It is Time We Stop Normalizing Toxic Barn Gossip and Behaviors


Supporting, cheering and helping fellow equine businesses grow and be successful.

Publisher and Owner, Lauren Pigford Abbott

During my tenure with the Memphis Business Journal I was able to meet and personally get to know Memphis area business owners, C-Suite executives, and Board Members of successful associations and nonprofits. One of the top characteristics of the most successful business leaders was the desire and passion they possessed to see all businesses and business owners, no matter if they were competitors, succeed in their business.

One of the most true statements I heard during my time working with the Business Journal was “competition is healthy, it means there is a market for our service.” I have found this to be spot on for every industry. As a lifelong Memphian and equestrian, I have been ingrained in our horse community since birth. If people don’t know me personally, then they probably recognize my maiden name from the number of siblings I have and my mother’s leadership with the Germantown Charity Horse Show.

I like to say this area is 2 degrees of Mr. Ed! If you are a horse person you probably know or have heard of all the “horse people” in our region. We are a tight-knit community, and this community also has constant chatter taking place at every barn. We all joke about it, and I have even told my farrier that he knows all the gossip and has all the secrets in town.

For the last 10 months, as owner of the Mid-South Horse Review, I have talked with so many wonderful leaders in our horse community. Many of them have expressed a great passion for our community to work closer together, instead of working against each other. Our area is full of successful and knowledgeable horse owners and riding instructors. We have a robust group of barns, trainers and educators who all focus and specialize in different equestrian disciplines, breeds, associations and equine groups. This can also mean that barns are competing for a lot of the same students and clientele. But do we need to behave in ways that breed negative and bad human behavior just to protect and grow our businesses? Or can we rally together, recognize other barns, trainers, and business’ strengths and even refer clients and students who are not fitting well into one program to another program? Is this a crazy idea? It is time we stop normalizing toxic barn gossip and behaviors, especially when it is harmful to the overall industry and to one’s business.

Does it benefit the horse community to see one of our own fail? What I grew to understand while working with diverse businesses during my time with the Business Journal was every business: micro, small, medium or large had its own unique fingerprint. I could talk with two businesses who provided the same services, but they were always completely different in the way they served clients, handled uncomfortable situations, how they celebrated their own teams and ways they grew revenue. One business did not do it better than the other; instead one business fit the personality of a specific client better than the other. 

The fact is we serve horses and horse people. As a publisher, I have to consider and examine why a reader would loyally read my publication instead of a national publication. I have to consider the benefits I can supply a national advertiser when I know a national equine publication reaches a wider audience. 

I don’t think you, my reader, only reads the Mid-South Horse Review. I hope you read all leading equine publications and magazines. The more you read means print is not dying. The partnerships we have with our national advertising clients was formed by the way we can intimately touch our regional audience with hyper focus. Instead of taking a shotgun approach to reaching the masses, advertisers can take a sniper approach and reach our very specific horse owner who needs very specific products due to the region we live in.

Moral of the story, I know my readers and advertising clients read and partner with other businesses just like mine, and my feelings aren’t hurt! 

In an area so densely populated with horse lovers, equestrians and businesses I feel it is time to stop being viciously competitive and start being accepting of what really generates more business, which is inclusivity, referrals, advocating and helping business competitors when they are either going through hard times or are looking for ways to reach new clients. Let’s be each other’s cheerleaders, because the day you have all the business in the region, means the community and interest in horses is dying.

Let’s support, cheer and help our fellow equine business owners grow and be successful.


Lauren Abbott

Lauren is a lifelong equestrian. She was born and raised in Memphis, Tenn. Lauren has worked in Journalism for over 20 years and has served as a staff writer, designer, photographer, audience and business development consultant, & advertising senior executive. She is the Owner & Publisher of MSHR, and CEO of Ford Abbott Media, LLC, the parent company of the Horse Review and Hunt & Field Magazine.

icon Subscribe

to Our Newsletter