*Elite Equestrian*, the leading purveyer of all things equine and equestrian, is an enterprise that offers shopping and role play for Second Life horses and riders. I had the good fortune to chat with Elite Management to learn more about their original sim and their new Elite Riding Academy.
Dean : Could you give me a brief overview of the history Elite Equestrian?
Elite Management : Elite Equestrian was formed this year as a spin-off to my parent brand, ~Ladies' Pleasure~, which was founded in November 2012. EE is a maker of the RealHorse horse breed avatars, tack and accessories for our 12 breeds of horses. We have two regions, one is our main store location at Cherry Island, where we do most of our work and have our stores laid out conveniently for horses to shop. Our original sim is where all of our demo models may be seen in action, and in some cases, even ridden! Our second region is our roleplay sim in Tamarillo Island. We launched our roleplay sim, the Elite Riding Academy, in August of this year. Other than being horse-centric, the two regions are very different. Cherry Island is our display sim; ERA is open to the public and to registered roleplayers, and while there is a small mall at our landing point, that is not the point of the region,
ERA was inspired by one of our customers, who said that she was unable to find a sim where she could RP with her RealHorse. We thought that was an opportunity for our team and so we asked our customers for input about what they'd like to see in an equine roleplay. After talking to them for a week and collating their responses, we put the sim together in about 3 days and opened it that same week. One of my business partners, Cherry Lastchance, is responsible for the design and the decoration of our sims, and she has done a beautiful job.
Dean : How would you describe the roleplay at Elite Equestrian?
Elite Management : I think it's important to make clear we have two different sims. Our store sim is not a roleplay sim. Horses talk, shop, run around, do their thing, but it's totally not a RP place. the Elite Riding Academy, however, is a full on RP sim, with horses and humans expect to engage in roleplay. Our sim differs from other animal sims in several ways. First of all, we are focused on having an experience as close to a RL equine industry trainin facility as we can. Many of our RPers currently own/train/ride horses and quite a few have been horse owners/riders/trainers in the past, so there is a strong body of knowledge about the horse in our roleplay community. We offer narrative roleplay, where roleplay is storyline driven, and again, in a way that would be logical in a high-end, American-based horse training facility. Thirdly, we require all horses who are roleplaying at ERA to have an open RLV relay set to our group, so that the human RPers can bring them out, ride them, and otherwise RP with them as if they were RL horses. That's another thing that makes our RP move more smoothly. Human RPers aren't left dangling about 'how do I RP with this barn full of hostile horse avatars?' They know that if a horse is at the ERA, and in a stall or the turnout paddock, they are up for RP and they will respond to the human like a horse would.
We have formal RP times, when horses are introduced into the RP narrative through something we call 'Barn Walk'. Barn Walk takes 1 1/2-2 hours and we try to RP with as many horses as show up.
We also have competitions, clinic and other events, including performances off the sim.
Dean : Are the horse avatars in your stores created exclusively for Elite Equestrian?
Elite Management : Elite Equestrian is the spin-off company from ~Ladies' Pleasure~. We are the maker of the *E* RealHorse, which we made because we wanted a horse avatar that was as close to RL as we could get. We now have 12 breeds, each in 2 genders, so a total of 24 horse avatars, with more breeds coming soon. We spend much of our time working on our horses and the tack, hair, skins and accessories they wear.
Dean : Are all the horses avatars or can riders "wear" the horse they ride?
Elite Management : All of our horses are avatars. Some of our customers get the best of both worlds, by purchasing a horse to put on an alt that they register as a bot.
Dean : With Halloween approaching are there any events that you will be hosting or that involve equestrian events?
Elite Management : yes, many in fact! We currently have a leaf chase going on, with random leaves appearing in the sim for the horses to chase to win 1 of 48 prizes. We have an upcoming Cross Country competition at Equine Island, which is currently decorated in their best Halloween spookiness. We will also be participating in [ Free Bird ]'s 'Live Trick or Treat' at the end of the month, where our Percherons will be providing hay rides to our visitors. (Our 'treat' will be a very cute limited edition 'Tiny Tails' horse avatar, in 6 different halloween patterns). We've been invited to provide horses for hayrides at several events and of course, we have our special Costume Show on the 30th, with both ridden and driven dressage in costume.
Dean : Do you have any advice for anyone who is interested in roleplay but is new to SL RP?
Elite Management : Well, gosh. I myself am not what I'd call an epic RPer. There are tons of places to go learn about RP, but I guess my best advice is to rememebr that IC actions usually bring IC responses, and if you don't like the IC response, maybe you need to stop your IC actions that generated it! Also, IC is not the same as OOC, and if you visit RP sims be respectful of the owners and mods, many of whom are doing what they do as a passion, not a job. Respect their rules if you visit; usually it's not that hard to do and most places do list their rules pretty prominently. There are tons of groups you can join to help connect you to a good community, as well. Search is a great tool, just type in 'Roleplay' into the groups tab and a lot of options will pop up.
Dean : Is there anything else you would like our readers to know about Elite Equestrian?
Elite Management : We have built what we feel is the best horse avatar in SL, and we encourage anyone with an interest in going equine or riding to come try them out at our Cherry Island store or visit the Elite Riding Academy. Horsing around in SL has been a lot of fun and I still find riding my personal horses a total blast, whether we're jumping, driving, or riding dressage.