Category Archives: Blog Post 2

The Most Famous Stuffed Horses in Country Music

IMG_1091My family and I have attended many country concerts across Southern California in the past eight years. In 2012, we began to notice stuffed horses in the front row of concerts for artists such as Eric Church, Lady Antebellum, and Keith Urban. After seeing two grown men dressed in red, white, and blue suits get on stage with Luke Bryan and perform “Country ‘Boy’ Shake it for Me” while holding stuffed animals and wearing flashing horse necklaces, I had to know the story. I learned that this was not the first time they performed with Luke Bryan on stage. In fact Luke called them out from the crowd by name at a concert in Georgia and invited them on the stage.  (Video of them begins at 1:05)

My family and I met Joshua Zeyak, 30, in October 2013 IMG_3253at a Luke Bryan Concert in San Diego, CA where he was tailgating wearing a bright green shirt with his name printed on the front, hot pink shorts, a horse belt buckle, and cowboy boots. We recognized the stuffed horses sitting on top of his truck right away and began the conversation.

One day in 2009, middle school teacher Leo VanWarmerdam, 28, used small plastic animals to reward his students for good behavior in his classroom. Later that night, at a bar in Corona Del Mar, CA, he discovered the animals were still in his pocket. Having some fun, Leo placed a small plastic horse on the rim of his drinking glass and passed the others around to his friends. Soon after, the entire bar wanted to join in the fun leaving Leo with no more animals.

The next time out country music fan, Josh, a friend of Leo’s, brought a bigger version of the plastic horse for his cup, and the obsession grew from there. Whenever the horses were brought out strangers at every bar, party, or concert wanted to get involved!

IMG_1092Eventually the horses grew in size and now are familiarly recognized at country concerts across Southern California. Men and woman of all ages are drawn to the horses and the personalities behind them.

After meeting Josh and his sister, Jenna, in San Diego our families began to plan what concerts we were going to next. Three years and over 25 country concerts later, I can say that Josh, Jenna, and the rest of the “pony” group are like family to me.

In order to capitalize on the popularity of these horses we finally decided to create a following for them on social media. As a Public Relations student I was automatically chosen to take charge of this task for “experience” as my dad said. I don’t know how promoting stuffed horses will look to future employers, but in the end it was all for fun and games.

IMG_4111We now have a Instagram, Twitter, Facebook, and website for Pony Boys USA! Here is where we share our fun experiences within the country music world. Whether it’s on stage at concerts (pictured on the right with Eli Young Band) or backstage hanging out backstage with artists’ people get a kick out of the crazy fame these horses have gained.

It may be a strange connection to country music, but Pony Boys USA and all the people involved have enhanced my experience as a country music fan. Not only do I attend more country music concerts but I also get the chance to learn how to make a website and promote a new brand. I have no idea where this will go, if anywhere, but the bottom line is we have a great time and I enjoy the added benefits of watching my “brother” sing on stage with Keith Urban all because of some small horse obsession.



Filed under Blog Post 2, Concert, Country Pop, Keith Urban, Live Music

March=Rodeo Season

March is just around the corner and that means three things to my friends and me. Spring Break, March Madness, and the Houston Rodeo. The Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo takes place throughout the month of March and dominates most of my friends’ social calendar. For those not from Houston, the Houston rodeo is one of the largest entertainment and livestock exhibitions in the world. It has a carnival and nightly concerts featuring popular country singers as well as some pop singers. If thats not enough, the people who put on the rodeo insist on selling cheap concert tickets so everyone can afford to enjoy the Rodeo festivities. For comparison’s sake, I went to the carnival and Blake Shelton concert for $18.

My first time at the rodeo was when my mom took my siblings and me nearly 18 years ago. She dressed us up in boots, jeans, flannels, and cowboy hats and we had the best time. She took us to the rodeo every year and insisted on going to see her favorite country singers in concert, but we hated the loud noise. As we grew older and began appreciating the music, we began going more than just once a year and now attend the rodeo almost three times a week during “rodeo month”.

Like I said before, my friends and I went to listen to Blake Shelton last year and loved every second of it. He not only plays great music, but he engages the crowd and puts on a great show. He joked about his work on The Voice, and just seemed like an all around great guy. I’m so glad we got to see him live because it really gave me a new perspective on celebrities. I had previously considered him just another good country singer, but his performance really made me respect him as a person and now I listen to more of his music.

