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There are no horses at all, apart from the above picture, and not really any hounds unless you count Newfoundlands as such.
But their history is quite fascinating, so here's my quick post on the subject
Okay these are the images of the Pony Express that we have long observed of the rider bolting off on his horse to deliver mail across the wild prairie. We also find this hurried scenario in old Hollywood films and a multiple of other places as well as in the stories we write
But we have been dupped.
Once again, I was recently confronted with horses being able to run full tilt for as long as it takes to save the heroine, hero, town or deliver a message. But think about it. How far could you run full tilt? To the end of your driveway? A mile? But then how far could you ‘jog’ or run slowly? A lot further?
And the distance would be determined by how ‘in condition’ you were. Right? Same for a horse. Or any animal for that matter. It’s a muscle/breathing thing otherwise know as conditioning/ training.
I asked an equine vet about this and he said that fifteen miles is the max a conditioned horse can run at a leisurely pace. This is known as a lope or hand gallop.
However at a full run or full gallop, a horse is only good for barely two miles. Even the Belmont– the longest race of the Triple Crown- is only a mile and a half long .
My point is …if your hero in your story hears that the heroine had been taken hostage by the villain in the town’s saloon and he bolts from his ranch on his trusty stallion Speedy, our hero can not race into town if town more than two miles away. Or he would run Speedy ‘into the ground’ meaning the horse would collapse and likely die.
A waste of serious time and horse. Soooo, our hero would pace the distance at a lope, taking breaks to walk, jog, even get off and walk so Speedy can get his strength again. Remember my scenario of running to the end of your driveway? Now add a heavy back pack to all that. Keep in mind, Speedy is likely carrying 150 pounds on his back as he races to help save our heroine who gave him apple snacks and petted him often. And if you think of it, all this adds conflict and angst to your story. And the reader is troubled but impressed that the hero is thoughtful enough to care for his horse along the way. Frustrating but nice. Just where you want your reader to be.
This brings up the next faux pas….As any runner knows, once you come to the finish line you DO NOT stop. You slow down and walk about until your heart rate slows So, don’t race Speedy into town to the saloon, slide him to a dramatic halt, and have the hero vault from the saddle, throwing the reins around a hitching post, and race off into the saloon to save the heroine.
You can do this with a car. However, like a marathon runner, a horse can’t or shouldn’t just stop. It likely could kill Speedy via the same heart attack as it could the runner.
It delights horse people everywhere to see a writer not forget to care for their horses. But to dismount, race away, and leave the horse simply parked out front usually in winter or on a cold night makes us send bad fuzzies. Bad fuzzies.
And DON’T have our hero race into town, tie Speedy to hitching post that has a watering trough either. I read this once in a novel and the book became a’ wall banger.’ Remember, Speedy is lathered white and ’hot. If our hero leaves our steed hitched at a watering trough and races into the saloon, saves the heroine and walks out with her in his arms, he’ll find Speedy dead or extremely ill and destroyed.
Again, back to the marathon runner who knows he has to walk his heart down to normal. He also knows better than to drink anything cold for a while. They likely pour water over their face and chest if you watch carefully. This is too much shock to a runner’s hot body. Same for the Speedy.
But the heroine is about to be raped and your hero does not have time to walk Speedy down. Suggestions…toss the reins to local kid, local bum, passerby yell, “Got ‘em, Hero,” the character says … and let this person takes care of Speedy while Hero takes care of the villain. And for those writing in Regencys or non Westerns etc, you may just happen to have the butler or a groom ready to take Speedy or the team of horses to the barn/stable.
Please! After working and walking at least a thousand hours and miles cooling horses, I know (and everyone who works with horses knows) you NEVER let a hot horse drink until cool…which is why this is called ‘cooling down.” Nice statement for a hero to say could be, ”Stoddard, see that Speedy is cooled down,” Rhett said as he raced up the steps.
