Warren Wechsler makes time for Big Red and his three other horses every day.
Fueled by endorphins and sparked by an RFD-TV horse show,Warren Wechsler flashed on an idea for a new business last spring that hastaken off like a racehorse sprinting for the finish line.
Inspiration came while Warren was jogging on a treadmill at the FairfieldRec Center, watching a horse show on the TV monitor. As the host of the radioshow Total Selling and owner of four horses, he was struck by the fact thatthere wasn’t a radio show geared for horse owners.
“So I hop off the treadmill,” he says, “and I’m writingdown all these ideas on a piece of paper covered with sweat that I still have.” Heenvisioned a radio community where horse owners could talk about enjoying theirhorses safely, learn new riding and training skills, and find out about newproducts—a program he saw as “The Voice of Horsemanship.”
Within 24 hours he had the whole format mapped out. He took his idea to JayMitchell of KMCD in Fairfield, where Warren has hosted the sales show TotalSelling for the past five years. Jay agreed to try it out, giving him a Tuesdayafternoon 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 percapita.
And radio turns out to be a good medium for reaching people with horses. “Seventypercent 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 whispererBuck Brannaman, a veritable rock star in the equine world.
As suits a top-drawer salesman, Warren has managed to bring together an ever-increasingnetwork 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, andhe’s reined in national experts, from Scott Mooney of Country Supplyin Ottumwa to the director of the American Horse Council in Washington, DC,with his affability and enthusiasm for all things equine. “People reallyfind I’m the man on the street,” he says. “I can ask allthese questions that come from innocence and they just share this fabulousknowledge. I don’t have an edge—I’m like Forrest Gump!”
Although Warren has assumed the mantle of the Voice of Horsemanship, he callshimself a novice rider and he’s careful not to position himself as anexpert. “I’m a conduit. I’m everyman. I get these peopleon the radio that know so much, and I ask them baby questions. They’rehappy to answer them, because those are the questions that we all have on ourminds.”
Horse Talk Radio is a clearinghouse of information for all horse owners, beginneror experienced, English or Western, from show jumpers to trail riders and everythingin between. “We all want knowledge, whether we’re new, whetherwe’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’slooking for knowledge, every horse owner wants knowledge.”
Warren has interviewed rodeo riders, dressage specialists, farriers, equinemassage therapists, horse psychics, and nationally recognized experts likeCraig Cameron and Buck Brannaman.
When Buck came to Mount Vernon last September to give a horse clinic, Warrenaudited the class, then waited till the end of the day when all the studentshad left to see if he could set up an interview. Buck said, “Well, I’mgoing to be in a hotel in Michigan next week. How much time do you want?” Buckagreed to do an entire show.
“For him to agree to give me a whole hour, with so many people wantinghis time, meant a lot to me,” says Warren. “And then I asked himquestions that you wouldn’t generally ask, and he was completely openin sharing stories from his childhood, the triumphs as well as the tragediesin his life. There is no pretense with him. It was moving and awe inspiringand humbling.”
For guests who have graciously agreed to be on Horse Talk, Warren plans toopen an online store at his website, www.horsetalkradio.net. He’ll featurephotos and video clips of various experts, as well as their books, videotapes,and special products.
Warren’s always on the lookout for helpful new equine tools and equipmentfor his show, too. “Everybody’s looking for new ideas: a betterfly mask, some safer way to protect your horse’s feet for shipping—you’dwant to know that. Well, I attract a lot of different manufacturers who havereally cool new products.”
The website also stores an archive of every Horse Talk broadcast since thebeginning, available as a Podcasts. You can listen online or download the showto your iPod. “The future is Podcasting, which we’re already doing.”
Through RSS you can also subscribe to the show and have each segment show upon your desktop.
Ultimately, though, it’s Warren’s fascination with horses thatmakes 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’swith them.
“For me, it’s a transcendent experience,” he says. “Inmy view, there is not one path. What you learn being around horses is thatit’s not the way, but it’s one way to get to that level of pureawareness 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 needto 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, whenyou’re saddling them up, you’re there, and nothing else mattersbecause you’re right there in the moment.
“I feel that way when I’m doing a radio show, too. It’sa transcendent experience, because I’m so passionate about what I’mdoing.”
Editor’s Note: Sadly, Horse Talk Radio is no longer on the air. Any updates will be posted here.