Meet the Live from Lexington Semi-Finalist Bloggers

Learn more about Purina's Live from Lexington semi-finalist bloggers and cast your vote for your favorite daily through July 12 to send her to the Games.
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Learn more about Purina's Live from Lexington semi-finalist bloggers and cast your vote for your favorite daily through July 12 to send her to the Games.

Meet Purina's Live from Lexington semi-finalist bloggers in this exclusive Q&A from EquiSearch.com! Then go to www.LivefromLexington.com and vote daily through July 12 to help us choose two finalists to send to the Games in Lexington, Ky., this fall.

Click on the semi-finalist's name to jump to her Q&A:

  • Erin Gallagher (below)
  • Nina Akerley
  • Sheri Israel
  • Kristine Oakhurst
Erin Gallagher

Erin Gallagher

EquiSearch.com: What do you think your advantage is in this contest?
Erin Gallagher: I have a pretty wide array of horse background. I've done dressage to hunter jumper so I have a lot of knowledge about all the sports.

ES:

How will your equine background aid you as a blog-o-spondent?

Erin:

Because I've been around horses and ridden my whole life I know what I'm looking at. I've been working in the industry for a while and I know what the current news is.

ES:

What are you most excited to blog about?

Erin:

I'm really excited to blog about the viewpoint from the average spectator and what his or her perspective is. I want to find out what people are watching and what they think. There are also a lot of things happening behind the scenes I want to find out about. I want to watch the warm ups and see what the different riders do to prepare and how it translates into their performance.

ES:

Give three examples of questions you would ask a rider competing at the Games.

Erin:

I'd be interested in finding out about the rider's journey to the WEG: What did it take to get there, what type of training did they do and did they have any sponsors? I would also ask about what competing in the Games means to them. They have probably worked at this a long time, and I'd want to know how it feels to finally get there. I'm also interested in what kind of horse care the riders practice: Do they use alternative therapies like chiropractics and message? And what kind of maintenance did they do on their horse to prepare for the events?

ES:

What is your earliest memory of riding?

Erin:

My mom had a Morgan named Bo whom I rode around the yard in a tiny Western saddle when I was about 3 or 4. One day when my dad was leading me around the yard I noticed the saddle start to slide because he didn't tighten the girth enough. I started to slip to the side and before I knew it I had fallen off completely into the grass. I wasn't upset at all, I just laughed and laughed.

ES:

What about the Games, specifically, is inspiring to you?

Erin:

I think the partnership between the horse and rider is really inspiring. I also think it's amazing how many disciplines there are, and to finally have it all on U.S. soil is great!

ES:

If you could compete in one Games event, which would it be and why?

Erin:

I would compete in eventing because that's where most of my history lies. I love the thrill of it, it's unmatched by any other event.

ES:

How would being a blog-o-spondent for the Games benefit you?

Erin:

This competition is already benefiting me. It's helped me make a lot of connections with people I wouldn't be able to otherwise. It's been really neat to connect with people across the country through my blog because we have this thread in common.

ES:

What is it about horses and riding that makes you so passionate about the sport?

Erin:

Definitely the partnership between the two athletes. It's really fulfilling to watch a really good partnership develop over time. I think the nonverbal communication between horse and rider is what's really cool.

Vote for Erin and read her blog at www.LivefromLexington.com.

Nina Akerley

Nina Akerley

EquiSearch.com: What do you think your advantage is in this contest?
Nina Akerley: In addition to being a good writer and a good communicator and having a lot of horse experience, I've been training for my entire professional career in communications, whether its journalism or public relations. I definitely understand and have developed skill sets for journalism, for interviewing, and for writing compelling, interesting and unique stories on a tight deadline.The other thing I can offer that gives me a bit of an advantage is that I have a very diverse background in all things equestrian. I've been doing everything from combined driving and endurance to dressage and equitation. So I think that gives me an advantage in that I know who the key players are, I know what's being looked at during the competitions, and I can explain what's going on to the readers.They can expect content and stories that are specific to their sport from someone who really gets it.

ES:

How will your equine background aid you as a blog-o-spondent?

Nina:

My equestrian background is very diverse, so I think that will help me quite a bit when I'm reporting. I'm not just focused on one specific area of competition.I've done a lot of things with horses. I've competed at high levels and trained with a lot of well-known trainers in a lot of different disciplines. So that gives me the ability to go to different sports and communicate what's going on and tell stories that are accurate and complete and really get down deep into the details of what's going on.

