Letter from the Publisher - Lead Change

I was never exceptionally good at asking a horse for a flying lead change. As a young rider, I would cross down the diagonal of the ring anticipating the change well before my horse even knew where his next step was going to be. My ears were turned off, not listening to my sister Ashlee on what I needed to do for a successful lead change. I rushed to the corner of the ring throwing my weight to one side and using my hands to jerk my thoroughbred pony onto the new lead. Sometimes it worked, but it wasn’t graceful, it wasn’t correct in technique, and it was harsh on my little thoroughbred’s sensitive mouth.

As a child I thought the rider created the flying lead change by power, control, and showing who was in charge. Come to find out, lead changes are really about patience, timing and knowing how to correctly half halt while maintaining forward suspension and feeling exactly where your horse’s legs and feet are while remaining subtle, balanced and collected. It is about awareness of timing and rhythm, and where your horse’s feet need to land before they take the next step. I tend to become overly excited by change, and a lot of times I go sprinting towards it before the timing is right. I struggle with patience and waiting for the right timing, while learning what is needed to accomplish successful transitions.

Over 20 years ago I set off on my journey to become a journalism professional. I was a freshman at Ole Miss majoring in print journalism with an emphasis in magazine design. I wanted to create, I wanted to tell stories, and I wanted to give readers a sense of authenticity and passion behind the words they read. I’ve fumbled many times since then, questioning the best career move for myself, even considering transitioning away from journalism completely. COVID-19 forced me to refocus on my goals. As I became a wife and a mother, I realized I wanted the same things I wanted when I started my journalism journey. As an 18-year-old I envisioned myself working at a publication, giving readers engaging content, stories, and designs. I didn’t have the confidence to be an editor, and I have never been comfortable in sales, but I had ideas, creativity, a storyteller’s heart. What I needed was an understanding of business, operations, marketing and sales.

When I was at MSHR, as a young twenty-year-old, Tommy and Nancy Brannon, gave me the chance and the freedom to cultivate designs, layout and content for the publication. I networked with fellow horse lovers and business owners in our community to tell their stories. I sharpened my photography skills at horse shows and I thrived as a jack of all trade. I left MSHR for an advertising executive position at the Memphis Business Journal, where I spent the last 11 years. Even though the job was never a natural fit for me personally, I did learn how to sell by listening to business owners' needs. I learned how to create custom marketing and advertising campaigns for clients that helped grow their businesses, bring in new revenue, reach a wider audience, and engage companies and readers through a variety of platforms MBJ offered. I learned from the most talented, journalism professionals in the Greater Memphis Area, and from national leaders at our parent company, American City Business Journals. I am extremely grateful and fortunate to have gained valuable experience and knowledge from the MBJ team, who I have considered family for the last decade.

Tommy told me, before leaving for the Memphis Business Journal in 2011, that I could one day take over the Horse Review. That stayed with me throughout the years. At times when I struggled in my career, I kept the idea of being MSHR’s publisher and owner in the back of my mind. Every success and failure I had over the last decade prepared me for this lead change. I did not want to rush towards it. I wanted to be patient and know when the right time was for me to transition into this Publisher role. Little did I know it was going to be right after my husband, Chad, and I welcomed our daughter, Joey, into the world in March. Sometimes the right timing isn’t always the easiest timing.   

As your new Mid-South Horse Review Publisher, I make a commitment to you, the loyal readers, partners, and advertisers, that through this lead change, I will focus on highlighting our mid-south riders’ successes in all disciplines. I promise to tell your stories, the stories of riders and horses; young, old, seasoned champions, and the underdogs. I promise to highlight our regional equine businesses and how they support us, a horse crazed community. I promise to think of you with every published story, design, and photograph. I am dedicated to sharing the passion, culture, and stories of our horses and community. I promise to share stories of how riders thrive with horses, and how goals are reached by overcoming fears, failures, challenges and setbacks. I hope with these stories of grit, perseverance and resilience it gives you, the MSHR reader, what you need to become the horseman/woman you dream of being. I am dedicated to our southern equine community and businesses, and I want to see it grow and thrive through inclusivity and camaraderie for years to come.
Lauren Pigford Abbott
Publisher & Owner     

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