Like many young girls, I was wildly in love with horses. Unfortunately, I was a city girl and had no access to them. But after I graduated from college and set off on my own on the other side of the city, I was excited because I learned there were stables and riders could take horses through Lincoln Park. To my disappointment, the last stable closed the month before I moved into my new apartment. Insurance rates killed the business.
Still, there were stables in the suburbs and eventually I decided to take lessons at a stable closer to my childhood home than it was to my apartment. No sooner had I started riding than an old knee injury forced me into major surgery. My first question to the doctor 6 weeks after surgery was: how soon can I ride? He didn’t want to hear about it, said I would totally destroy my knee. Nevertheless, I started riding after three months, and when I went back to the surgeon at six months, he wanted to know what I was doing right, because I wasn’t limping anymore. :)
My love of horses only grew. I got a job in a suburb far, far away from my original stable, so switched and found a personal trainer. I shared board on a horse and was the only one to take care of and ride him. I rode and competed for nine years. I tried different styles of riding, my favorites being hunt seat (yes, I jumped) and western. My husband I used to go to an adult only riding camp in Michigan for weekends and sometimes for weeks. On a research trip for one of my books, we went to Black Hills Wild Horse Sanctuary in South Dakota. On another, we learned to move cows on horseback in New Mexico.
No wonder I write so many “horse” books.
My April Intrigue, PUREBRED, is another, set here in Illinois in an area where my horse-crazy cousin owns property. She owns five horses, has her own small stable, but she also stables a couple of her horses where she takes dressage lessons. So I spent a day with her, following her around, checking out the ranches and stables in her area, talked to her trainer about issues that had to do with the mystery in my story. Even though I don’t ride anymore (must protect the now-bionic knee) I can still “ride” and appreciate horses through my writing.