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Experts Talk Shop on Only Equestrian Radio Show

October 15, 1992|DARLENE RICKER | Darlene Ricker, a Laguna Beach equine law attorney, is the author of several books on equestrian sports. This column appears regularly in OC Live! and

Real estate entrepreneur Deborah Bush wanted a career change that involved horses. Last month she got her wish--but instead of riding horses for a living, she's being paid to talk about them.

Every Sunday evening from 7 to 9, Bush "talks horses" with the top talent in the horse world. An array of Olympic riders and trainers have been featured guests on her "Equestrian Sports Network," the nation's first horses-only radio talk show.

The program, which is broadcast from San Diego's "Mighty 690 AM Sports Radio," has a strong listenership throughout the Western states. Bush plans eventually to take the program national.

When she decided to change careers to devote more time to her family--and to her riding--Bush saw an immediate parallel between promoting real estate and horses. "I looked at the horse industry and realized we have the most incredible product to sell," Bush said. "No one was marketing horses to the public."

She hopes her radio show will encourage people to take an interest in the traditionally closed-circuit horse world. "If you hear a world-class rider talking about how demanding and exciting the sport is, maybe you'll bring your children to watch the next horse show in town," she said.

Watching is, of course, something you can't do on the radio. Bush acknowledges that an audio program lacks the impact of televised show-jumping or the permanence of the printed word in horse magazines. Radio, however, has something different to offer.

"Listening to the radio is like having a great phone conversation rather than reading a good book," Bush said. "You understand who the person really is when you hear his voice. It's hard to hide your personality on a one-hour talk show."

Bush's program runs two hours, but it is broken into segments. It typically opens with horse world news, such as last-minute show results and upcoming events. The first hour is devoted to a special guest or a particular theme (such as whether equestrian sports should remain in the Olympics). The second hour generally takes a different focus, interspersed with segments on "the healthy horse" and "farrier facts."

Bush's introduction to radio came somewhat by accident. Invited 18 months ago to speak on the "Financial Power Network," on another San Diego radio station, she became a regular guest on the show. From there, her idea of an equestrian radio program was born.

An avid equestrian, Bush rides four mornings a week with her 4-year-old daughter. Her goal is to learn to jump cross-country courses--"the big jumps," she says.

Those big jumps provided plenty of fodder recently for a heated debate among her round table of Olympic guests. They included U.S. Equestrian Team three-day event captain J. Michael Plumb and veteran Olympic rider Robert Ridland, who was NBC's equestrian commentator during the summer Olympics. At issue was whether the network's coverage of the rough-and-tumble cross-country competition was fair to the sport.

Bush and her co-host, Kyle Quast, are determined to present such controversies to their listeners, along with a dose of "happy horse" news.

A regular staple on the show is a news update of the weekend's horse show results, which do not appear in magazines until weeks later.

"If we're going to be a real sport," Bush said, "let's treat it as one."

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