Meet Best Friends: Margaret Schreiber

By Ted Brewer

Considering the dynamic, almost jet-setting life she’s lived so far, some may find it hard to believe that Margaret Schreiber describes taking a job at Best Friends as "the best decision I’ve ever made." After all, the caregiver, adoption coordinator and volunteer coordinator at Horse Haven has traveled the world as an actor and writer. But she insists that her job — or multi-job, as it were — at Best Friends’ horse department tops them all.

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Margaret and Isabella

Schreiber divides her career so far into two stages, her acting and writing stages. The acting stage started after she earned an English degree at the University of Wisconsin in Madison and moved to Chicago. There she picked up roles in films, some small and some large, including The Fugitive with Harrison Ford. To make ends meet, she also acted in industrial films and contracted with corporations to deliver live presentations of their products.

Her acting took her places she never would have suspected, including the basement of the Pentagon. There, working for the U.S. Defense Intelligence Agency, she delivered taped weather casts for the military. The casts, she says, were encoded with intelligence information.

"I’d say things like ‘there’s going to be a heat wave in Tehran,’ and it would be translated by the military as some piece of intelligence," she says, laughing. Going into the bowels of the Pentagon, she got a potent taste of the world of espionage. "I saw rooms where they were developing gadgets for everyday espionage, not so unlike what you’d see in the James Bond movies."

The child of German parents, Schreiber later moved to Munich, where she picked up roles in a number of European independent films.

World-wide writer

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Margaret and Isabella

Schreiber’s writing stage began when she returned to the U.S. For several years she worked as a freelancer, penning articles for regional newspapers and magazines and copywriting for companies such as Land’s End, AT&T, and Sears. In 2005 she hired on with Hotels.com to evaluate and write descriptions of hotels, a job that based her in Dallas but required she travel the world visiting the hotels she was writing about. The job wasn’t, however, as glamorous as it may seem.

"I’d have to visit eight to ten hotels in a day and then go back to the hotel and write," she recalls. Even with the 18-hour days she sometimes had to work, Schreiber says she still loved the job. When she got laid off last year, she wasn’t too broken up about it, though.

"All I could think was, ‘this is fantastic,’" she says. Fantastic because she could finally take a long-awaited trip to Best Friends. She made plans almost immediately.

Her sister Lynne had introduced her to the organization ten years before. Part of what drew Schreiber to the organization was its insistence on presenting the positives and successes in animal welfare, rather than wallowing in the disturbing aspects.

"Best Friends was motivated to make a difference, and not just to solicit for funds," she says.

When Schreiber was making her plans to visit Best Friends, her sister Lynne called and pointed out an advertisement in Best Friends magazine announcing a workshop on equine health, occurring at the same she would be there. Schreiber called Best Friends and found out there was one remaining spot in the workshop, which she soon became hers.

Good horse sense

Schreiber’s love of horses goes back to elementary school, when she and her sister began attending courses on horse care, horse anatomy and proper feeding — training that would last into high school. Schreiber would, in her adult life, go on to study Parelli natural horsemanship, a method of training horses that relies on a trusting relationship between animal and trainer rather than on force. Schreiber put that training to use as the owner of a horse farm in Wisconsin, where she trained others’ horses as well as her own, and more recently as the overseer of the McKinney, Texas Police Department’s stable of horses.

When Schreiber arrived for the workshop, she met Horse Haven manager Jen Reid. Once learning of Schreiber’s experience with horses, Reid mentioned to her that she had a job opening in her department. Schreiber jumped at the opportunity and soon landed the position of caregiver, a job which has since expanded. Utilizing her skills as a writer, she’s also now an adoption and volunteer coordinator for Horse Haven. She loves her job, especially since it enables her to engage in another love — being in Nature.

"I never imagined I could find a job that incorporates my three major passions: horses, writing and the outdoors," she says. "Once I saw this place, it was a done deal."

Photos by Molly Wald

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