ES:

What are you most excited to blog about?

Nina:

I'm really excited to be on the ground and blog about what's happening at that level. There are so many things that happen behind the scenes.What's happening at the parties, what are the competitors talking about, what are the judges saying, and what's happening inside meetings that a lot of spectators aren't going to be going to? There's a lot that happens behind the scenes, and I think that will be a lot of fun to blog about.

ES:

Give three examples of questions you would ask a rider competing at the Games.

Nina:

I'd probably ask them some very specific questions about things I noticed during the competition. So if it was after a ride and I noticed that someone had a few rails down I might ask them, "What do you think was going on there that led your horse to drop those rails? Do you think it was your preparation? Do you think your horse was tired?" And then I'd probably ask, before an event, "What are you doing right now to prepare to be ready for the event? Are you going to be sleeping a lot? Are you worried about anyone in particular?" I'd also probably ask them for some inside tips as to what's going on, such as "Who are you watching?" and "Who are the big players?" I'd like to find out the inside competitors' perspectives about what's going on at the Games.

ES:

What is your earliest memory of riding?

Nina:

I remember meeting the pony I learned to ride on. Her name was Silver Dollar, and she was a dapple gray Welsh pony, and she was probably like 18 at the time. She was so old, but she was awesome. She came to my school in first grade for a classmate's show-and-tell, and I was obsessed, they couldn't get me away from her. I was all over this little pony. I probably did not shut up about her because my parents called my classmate's mother and asked if I could come to the barn and see the pony. And I remember going to see the pony at the stable and feeding her sugar cubes, which was her favorite treat, but they took the box of cubes away from me because I kept giving her sugar cube after sugar cube.

ES:

What about the Games, specifically, is inspiring to you?

Nina:

I think what's really inspiring to me is that the World Equestrian Games are being held for the first time ever on U.S. soil. There are going to be so many American equestrians that are going to have the opportunity now to compete at an international competition like this, like never before.I've heard a lot of stories about people qualifying but haven't been able to go.That's really inspiring that these people are getting their chance on our home turf.And this is our chance for America to really be a force to reckon with in the equestrian world.I think it's their time to shine.

ES:

If you could compete in one Games event, which would it be and why?

Nina:

My first inclination is to say dressage just because that's the one discipline I've excelled the most in. However, I would really love to compete in combined driving. I think that would be exciting.it's such a rush!

ES:

How would being a blog-o-spondent for the Games benefit you?

Nina:

I think that it's an honor to be representing the American equestrian community and equestrian journalists, and I think that will be incredibly rewarding and satisfying to know that I'm assuming that responsibility, and that's huge. Besides that, I think it will definitely improve my journalism, reporting and writing skills. I sort of view this as a test, a test of my ability to deliver. Everyone can talk, but when you're there, it's a test, and if I pass that test, that would be huge! I'm also excited to take my writing to a more mainstream audience and expand my horizons and connect with more people.

ES:

What is it about horses and riding that makes you so passionate about the sport?

Nina:

To be honest, I think there's nothing else on the face of this earth that touches you more, that is better for you and inspires you more than horses.There's a quote that nothing is better for the inside of a man than the outside of a horse, and I think that's true. When people are down, and suffering and struggling, there's something about being around horses and working with them and partnering with them that makes you feel better--it inspires you and uplifts you.I know personally that working with horses has helped me through the most difficult periods of my life and I know that they've done the same for other people.There are so many wonderful things that horses and riding can do for us, and I think it's vastly underappreciated. That's why I'm so dedicated to horses.it's deep down inside of me.

Vote for Nina and read her blog at www.LivefromLexington.com.

Sheri Israel

Sheri Israel

EquiSearch.com: What do you think your advantage is in this contest?
Sheri Israel: I've been a long-time blogger. I have been blogging since 2006 and have over 500 posts so I am familiar with it. I've also chronicled major shows before like the Arabian Sport Horse Nationals.

ES:

How will your equine background aid you as a blog-o-spondent?

Sheri:

I've been riding since I was 12, mostly Arabian horses and dressage. I am also doing what I call "Sheri's Great 8" on my blog. I'm experiencing each of the events by taking a lesson in each discipline and blogging about it. I'm educating myself.

ES:

What are you most excited to blog about?

Sheri:

I am most excited to blog about my series, "Sheri's Great 8." It's offered me a lot of new experiences, and this contest has opened a lot of doors for me. It's a great opportunity to learn these new events.

