I say that because I have been elated by the interest in and the growth of the MMSC blog, particularly in the last two years when I decided to author the entries.
The MMSC blog began in the summer of 2008. My first, and at that time, only intern, was Natalie Voss, a student at the University of Kentucky. Natalie introduced me to Facebook and told me about an odd thing called a “Web log” or “blog.” I was intrigued. I told her to create a presence for the MMSC with both.
When Natalie left the MMSC (and went on after graduation to become a successful equine journalist!), the blog she had started was passed to communications interns as a regular writing assignment.
I talked to each student about writing in general and blog writing specifically, read their work, gently edited their pieces and basically forgot about their posts. Until the week between Christmas and New Year’s in 2012 when I came down with a chest cold. In my “down time,” I decided to reread the blog from the beginning.
It was a fun. Illuminating too. In the four and a half years since the blog’s inception, we had had 14,000 visitors! 3,000 plus visits a year! A lightening bolt ricocheted through my brain: Blogs have impact!
I lay in bed thinking about how to use the blog as a tool for the MMSC’s message and mission. Could I learn to wield it? How far could my reach go? Who would read it? I set a goal for myself (I tend to do that—especially around New Year’s resolution time). In one year’s time, I decided I would double the total number of visits we had had since 2008, going from 14,000 to 28,000!
It was hard to find the time and the discipline to write. I’d do it on my day off when I had many other things I should have been doing such as riding my own horses. It was laborious. Writing isn’t easy. At least not for me. But by the end of 2013, I had achieved my goal: 28,000 and change! It seemed it was working. There were people out there interested in what we were doing. So I decided to keep the blog up for another year, and I set myself another benchmark: Double the total visitors again in twelve months from 28,000 visits to 56,000.
Amazingly, I achieved that goal, too.
As the months passed in 2014, I became riveted to the blog’s stats page with bated breath, watching the numbers grow, looking for patterns of readership. At what time and on what days did readers open the blog? And from where? I was dumbfounded and humbled to see as the year progressed how the audience expanded beyond the United States, spreading to Australia, Belgium, Brazil, Canada, China, France, Germany, India, Japan, the Netherlands, New Zealand, the Philippines, Poland, Romania, Russia, Spain, Sweden, and the UK. My largest weekly audience besides the US was, of all places, the Ukraine! Why was that? Do Ukrainians love racing? Or Thoroughbreds? Or America?
What about the readers in Egypt, Romania, Manila, Moldova, Namibia, Saudi Arabia, South Korea, Sri Lanka, and Venezuela? Or the places that would pop up on the stats page, small republics that I had never heard of and which I had to Google to see where in the world they were located. How did these people find the blog? Why were they reading it?
Obviously, it was because of the horses. The Thoroughbreds. That run fast. That capture hearts with their speed, beauty, and mystique.
And perhaps too, it was propelled by the curiosity in what happens to them when their when the glory days are over, when the last race is run? Are former racehorses overlooked, misunderstood, and discarded? Do they have a chance at redemption?
Yes. No. Maybe. The outcomes are many, and different, and nuanced.
Thus begins another year, and I have seen that there are people across the globe who enjoy hearing about some of these horses and their outcomes. And I can also see from the stats, that some people are intrigued by the challenges of running a non for profit in the aftercare industry, and want to read about how we fit in and how we are trying to influence the bigger picture.
Every one of you out there, thank you for reading and for caring. Because of you, I will continue to labor away at my writing on my day off. And, of course, I have set myself that same blasted goal: DOUBLE THE TOTAL VISITS IN ONE YEAR. That means by the end of 2015, the MMSC blog will have had 112,000 visits!
OYE! Alright DEAR READERS, this is where you come in. I need your help to share this blog with all whom you know, not once, not twice, but regularly. Let’s make this happen. Let’s spread the word. Concentric circles, remember? Together, let’s spread the word about the value and versatility of Thoroughbred horses in athletic endeavors.
But I will make it fun to do so. Those who know me, know that I am in love with the English language. I marvel at its breadth and malleability, its power and poignancy. I am in awe of anyone alive or dead who can wield it with dexterity. Those who can are mighty and mesmerizing. I try, as I can, to emulate them. Which can be confusing for my interns. I always know when talking to them when I have obfuscated them with a word (swaddled them in a clueless fog). Their eyes and faces go blank. As they are at the MMSC to learn not just about horses, but how to go forth in life, I challenge them on the spot:
“That’s the Word of the Day. Come back to me tomorrow with its definition and use it properly in a sentence.”
It’s a bit daunting for them at first, but in no time, they fall into step, and very shortly, they learn to appreciate the weighty import of the King’s English. Like baby birds fluttering fledgling wings, they begin to banter and spar verbally with one another. They giggle and delight with their new found verbal arms. By internship’s end, they know how to fly (and where to fly to if they can’t figure out a word!), and they are grateful for my antics.
It’s fun. Ask any of my interns, current or past. So in 2015, let’s spread that fun across the globe to all who are interested in the MMSC. In doing so, you’ll help me reach my goal of 112,000. You will also be in the running for a prize! Read the rules below. And now, ONWARDS towards a great 2015 full of adventures, stories and WORDS!
MMSC Blog Word of the Day Contest Details
You can be a part of helping us reach our goal of 112,000 total blog visitors this year! Join our Word of the Day contest and you could be entered in a grand prize drawing to win a $500 horse credit at the MMSC or a Breyer model of Secretariat signed by Secretariat’s jockey Ron Turcotte! Simply read the blog every Sunday and find the highlighted Word of the Day. Then write a sentence using the word and submit it to firstname.lastname@example.org for a chance to be entered to win! Please read the full contest details below before submitting an entry
- Blogs will be posted on Sundays. A chosen word will be highlighted within each blog post.
- Sentences using the highlighted word must be emailed to email@example.com with the subject line “Word of the Day Contest”.
- Entries may be submitted each week following a blog post from the posted time through Thursday at 5:00 pm.
- Winners will be posted on the MMSC Facebook page each Friday following a blog post.
- Entries must include the highlighted word of the day. The word of the day may be used in other parts of speech other than the one used in the blog, i.e. the highlighted word in the blog may be "malleability" but entrants may use the more common form "malleable" in their sentences.
- Entries must also include the entrant’s full name (first and last) and email address.
- Entrants may submit more than one sentence for consideration.
- Sentences will be judged based on correct use of the word of the day, grammar and sentence structure, and creativity.
- Sentences will be judged by the MMSC staff, including MMSC Director Susanna Thomas, MMSC Barn and Media Manager Catherine Flowers, and MMSC Office Manager Lori Tobin.
- Winners of each word of the day contest throughout the year will be entered in a grand prize drawing to win their choice of either a $500 horse credit toward an MMSC horse available for adoption or a Breyer model of Secretariat signed by Ron Turcotte. To use the $500 horse credit, the winner must become an approved adopter with the MMSC and follow all adoption policies and procedures.
- The grand prize drawing will be held at the end of the year after Christmas and prior to New Year’s Eve.
- Disclaimer: This contest does not have a connection with Blogspot or Facebook in any way and is not sponsored, supported, or organized by Blogspot or Facebook. The recipient of the information provided by you is not Blogspot or Facebook but the Maker's Mark Secretariat Center.