Since Alex Brown burst onto the Blogosphere with immediate coverage of Barbaro’s struggle to survive his 2006 breakdown at the Preakness Stakes, followed by a leave-no-stone-unturned tribute to the fallen animal in Greatness and Goodness: Barbaro and his Legacy, Alex Brown has continued as a thought leader in social media and horse welfare.
In this week’s Clubhouse Q&A, Brown describes his return to the classroom, teaching a new generation of social-media wizards, and his return to exercising racehorses at Fair Hill.
Q: Alex, since writing and publishing Greatness and Goodness: Barbaro and his Legacy, you’ve returned to the classroom to teach university students. Where and what are you teaching?
I teach marketing-related courses at the University of Delaware. I’ve actually been teaching at Delaware, on and off, since the early 1990s.
Q: How does your success as a blogger and author factor into your lessons?
I’m not sure how you qualify “success,” but certainly I can thread my experiences writing, publishing and marketing a book into the class work, and offer plenty of examples for my students.
Students enjoy real-world applications of ideas, so I can offer that in a number of ways, including through a video series titled Knowledge at Wharton, which incorporates a Social Media for Social Causes component. I talk about, among other things, the work I did at Alex Brown Racing for horse causes, and offer my insights as a case study in my Internet Marketing class.
Q: Thoroughbreds continue to factor in your life as an exercise rider and horse advocate. How is it going on both accounts?
Well lately it has been ridiculously cold, or windy!
I love Fair Hill (Race Track), but it is a very exposed place to ride horses when the weather gets chilly. I ride about three to four horses each morning for Carl Doran, and then I start the rest of my day, which in the Spring, will be with a lot of teaching.
I have five classes to teach this semester.
On the advocacy side, I will admit to taking more of a backseat, although I have had some fun getting involved in Off Track Thoroughbred Shows.
We still run our discussion boards on Alex Brown Racing, and do what we can.
Recently I visited New Holland, so I try to keep my hand in regarding what is going on (with at-risk horses).
I have lost faith in Washington D.C. doing anything in this regard: politics is driven too much by money, and not principle.
The anti-slaughter side lacks both money and real organization.
I think the bigger issue that will emerge this year is a stronger debate on the viability of horsemeat in our food chain. If any of us is really honest, we know our horses are not viable horsemeat. I think the EU is ready to close down the North American supply. We shall see.
Q: What is the biggest challenge you anticipate in the Thoroughbred world in 2013?
The biggest challenge we face is to become relevant again.
I don’t see us making much progress in that regard.
The industry is in turmoil.
It lacks leadership and the will to move forward with one voice.
The Lasix debate is just one example of the divisive issues we face. Recently I was in the UK, enjoyed a day’s racing at Haydock Park and a point-to-point at Sheriff Hutton. No Lasix! People seemed to really enjoy doing what they were doing.
Anyway, I have stayed silent on that debate, but the bigger issue is that we need one organization to lead the industry.