ES:

Give three examples of questions you would ask a rider competing at the Games.

Sheri:

If they were from out of the country I would ask "How did you handle the trip over?" and "What is it like to show in the U.S.? Are there any language barriers?" I would also ask about team atmosphere and camaraderie, and find out something interesting about the team.

ES:

What is your earliest memory of riding?

Sheri:

I was 4 or 5, and we had neighbors with horses in the backyard. I got to ride around their backyard bareback with just a halter on.

ES:

What about the Games, specifically, is inspiring to you?

Sheri:

I think it's really inspiring that it's an international show only about horses. Everyone there is interested in horses, and I think that's really neat. I also think the riders are really inspiring. They have put a lot into their craft to be the best and have made a lot of sacrifices like their jobs and families--it's a huge commitment. And I think the partnership with the horse is very inspiring.

ES:

If you could compete in one Games event, which would it be and why?

Sheri:

I would have to say dressage because I am most familiar with it and have the experience. But, if I was schooled and had the right horse I would do jumping or eventing. After my jumping lessons I thought it was really thrilling and a lot less scary that I thought.

ES:

How would being a blog-o-spondent for the Games benefit you?

Sheri:

It will benefit me because I'll be exposed to world-class international riding, and I think that will help me become a better rider myself. And seeing it will give me a really great appreciation for the riders and horses competing in the events.

ES:

What is it about horses and riding that makes you so passionate about the sport?

Sheri:

Definitely the partnership you have with the horse--you form a special bond, and some horses you ride become closer to you than others. You don't ride and not have some interaction and connection with the horse. Even if it's vaulting or driving, you're still working together with the horse.

Vote for Sheri and read her blog at www.LivefromLexington.com.

Kristine Oakhurst

Kristine Oakhurst

EquiSearch.com: What do you think your advantage is in this contest?
Kristine Oakhurst: I speak my mind. There is a lot of good and bad in the horse industry, and I talk about it all, I'm very honest. I'm straightforward, direct and humorous, and I try to make light of even the scary things in the horse world.

ES:

How will your equine background aid you as a blog-o-spondent?

Kristine:

Probably because I've seen it all, the good, the bad, and the ugly of the horse world so I kind of know what I'm seeing.

ES:

What are you most excited to blog about?

Kristine:

I'm definitely interested in seeing the events themselves and finding out more about the horses that are competing. I'm also interested in what kind of equipment people are using, how people are schooling, what the audience's reaction is to everything, and obviously what kind of cool products will be there. But the horses are the most exciting.

ES:

Give three examples of questions you would ask a rider competing at the Games.

Kristine:

If I were asking before the competition I would ask "How do you think you will do?" If it was after a competition I would ask "How do you think you did?" I would also ask "What do you think the competition is like?" and "How hard was it to get here?"

ES:

What is your earliest memory of riding?

Kristine:

It was when I got on this backyard horse named Spoof. I think I was two or three and after that all I did was scream and cry to go see him.

ES:

What about the Games, specifically, is inspiring to you?

Kristine:

What's inspiring to me isn't the people competing because it takes a lot of money to get there, and I don't think the best rider in the world is at the World Equestrian Games necessarily. I think what's inspiring to me personally is to see so many horse people together in one spot competing at such a high level. However, you can still be as good as those riders but never get there. A little girl emailed me a week ago and asked if she could ever get to the World Equestrian Games and be that good, and I replied that you don't have to get there to be that good.

ES:

If you could compete in one Games event, which would it be and why?

Kristine:

That's hard. With my horse it would be show jumping because that's what he does, that's his thing. But, if I could have the dream of having another horse it would probably be eventing. I'm a show jumper through and through but I had a little taste of eventing last year, and I think the atmosphere is a much more kind and fun atmosphere for the riders. It's more laid back, even at the upper levels, and I think that's cool. You're competing with yourself more than anything, and that's what I like.

ES:

How would being a blog-o-spondent for the Games benefit you?

Kristine:

I hope to entertain people, make people laugh and give them information they want to hear. I also want to do more writing professionally.

ES:

What is it about horses and riding that makes you so passionate about the sport?

Kristine:

It's in my blood, it's like a disease almost, I can't help it. For me it's the relationship with the horse. It's not like anything else. You can truly be yourself, there's no judgment. You have better communication when you're on top of a horse than with any person. They actually do listen to you; they don't just wait for their turn to talk.

Vote for Kristine and read her blog at www.LivefromLexington.com.