Monday, October 12, 2015

Confessions of a Newly Created Horse Lover

When I was a kid my parents had friends who had two horses—a beautiful, big palomino and a feisty young pinto. Sometimes we would go to their house way out in the country and we would get to ride them. I wasn’t sure if I liked it or not. I liked the horses—they were sweet and affectionate—I just didn’t really like riding them. Honestly, I don’t know why.
Later, when I moved to Texas, I had friends who owned horses and stabled them at stables west of Houston. A couple times I went with them to see their horses and I loved them but, again, I didn’t really like riding them but this time I knew why—I felt bad climbing on them and expecting them to carry me around and do what I told them to do. I know that sounds strange but the horses seemed so regal and noble that I didn’t they should have to haul me around like that. I didn’t like the idea of dominance that riding entailed. I know that sounds strange since I grew up on cowboy movies where everybody rode horses but I could never make myself feel right about doing it.
 Consequently, I never thought I would write a story that focused on horses even though I knew a lot of people loved them. Then a few months back I started paying attention to the posts made by a woman from Canada who is an ardent horse lover, breeder, and advocate. She posted a lot about the horrors of kill-buyers, people who gather up horses by the thousands, transport them under absolutely brutal conditions, to Mexico and Canada where they are slaughtered by the most horrific means, and their meat is sent overseas for dog food or even for human consumption. I knew I wanted to write about this.
Black Forest Horse

In my Marienstadt stories I have two characters who are horse people. Kit and Boone Wilde as young men worked for their uncle in Kentucky who ran a horse stable. Boone spent a few years herding cattle in Montana before returning to Marienstadt but Kit had stayed with the horses. A story began to form in my brain and for the last few weeks all I have done is research and write, research and write, research write. The story began to take shape.
Gypsy Vanner

While doing research I discovered something else that interested me—therapeutic riding. Because of the sweet and gentle nature of some horses, especially draft horses, they can have a beneficial effect on people with disabilities or who have experienced trauma. There is a physical component to this. Because horses move with the same sot of gait that humans do, people with mobility issues can benefit from the experience of riding horses which also helps them strengthen core muscles just to stay on the horse. And, because of the gentle nature of these horses, they can help heal emotional wounds just by being so calm and affectionate.
Norwegian Fjord Horse

So I started to build my story and I decided that the core of the story concerns a beautiful Friesian stallion named Sultan who was taken from his owner, a lovely woman, by her jealous husband and sold, to whom nobody knows. Kit enlists the help of his brother Boone to help track down the horse and, along the way, the encounter an old friend from their biker days, whose motorcycle club is now on a mission to break up dogfight rings.
Writing about this is getting excited. I’ve done a lot of research on both kill-buyers and dogfights and it is heartbreaking. And I’ve fallen in love with draft horses—Friesians, Black Forest Horses, Gypsy Vanners, and Norwegian Fjords.
The story is getting exciting and I need to get back to work in it but here are a few pictures of the breeds I am writing about. Their beauty astonishes me and keeps me hard at work on this story.

Thanks for reading.

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