I left out one important aspect of the Houston rodeo: the food. Everything is deliciously fried, battered and topped with powdered sugar or chocolate (or both). I tried my first fried oreo, fried ice cream, fried cookie dough, fried coke, and fried snickers at the rodeo and now frequently fry my own candies at home, despite my doctor’s warnings. Every trip to the rodeo leaves me feeling gross and yet oddly satisfied with my dietary choices.

The Houston rodeo is the best month of the year and we are all lucky to go to school so close to Houston. As soon as Spring Break comes, you can bet that my friends and I will drive back to Houston, ready to rodeo (yes, it is a verb too). We’ll cheer on the random cowboys we have never heard of, pay way too much money to go on somewhat unsatisfactory rides, eat gross amounts of fried foods, listen to excellent music, and have an overall great time. I love rodeo season.


Filed under Blog Post 2, Houston Rodeo, Live Music

Country Music Through a Different Cultural Lense

fernandez_vicenteComing from a smaller Mexican city 80 miles south of San Diego, my childhood consisted of minimal exposure to any form of country music. While it was possible to hear the iconic melodies of George Strait and Willie Nelson, they held no significance to me. While Mexico has it’s traditional mariachi and ranchera music, of which I’m not too fond of, it seemed as if country music was no more than an American equivalent to said genres. Because of this preconception, it is safe to say I wasn’t changing the radio station to the top 10 country countdown on a regular basis.

However, much of this changed when I first started going to school in the United States. I was shocked when I learned how prominent country music was within the college life, as I knew little to no people back home who enjoyed the “Mexican Country Equivalent.” Suddenly I was being introduced to artists like Luke Bryan and Florida Georgia Line, which sounded very different compared to music I initially associated with country. Even still, I was far from a fan and preferred most other types of music.

One of the first true experiences I had that started to open me up came when I was traveling with the tennis team to Tulsa last fall for a tournament. I started talking to one of my teammates from Kansas when I noticed he was listening to “Remember When” by Alan Jackson, and had told him I wasn’t a fan of country music. He couldn’t believe it and started playing various songs from his country playlist, which included both the old school classics and more pop-oriented hits of today. I felt uncomfortable as it seemed like he knew every single word to the songs while it was just my first time hearing most of them.

While this didn’t necessarily change my opinionimages much on the subject, although I enjoyed a few of the songs played, it made me realize that it was hard to classify country music as all sounding the same with similar messages. It wasn’t until I listened to the song “When I Get Where I’m Going” by Brad Paisley that I truly starting enjoying country music. Unlike many of the other messages preached by typical country songs about girls and trucks, I felt like this song was one of the few I could truly related to, coupled with the combination of the male and female voices singing, and became my favorite country music song to date.

Although I may not have been raised in the country environment, nor enjoy it near as much as some of my friends, I can now enjoy and appreciate country music far more than I ever have.


Filed under Blog Post 2

Wasn’t Raised With It, but Wish I Had Been

1401x788-GettyImages-476930506“It’s only $25, and I guess I don’t have anything else planned that weekend”, I thought to my fifteen year old self when a friend of mine insisted that I go to a concert with her. I had never listened to much country music, but it was the middle of July and I figured it could be a fun way to spend my night.

I went online and bought the ticket, and a few weeks later we were on our way to the Sleep Country Amphitheater in Ridgefield, Washington, listening to “Country Girl” by Luke Bryan on repeat. I had no idea who Luke Bryan was, and the name Tim McGraw was only vaguely familiar. Little did I know, I was on my way to see two of the biggest names in country music. We walked into the amphitheater in our jean shorts and flannels, trying to fit in with the ‘country’ crowd, found a spot on the lawn to lay down our blankets and took our seats. Soon enough, everyone was on their feet singing and dancing along to each and every song throughout the night.

This was my first real exposure to the world of country music, and I never looked back. I started listening to Luke Bryan religiously, and found myself switching to the country radio stations in the car on my way to school. I had a couple of friends who would listen along with me, but more often than not, I was quickly shut down and someone else would switch back to the Top 40 or plug in their aux cord – anything to get away from the country they so clearly couldn’t stand to listen to. It wasn’t until my freshman year of college that I really learned what country music was.

