Lately I’ve had to turn my attention away from the sheer pleasure of being home for a long break and not having to pack a suitcase every week. I’ve really enjoyed being at home, nesting, riding and working on new products. Right now, four weeks into my seven-week break, I am starting to fret over the short time left and how little I have gotten done compared to what I aspired to a month ago, when I was looking ahead to the extensive time I had at home. Am I the only one that over-estimates what I will get done? I am sure it’s related to the reason why I am always late when I get up early. But t I have gotten some projects moving forward and also managed to find time to relax, have quality time with my husband, family and friends and even ride my horse.
Lots of people have asked me about how we make the TV show and since right now we are in the midst of it, I thought I’d write about what’s on my mind. We’ve long been planning the upcoming Horse Master shoot at the end of January—the dates were set a year ago, the facility scouted and secured six months ago, the accommodations and travel arrangements for the crew have been made and now, for the tricky part, we have to select cast members. Anyone near a shoot location can apply to be on the show and we advertise it far in advance, so we have lots of people that apply. Sorting through the applications and choosing the right horse/rider combo for each of the eight episodes that we tape at each shoot is the tricky part and I confess, we tend to procrastinate on doing this.
We tape 24 episodes of Horse Master each year, at three locations around the country—one of which is always here at my place in Colorado in the middle of the summer (the only time the weather is even remotely reliable). Since the other two shoots have to occur during the winter to accommodate the production and airing schedule, we are limited to finding shoot locations in the sunbelt somewhere. Although we shoot at sites that have an indoor or covered arena for a backup, we always plan to tape outdoors (preferably someplace with a beautiful background) . We have found that few locations have reliably good weather in the middle of winter. We have frozen our tails off at a Florida shoot in February; we have slopped around in the rain and mud in Texas in March; and we have endured record breaking cold in South Carolina in the spring.
This January, we return to the Phoenix area, in Queen Creek, where last year we had glorious weather in January. It takes about six months from taping to the time an episode airs for the first time on RFD-TV, so we are always working pretty far ahead. The shows have to be completed and to the network 30 days before airing; for instance, in July we filmed the first eight episodes for 2011, and we are finalizing and sending off those episodes to the network now. The eight original episodes will begin January 4th IN OUR NEW TIME SLOT MONDAYS AT 12:30p and 10:30p EST (also airs on Saturday at 10:30p PST). Those episodes will air again for eight weeks and the next set of new shows begins at the end of April. Clear as mud, right?
So now comes the hard work of choosing the cast members for the AZ shoot. We start with 40-50 applicants and go through each one considering the issue and the discipline, and how excited we are about the potential story line. Some applicants are ruled out right away because it is a crazy situation or the person is in so far over their head that we can’t sort it out in a half hour TV show. The remaining ones are scored on how excited we are about the story line and whether or not the topic is on our list of episodes we’d like to do, based on our input from our viewers. We try to stay balanced between English, Western and ground work and that balance has become one of the trademarks of our show. We also try to get at least one youth rider in each shoot and if a man actually applies, he usually gets accepted (interestingly, at the last shoot we discovered that one man’s wife had actually applied for him without his knowledge and then persuaded him to come once he was accepted). We actually had two men in that shoot, which was a record we were happy about and may have something to do with our 60% male audience. Does that figure surprise you?
We’ve been putting off sorting through the applicants which means that as of this day, you still have time to submit an application for either the AZ shoot in January or the San Diego shoot March 18-21. http://www.horsemaster.juliegoodnight.com/apply.html By the end of the week we will have about a dozen prospects chosen for the AZ shoot and Heidi, my producer, will start contacting people to ask questions and/or confirm their acceptance on the show. At this time we also secure our volunteer crew members that are integral to the shoot—3 or 4 people that will help us with everything from hors snot to lighting to craft services (a term I didn’t know before I got the TV show). If you are interested in being behind the scenes, you can apply online at the same link above.
Next it’s time to organize the wardrobe and the equipment needed, get helmet sizes for all the riders and all the other odds and ends that are sent to the shoot location ahead of time. You’d be surprised at the complicated logistics of all of this. We arrive at the shoot location a day or two ahead of time to make sure all our equipment is there, everything is in order and to scout where we can tape in relationship to the direction of the sun and the backgrounds. We tape eight episodes in four days; it’s pretty much a sun-up to sun-down operation and at night it is all we can do to eat dinner and fall into bed. But, oddly enough, we have a lot of fun. As I’ve written before, I am blessed with an awesome Horse Master crew—all talented, hard working and fun loving.
Maybe tomorrow we’ll get the applications sorted.
Enjoy the ride,