Episode 18: On Fox Hunting, Working with Brands & A Story of Reluctant Blogging with Susan Friedland of Saddle Seeks Horse (Equestrian Author Spotlight Podcast)
Episode 18: Welcome to the Equestrian Author Spotlight podcast! In each episode, you’ll hear inspirational stories from horse book authors including writing advice and marketing tips to help you write your own horse book. If you are an author, aspire to be an author, or simply love horse books then you are in the right place!
In this week's episode, you'll meet Equine Author & Saddle Seeks Horse Founder Susan Friedland. You'll learn ...
Watch Susan Friedland's Interview on YouTube!
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About Susan Friedland of Saddle Seeks Horse
Middle school history teacher by day and horse girl 24/7, Susan Friedland shares an authentic look at equestrian life on the award-winning blog Saddle Seeks Horse. Topics ranging from equine ulcers to how to break in riding boots the easy way to understanding your horse’s kissing spine along with horse-related book reviews are the foundation of Susan’s website which has been in the blogosphere since 2013.
Susan, a displaced Midwesterner now living in LA, is owned by a cuddly Doberman and a tall, dark and handsome Thoroughbred gelding who just made his debut as a fox hunter.
Susan’s memoir Horses Adored and Men Endured: A Memoir of Falling and Getting Back Up is rated a 5-star read on Amazon and has garnered praise from publications UnTacked, Horse and Style and authors Jean Abernethy and Carly Kade. Trot along with Susan and her OTTB Knight on Instagram @saddleseekshorse or visit saddleseekshorse.com.
Susan Friedland Interview Excerpt
Carly: I've been following your popular equestrian blog Saddle Seeks Horse for a long time before I ever wrote any of my books and I was so excited to meet you in person for the first time at the American Horse Publications Conference. From there our friendship just budded and we keep meeting up, going to conferences together, and supporting each other's work. It's just been such a lovely partnership. You are an inspiration. You have an off the track Thoroughbred named Knight. Will you tell us about your current heart horse?
Susan: I would love to. I got him five years ago. I really don't want to cry, but I have lost a heart horse. It's always hard to think that they'll ever be a horse that you love as much. The long story short is I found I was just up against a dead-end horse shopping and word-of-mouth a friend said, "Hey, you should check out a farm I know. They get Thoroughbreds off the track, put a little work into them, and then resell them for amateurs."
I literally picked up the phone and called the farm out here in Southern California. I described to the woman on the other end, "I'm looking for a horse around 16.3. I love a bay with a white face and I want to show for fun now and then, but nothing too serious, do a little jumping and likes trails. Just a good fun horse that's pretty."
She said, "I think I may have just the horse for you." and sent me an email with these photos. When I saw the pictures of Knight I just cried because he could have been a stunt double for my horse DC that I lost.
The minute I sat in the saddle, I just knew. I have to have this horse.
Recently, we found out that he has kissing spine. I got educated and found some people to kind of champion him and different treatments. He's doing great. Just this Saturday, we went fox hunting. He has taken to it. This is what he was born to do.
Carly: I wasn't all that familiar with kissing spine until you had written so openly about Knight's diagnosis on your blog. Can you tell us about what kissing spine is?
Susan: I'm not at all a science person, so people that actually are veterinarians might cringe when they hear this, but if you can just picture a vertebra or a spine, basically his vertebrae instead of having a nice distance between the next one, they touch, they override, and that's where the kissing comes in. Some horses can have very mild cases and be in a lot of pain. They'll tell you because they buck or they can't pick up a certain lead at the canter or they refuse jumps.
There's a whole Facebook group dedicated to kissing spine with thousands of people with horses suffering from kissing spine. I've written about kissing spine. I do want to try to reach people and help them. I'm certainly not an expert, but I'm happy to share what I've learned and the different articles I
found that were just encouraging and hopeful.
Carly: I want to get into the informational side of the interview and talk about your creative endeavors. You are a middle school teacher by day and as your bio said a horse girl 24/7. You're also the woman behind the popular equestrian blog Saddle Seeks Horse. When did you realize that you wanted to combine your love of horses with starting a blog?
