Horse Nation is in the midst of accepting entries for its third ever blogger contest. Thinking of entering? Here are some tips to help you succeed.

In case you didn’t know, we’re in the midst of accepting first-round entries for the return of HN’s popular Blogger Contest. This is the third edition of the contest, which had been held every five years or so, and are excited to have it back for another year!

Entries are open for this first round until July 22. If you are ready to enter, you can email your submission directly to us at deann@horsenation.com with the subject line “HN Blogger Contest Entry.” We’re also thrilled to announce that we’ve added a cash prize to this year’s contest: $300 will be awarded to the winner, and two runners-up will each receive $100.

We thought it might be useful to put together a few helpful hints on writing for HN. We don’t take ourselves too seriously here, so neither should you, but some best practices always help bring clarity if you’re on the fence about entering.

1. Showing your creative side is a sure way to get our attention.

If you haven’t noticed, we tend to let our personalities show in our work here. We believe there is a healthy balance between professional work and creative expression, and most of us work here because we wanted to combine our love of horses with our love of writing. We try to put more “spice” into our articles, and while we don’t always hit the mark we would rather tell stories than only report figures.

So, don’t be afraid to send us something wacky or out of left field. Here are a few previous years’ entries to give you an idea of what has caught our eye:

Where Have All the Horse Girls Gone, by Sophia McKee
When the Non-Horsey Boyfriend Tries to Impress, by Sara Shelley
8 Truths If You Work In An Office & Own a Horse, by Jessica Crandon
In Defense of Wasting the Horse, by Victoria Shields

2. When in doubt, tell us a story (or make one up — we don’t know the difference!).

If you’re a writer at all, you know exactly how it feels to carve out some precious time to put some words on paper/screen…only to find that every ounce of creativity you thought you were in possession of has suddenly decided to pop out for a beer. Or, on the other side of the fence, you have too many ideas swirling about at once in your head, making it difficult to sort through and find the best one to focus on.

But I bet you have a few good stories in there, just waiting to be told. Maybe it’s the story of what gave you the “horse bug” or the first time you jumped a cross country jump or opened up your horse in a field. Maybe you took a trip to Kentucky and left a lifelong horse fan. Or maybe you made a complete fool out of yourself waiting in line for Michael Jung’s autograph and can never set foot in the Kentucky Horse Park again. Whatever your story may be, we want to read about it!

3. Don’t feel pressured to “know” a ton about horse.

Yes, we want you to be an equestrian and know some of the ins and outs horses, but we don’t expect you to have an equine encyclopedia stored away in your brain. All of us here have grown our knowledge of and network within the equine world organically over time, and you will too! All you need — just as with any good horse with potential — is a desire to be here, and the rest will take care of itself.

4. Be individual. 

We talk often about embracing diversity in equestrian sport — the backgrounds, experiences, and perspectives of riders are richly unique. We are not all cut from the same cloth. In seeing ourselves represented in others, in the public space, we create a world that’s more welcoming to those who hesitate to dip a toe in. We recognize that the onus remains on us to be better in everything that we do, and we want to give voice to all experiences here on HN. We encourage you to also be your most authentic self in your entries.

Your first round entry can be focused on any horse-related topic you prefer! From that point on, finalists will be moved forward to Round 2, for which you’ll be given a writing prompt. The third final round will be a creative challenge yet to be announced.

Ready to enter? Email deann@horsenation.com to get started! Good luck and go riding.

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