A Change Coming On

Established in 2008

Websites are like homes. They have framework, contents, wiring, and color. They also have healthy doses of intangibles like feel and history.

Ten years ago, I established NickerNews as a way to interact with the horse community and to fulfill a journalistic jones that I’d been suppressing since leaving my work as a newspaper reporter.

In 2008, there were 16 folks signed up for the newsletter, zero advertisers, and a grand total of three articles.

Spring forward to this year:

There are five websites and 4,000 weekly newsletter subscribers. We have a great family of advertisers, incredible guest columnists, and healthy social media pages.

Our articles routinely “go viral” and we’ve received several international awards for outstanding content.

TJ Zark and her mares, Biscuit and

Ain’t it about time for some renovation at this house?

Beginning next month, Cayuse Communications (the family of sites including NickerNews, BestHorsePractices, and HorseHead) will get a well-earned, much-needed overhaul. The websites will look sooo much better. They’ll be easier to read, easier to navigate, easier to appreciate.

Who better to lead this challenging, multi-faceted renovation than TJ Zark?

Zark runs the brand and design company, Hello Zark, and developed the most excellent Best Horse Practices Summit logo. Read more about that here.

This Cayuse Communication project involves a wide spectrum of challenges:

  • How to unify the websites under one umbrella, through design and functionality?
  • How to convey through this redesign the sites’ reputation for smart, lively content?
  • Considering logos and colors, what to rework and what to toss?

New sites will look as good on phones as they do on desktops

“Cayuse Communication deserves a facelift that reflects the quality of content and the quality of your readers,” said Zark, who grew up on a Nebraska ranch and lent her affinity and affection for horses to the task.

The transition is also being expertly guided and framed by Dana Petersen. She runs Pixel Right, LLC.  Petersen also works as a savior; she’s the most tech-savvy employee at the Mancos Public Library and has helped many dazed and confused Internet users — too many to count, I’m sure.

I’m an experienced writer. Articles grow and flow from interviews, research, experiences, and contemplations. Until recently, though, I paid little attention to the finer points of how my words get absorbed by readers.

For example:

  • Different fonts convey different feel and meaning
  • White space and imagery matter
  • Colors can be warm, cold, and live in families
  • Seriousness, warmth, intelligence, and sense of humor (all elements of our content) can be demonstrated through design

It’s been quite a journey. This most recent renovation has taken months of effort. The work, with Zark’s guidance and expertise, has enabled me to look back and look ahead. It’s let me appreciate the missteps as well as the legacy in a large body of work. It’s allowed me, too, to see the potential for more, great things. Exciting, challenging stuff.

With careful consideration to a whole host of improvable areas, we’re nearly ready to show it off. We hope you like these draft samples.

Stay tuned for next month’s house warming!

Posted in Reflections and tagged , .


  1. Congratulations Maddy on ten years of continuously publishing excellent articles and information, as well as offering humor and personal stories of your own equine adventures. As one of the the original 16 early subscribers, I can attest to the value of your work and the insight and knowledge that you have shared. You have been with me since early in my equine ownership experience. I would not have the I knowledge and the confidence I have now, if it had not been for you.You have constantly reminded me of how much more I have to learn, while also reinforcing me that I am often on the right track:)

    I am excited to enter the next decade with you and look forward to many more years of reading your websites and knowing that I can count on your valuable insight and concern for the well being of our horses and the enlightenment of us mere humans.

    Wishing you a very Merry Christmas and a wonderful 2018.

    Warmest regards and big hugs from Thanksgiving Farm in Maine,

    • Kind and generous words, Barbara. Your early support and enthusiasm is one of the reasons NickerNews evolved to Cayuse Communications. Thank you thank you thank you! Big hugs back to you! Maddy

  2. Thank you so much! You inspire me so much. I look forward to the continued educational and thought provoking articles. Can’t wait until next year’s Summit!

  3. Dear Maddy, I I feel so lucky to have found you and your beautiful family of websites. The horse world is a better place because of you and your vision. I can’t wait for next year’s summit.
    Thank yoy for everything you do,

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