Susan: Truth be told, I didn't want to start the blog. I wanted to publish my memoir. I went to this conference and they said basically you can't get a book published unless you're a celebrity or a truly gifted writer. They said, "You need to kind of do your own thing to get your name out there like have a blog, have a following, and then publishers will consider you." So, I reluctantly started a blog as a way to do some writing.
I wasn't super excited about it, but then the more I got into it as a creative writing outlet, it did catch on. People would leave comments and it was like wow I'm not the only one like me. The blog was out of necessity, and then it did grow into something that I actually truly enjoyed.
Carly: You are considered an equestrian influencer. You work with equestrian brands and make recommendations. How do you decide which brands you want to work with?
Susan: I think early on, it was just about the things that I love and so I'm gonna write about it. I've pitched brands. Some say yes and some say no. I do get inquiries and some of them just aren't a good fit.
For other people who may have blogs and want to do this, there are companies that secure influencers for brands. I get mail every day from a group called Activate and that's how I got work with Farnum.
I want to say something here to people who blog. I get a lot of requests from companies that hire PR firms and so the firms are reaching out on behalf of a brand. They will want me to support them on my blog in exchange for maybe a $30 product. I have a hard time with that now. If you're a newbie blogger starting out and you want to get your foot in the door with doing sponsored posts that would be the way to go possibly, but I feel it's very devaluing.
I feel like the equestrian space is a little bit behind the times. There are mommy bloggers, food bloggers, fashion bloggers, beauty bloggers, travel bloggers that get paid big bucks for their writing.
I don't think people realize as a blogger, you are a writer, you're an editor, you're usually your own photographer, you're your social media manager and that takes time. A good blogger will research keywords and try to make the blog post come up in search engines through SEO (search engine optimization), so I would strongly urge everyone and the equestrian community to not give away their work. Your work has value. Don't give it away for free just because someone's offering you a T-shirt.
Carly: Tell us about your memoir Horses Adored and Men Endured.
Susan: I took a memoir class. There's a fabulous independent bookstore in Pasadena called Vroman's Book Store and they had a memoir class. It started out as almost short stories each chapter because with a memoir it's not chronological. It's more vignettes of memories throughout the course of your life, so I thought it would be really interesting to juxtapose these horrific dates that I had been on with all the lovely horses that I've known. That's how it kind of got started.
Carly: I was blessed to be an early reader of your memoir and it was so funny and so authentic.
Visit Hunt Seat Paper Co. (designer of Susan's book cover) here: https://www.huntseatpaperco.com/
Carly: You review horse books and give horse book recommendations on Saddle Seeks Horse. Tell us about your book recommendations.
Susan: I'm in love with memoir. I like true stories about people, but I also like how-to and horse training books. I've put together round-up posts like nine books for holiday gifting. Sometimes I'll do a really in-depth book review, but they take a lot of time. I generally only do that for titles that I self-select. I probably have maybe a dozen or so different book recommendations on my blog.
I actually put together a little something for your podcast listeners. I invite them to share their email in exchange for a list of my top 10 horse book recommendations for right now!
Connect with Susan Friedland of Saddle Seeks Horse
Get Susan's list of 10 Must Read Horse Books by clicking here.
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If you are an author who writes about horses and would like to be spotlighted please let me know. Visit my contact page to fill out a request. I'd be happy to have you on the show, too.
Thank you for tuning in to the Equestrian Author Spotlight podcast. See you next time! I'm your host Carly Kade. Creative writing makes my spurs jingle!
About Your Host and Author Carly Kade
Carly Kade is an award-winning equestrian author and the host of the Equestrian Author Spotlight podcast. Creative writing makes her spurs jingle! She writes fiction about horses, horse shows, Western pleasure and a handsome cowboy or two. Her books are for people just like her — crazy about reading, horses and cute cowboys!
In the Reins, the first in Carly's series of novels inspired by the equestrian lifestyle, has been an Amazon best seller for more than 10 weeks, is an EQUUS Film Festival Literary Award Winner for Best Western Fiction and has earned two Feathered Quill Book Awards in the Romance and Adult Book featuring Animals categories. The In the Reins equestrian romance series is available now in Audiobook, Paperback and eBook on Amazon, Audible, Barnes & Noble, Apple iBooks and Kobo.
Books by Carly Kade
Carly Kade writes for anyone who loves horses, handsome cowboys and a great romance. Creative writing about horses makes her spurs jingle!