Tack n’ Talk Blog is a unique blog in many cases. Not only is it devoted to equestrian themes, it was created and is maintained by two dressage coaches that have never met except through twitter, and who have no previous blogging experience. Furthermore, these two ladies live 3000 miles apart! Libby Keenan and Larissa Cox share some of their experiences with a new joint venture, dealing with time zones, managing communication, and how technology for them, is bringing the equestrian world closer than ever before.
On how it all started:
Libby: I run my whole farm: barn management , coaching , training etc. and this Spring marks the 20th anniversary of my riding school. It has been so rewarding and I really felt a need to give back, dabble in writing and pass on some of what I have learned since being here. I met Larissa on twitter. It soon became clear we shared many views on horsemanship and a common desire to expand our coaching to the online world.
Larissa: Libby mentioned how our philosophies on horse training and coaching seem to fit together well, and some sort of venture would most likely prove successful. I suggested a blog. I had always wanted to do a blog, and I wanted to make sure it was done RIGHT. I thought here would be a perfect time to start one. I thought the combination of our similar coaching philosophy and our motivation to keep training fresh with new approaches and new mediums of communication could really work to keep something like a blog working. Libby has proved to be very motivating. She is really keen on starting this new venture with me, and has some really great ideas! Another thing that was key to me for starting up a blog was the host site. I felt that WordPress gave me more options in development, and had a more visually appealing interface, which Libby agreed on. I was really pleased on how much creativity I could infuse in a general WordPress template. I am thrilled at how it turned out!
On what Tack n’ Talk is all about:
Libby: We both wanted to provide followers from twitter and other readers interesting, factual , common sense advice. This would reach from dressage tips , hunter/jumper advice, to nutrition , health safety , financial and equipment needs that all horse owners no matter what discipline would find helpful and practical in their everyday experiences as riders , horse lovers and owners. It was agreed only Vendors and Professionals with integrity and expertise would be spotlighted on the blog keeping the quality and credibility of reports as high as possible. We also wanted to entertain readers with features like "real riders" Larissa's brainchild and introduce others to the huge number of fascinating "horsey" people in the online community. We also wish to save one day a week for our own writings, for my part , mainly to expand on some of my past Tweets, concepts which are hard to convey in 140 characters or less.
Larissa: I definitely didn’t want this blog to turn into a big rant of what I thought people were doing wrong. Libby and I agreed that this blog would be about conveying knowledge with a positive approach. In regards to “Real Riders”, I always felt that every person has an interesting and unique story with horses. It’s fascinating to see how different people have come to their philosophy on horse training, used horses as inspiration for their careers outside of the equestrian world, or enabled horse to be therapy to recover from a disability.
Libby: Tack n Talk. Even the name came as a result of several emails back and forth. Just a few weeks ago now this blogging venture became a reality. Larissa and I have conferred over questions for interviews, proofread drafts of each other’s articles, hummed and hawed over scheduling. I had no idea a working relationship could be developed online so quickly. One thing I learned very quickly is that while I have been happily humming along here, coaching and training, technology has been growing at an incredible rate!
Larissa: I’ve been accustomed to MySpace, Facebook, Twitter, MSN, etc., for a while, and I’ve had the opportunity to get to know lots of people from different cultures that I would not have had without the internet. However, I believe there is a difference between loose friendships, and starting up a business venture. Decisions need to be made, scheduling conflicts need to be resolved, and articles need to be proofread. Good communication, therefore, is essential. Libby and I have been pretty good at emailing, tweeting, and IM-ing each other about Tack n Talk on a regular basis.
On “blog crises”:
Libby: There have been some "Oops" , mainly my suggesting a follower Larissa might wish to contact for " real riders" when I actually meant another follower , potentially insulting to say the least. With diplomacy and a polite approach , crisis averted 🙂 Also , some readers still think we are one person :), when in fact we are thousands of miles apart!
Larissa: When 80% of communication is done through body language and another 10-15% is through voice inflection and style of speech, solely email communication leaves lots of potential for miscommunication. So far, for the most part, Libby and I have been on the same page. We’ve been pretty good at working out kinks in scheduling, etc. We will see what potential “fail whales” await for us in this endeavour for the future. 😛
Libby: So far for me, the whole experiment in dual long distance blogging has been very exhilarating. It has opened my eyes and mind to new perspectives, helped my coaching as freshness is critical to good teaching. I have developed a real respect for Larissa and her horsemanship, penchant for finding topical resources for people and her computer wizardry, recently, beautifully demonstrated by the interview with Melonie Rainey from Riding Couture. We had conferred on questions and seeing it all come so vibrantly to life was absolutely amazing.
Larissa: It’s been a real pleasure starting a venture with such an experienced horsewoman as Libby. She is really grounded in her approach with horses, and she takes that to her blogging style. As for myself, now that I have a medium to write, I am starting to see topics popping up everywhere! I love it J In addition; it has really helped give form to abstract concepts I had floating around that I wasn’t able to turn into solid notions. Once again, Libby’s motivation and drive has really gotten the wheels turning in my head on how I can make ideas work.
On the future:
Libby: I look forward to many future Tack n Talk online adventures , to meeting more of the wonderful Twitterverse and sharing my little place in it with you.
Larissa: Libby and I have been sharing some pretty exciting ideas that hopefully will come to fruition on Tack n Talk. We will see where technology can take us 🙂
Thank you all for your wonderful support of our blog, Tack n Talk. Happy Riding!