It is hard to know whether it was a bold experiment or a grand folly.
For the last 15 years Horsetalk has provided daily news from the distant shores of New Zealand to readers around the globe, particularly so in North America and Europe.
Today, that determined effort to provide daily coverage of news, issues and events quietly comes to an end. It marks the beginning of a fresh focus.
We will now pursue only content that we consider has enduring value, such as practical information for horse owners, features, and research with useful take-home messages for equestrians.
Has our daily coverage of news, issues and events been successful? We like to think so. The website has drawn nearly 2.85 million visitors in the last 12 months. Its best month in the last year or so hit an average of around 9200 visitors a day.
It has always been gratifying to see stories draw many readers. But it has been an undertaking that required work every day of the year – yes, even Christmas Day.
Horsetalk started about 19 years ago, but did not start carrying daily news updates until around 15 years ago. We have covered a broad range of topics since then. How each day panned out was entirely unpredictable and that, I think, has been part of its appeal.
But the Horsetalk team is small and the daily updates have exacted a toll.
We anticipate the website will remain pretty popular, as many visitors on any given day are looking at content that may, in some cases, be several years old. We are confident its 25,000-plus pages of indexed content, including research and countless hundreds of stories with practical horse-care information, will continue to be a worthwhile resource.
So, over the next week or so, you will see some quite dramatic changes to the front page to reflect the future needs of the website, which no longer has to manage a daily turnover of stories. Rest assured, it will continue to be updated regularly, but not necessarily daily.
Finally, we would like to single out our American readers for special mention. More than half of our readership is North American. They have been especially kind, supportive and engaging over the years. Their feedback has probably encouraged us to continue our daily news operation for some years longer than might otherwise have been the case.
I think everyone in the horse world is aware of the fast-changing and fractured nature of the modern media landscape. Change is unstoppable and we have to live with it.
As for me, I’m looking forward to a day off.