Don’t be fooled by pictures and Hollywood. NEVER run/full gallop a horse for a long distance. If in a hurry, just lope along at a hand gallop. NEVER just stop. Have some one there to take over the care of this horse. And NEVER -EVER have a watering trough, pond, bucket of water or whatever available to a hot, lathered horse to drink from.
If they had someone at Pony Express relay stations to take care of the exhausted horse and so can you. Horse lovers everywhere will send you warm fuzzies if you do and come back to read more of your stories.
Thank you, dear writers who ride horses in your stories. I hope this helps.
I can’t thank you enough for this report. How wonderful to know so many still stop by. I LOVE YOU ALLLLLLLLLL
I promise this year to have more about helping writers ride right. I just read another book that “he picked up the reigns….” Let me know what you need or want and I’ll truly try to help you in any way I can
God Bless and have a great new year
The WordPress.com stats helper monkeys prepared a 2012 annual report for this blog.
Here’s an excerpt:
600 people reached the top of Mt. Everest in 2012. This blog got about 6,100 views in 2012. If every person who reached the top of Mt. Everest viewed this blog, it would have taken 10 years to get that many views.
The Australian Stock Saddle was purpose designed over 150 years ago for use in the Australian bush. Its unique qualities were designed for safety and comfort when working cattle and sheep over harsh terrain and steep descents for long periods of time. The saddle was designed by Australian stockmen after they found the English saddles introduced with the first settlers did not provide the comfort or safety required in the harsh Australian landscape.
Just about everyone and their grandmother talks about the seat in riding. Do this with your seat; do THAT with your seat. Why the fixation on the riding seat?
The "seat" in horseback riding is not limited to the area of the "derriere" that comes into contact with the saddle. Some people include much more than that - all the way from the lower abdominals and waist to above the knees.
Not cavalry-related I know, but horse-related, farrier-related and too good not to re-post. Especially since editing the next novel is keeping me far too busy on the writing front.
And...Alfred Noyes The Highwayman, in case you're wondering where the post title came from :)
As riders, we need to look for any excuse to celebrate our horse's achievements. Good riders are forever thankful for their equine's efforts as they push further stronger deeper and reach new heights. A happy horse is a willing partner, and many horses will give everything they have if they feel your acknowledgement and generosity of spirit.
Don't fool yourself.
That title was a wind-up.....have you come here annoyed?......
Since my last post I have been thinking about horses and horses in writing. There were some mammoth discussions on Facebook after my last post and I could see there are a lot of people who know a lot about horses. However, I am still aware that horses can be a big subject and some people find it hard.
There is inherent risk in almost any sport.
Concussions playing football or soccer. Groin/hamstring pulls/shin splints or tendonitis for runners. Falling on the ice curling and cracking your head. Tennis elbow. Rotator cuff. Catching the ball with your body not your glove. Sprains, strains .. stray balls hit your way playing golf. Or my girlfriends and I drinking too much over the course of 18 holes.
You know friends are special people. Annabelle is such a friend–as many of you reading this are–and a true lover of horses to have shared this video with me today. But she shares so many beautiful thoughts about the horse.
But, she does make me jealous too. She and her horses share such wonderful experiences out there just riding as we all want to do, as we all want our characters to do. I truly believe I lived when horses shared our lives.
Annabelle, may you ride on for all of us and thank you.
On the back of an upsurge of interest in the cavalry, encouraged by the National Theatre production of Warhorse and Speilberg's film, the National Army Museum in London has also been receiving rave reviews - for its Warhorse - Fact & Fiction exhibition.
Well deserved, by the looks of things.
(Sigh). That's another place I'll have to visit.
Some breeds are better at jumping than others but all horses can jump and will do so naturally and without fear up to a height of about three feet. The most common reasons for horses to stop jumping even after doing so willingly are; injury, fear and disobedience. It is important to determine the cause as each has a different solution.
