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July 16, 2013

From Ringside To Computer Screen

Jimmie and Dom Schramm took their love of teaching and created a weekly videocast, Evention, which has earned a large and devoted following on YouTube. Photo by Grace Darnell

 

Jimmie and Dominic Schramm teach old-fashioned lessons in a modern way.

Dominic Schramm was deep in the Australian outback last year when inspiration struck.

“I teach a lot of kids out there, and it’s easy for them to get put off of the English disciplines because they don’t get taught in a fresh way. I was thinking about writing books and of other ways of getting through to them, because I’m still a bit of a kid myself,” said Schramm, an event rider who was born in Australia. “But then I thought, ‘A book’s silly in this day and age,’ so I thought that we might do something online.”

With the help of his wife, Jimmie Schramm, “Dom” put the thought into action. The two came across another couple, Grace Darnell and Matt Rauppius of Right Start Photography, who had plenty of videography experience but were just launching their business. And that’s when Evention—an online videocast that covers a different eventing-related topic each week—was born.

“I saw an opportunity there because we didn’t have any money, and they didn’t have any money,” said Dom, 25, who moved to the United States in 2010. “It was a very rough-around-the-edges idea, and we decided to fine-tune it more as we went along. We wanted an emphasis on teaching adult amateurs—and not doing it in a condescending way. We wanted to deliver information in a way that was fresh, but we didn’t want to make fun of people for not knowing something simple.”

While Dom acted some in high school, Jimmie, 26, didn’t have any acting or on-camera experience. Their first episode went live Sept. 12, 2012, and it featured a how-to for pulling a mane and clipping a horse’s nose, ears and muzzle.

“I was terrible on camera at first, and Dom was much better,” said Jimmie. “We just have to act like we’re actually teaching someone, and that makes it easier. We don’t script the episodes at all; they’re just off the tops of our heads.” 

The Schramms went to Aiken, S.C., this past winter, and that’s when the videos really started taking off. Evention now has more than 10,000 YouTube subscribers, and the most popular episode, “Rushing Fences,” currently has 32,706 views. A three-part series on seeing the perfect distance isn’t far behind in popularity. The couple hasn’t started monetizing the concept yet; the videos are free, and there aren’t any advertisements on them. Each week’s episode includes “Schrammo’s Shout Out,” which highlights a horse rescue. 

“We were fortunate to have a few blogs jump on our bandwagon right away and post the videos, and that was a huge help,” said Dom. “Right now it’s still an expense for us, but we do get a lot of positive feedback from it. This time last year we were living on an air mattress and eating ramen noodles, so this was also a way to get people to put a name to a face. Along with our competitive results, people now feel more comfortable about taking lessons with us and putting horses in training, and that’s good for our business.” 

The Schramms are currently based in Cochranville, Pa., and some Evention episodes are filmed at Boyd and Silva Martin’s Windurra. Dom and Jimmie, who married in 2010, admitted the first episodes took them around eight hours each to film, but they’ve since gotten much more efficient. 

“We have a bit more of a system and don’t get so stressed out in front of camera,” said Dom. “Now, depending on how many cutaways we need to do, it’s generally between 1½ and three hours for one episode, sometimes longer or slower.”

“Episodes where we have to show a lot of detail—like the one about choosing studs—those tend to take a long time because they require so many different shots,” added Jimmie.

Evention accepts viewer suggestions for topics.

“We get questions, letters and emails every single day,” said Dom. “I’d say on average we get 10 to 15 a day. We do try and look through them all, but we don’t have time to answer them all in depth, and it’s hard to answer training questions through email. The most requested thing is about teaching flying changes. I don’t know if it’s because we have a super jumper following on YouTube. We’re primarily event riders, and teaching changes isn’t super important until you have an upper level horse.”

Dom and Jimmie are looking for ways to expand the program in the future, including possible clinics, but for now they’re happy reaching people via computers and iPhones.

“It’s exciting because when we started it we had no idea how anyone would take it,” said Jimmie. “We talked to friends about it, and they’d do that whole, ‘Oh yeah, sounds like a great idea,’ kind of thing. Then it took off, and it ended up working out really well.” 

Check out all of the Evention videos on their YouTube channel.

 
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