It is award week here at Haynet with the finalists being announced in the Equestrian Blogger of the Year Award 2018. Hosted by Haynet and sponsored by equestrian and countryside PR & Social Media Marketing Agency MirrorMePR, the award is in its seventh year recognising blogging talent with equestrian blood running through its veins.
Last years worthy winner of the awards was Roosa’s Horsey Life. Her passionate equestrian blog writing from her home country of Finland to her recent relocation to the UK is a warm and honest view of life with horses. Samantha Hobden, one of the award judges, recently caught up with Roosa to see how her blogging year has been since winning the award in 2017:
Has your heart always been with horses? Did you spend your childhood riding ponies?
I believe I was born with a love for horses! It must be in my blood as my grandfather started riding horses, then my mother started riding horses when she was a teen, my brother was a child when he got his first pony and I was put on a horse before I could even walk. I had my pony and Basse when I was a teenager so I spent the majority of my time at the stables. I remember being really annoyed at the fact that one weekend I had to go to a party rather than going competing, which I think explains how much of an addiction to horses I already had then!
Your love for your horses comes through really strongly through your blog. Tell us about the horses in your life.
We’ve currently got 5 horses. Long-time followers of my blog will know of Basse and Vallu as well as my newest boy, Erik (yes, that truly is his stable name. His competition name is Dybdalsgaard’s Ferrari which NO ONE can pronounce so we are sticking with Erik!). Basse came to us when he was 2 years old and I still call him the baby of the family even though he’s 16 years old this year. He truly is my best friend, we’ve been through so much together and I can’t put into words how delighted I am to have him here in Wiltshire, happy and healthy.
Vallu is my heart horse, but has also reached the age of 16, he’s currently enjoying an easier life with lots of time outside and a less intense workload. Both of these horses owe me nothing, so I just want to keep them happy and healthy for as long as possible. Luckily, we have quite a bit of land so when the time comes, they can be retired and stay at home. My newest boy Erik is a 14-year-old gelding by Blue Hors Don Schufro, he was purchased by my mother this time last year but after 6 months it became clear that they didn’t suit each other and by that time I had totally fallen in love with him. The plan is to get lots of training done over winter and then get out competing next spring with him. He’s such a cool horse, I can’t wait to get back into competing after such a long time away from the competition scene!
The two other horses who are less often on my blog/social media are my mother’s two horses, Rama and Melisse. Rama has been with mum for nearly 6 years and at 20 years old he’s officially known as ‘the Grandad’ whilst Melisse is the newest addition to the team. She’s an absolute firecracker and we already adore her. She fits into the herd so well, I can’t wait to see her going well with mum.
Being Finnish, is the equestrian industry very different there than it is here in the UK?
The biggest difference between Finland’s equestrian industry to the one in the UK is that in Finland there is such a smaller amount of horses and equestrians. It means that there is a big misconception between the public and the equestrian industry that “only rich people can have horses” which is so not true, but it remains prevalent over there. In the UK I feel like there are horses and ponies in every corner of the country! It also means that over here you have much bigger competitions, and the chance for ‘normal’ people to succeed at competitions is much greater! However, the passion and love for horses in the equestrian industry in both countries is the same.
Your blog is a great shout out to some super equestrian brands that are out there. Tell us about your favourites and why.
Eskadron/Pikeur, Anky, Equestrian Stockholm, Le Mieux and PS of Sweden are my favourite brands. Because I’ve tried the cheaper brands out there, I’ve learnt that good quality products don’t come cheap and if you want your purchases to last for a long time, you have to be willing to pay more. We’ve had horses for so long that I’ve learnt that high end brands last better, cheaper products just do not last as well as products from the brands mentioned earlier. They also bring out equestrian products that tend to be in line with the seasonal colours on the high street (especially Eskadron and Anky) which means that finding matching rider clothing is much easier!
What keeps you motivated to keep blogging and why do you love blogging so much?
I love how blogging allows me to share my passion for horses, my horsey life and equestrian lifestyle; it has opened up so many avenues that I could never have imagined before! My blog started off as a diary and as something to look back on, especially my lesson summaries, but over the years it’s evolved into something more from which I’ve gained new friends and followers. Having followed many other equestrian bloggers over the years, I’ve also learnt so much about everything from social media and PR, to new horsemanship skills and new equestrian brands. It’s the chance to learn from and connect with other equestrians that feeds my desire to carry on with blogging!
The main thing that has kept me motivated throughout the years is this wonderful equestrian community; I have met so many wonderful people who are equally passionate about horses. I would like to thank everyone who has been there for me on the way, you have helped me in more ways than I could possibly express.
Did winning the award change anything for you?
The biggest change that I experienced after winning the award last year was that I had friends, acquaintances and relatives see my blog differently. They seemed to realise that whilst it is hobby, it is also something that I am good at, which made a big difference in their attitudes towards my blogging, and that was amazing! It also really helped me with my confidence about my blog, instead of feeling bashful about writing a blog, I am now proud to call myself an equestrian blogger. And nowadays, after winning the award I now feel like a part of a community of bloggers and I’ve had the pleasure of exchanging ideas and meeting lots of amazing equestrian bloggers and companies!
What advice would you give wannabe bloggers out there?
Try not to worry too much about who will read it, to begin with and how many people are reading your blog. Just write something you want to say and then build it up over time. You’ll be amazed by how many page hits you will get, but this does not happen immediately (at least not for me!). Also, don’t try to spread yourself too thinly, covering every possible topic that there is. For me, the best blogs are those that have a clear identity and style and stick to topics that they know.
When I started blogging back in 2013, I thought that I could get lots of traffic through search engines because all of the popular blogs out there got a lot of Google love. The reality is that you won’t get much traffic from Google when your blog is new as it takes years before your search engine traffic kicks in. So, to get your blog ‘out there’, do it through social media. Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Pinterest are just a few examples of social sites that can drive a lot of traffic to your blog. For me, social media and blogging are inextricably linked. And don’t forget to join the #HorseBloggers Meet Up group on Facebook, it’s the best place for advice from your fellow equestrian bloggers and gives you the chance to learn from others! And finally, don’t think that your material isn’t worthy or is too ordinary and boring. Sometimes it will feel like no one is reading what you’ve written, but trust me nothing is too ordinary or boring when it’s to do with horses!
Please visit Roosa’s award winning blog at: https://roosashorseylife.blogspot.com/
The Equestrian Blogger of the Year 2018 starts on Wednesday 17th October where the twelve chosen finalists will be announced through the awards dedicated Twitter channel. Please come along at 8pm GMT to see the top equine international bloggers that are in the running to win the award this year!