Owning a horse incurs substantial costs and feeding such a large animal is a major part of these costs. There are ways to save money on horse feed without compromising their health or well being.
What does your horse need?
Too often horses are overfed. Recreational horses in particular suffer the same fate as many dogs and cats. Their owners give in to the pleading looks and end up feeding their pets too much.
There you are, an infantryman, marching happily along with your musket and pack. When suddenly in the distance, a group of enemy horsemen appear. What are you going to do?
You could, of course, simply pretend you haven’t seen them. Unfortunately, this is unlikely to mean they’ll leave you alone. They might, but if they begin trotting in your direction you know that unless you can find away to protect yourself you’re likely to be in trouble.
Let me just start by saying, I will never pretend to be a True Cowgirl.
cow·girl n. A hired woman, especially in the western United States, who tends cattle and performs many of her duties on horseback.
I love the life, the lifestyle and am incredibly appreciative of the opportunity to do more things considered Cowgirl since meeting the Cowboy. But despite the fact I've worn cowboy boots since earning enough to buy my first pair as a teen, love country music and all it stands for and have always wanted to live at the end of a dirt road ..
* Disclaimer: It is possible that this post may offend some readers. Please be advised that this list reflects solely my opinions and may not match yours! Read at your own discretion (peril?).
Looks like based on the last post, we're in a "Top Ten" roll. This time, we will consider actual riding skills rather than character traits and maturity (although those also play a factor in every pet peeve below).
Great posts here on what to do and not to do while riding a horse. Of course, for us writers who have various characters on horseback and want to make a scene good or bad, this is fodder. Now you know what to do that your character should NOT do but he must do because he’s a character that doesn’t deserve to be on a horse but is so we MUST make him look this bad. Or good because our hero would never do these things…if he’s that hero we dream about.
The tribal wisdom of the Dakota Indians, passed on from generation to generation, says that:
“When you discover that you are riding a dead horse, best strategy is to dismount."
In government, and other equally dysfunctional organizations, more advanced strategies are usually taken, such as;
1. Buying a stronger whip.
2. Changing riders.
3. Appointing a committee to study the horse.
If horses can live well and happy after War Horse and the horses on Spartacus war scenes. Why this
I just may not watch Luck after this.
Cowboys do this like quarterbacks throw passes
I can’t throw a foot ball and I can’t rope anything. But I’ve always wondered how this was done. I think the video above is great for getting the idea of how to do this. I bet I didn’t let the ‘tip’ tell me when to toss. And I had no idea that when you rope there were so many parts to it all. So I hope this gives the western writers out there some details for their stories.
In the next video you can see the roping in action as well as some great ideas for contermporary westerns. Cowboys aren’t just in the wagon trail days. So enjoy. I did
Ya all come back now, ya hear,
All Thoroughbreds Have Same Ancestor
By Ned Potter | ABC News – 8 hrs ago…
“The Bazzani Scully Brand Lawyers Handicap race, Melbourne, Australia, Jan. 26, 2012. Scott Barbour/Getty Images
All the great names in thoroughbred horse racing – from Secretariat to Man O’War, from Seabiscuit to Seattle Slew – they’re all related, and a team of geneticists has now traced their talent for speed back to a single ancestor. The “speed gene” that made them all so fast was apparently a genetic aberration, and it probably started with one British mare who lived in the mid-17th century.
Emmeline Hill of University College Dublin led a team that analyzed DNA in 593 horses from 22 modern breeds, as well as museum specimens from 12 historically famous stallions. Modern genetics have become sophisticated enough that they could tell, with considerable precision, what the horses had in common.
“The results show that the ‘speed gene’ entered the thoroughbred from a single founder, which was most likely a British mare about 300 years ago when local British horse types were the pre-eminent racing horses, prior to the formal foundation of the thoroughbred racehorse,” said Hill in a prepared statement.
She and her colleagues published their findings in the journal Nature Communications.
