From the Editor: Work­ing with icons.

Horse & Rider - - Contents - By Jen­nifer Paul­son

IN THIS JOB, I MEET A LOT OF HORSEWORLD he­roes. Even af­ter 15 years in the busi­ness, I’m not yet hard­ened to this priv­i­lege of my job. And ev­ery once in a while, I get ex­tra giddy about work­ing with an icon.

In this case: Bob Avila. Now, I’ve met Bob and his wife, Dana; but I hadn’t worked with them on a large pro­ject, nor been to their place in Cal­i­for­nia. Pro­duc­ing our an­nual photo shoot with him this sum­mer put me straight on the path to Bucket List-Ville.

‘Geeked-Out Horse Girl’

When I wrote about the up­com­ing shoot on the On Staff at Horse&Rider blog (June 4, 2015; Horse­andRider.com), ex­cited (and en­vi­ous) com­ments from friends started rolling in. One said, “Thank you for geek­ing out! It mir­rors your read­ers’ feel­ings and harkens back to the in­no­cent days of hav­ing a love for per­for­mance horses and those who inspired us as kids.”

Wow! My friends’ com­ments made me feel a duty to share my ex­pe­ri­ence with them and H&R’s read­ers.

An In­sider’s View

I posted many photos from the 14-hour shoot on our In­sta­gram ac­count (Horse­andRiderMag, if you don’t al­ready fol­low us). But those im­ages can’t ad­e­quately il­lus­trate what it was like. Here are a few key ob­ser­va­tions.

They walk the talk. Bob and Dana demon­strate ev­ery piece of ad­vice Bob has ever shared in his Win­ning In­sights depart­ment. No short­cuts. No ex­cuses.

Func­tion trumps fash­ion. No chan­de­liers or ex­otic pets in Bob’s barn. The barn, arena, round pen, and the rest of the prop­erty are im­mac­u­lately main­tained, and ev­ery fea­ture serves a le­git­i­mate need.

Horse health is the No. 1 pri­or­ity. Early in the shoot, Bob no­ticed one of his horses in dis­tress—pos­si­bly col­ick­ing, maybe just a lit­tle “off.” For­tu­nately, our pho­tog­ra­pher, Marc Lax­ineta, is also an equine vet. We stopped ev­ery­thing so Bob and Marc could tend to the horse. Ul­ti­mately, the horse was fine, but it high­lighted the com­mit­ment Bob has to his equines.

Even Bob Avila has a soft spot. Watch­ing Bob groom Ed­die, the mini don­key, and “Preacher,” both fea­tured in this month’s Win­ning In­sights (be­gin­ning on page 34), showed how much af­fec­tion he has for his horses. Yes, they do a job, but they’re his part­ners and he re­spects them.

Have you met a horse-world hero? Who was it, and what were your im­pres­sions? We’d love to read about them and share some sto­ries in the mag­a­zine. Send them to the email ad­dress be­low.

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