In 1997, I was a father of three teenage girls. In talking with them I discovered that there wasn’t anyplace on the web that contained age and gender appropriate material. You know, stuff just for them. Also if they used a search engine looking for “teen girl stories” all they would get is porn. Pretty disturbing! So I made it my mission to create and produce a site just for teen and pre-teen girls. This truly was an experiment in many ways and I was going to do it on my nickel. Research showed that the “Saddle Club/Spin & Marty” genre had a universal appeal with this age group. By presenting it in a web-based episodic adventure series, these “Webisodes” could form the foundation of a great teen girl website.The on-line drama “The Malibu Horse Club” premiered on the World Wide Web, December 24, 1997 as a seven “Webisode” pilot.
“MHC” starred Heather Wood, Leslie Bruce, Courtney Coons, and Joanna Beattie. The show was scripted by Judith Lutz and production took place at Mickey Hayden’s stables at Nellie Gail Ranch in Laguna Niguel, CA. The website contained the current and past webisodes, special features, a clubhouse, games, horse care tips, and a monitored Java Visual Chat room co-developed with Skunk NewMedia. In these rooms the girls could select a horse graphic and move through a photo realistic setting (like a barn or field) using their mouse and talk to each other via cartoon style dialogue boxes.Soon after it’s launch The Malibu Horse Club was chosen by “Yahoo” as a Yahooligans Cool Site after meeting their strict kid-safe review.For recognition of this groundbreaking teen-girl website, The Malibu Horse Club and it’s Visual Chat were invited to be showcased at the 1998 White House Internet Summit. MHC went “off the air” September 1998 after a successful nine month run.
REVIEWS: “Walt Disney had better look out, as Malibu Horse Club provides fun, intelligent entertainment for children. Congratulations to Mark Hickson for creating a Web Site that will provide a safe, fun place for boys and girls ages 6 to 18 that is technically sound and easy to use. Their Visual Chat Room may provide one of the safest age and gender appropriate communications areas for young girls on the Web.”- Joe Szadkowski, The Washington Times, March 17, 1998
“The Malibu Horse Club is best described as The Saddle Club meets Beverly Hills, 90210, on-line”. – Horse & Rider magazine, February 1998.
“The adventures in The Malibu Horse Club make you anxious for the next episode. It’s good clean fun! It is gratifying to know The White House is involved in giving recognition to those talented people who dedicate themselves in promoting and preserving quality family entertainment” – Ms. S. Griffin, May 1998.