Chip Ward © 2008

Produced by a three-person crew that includes Newman, her executive-producer husband, Chip Ward, and director of photography Greg Barna, Equitrekking won a Daytime Emmy in 2009 for outstanding photography. Last year, Newman and Ward were nominated for another Daytime Emmy award, this time for writing, competing against such big hitters as The Ellen DeGeneres Show and Comedy Central’s Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert.  

“It is amazing because we’re just a small, independent production company,” Newman says—so small that the couple uses their Bethesda apartment as a production studio. “We just did this ourselves. It’s not like we’re backed by Comedy Central or Warner Brothers. We’re here in Bethesda.”

Adam Gronski, vice president of corporate marketing for Washington-based WETA-TV, says the show offers something different from other travel series: It takes viewers to beautiful and remote destinations on horseback. “Darley is an expert on equestrianism and travel, and what makes the concept interesting is that most cultures throughout history have some interaction with the horse,” Gronski says.

Brent Stanton, executive director of the Daytime Emmy Awards, is a fan, as well. “Equitrekking is a fine example of a group of people doing what they are meant to do in life, and it comes through in every episode,” he says.

Newman’s passion for horseback riding began at age 7, when she attended summer camp in the mountains of western North Carolina.

“I remember being awestruck that this horse, who was so massive and strong, was letting me ride him and was actually listening to me,” the Bethesda native says. “Horses are powerful, yet sensitive. While riding, you become their partner. It’s really a spectacular feeling and bond.”

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In some ways, it seems her bond with horses was preordained. Though she was named for a family member, she since has learned that the Darley Arabian was one of three dominant foundation sires of thoroughbred racehorses, siring numerous offspring in the early 18th century.

When Newman was 4, her parents divorced and she moved with her mother from Bethesda to Myrtle Beach, S.C. But she visited her father in Bethesda during the summers and remembers walking along the area’s trails. She continued riding at summer camps and during family vacations, and took lessons every summer until college, including at Meadowbrook Stables in Chevy Chase.

Newman returned to the Washington area to attend Georgetown University, where she majored in electronic media and minored in international business and cultures, a combination she created so she could study abroad and travel. She knew she wanted to do a travel show one day, she just didn’t know how.

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Then, during her senior year of college in 2000, she met Ward, who was working toward a master’s degree in business at George Washington University. The two lived in the same apartment building and started dating. After Ward’s graduation, they moved together to New York City.

Newman took a job at CBS’ 48 Hours and did freelance field producing and writing for the Food Network and PBS, including medical documentaries. She also did camera work, filming at New York-Presbyterian Hospital as TV personality Dr. Mehmet Oz performed open heart surgery. She had to hold the camera steady for four hours.

“I’m standing there above this man who has his chest open and filming this and it’s Dr. Oz telling me what’s going on,” she says. “It was a crash course in production.”

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Julie Rasicot

Julie Rasicot can be reached at julie.rasicot@bethesdamagazine.com