I had spent the past few years listening to whatever I found on the radio, but I had never heard of Pat Green or Bart Crow Band. I remember it perfectly, standing in a crowd surrounded by my new college friends, wondering why I was waiting around on this hot day for someone I’d never heard of to come out and play (Pat Green). Even when he did come on stage and start playing, I thought he was great but didn’t know a single word to a single song. I had no idea how all of my friends from Texas knew every word and got more excited with every song he played.

The first true country song that I really loved was “Wear My Ring” by Bart Crow Band, but even then I wasn’t fully aware that I was listening to Texas country. Wear My Ring was just the song I’d learned from listening to it over and over again during football season on game days, and had eventually learned the words and started to sing along. Now, I go back home to Portland, Oregon over breaks and play real country for my family and for those friends who originally showed me the genre.

My mom is from Sweden originally and doesn’t have much interest in country music, but my dad was raised in Lubbock, and is unbelievably proud of being a Texan. He went to UT for undergrad and for law school, and couldn’t contain himself when I made the decision to come here myself. He can’t stop smiling when he comes to visit, and even in my third year here he still loves to take me around campus and around town to show me his favorite college hang outs – sometimes he’ll even bring his boots and take me two stepping. Although I didn’t grow up around country music and the idea of boys wearing cowboy boots and white wash jeans every day seemed like something from another universe, UT has absolutely shown me a new culture and what real country is, and I’ve learned to love it all.


Filed under Blog Post 2, Texas

Why country music needs more appreciation

Country Sterotype Today many people claim that all country music sounds the same, and that the genre is “boring”. I often read articles and watch videos that poke fun of country music, saying all the artists talk about is beer, women, and trucks. The genre acts like a roller coaster, having extreme highs and the lowest of lows. The past decade has been trending towards the lower end for country music, and it is time Americans start appreciating the genre once again.

Growing up all my family and friends listened to country music, but when I went to high school I began to see I was part of the minority as a country music fan. This came to be even more apparent to me as I enrolled at the University of Texas. The majority of students seem to enjoy pop, rap and electronic music. I JUST DON’T UNDERSTAND IT.

Let me explain why I think country music should be more appreciated, and climb back up to one of the most popular genres in America. What I am about to say may be filled with stereotypes, and is in no way intended to offend anyone. This is just simply my amateur opinion. First of all rap music is just a disgrace to our society. These men and women are without a doubt very talented, but as a whole spread negative messages to our youth. The songs are filled with lyrics talking about taking hard-core drugs, and often associate themselves with violent crimes. Not to mention I frequently hear rappers refer to women purely as sex objects. This is not what I want my society listening to, and I sure don’t want our youth idolizing these men.

Now let me move on to “pop” music. I feel as if this genre is more focused on the fame of the artist more than the music. The artists don’t seem to care about their fan bases, nor do they have a link with their fans. They are in the industry to get as famous as possible, so they can get as rich as possible. There is nothing special about this genre and the music is hard to identify with. I want the musicians to have lived the songs they sing, and have a connection with the fans they are producing music for. Personally I just don’t think this is the case with pop music.

Last but not least, let me give you my opinion on electronic music. This kind of music may be unique, but I just don’t see the talent in it. Just about anyone can put together a decent song on the computer pushing a few buttons. You do not need to have a great voice or a gift of playing instruments. I feel anyone who is familiar with computers and has any kind of rhythm can make this music. Plus what is a concert if you don’t have someone playing instruments and singing? Anyone can stand there and hit the play button on their Mac, then throw their hands up as if they are doing something.

These are just few of the many reasons country music should be noticed and appreciated once again. Yes, every song may be about God, beer, patriotism, momma and tan lit women, but that is what America is all about. The musicians believe in what they sing and love their fans. The songs preach hard work, religion, taking care of women and family and supporting our troops. These are things we as Americans need to focus on and the foundation of our great nation. No, the genre is not perfect, we may have a few songs about getting too drunk or bar fights, but the good outweighs the bad. I hope Americans comes to realize this!


Filed under Blog Post 2