Wednesday, March 28, 2012

WRITING HORSES

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.





7 comments:

  1. I like horses, but after I was thrwon off one when I was a child, they still scare me. They are beautiful animals.

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  2. Tammy, I don't want to tell you how many times I was thrown in the nine years I trained. :) The worst was the last time. After a rain, my trainer had me outside on rolling wet grass. I was just warming up, not even jumping yet, and my horse slipped and her head and shoulders went down and I did a perfect flip over her head and landed on the back of my neck. I didn't let go of the reins and got kicked in the head -- luckily I was wearing my hard hat. They had to call an ambulance and I was taken off the field on a wooden stretcher with my neck tied down. Thankfully, no fractures, which is what they were worried about. I just felt like someone had banged my body against the wall. A couple of weeks later, my trainer convinced me to come back to the stable and get on a horse -- though he was an ungelded Thoroughbred, he was the gentlest horse she owned. Every time a fly touched his hide and he flinched, my stomach tumbled. It took an exciting adventure at the dude ranch on 'dead man's hill' to make me relax on a horse again. Maybe I'm just a crazy person, but I couldn't give up. :)

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  3. My very best friend when I was a child lived on a farm on the edge of our small town in Nebraska. Her Grandpa farmed with big Clydesdales! When they were not working we got to "ride" them. She often stood on their wide backs and rode them around the corral. On the other hand I clung to their mane and with my legs sticking straight out bounced around the corral at a walk. We loved it and laughed the whole time!!

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  4. Connie -- I'm jealous! Sounds like such fun.

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  5. 'Write what you know' as the saying goes. I think it makes the stories more realistic when an author does know so much about the subject.

    MarcieR

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  6. Laura AKA Loves 2 Read RomanceMarch 29, 2012 at 10:55 PM

    I have never been riding. I lived in a city all my life until now. We also discovered at a petting zoo that my younger brother is highly alleric to horses. If you have ever seen the Will Smith movie Hitch the part where his face swells up because of an allergery. That is basically what happens to my brother if he touches a horse and then touches his face. I am also a little scared of horses. They are just so big.

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  7. Laura -- how terrible about your brother -- yes, I remember Hitch.
    And yes, horses are so big...but not necessarily so smart. They are beautiful, however :)

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