Lest this seem like some arcane animal study, it does involve a big-money sport and, more important, questions about how genetic characteristics can be inherited and traced. If you can decipher the genes that make thoroughbreds so fast, say the researchers, you can also find clues to genetic diseases in people. Thoroughbred horses are useful for study because the records of their ancestry are – forgive the pun – really, really thorough, going back centuries.
The great speed horses all shared two genes associated with muscle development. The combination did not show up in regular farm horses, or donkeys, or zebras.
Horses with the two genes were consistently top sprinters. It’s no accident that the Kentucky Derby is a mile and a quarter, usually won in just more than two minutes. Other genetic combinations were found in horses that were slower but able to run longer.
Place your bets.
“LAFAYETTE, N.J. (AP) — Authorities say a fast-moving fire destroyed a barn, killing 22 show horses owned by a noted New Jersey equestrian family and worth tens of thousands of dollars each.
State Police Sgt. Brian Polite says the barn was engulfed in flames when troopers arrived around 2 a.m. Saturday in Lafayette. The blaze was soon extinguished, but all the horses inside were killed.
Polite says the animals were valued at $10,000 to $60,000 apiece.
Betty Hahn, whose family owns the horses, tells a local newspaper that no hay or fuel was stored in the barn, so she’s baffled about how the blaze began. Hahn says her family has competed and won awards in equestrian competitions along the East Coast.”
Man of Integrity…the Big Horse.
A horse I owned died in a barn fire like this one. His papers said his name was Man of Integrity. We called him ‘The Big Horse’ because when he put his head up I think it towered over the Eiffel Tower. He was fifteen hands tall, chestnut, an American Saddlebred gelding. But boy could he lift his head to the clouds.
I remember trying to clip the winter hair out of his ears once. Footstool or no, couldn’t reach them. You know that thing race horses wear that covers their face and cups the eyes so they can’t see behind them? Well I had one and for some odd reason I thought about using it that day. Oh, ‘The Big Horse’ let me put it on. No problem…no buzzing clippers. So, I put this racing mask on and had to sit on the ground to clip his ears. Yes, he thought up was down. I’ll never forget that. I still laugh thinking about it.
Before me, most of The Big Horse’s training was in harness. Slap a saddle on the ol’ boy and he was miserable. He loved harness. Even my mother, who feared horses, could drive ‘The Big Horse’. But here’s the thing, Fine-harness show horses are not allowed to break into a canter. They get disqualified in the class for that. So, for at least ten years ‘The Big Horse” was never allowed to canter.
He didn’t make it in the show ring as the Fine Harness , so they clipped his mane and made him a Three-gaited show horse. That meant cantering. He was all screwed up now. And yeah, I bought him…cheap.
He and I struggled with canter leads. He just didn’t know how to break into one. He always hesitated like he would be punished or something–a back lash from his harness days. Once he even reared up and fell over on me . He reared. I lost balance. Over we went. I survived by the grace of God. We both saw stars.
So, I figured out the real problem. You see, one winter I decided to turn the Val and ‘ The Big Horse” out for the winter instead of working them out in the cold. Brilliant idea huh? I brought ‘em in at night, fed ‘em, let ‘em out each morning.
Day One: I let Val out. He took off lickety-split down the lane to the pasture, took the right angle turn like a barrel horse, and off he went kicking and bucking like a spring colt.
I took The Big Horse out. Let him go. He stood there. Didn’t know what to do. Saw Val. Wanted to join him. He wanted to hurry. Tried to canter. His legs were as stiff as toothpicks. He bounced down that lane like a cartoon character. Came to the turn. STOPPED. WALKED AROUND IT. And peg-legged it out to the pasture.
I was totally dumbfounded . He couldn’t remember how to canter!!
Spring: Both horses raced around the right angle turn to the barn at a neck breaking speed like teenagers in a car race. Yeah, The Big Horse had figured out what he had forgotten. And the canter became easier between us.
