Conversations With Equestrians: Warren Wilson

Jackie McFarland

California Horsetrader‘s Warren Wilson
well-established publication, the California Horsetrader is now in its 36th year.  We had a chance to chat with publisher Warren Wilson about the past, present and future.

EQSOL: Give us a brief history about you and your involvement with horses.
 My family moved to a ranch in San Marcos in the mid-’60s. The family’s 14-acre Pepper Hill Ranch still thrives; my mother lives there with her magnificent Quarter Horses. They are well-known performance horse lines, she has a breeding stallion named Nic Chex. She still rides and is active in the community as a horse and responsible land-use advocate.

As a kid in rural San Marcos when there wasn’t even a traffic light, my pony was literally my transportation across the hill to my friends who lived on small ranches. The area was a patchwork of avocado groves and alfalfa fields, connected by dirt trails.

Now I ride when I can, but what time I have with horses revolves mostly around my 6-year-old daughter, Lily. She hasn’t shown yet, but she’s ready – she’s cantering over poles now.

EQSOL: Can you tell us about the magazine’s beginnings?
 California Horsetrader was founded in 1979 by my mom, Carolyn Read, at Pepper Hill Ranch in San Marcos. She started publishing it in the tack room of our barn.
I purchased it in 1990, and launched eight years later. We created the Horsetrader Alliance in 2005 (it consists of EquieryHorsemen’s Yankee PedlarQuarter Horse News, and Barrel Horse News).

EQSOL: What sparked your interest to get involved with the magazine?
 I have publishing in my blood. My father was an executive editor at the San Diego Evening Tribune (now the U-T) and my mother worked on several magazines. In the fifth grade, I persuaded my grade school to launch a newspaper, which we called The Richland Report. From high school through college, I gravitated to being the editor of the schools’ papers.

By the time I was 20, I was the editor of a community weekly paper, and at 23 was the managing editor of a morning daily. This was great experience on the news side of things. Then I moved into sportswriting at just the right time – covering those great San Diego Chargers of the ‘80s, the Padres in their World Series run and the 1984 Olympics in Los Angeles.

During the same time, my mother had been working hard to launch something new – a professional, easy-to-use and affordable advertising vehicle for her passion, the horse industry.

EQSOL: How would you define the magazine’s main mission?
 Our identity is pretty straight-forward, starting with the name – we help bring buyers and sellers together. We also help retail sales from local to national. We’re everything horses. Having content – both news and advertising – that is current and accurate, having technology that is relevant, having a sense of responsibility that goes with our being part of the fabric of the horse world, all of those missions we take seriously and we enjoy the challenge. But it comes back to bringing buyers and sellers together.

EQSOL: You are considered one of the most innovative and forward-thinking publishers in the industry. What are some of the biggest changes you’ve implemented during your time with the magazine?
 Different eras demand different solutions – it’s a moving target. In 1979, my mother founded the paper with the most profound innovation – she took the idea of the tack store bulletin board, packaged it into a digestible format, and was never late with an issue, twice a month. Until that point, reliable, current, free horse publications were not the norm.

From then to now, technology has made a difference. But technology is like wine – you can’t be indiscriminate in your selection of it, and you certainly can be intoxicated by it. Whether it’s the old-time fax with the roll paper or the internet and social media, innovation is all about the customer – and how will it bring buyers and sellers together.

EQSOL: Your favorite issue(s) over the years?
 The most recent one, always. Each issue, we put ourselves into it – not unlike a theatrical production. There’s pressure, there’s obstacles, there’s pride, there’s relief when we’re done. When the issue hits the newsstands, there’s a profound sense of accomplishment, and then it’s on to the next one. Our Horsetrader team is a remarkable group of dedicated pros – from sales to accounting to production and IT, and everywhere in between.

EQSOL: What do you see as the future of publishing?
 When times are flush, characters build publishing. When times are lean, publishing builds character. We’re in lean times, and there will be a culling of the herd, as always. That part is not different than any industry. What is different in the current period is that in addition to handling an economic storm, publishers must navigate through a technological challenge. That doesn’t mean to chase the bus with the latest internet craze. Part of the challenge is not technical at all; it’s a perception issue. Our advertisers remain with us for a simple reason – they see results. I think publications that have that core purpose – bringing buyers and sellers together – will thrive if they put the buyers and sellers first and understand them. It also helps to love the horse industry and publishing.

