Warren Wechsler makes time for Big Red and his three other horses every day.
Inspired by an RFD-TV horse show, Warren Wechsler flashed on an idea for a new business last spring that has taken off like a racehorse sprinting for the finish line.
Inspiration came while Warren was jogging on a treadmill at the Fairfield Rec Center, watching a horse show on the TV monitor. As the host of the radio show Total Selling and owner of four horses, he was struck by the fact that there wasn’t a radio show geared for horse owners.
“So I hop off the treadmill,” he says, “and I’m writing down all these ideas on a piece of paper covered with sweat that I still have.” He envisioned a radio community where horse owners could talk about enjoying their horses safely, learn new riding and training skills, and find out about new products—a program he saw as “The Voice of Horsemanship.”
Within 24 hours he had the whole format mapped out. He took his idea to Jay Mitchell of KMCD in Fairfield, where Warren has hosted the sales show Total Selling for the past five years. Jay agreed to try it out, giving him a Tuesday afternoon slot that had aired Kim Komando reruns.
Warren’s research showed that the audience of horse enthusiasts is huge, “a $40 billion business,” he says. Of the 9.2 million horses in the U.S.,the central states in particular have a very large percentage of horses per capita.
And radio turns out to be a good medium for reaching people with horses. “Seventy percent of horse owners live in communities of 50,000 or less. And where dothey get their information? What are they doing? They’re out in the field,they’re going from place to place, listening to their radio.”
Within months Horse Talk Radio was being broadcast from six Midwest stations,attracting national advertisers and presenting the likes of horse whisperer Buck Brannaman, a veritable rock star in the equine world.
As suits a top-drawer salesman, Warren has managed to bring together an ever-increasing network of experts for his show. He’s harnessed local talent from thepool of people that he’s met while caring for his own four horses, and he’s reined in national experts, from Scott Mooney of Country Supply in Ottumwa to the director of the American Horse Council in Washington, DC,with his affability and enthusiasm for all things equine. “People really find I’m the man on the street,” he says. “I can ask allthese questions that come from innocence and they just share this fabulous knowledge. I don’t have an edge—I’m like Forrest Gump!”
Although Warren has assumed the mantle of the Voice of Horsemanship, he calls himself a novice rider and he’s careful not to position himself as an expert. “I’m a conduit. I’m everyman. I get these people on the radio that know so much, and I ask them baby questions. They’re happy to answer them, because those are the questions that we all have on our minds.”
Horse Talk Radio is a clearinghouse of information for all horse owners, beginner or experienced, English or Western, from show jumpers to trail riders and everything in between. “We all want knowledge, whether we’re new, whether we’re old in horsemanship,” says Warren. “Craig Cameron,who has his own show on RFD-TV, said to me, ‘I don’t know everything.The older I get, the more I realize I don’t know.’ So if he’s looking for knowledge, every horse owner wants knowledge.”
Warren has interviewed rodeo riders, dressage specialists, farriers, equine massage therapists, horse psychics, and nationally recognized experts like Craig Cameron and Buck Brannaman.
When Buck came to Mount Vernon last September to give a horse clinic, Warren audited the class, then waited till the end of the day when all the students had left to see if he could set up an interview. Buck said, “Well, I’m going to be in a hotel in Michigan next week. How much time do you want?” Buck agreed to do an entire show.
“For him to agree to give me a whole hour, with so many people wanting his time, meant a lot to me,” says Warren. “And then I asked him questions that you wouldn’t generally ask, and he was completely openin sharing stories from his childhood, the triumphs as well as the tragedies in his life. There is no pretense with him. It was moving and awe inspiring and humbling.”
Warren’s always on the lookout for helpful new equine tools and equipment for his show, too. “Everybody’s looking for new ideas: a better fly mask, some safer way to protect your horse’s feet for shipping—you’d want to know that. Well, I attract a lot of different manufacturers who have really cool new products.”
The website also stores an archive of every Horse Talk broadcast since the beginning, available as a Podcasts. You can listen online or download the show to your iPod. “The future is Podcasting, which we’re already doing.”
Ultimately, though, it’s Warren’s fascination with horses that makes the venture so exciting for him. Through riding and caring for his horses,he has enormous respect for them and likes the person he becomes when he’s with them.
“For me, it’s a transcendent experience,” he says. “In my view, there is not one path. What you learn being around horses is that it’s not the way, but it’s one way to get to that level of pure awareness and centeredness in the moment.
“And when you’re with horses, they don’t demand anything, but in order to communicate with them, to enjoy them and be safe, you need to be present. So when I am with my horses I am absolutely in the present moment.When you’re grooming them, when you’re picking their feet, when you’re saddling them up, you’re there, and nothing else matters because you’re right there in the moment.
“I feel that way when I’m doing a radio show, too. It’s a transcendent experience, because I’m so passionate about what I’m doing.”
Editor’s Note: Sadly, Horse Talk Radio is no longer on the air.