I had another great moment with him happened in a Three-Gaited Class. Here we were, a girl against a bunch of trainers. Four of them. Three showing and one judging the class. The Big Horse and I had all the applause all through the class and took fourth. Real shocker here isn’t it? The crowd booed first place, second and third, then cheered when I left the arena. hee hee
And then my parents and I sold him to a lady in Chicago. I had decided to marry and move on. And her trainer’s barn went up in smoke. Other horses besides The Big Horse died that night.
You see, horses won’t leave their stalls even if the stall doors are open. Smoke is out there. Flames are out there. Won’t go. That’s why you have to blindfold them. And usually a barn is wood and the floors are covered with straw or wood chips. In some cases, hay is kept in the loft too. So please, keep anything like cigarettes away from a barn, any barn.
It still breaks my heart that I sold The Big Horse. He was a beautiful, wonderful, kind animal with more integrity than most people.
I’m in the background
The Big Horse was… a Man of Integrity
I’d heard there was symbolism regarding what the statue of a horse was telling us about the rider on his back…I just found out. Thank you Darla K.
If a statue in the park of a person on a horse
has both front legs in the air, the person died in battle.
If the horse has one front leg in the air,
the person died because of wounds received in battle.
If the horse has all four legs on the ground, the person died
of natural causes
Now we know.
Well, we made it. A new year is here with all the plans for an even better year than last. And I hope it is for everyone who stopped by and all who left a note and said howdy. You are all appreciated for sure.
My goals here is to continue to help those of you who write using horses. That’s my goal. Horses are such wonderful creatures and my adventure in helping you has only made me even more aware of how this is true.
I miss having that ‘dialogue’ with a horse . I was raised, “You don’t have a horse unless you can take care of it.’ To my dad, that wasn’t just leaving a horse in the pasture. It was training, riding, and caring everyday. Boy do I miss that.
For me that is the perfect workout. Think about it. Twice a day. Morning and Evening. You move at least for one hour if you just clean stalls, groom, feed, carry water, sweep floor. Now add exercising the horse…who also gets exercised? Every day.
That’s the glitch for me around here. Joe and I have dogs and that alone is a responsibility. Fortunately, when we have to go outta town, we have friends who can come out and stay here. But to expect them to care for horses…a bit too much to ask. And we don’t have a barn or the money to build one. On top of that, just dogs alone are expensive. Horses can be as expensive as kids. That’s not adding to the expense of showing. That can add up quickly enough to a college education in time.
So I live through you and your stories. So thank you. It means a lot. If you EVER have any issue in your story regarding horses. Let me know. I’ll do what I can to assist.
Also, this year I plan to publish a pictorial guide to Writers Riding. I hope to make your research easier and more accessible. I’ll keep you posted on how it’s coming along. I know this stuff but getting the layout right, wow. Not easy.
And I’ll keep coming up with connections for you to check out as it interests you orf something ‘horsey’ that maybe you can use in your stories maybe. And I’m planning on helping you connect with horse people too. You’ve helped me discover a bunch that you should know too.
Well, keep writing and riding,
My best to you all and again, thank you for a wonderful year
I saw War Horse.
And it was well worth it. Lovely story of loving horses and horses loving back. And they do.
There was little I failed to like. Barbwire is always bad. And how could you not have death scenes in a war movie and it was WWI. “War is Hell”
But then as life, there is lots of beauty. A mother’s love of family…a father’s, son’s and friends’. There will always be beauty in that. Beauty between enemies even. There is the beauty of horses both young and old. Both playing together and working together. Beauty and friendship between horses. And they do have friendships as we do.
And the surprised beauty in how life comes in circles by some miracle or divine right. So, be sure to go see this heart warming story of a boy and his horse.
Move over Black Stallion…new kid on the block.
<a href=”http://” title=”Koren War Hero”>
This is a fantastic LITTLE KNOWN horse story that should be made into a movie too.
