An AHP member for 6 years, California author and blogger Susan Friedland writes heartfelt stories about overcoming obstacles in life and healing through horses. Read about the craziest place she met and connected with an editor and the projects she’s most excited about.
Name: Susan Friedland
Location: Los Angeles, California
Business: Saddle Seeks Horse, a lifestyle blog for the everyday equestrian.
AHP Affiliation: Media Professional for 6 years
Education: Wheaton College, Wheaton, Illinois, Bachelor of Arts, Political Science; Claremont Graduate University, Claremont, California, Master of Arts, Education.
Years in the equine media industry: 7
AHP: When did you join AHP and why?
SF: My inaugural AHP event was the Gallop ‘n Grits seminar in Charleston, South Carolina, in 2014. I had blogged for a while and knew I wanted to branch out into magazine writing, as well as learn about book publishing. Unbeknownst to me, I made my first editor connection when I darted into the ladies room to practice my Charleston moves in front of the mirror during one of the evening dinners. My sister, who I dragged to the conference since I didn’t know anyone, volunteered me to enter the dance contest.
To my surprise, there were two gals also practicing dance moves in front of the mirror, so we giggled and had a moment. Long story short, I about died of embarrassment the next morning at the writer/editor speed-networking event when I sat down and realized the woman in front of me was the one who saw me performing my flapper moves in the mirror the night before. It was Jan Westmark, the editor of Sidelines. The ice was broken, I pitched Jan a few story ideas, she liked them and I’ve been writing for Sidelines ever since. Who knew dancing in a hotel bathroom could be such a rich networking experience!
AHP: How did you find out about AHP and what appealed to you about it?
SF: Fellow writer Elizabeth Kaye McCall introduced me to AHP when I met her as she was signing her books at Western States Horse Expo in Pomona, California. She was so warm and personable, and I shared with her that I had a blog and a manuscript—my horse lover’s dating memoir—I wanted to publish. She told me I needed to check out AHP. A teacher by profession, I’m a good student and like learning. I knew the AHP seminar and people I’d meet there would help me learn how to navigate the world of equine media.
AHP: What project in equine media are you most proud of and why?
SF: I’m most proud of indie publishing my horse lover’s dating memoir, Horses Adored and Men Endured: a Memoir of Falling and Getting Back Up, because the world can never have enough feel-good tales of lame men and gentlemanly horses. However, I also feel privileged to share the stories of horse lovers like me who have been blessed by a relationship with a special equine. For example, a recent story I’m honored to share via Horse Illustrated featured a young woman who survived the Las Vegas music festival mass shooting and, as a result, adopted a Mustang. Her mare is helping her heal and restoring hope. It’s humbling to partner with an equestrian to allow her to voice her truth.
AHP: What are the biggest benefits of AHP to your business, and how do you make the most of your AHP membership?
SF: Networking, networking, networking! I attend the annual conferences when I can and have gone to a couple of the local Southern California meet-ups. The one at Santa Anita Park was particularly fun. I also enjoy browsing the AHP Newsgroup press releases daily to stay abreast of trends in the horse industry.
AHP: What projects do you have coming up that you’re excited about?
SF: So many! I’m about to publish my second book based on one of my most-visited blog posts year after year. The title is Strands of Hope: How to Grieve the Loss of a Horse. Losing a heart horse is painful and there’s not really a good road map for grieving a horse. I’ve expanded on that blog post and conducted interviews with fellow horse lovers who’ve also experienced the pain, whether it’s from losing a childhood pony they’d had for decades or mourning the loss of a newborn foal. This book won’t fix the sadness, but hopefully show our equestrian kin they are not alone.
I’m also thrilled to be featuring more equestrian travel-related content on my website Saddle Seeks Horse such as the time I traveled to Paso Robles wine country for an epic trail ride with a group of horse-loving women. A friend I met through AHP, Debbie Loucks, organized the riding trip. Fun opportunities and lasting relationships are formed through AHP!
Working with brands on sponsored posts to introduce their products to my horse-obsessed followers via my blog Saddle Seeks Horse as well as on my social media accounts (Instagram, Facebook, Pinterest) is rewarding.
Finally, in response to the people reaching out to me asking about how I wrote and published a book or the nitty-gritty of blogging and social media, I now offer coaching services. Communicating what I know and have learned is a natural fit based on my professional education and two decades in the classroom as a teacher.