purposes. No kidding! It started with finding out I had a photographic memory. One of my mom’s friends used to test me by showing photos on random pages and having me name all the horses. I rarely missed. AHW at that time was up to 500 pages a month, and double that for their stallion issue.

Being obsessed with both Arabian horses and Arabian Horse World, I started finding other ways to use the magazine to enhance my education. I was able to incorporate the magazine into almost every class all the way through high school. Science and math were the exceptions, and, notably, they were my least favorite subjects. I was even able to include it in my Spanish class – after all, there are Spanish Arabians:-) Almost everything I wrote was about horses, so English was a favorite subject:-)

Probably the best use of the magazine was for art. If you read this post: Horse a Day you’ll see that I draw horses. I’ve been drawing for as long as I can remember – I used to do horses in crayon. Once we started receiving AHW, I began drawing Arabians all the time. I did them for art class projects in high school. AHW was a constant source of artistic inspiration. Photographers like Sparagowski, Johnny Johnston, and Polly Knoll provided awe-inspiring images that I attempted to recreate. Of course, my drawings weren’t as good as the originals, but those photos pushed me to keep drawing and learning. When my favorite stallion, *Bandos, passed away, I sent a drawing I’d done from a Sparagowski photo to Ventura Farms (the ranch where Dynasty was filmed). I was overwhelmed on a visit one time to see that drawing in a glass case in their showroom. That was many years ago, but it was a fantastic feeling for an aspiring artist!

Disclaimer here: as an adult, I know that copying others’ photos is no longer okay, nor do I need to. As a kid, I didn’t have any idea, and it was a wonderful way to learn:-)

Arabian Horse World meant so much to me, and I couldn’t have imagined a better place to work. However, I had no idea as to how to get a job there. I was very fortunate that a breeder I’d worked for contacted them, and I was given an interview in 1988. I was hired for a job in the Art Department, though I had zero experience. However, not long after, both of the proof readers became ill, and I was promoted to that position. All those years of memorizing pedigrees had finally paid off!

However, I was only 19, and it was just too much. I was the only one proofing the entire monthly magazine of several hundred pages. If I didn’t catch an error in the beginning rounds, chances were that I wasn’t going to catch it at the end before it went to print. It was an extremely stressful environment. The management at that time was focused only on what we all did wrong each issue, never how well we did (when I say “we”, it was a group session to point out all errors). I know it’s easy to blame others, but it’s how it was – they weren’t bad people, just poor motivators. I was too inexperienced and too impatient to appreciate the long-term possibilities, so gave my notice after only about six months.

To date, my job at AHW is the only one I’ve ever wished I hadn’t given up on so quickly. It’s the one I’ve always wished I still had. My goal for many years was to make a positive difference to the Arabian horse. I wanted to be the next Gladys Brown Edwards, renowned Arabian horse artist and expert. I wanted to see my name in print (in fact, that was one of the biggest thrills while working there – seeing my name in the staff column, lol!).

Even after I quit, I remained obsessed with the magazine. When we first subscribed, it always arrived prior to the first of the month. As the years went on, though, the arrival date kept getting pushed out. Man, every day, I’d be at the mailbox, waiting. It got so bad, that I used to call and see when it had been mailed. Seriously. Just ask the ever-patient and wonderful Rhonda Hall, who I’ve pestered many times over the years. I’ve chilled some since then, Rhonda; I’m just so appreciative of having this new subscription.

I may have chilled, but I still write too much, don’t I? Wow, though, reading back over this and seeing how much AHW has been a part of my life! I certainly know I’m not the only one. For 50 years, AHW has been the foremost publication for Arabian horses. It has shaped the breed, and inspired all who are involved with Arabian horses. It has always striven to remain positive and show the best side of the breed – not an easy feat at times. Through all the ups and downs, Arabian Horse World has always been there. I hope that the next 50 years are even more exciting and inspiring – continuing to find new ways to honor the world’s oldest and most beautiful breed of horse!!!

P.S. Here’s a lovely video from Arabian Horse World’s site honoring their 50th: Anniversary