<a href="http://” title=”The beauty of Horses”>
I will never get tired of seeing horses. Enjoy and may you be able to capture some of this animals beauty in your stories.
Have the best of Christmases and may your new year be beyond your dreams
I have no doubt that I am gonna cry in this movie. WWI was a horrible affair and there were so many horses left behind and so many people starving. It is any wonder horse meat is treasured. This animal did more than help win this war.. It also kept it alive.
Now I just learned Congress is going to use tax dollars to slaughter horses in the USA again. I agree with the anti-slaughter in the way of…just put the horses down. Don’t slaughter. It is cruel and heartless. And don’t use my tax dollars for this without any profit return. Their meat will be sent overseas and sold there for profit. It’s wrong all the way around. Obama has okayed this bill. Now it’s before Congress. Please write them.
According to Luigi Gianoli, Horses and Horsemanship through the Ages, about 60 million years ago horses roamed the western plains of the North American continent. They “became extinct in the wake of cosmic upheaval, so that when the Spaniards arrived in the New World, they could find no trace of a horse.” These little guys were about the size of a little dog and ran in herds. Back then, man hunted them for food and drove these little creatures over cliffs. Then, in 1882, professors of Columbia University found the bones of these mini horses “in the Mississippi Basin and at the foot of the Rocky Mountains.” So horses were here.
Then, around the 1600′s, when the Spaniards met the Aztecs, they brought horses with them. When the conquistadors left to return to Spain with the Aztec’s gold, they left their horses behind. Once again, the horses gathered in herds and became the stock of the American mustang.
So, if you are writing a story before the Spaniards arrived in the Americas, remember, the Native Americans did not ride horses back then. Native Americans walked everywhere they went, carrying their belongings or using the domesticated wolf as a pack animal.
Eventually, the Navajo, Pueblo and Apache heard of these “great dogs of the white man” through the trader’s stories or from the few who managed to actually see this animal. By this time the horse had evolved to the size of a large pony and now had a hoof instead of four toes. The Native American tribes had no idea how this curiosity would impact their future.
But the horse did.
From 1600 to today, the horse has been and is revered by all the tribes of the Native Americans. Some came to believe that the sun had herds and blessed earth with them. They were associated with the moon. Or, according to Laverne Harrell Clark in her book ‘They Sang for Horses,” these magnificent creatures have gods riding them or being gods themselves. (I can’t say enough about Ms Clark’s book if you want fantastic details about the coming of the horse to the Native American Indians.)
Young braves soon became adept at stealing horses anywhere he could find them. This theft gave this young men status in the tribe because when they returned home with their prizes, they gave these stolen horses away to tribe members. Imagine a father approached by a successful brave seeking the man’s daughter as his woman. If the young man presented him with many horses, the father would know the young brave could care for his daughter and the father could now give these away as gifts.
The tribes swiftly incorporated the horse into their lives as quickly as we have computers. Horses provided better hunting as well as protection and the tribes could travel farther distances for shelter and food because they ride and could use these ’big dogs’ as pack animals. Needless to say the Native Americans quickly came to love and honor this animal in their ceremonies as well as become experts on riding bareback (No stirrups !) That is until they met the American cowboys and they learned of saddles and such.
Put all this on a time line of American history. By the time of the Westward Expansion and the Civil War–barely two hundred years, the tribes had just mastered horses. Then, the automobile was invented, changing lives for everyone.
You know the history from here. But regardless of whether the truck or car have replaced the necessity of horse, the horse is still revered by the Native Americans. To own one is to have a gift from heaven.
Thank you Picturedepot.com for the horse picture.
Things are gonna change around here. Just letting you know up front. The plan is…for the better.
