Shine On ~Jennifer Denison
|Jennifer and Myself 2015
“Be Fearless in the Pursuit of what Sets your Soul on Fire”
Shine ON, Shine ON!
Shine On ~Jennifer Denison
Shine On Series #4
Shine On, Shine On was the subject of a blog that I did a couple weeks ago. Did you see it? If not, here is the link Shine On, Shine On! I have decided that there are a lot of people that help me “Shine” and I am going to feature them on my Shine On, Shine On series.
Today’s Shine On features: Jennifer Denison
Tell us a bit about yourself.
I was born in Colorado Springs in May of 1973 and grew up in the small town of Woodland Park, Colorado, about 20 miles west of Colorado Springs. My dad was a cowboy and outdoorsman, and always had a couple of horses and mules around he used mostly for hunting and trapping and the occasional branding. I spent most of my weekends with him when I was little while my mom worked, and gained a huge appreciation for horses, wildlife and the outdoors.
Even though I was around horses when I was little, I explored other things such as dance, piano, painting and Girl Scouts before I decided I wanted to ride. My parents never pushed me into anything, but my dad always wanted me to ride. When I was 12 years old, he took me to our local PRCA rodeo as he did every year. I remember watching Kelly Yates running barrels and turning to him and saying, “Dad, that’s what I want to do.” The next week he brought home a grade roan mare for me to try.
From that point my family’s life revolved around hauling me to rodeos and 4-H clinics, shows and fairs. At the same time, though, I became interested in writing and photography. In high school I had a wonderful journalism and photography teacher who took extra time helping me reach my goals as writing and photographing professionally and becoming yearbook editor. I wrote a cowboy-related column in our local newspaper for a few years and seized any opportunity to take portraits of friends and at rodeos.
I attended college at Colorado State University, where I double-majored in Technical Journalism and Equine Science in pursuit of working for a horse magazine, breed association or in public relations. I also continued to barrel race. In 1994, when I was a sophomore in college, I received a scholarship from the American Horse Publications, the umbrella organization for equine publishing. They flew me to Lexington, Kentucky, for their annual conference and I met editors, publishers and writers from all of the major horse magazines. Of course, my dad had to go with me to check it out.
Winning that AHP scholarship directed my focus toward writing and photographing for equine publications, and I worked hard throughout college to establish connections and get as much experience as I could before I graduated. I spent most of my winter and summer breaks from college doing internships at Horse & Rider and Western Styles magazines, which were located in Denver, Colorado, at the time. My efforts paid off when I graduated in December of 1995 and landed my first professional writing job as assistant editor of Horse & Rider magazine.
I married into a ranching family in 1996. My interests shifted from the arena to riding on the ranch as often as my budding career allowed. I continued on that path and working for Horse & Rider for more than 6 years where I advanced to senior editor.
In 2002, I was hired by Western Horseman magazine, which was based in Colorado Springs, Colorado, at the time. Growing up in the area, I always knew about the magazine and remember driving by the beautiful office building, inspired by the architecture of the Palace of the Governors in Santa Fe, New Mexico, and thinking how cool it would be to work there. In college, I won a writing award through a livestock journal for a ranch story I wrote. Feeling pretty confident, I sent the article to Western Horseman’s longtime editor for critique. She returned it with red marks all over it, so I knew I had some work yet to do before I worked for a magazine like Western Horseman.
March will mark my 14th year with Western Horseman where I am senior editor.
I’ve worked for the following publications: Horse & Rider, Western Horseman, Barrel Horse News (short stint as editor), Equestrian Retailer and Western Lifestyle Retailer (both business-to-business publications published by Morris Communications, the parent company of Western Horseman).
I divorced in 2011 and have since dedicated myself to my horses, career and helping my parents, who live nearby.
I have won several AHP awards for my writing.
I have three horses, and two mules that were my dad’s. My main mount is Habanero Pepper, aka Romeo, who I ride mostly in the woods in the same tradition as my dad. I have interests in improving my horsemanship and roping, as well as learning about bridle horse traditions.
What inspires you to be you?
I have a deep appreciation for horses, ranching traditions and progressive management, and all facets of the West and cowboy culture, from Western art to craftsmanship to music. These things consume my thoughts and emotions, and have fostered so many friendships. Telling the stories of people involved in this lifestyle in an accurate and authentic way gives me purpose and is a huge part of who I am. I want to document this time in the West and the people and places who are shaping it. That inspires me everyday.
What do we all need more of?
1. Road trips: To see and experience different cultures and lifestyles, try new foods and drinks, meet interesting people, take in spectacular and diverse scenery and see what’s out there when you get off the pavement.
2. Less ego and pretense and more open-minded sharing, collaboration and kindness. So many issues could be resolved if people could put aside their egos and differences, consider other perspectives and just work together.
3. Farmer’s markets and local butchers: What better way to support local farmers and ranchers, provide healthy foods for the public and get them out of the grocery stores, where they think their food is “made.”
4. Time outdoors: Everyone, including me, needs to get away from our electronic devices, and spend more time outdoors just observing, listening and thinking about things that really matter without distraction.
What do we all need less of?
Distraction, disrespect, judgement, idyllic views of how we should be and live, and politics. I despise politics.
Do you have any advice for ranch wives or any women?
Do not just exist in life or in the shadow of others; be bold, brave and true to you. I’ve learned it’s okay to be kind to and take care of yourself. Take time to try something new or do something you love. Supper, laundry and house-cleaning can wait; trust me, they won’t go anywhere and if everyone gets hungry enough they’ll get a snack or fix their own. I believe it’s important to have realistic goals and dreams, and they can be simple. The important thing is to follow through. Time is ticking, and everyday is a new chance to be who you want to be and do what you want to do.
How do you stay so motivated?
I’ve worked hard to get to this point in my career and have had to put some personal interests aside to get there, and there’s no stopping now. I love words and storytelling and finding the best way I can to introduce readers to the people, horses and lifestyle I respect so much. I also value Western Horseman’s 80-year history of chronicling stock horses, rodeo, talented horsemen, Western art and craft, and interesting people and places in the West. The magazine has be a staple in so many homes and influenced so many horse people. To have a part in producing educational and entertaining content about the horse industry and cowboy culture is a responsibility I take seriously, and it drives me every day in just about everything I do personally and professionally.
My Shine On message to Jennifer-
“Start writing, no matter what. The water does not flow until the faucet turned on.” ~Louis L’Amour
Jennifer~ I am thankful for your dedication to everything you do. I appreciate your friendship and You.
I will never forget our ride in the car to Winnemucca, Nevada. We laughed, we cried and we made plans to save the world. Right? From that trip on, I knew that you were Special and I am thankful to know you.
Here are a few reasons that you help me Shine On:
*You are interested in others. I appreciate all your work in keeping the West alive.
*You are loyal. Loyalty is a rare commodity in today’s world, but it’s an absolute requirement in true and abiding friendships. When we are loyal to one friend, we prove ourselves worthy of many.
*You are a good daughter.
*You are beautiful inside and out.
*You appreciate differences in people. We are not all the same and that is ok.
*You have faith in Me. I can remember calling you about this blog. “Jennifer, will you please read my blog and tell me how you really feel?” “Naomi, keep doing what you are doing! I love your story!” (You have no idea, my friend how much confidence you gave to me and look I am still writing.)
*You also share what you have in your heart.
*We have common interest. We both write. Thank you for your example.
*You know what AP Style of writing is!!
*You push me to be better!
*You are a hard worker.
My message to you, dear friend is Shine On!!
Thank you for seeking out new things.
Thank you for supporting me
Thank you for only being a phone call away.