The scene opens on a pianist, fingers poised above the keys, head bent in concentration. And then he plays. It took a nanosecond at most for my brain to register the scene and develop an expectation about what would happen when the musician’s fingers connected with the instrument’s keys. So it was a shocking attention-getter when every note was exactly the same tone regardless of the talented fluidity with which the pianist’s hands danced up and down the keyboard.

This was a commercial on television. No dialogue was necessary. The message was loud and clear as the pianist did an about-face on the stool and assumed the starting position again over a different piano. This time, each note was uniquely tuned, and the musician drew harmony from the piano. A masterpiece swells and one sentence appears on the screen: “Be together, not the same.”

While it took me two paragraphs to describe it, the entire commercial made its impact in 30 seconds. And I thought, “Wow. How true. How boring life would be if every note, every person, every place, every day were the same.”

Denton is original and independent. We’re known for music of all kinds, not just one sound. Perhaps that’s why the commercial spoke so specifically to me. But before the 30 seconds were up, I was already thinking about the multitude of ways that piano analogy applies to other aspects of Denton life, too.

The North Texas Horse Country Tour is a great example and an important Denton Bucket List to-do.

Long ago, before the Industrial Revolution, America’s economy was driven by agriculture. In the past 100 years, other industries, inventions, technology, and unprecedented urban sprawl have eclipsed the importance of agriculture in the American mind. We are fortunate in Denton County that this is not the case. I bet most of you see the evidence of this fact on a regular basis and don’t realize the value of what you are seeing.

Across Denton County, but especially in the northern realm, we enjoy beautiful vistas of rolling hills, lush pastureland, miles of fine fencing, grand homes and barns, and horses. Lots and lots of horses. There is an impressive population of more than 25,000 horses, incorporating virtually every breed and discipline, on more than 400 horse farms. Nowhere on the globe is there an equine concentration as vast and diverse as Denton County’s. While horses draw visitors from around the world, they are vital to our economy in many other ways as well.

The equine industry represents the largest agricultural impact on Denton County’s economy over any other industry, more than $50 million a year. Where is the money in all this horseflesh? The answer is as diverse as the horses themselves: horse shows, sales, breeding, training, competition, racing, reining, cutting, and the list goes on.

baby_horse__photo_by_sharon_lynn__w640While horse sales are the majority of those revenues, support businesses to the equine industry are critical to its success. We see them all the time. We just don’t give full attention to how all the dots connect that make this narrow swath of sandy loam soil in the middle of Texas prairie-land so incredibly equine-rich. Veterinarians, hay, trailers, barn-building, building equipment and supplies, tack, feed, fencing, farrier services, breeding technology, education, and many other businesses buttress the ongoing health of our county’s premier agricultural industry. Together, they are the industry.

You see? Together, but not the same. Equine pros all doing their own thing that together comprise a masterpiece of harmony unmatched anywhere on Earth. Original. Independent.

This coming Saturday, March 5 is the first of the CVB’s 2016 season of public motorcoach tours into the horse country. Tickets for the tour are $40 and include snacks, drinks and a chuckwagon lunch. Sponsored by Watt Wealth Management, the tour originates in downtown Denton. Aboard a luxury motorcoach, guests wind their way through the beautiful North Texas Horse Country while a fun and knowledgeable guide narrates the facts and back story of the area. The tour visits two premier horse ranches for an up-close-and-personal look at the equine industry. A mounted shooting demonstration entertains during the chuckwagon lunch at Oak Meadow Ranch.

People have come from countries all over the world to experience the North Texas Horse Country. Shouldn’t every Dentonite know what it’s all about? We offer six behind-the-scenes tours per year, and they sell out. So plan ahead for tackling this #DentonBucketList must-do. Ticket sales for all 2016 tours are open now at www.horsecountrytours.com or by calling 940-382-7895.