Meet a Member: Zoe Bowden

Location: Ocala, Florida

Education: Bachelor of Science in Animal Science, Equine Specialization; Masters in Agricultural Communication

Business: Marketing manager at Black Prong Equestrian Village. Black Prong is an equestrian resort for serious competitors, horse lovers, cyclists, and outdoor enthusiasts alike. Black Prong hosts a series of carriage driving events each winter in addition to a variety of corporate and private events throughout the year. For equine and cycling trail enthusiasts, Black Prong offers an expansive facility surrounded on three sides by the 53,000-acre Goethe State Forest with its hundreds of miles of trails. Luxuriously appointed cottages and premium cobblestone RV pads make living onsite with your horse an all-inclusive experience.

Years in the equine publishing industry: I have been working in equine media since 2018. I worked as an undergraduate student intern with the Florida Thoroughbred Breeders’ and Owners’ Association (FTBOA) on their publication Horse Capital Digest in 2017, then with Horse Capital Television (HCTV) until 2019. Now I don’t publish anywhere other than the company blog, but I am still involved in equine media.

AHP: When did you join AHP?

ZB: I joined in 2018 as a student member, and just recently rejoined as a media professional member.

AHP: How did you get involved in equine media and AHP?

ZB: I was an animal science student seeking internship opportunities to explore equine media as a potential career. My advisor recommended I speak with former AHP Student Award winner Summer Best about how to get involved, and she pointed me to the AHP internship page. I had also met Tammy Gant from FTBOA at a tradeshow and she let me know they took interns. I asked to intern for FTBOA without receiving credit so that I could have a more flexible schedule, and she was very accommodating. I ended up interning with her for nine months until I accepted a second internship as a media intern at the Pinto World Championship Show, which I found on the AHP internship listing page. These experiences solidified my interest in equine media and motivated me to apply to graduate school so that I could learn more about journalism and communications to complement my equine knowledge.

AHP: What project in equine media are you most proud of and why?

ZB: I am very lucky to be a part of the launch of Horse Capital Television in 2017. At the time I had just finished my first videography course and was very new to filming and editing. I produced a video while I was an intern with FTBOA about their charity. Sean Kaplan saw the video and asked if I would like to intern with him as well. That internship quickly turned into my first paid equine media job. Sean had just started to explore equine-specific media content, after years of working in advertising, and my assistance allowed him to truly launch HCTV. I not only produced video content but also helped plan how to make the program viable by offering special event coverage packages in addition to education segments. I am so proud to see how much HCTV has grown today.

AHP: What are the biggest benefits of AHP?

ZB: I think the greatest benefit is the opportunity to connect with other peers in the field. Sharing ideas and learning from others who are working in the niche segment of the media landscape is an invaluable resource.

AHP: How do you make the most of your membership?

As a student member, I applied and participated in internships through AHP. As a member, I have participated in webinars where I was able to learn from other professionals with different specialized expertise from me that has helped guide my work. When I was a master’s student, I was able to contact equine media professionals to aid in my graduate thesis research where I investigated the demographics and professional skills of American equine journalists and communicators. My full thesis can be found online, but below is a quick summary: 

“The purpose of my study was to identify the demographic characteristics of American equine journalists, their career motivations, professional development experiences, and the technical and social skills that make up their professional expertise. An online survey was distributed to equine journalists identified through their professional organizational membership. Results indicated that equine journalists were found to be predominately female, Caucasian, and 53 years old on average. Nearly half were exposed to the equine industry prior to beginning their career and have been working in the industry for over 15 years. Respondents were well educated and were most motivated toward their career as an equine journalist because of their interest in horses. Equine journalists were asked to report the importance and their ability to perform technical and social skills identified as relevant to their profession. The highest mean importance for technical skills centered around written communication skills. These skills, along with those encompassing reporting and equine industry knowledge were among those equine journalists reported their highest mean ability. All social skills were considered to have either moderate or high importance. Social skills relating to having positive work values such as being professional, listening, behaving ethically, being reliable, and having a good work ethic, all scored the highest mean importance and highest mean reported ability among equine journalists.”

AHP: What projects do you have coming up that you’re excited about?

ZB: I love when my work provides me with opportunities to learn new things. We are currently working with the FL Forest Service to create equestrian trail maps in the Goethe Forest that surround us. I am learning a lot about forest management, trail maintenance and GPS mapping. I am excited to help design both digital and print maps to aid equestrian explorers on the trails.

AHP: Do you plan to attend the “Back to the Bluegrass” conference? If so, what are you looking forward to most?

ZB: Yes! I am most looking forward to meeting other members in person. I’ve never been to an AHP conference before and am excited to connect with a group of like-minded equine enthusiasts.