Over the Fence: All the news that's fit to print
A long time ago, I edited and published an equestrian magazine which at the time was titled "Rails & Trails." Confusion promptly ensued, and I quickly found it necessary to change the name. This was because rails refers to horse competitions (where one jumps over the rails), and trails refers to trail riding. It quickly became clear that the name was open to interpretation. To my dismay, I kept getting calls that went something like this:
"Hi-ho, Honey-bun! This here is Big Jeff and me and my buddy just blew into town and are lookin' for some good trails to run our hogs on."
"Yeah, our bikes. We just been to Sturgis and all them other old boys went on up to Washington, but we wanted to stick around and give Portland a look-see. Whatcha' got for me, Hon?"
It was both funny and irritating to find myself dealing with Hell's Angels, when I was just trying to run a horse magazine! Not only that, but model train enthusiasts wanted to check out our "rails." Hence, the name Rails & Trails went away and "Northwest Rider" was born. Once the confusion was remedied, I thought things would get easier. Instead, my life as a fledgling magazine publisher taught me to be constantly on my guard and above all, to expect the unexpected.
All the news fit to print in my horse magazine included every little thing of importance to horse lovers. The trail riding column was an especially lively one. My trail expert and friend Cindy Tyree provided monthly updates about where to ride, with colorful descriptions of the trails. For the uninitiated, experiences on the trail are rife with the unpredictable. For instance, my horse and I often encountered snakes that would flit across our path, devilishly timing their movements to coincide with our arrival; hawks swooping down for a kill, which happened to be in the underbrush to our immediate left; deer bounding from behind trees, and four-wheelers climbing over cliffs!
Yet none of these things compares to the adventure of producing a magazine. Shortly after I became the publisher of Northwest Rider, I dutifully delivered the magazine to the printer on a Friday afternoon. When I called on Monday to see how things were progressing, I was told that the printer no longer existed, having been sold overnight (literally) to a large corporation. Where then, I inquired, was Northwest Rider? Apparently, it had managed to disappear.
There was a frantic scramble to locate and publish the magazine on time, and we succeeded —just barely. However, shortly after this incident, Northwest Rider's entire advertising staff (all two of them) quit in favor of full-time jobs. Since this was a magazine supported almost entirely by advertising, you can see that our particular trail looked downright rocky. As it turned out, I needn't have worried, because a few friends and a surprising number of strangers came to the rescue. Over the years we managed to triple the circulation and grow the magazine to eighty pages.
Northwest Rider was a labor of love. Every month, Events Editor Karen Cate and I put together the magazine. This was before computers allowed you to electronically create a layout. For three long days and nights Karen and I would toil over layout sheets, lining up the photos and type exactly to specifications and manually pasting them on as straight as we could. By the end of each night we would be bleary from eye strain and covered with glue and sticky notes —but we did it. Another issue of Northwest Rider made it into history.
Each month I wrote an editorial called "K NOTES … Thousand Dollar Thoughts." It was a catchy title, but I marvel now at my audacity in thinking that my thoughts were so precious. It's embarrassing, but I wrote those columns for five years. As stated, Northwest Rider printed all the news fit to print, but it wasn't always pretty. Here is an example:
K-Notes---Thousand Dollar Thoughts
Thought for the Month: Our duty is not to see through one another, but to see one another through â€“ Peter De Vries
"Last month we published an article about horses and disabled children. Those who read it learned that it takes a special horse to be able to help these kids. They also saw a picture of an instructor training a child to ride. This special training horse was cruelly shot early one morning last month. The suspects are some kids who are not disabled, except, perhaps, in their minds. The horse's leg was shattered and he had to be destroyed, an action that deprived a needy child of a companion, friend and helpmate, not to mention depriving the instructor of her much-loved horse."
The above story was hard to hear, but it resulted in an outpouring of love and support for the victim. As in the aforementioned quote, in a difficult world, our duty is not to see through one another, but to see one another through.
Thankfully, there were many happy stories at Northwest Rider too; but after much deliberation and soul-searching, I eventually sold my publishing business to spend more time with my family. It was not an easy decision, because the Northwest Rider staff had become close. We met many challenges together, and as a result, we could alternately be found wringing our hands in worry or celebrating our successes. We shared our private lives and learned the value of friendships made in the sweat and toil of producing something creative and good.
It saddens me to report that I recently discovered Northwest Rider has stopped production. It is a regrettable loss both to the local horse community and to me personally.
You count on us to stay informed and we depend on you to fund our efforts. Quality local journalism takes time and money. Please support us to protect the future of community journalism.