Thank you Warren for your time – we always enjoy a chance to catch up with you.

Highlights From The August 28, 2010 Blenheim EquiSports Show

With September right around the corner and school starting again for many competitors, it came time to say goodbye to summer and welcome the new fall season. The outdoor grand prix events came to a close in late August at the Showpark Summer Classic as a large group of show jumpers took to the field in the $40,000 Grand Prix of Showpark, presented by California Horsetrader. Medal finals continued with the CPHA Foundation competitors going for the year-end title. The young horses took the outdoor stage as Blenheim EquiSports proudly hosted the Sallie B. Wheeler/USEF National Hunter Breeding Championships, International Hunter Futurity Classes and the $45,000 Wild Turkey Farm Young Jumper Championships.

September started off with some exciting indoor competition at the Showpark All Seasons Summer Tournament. The 2011 FEI World Cup hopefuls and more competed on Thursday in the $30,000 Showpark Jumper Classic, presented by Royal Champion, On Saturday evening the $50,000 Grand Prix of Showpark, presented by EquiFit, inc. was once again a competitive indoor World Cup qualifying class.

Saturday, August 28th, 2010: $40,000 Showpark Summer Classic Grand Prix
Sixty horse and rider couples were eager to gallop onto the grass for the $40,000 Showpark Summer Classic Grand Prix, presented by California Horsetrader. A diverse group of fourteen duos returned for the jump-off and the top six ribbon winners jumped double clean. The speedy pair of Jaime Azcarraga and Celsius bested the rest of the field for the win.

German course designer, Olaf Peterson Jr. created a challenging track consisting of sixteen efforts. With a large field of rookies and veterans alike, Peterson Jr. wanted to design an inviting course to suit the variety of entrants. “It was a difficult field to set for,” he noted. “There were young horses, young riders, and also experienced couples; they all had to be considered.”

Marking the halfway point in the lineup of sixty horses, Azcarraga and Celsius were the thirtieth to attempt the course, and the ninth team to advance to the jump-off round. “This course by Olaf was nice but also difficult,” the triumphant Azcarraga said. “I think the 14 clean says something about the quality of competitors coming to this show. [Showpark] is a beautiful place to bring the horses and compete.”

Fault-free in both rounds and crossing the timers in 37.00 in the jump-off was the gifted eight-year-old horse Bristol (Grey Fox Farm, owner) and his pilot Rusty Stewart for fifth place. Seventeen-year-old Lucy Davis qualified two mounts for the second round but was eliminated on her first ride, Nemo 911. The young hot shot from Los Angeles redeemed herself and finished fourth by turning in a double clear ride aboard Old Oak Farm’s Hannah. Rounding out the top three was the super scopey Chello Z with his partner Josephina Nor-Lantzman. Less than a second away from the winner’s circle was Joie Gatlin who piloted Camaron Hills Quick Dollar (Camaron Hills Farm, owner) to a second place finish.

While there were many vying for the top position, it was the 10-year-old German bred Celsius and Azcarraga’s well thought out plan that secured the win. “With 14 in the jump-off, I really had to go for it,” Azcarraga said. “I took the five strides to the combination and I think that paid off.”

Designer Peterson Jr. had a feeling Azcarraga would give his competitors a run for their money and was happy with the winning ride. “The jump-off was difficult because of the turns, but Jaime was the best and his horse was super careful,” he remarked. “This is a newer horse for Jaime. It was nice to see him win.”

August 28-29, 2010: CPHA Foundation Finals
During the Showpark Summer Classic, equitation riders in three divisions – 22 & over, 21 & under and 14 & under – vied for the CPHA Foundation Championship title.

Kristi Siam riding her own Krosus topped the adult group. Placing third in the first round of the final and first in the second round, Siam’s stellar trips earned her the top prize. Siam trains with Karen Healey.

In the 21 & under division, the talented Cayla Richards, trained by Archie Cox, blew the competition out of the water by winning all phases of the event aboard Presidio. Last week’s CPHA Adult Medal Final winner Adrienne Dixon rode Julie Nagler’s Vincenzo to a second place finish.

In the youngest age division, Alexandra Ladove topped the class of 24 in the tack of her partner Littlewood, clinching the win in each phase of the competition under the direction of her trainer, John French.