New horse magazine gallops into the field

Heidi Neufeld isn't giving up her day job - at least not yet. But if her new magazine, Horses Up North, takes off she might do just that.

Heidi Neufeld isn’t giving up her day job – at least not yet.

But if her new magazine, Horses Up North, takes off she might do just that.

For Neufeld, a designer for the Yukon News and president of the Yukon Horse and Rider Association, the magazine is a combination of two passions.

When she moved back to the Yukon three years ago, she noticed that there was a real dearth of information on the horse community in the region.

“It’s hard to find out what’s happening in the horse industry up here,” she said. “Clubs and associations have their own websites and focus, which is great, but you need to know what you’re looking for.”

Neufeld hopes that Horses Up North, with its focus on Northern Canada and Alaska, will fill that niche.

“We have a wealth of knowledge, trainers and breeders in the area that don’t get a whole lot of attention and focus,” she said.

This isn’t Neufeld’s first foray into the publishing world.

Fourteen years ago, Neufeld, along with her mother, bought the magazine Horse Action.

While running the publication out of their living room, they discovered it presented a steep learning curve, she said.

Though Neufeld’s first job out of high school was working on the layout desk at the Whitehorse Star, she has no formal training in design.

“I’m completely self taught,” she said.

The technology has also changed from the days of analog printing plates and typesetting.

Everything is digitized now, and although Neufeld wasn’t familiar with the technology, she just threw herself into it.

“I bought a Mac and Quark and Photoshop and got going on a magazine,” she said.

Horse Action only lasted a couple of years.

After they shut the magazine down, Neufeld went to work for the Vernon Morning Star. She’s been working for newspapers ever since.

When she moved back to the Yukon, Neufeld wasn’t planning to start a magazine, but as the old saying goes, when you fall off the horse – or horse magazine – you just have to get right back on.

“It’s been a little bit of work,” she said. “But with the background with the newspapers I’ve learned a lot over the last, I guess it’s been, 11 years.”

While she has a lot of experience in page design, she has even more experience with horses.

It’s been a passion of hers “pretty much since birth,” she said.

Born in the Yukon, where her father worked as an outfitter, Neufeld basically grew up on horseback.

When she was a young child her parents moved to a farm in the Okanagan Valley. It’s a place that in her “heart of hearts is home,” she said.

Neufeld got her first pony when she was still a toddler.

But the little black Shetland wasn’t the most well-behaved animal.

“My mom would ride her stallion and lead me, or attempt to lead me, down the driveway and that little brat would pull away from my mom and either buck me off or take me with him, at Mach 10, straight back to the barn.”

But it didn’t sour Neufeld on horseback riding.

“I’ve been happily abused by horses since I was little,” she said. “When I was a kid, I could not get the concept that people were afraid of horses. I just did not have that concept.

“It wasn’t until I got older and more mature that I understood that they’re large animals that can cause a whole heap of pain in the wrong situation.”

But in the right situation they’re a lot of fun, she said

“Any time spent on a horse is the best way to spend a day,” said Neufeld.

The first issue of Horses Up North came out last month. The next one will be on new stands at the beginning of June.

By the end of the year, Neufeld hopes to be established enough to make the magazine her only job, but right now it’s still a work in progress.

While she has people helping out, writing content and taking photos, it’s pretty much a one woman show, she said.

“It’s just me at the moment,” said Neufeld. “One employee and a laptop.”

Contact Josh Kerr at joshk@yukon-news.com