Yeah, I’m very frustrated with my blog and appreciate how patient all of you have been with me. Thank you for sticking in there with me. I realllllly need to figure out WordPress and make it work better. I bought a book on WP “WordPress for beginners.” And I’ve learned so far what I know, what I don’t know and remain sufficiently confused. You will see some changes. I know that. I would love to get your blogs on horses up on my blogs. I would love to do interviews with you. I would love to have my site link to yours so my guest discover you and become friends. And that’s just the beginning of figuring this WP out. And I want to make it nicer for you to enjoy. I promise to keep up the horse blogs too. I will do better.
Exciting news too. My plan is to also publish a book based off this blog…A writers pictorial reference guide. Let me know if there is anything extra special you would like me to include. Your advice would be greatly appreciated. Really. This is gonna happen.
The American Saddlebred is an American made, American bred, American through and through. I hope you enjoy this video that explains why this horse if amazing…
I wish every child had the chance to experience this horse or any horse. What a wonderful blessing…I know…Valjean was an American Saddlebred and the best friend anyone could ever have.
<a href=”http://” title=”Dancing with Horses” target=”
Well, it’s been a few months since we met here and I am so very grateful for you coming here to help your stories just get better and better.
Now, I need to know what you want, what you need. I do have more blogs in mind but YOU come first. Let me know what you want to know about horses. I’ll do the digging for ya and please know…I love this.
- Native Americans and their horses.
- Historical breeds
- More interviews with equestrians
- More links to sites
Just let me know what you would like to read and need.
oh and I think some of my videos aren’t working…I’ll be checking on those to get them back in order. I bet its updates and all. Hang in there with me.
Let’s lift a toast to the world of racing…to the jockeys, owners, trainers, fans, and of course the beautiful Thoroughbred horses that have qualified to run in
The Triple Crown.
A toast can be anything from water to wine, but each race of the Triple Crown has its own specialty drink that has been enjoyed during all the years of these races. As a writer, you may want to use these traditional drinks, songs and flowers to add a bit of fun in your horseracing stories as a character sensory detail.
Dawn your hat, smell the thick scent of roses, hear voices singing “My Old Kentucky Home” and lift your Mint Julep to the Kentucky Derby. Here’s the recipe for this traditional drink:
The Kentucky Derby Mint Julep
2 C Sugar
2 C water
6-8 sprigs of fresh mint
Kentucky Whisky as Maker Mark or Early Times
Silver Julep cup
Make a syrup by boiling sugar and water together for five minutes. Cool in covered container with 6-8 sprigs of fresh mint and refrigerate overnight. Fill a julep cup with crushed ice, add one tablespoon mint syrup and 2 oz of whisky. Stir rapidly to frost cup and garnish with a fresh sprig of mint.
(Approximately 120,000 mint julep are served on Derby day, using 10,000 bottles of Early Times Mint Julep cocktail, 1000 pounds of fresh mint, and 60,000 pounds of ice.)
The Preakness, the second race of the Triple Crown, has the fragrant summer flower, the Black-eyed Susans, even though they aren’t blooming at the time of this race. Spectators sing “Maryland My Maryland” and lift this traditional drink. Here’s its recipe:
Preakness- Black-eyed Susan Cocktail
3/4 C orange juice
1/2 C pineapple juice
3T light rum
2T orange liquor as Gran Marnier
Garnish with lime slices and/or fresh cherries
Stir together first five ingredients. Fill 2 (12 oz) glasses with crushed ice. Pour orange juice mixture over ice and garnish.
Now, to the Test of Champions- the longest and most difficult of the three races- The Belmont Race. This final race of the Triple Crown has the the sweet-scented flower of the Carnation for ‘love and luck’. If the favored horse has won the two previous races, heart and voices lift to sing ‘New York New York’ and then toast with The Belmont Breeze. Here’s the recipe for:
The Belmont Breeze
1 1/2 oz Kentucky Bourbon or American blended whiskey or 3/4 oz of Harvey’s Bristol Cream Sherry
1/2 ox fresh lemon juice
1 oz simple syrup
1/ 1/2 oz fresh orange juice
1 1/2 oz of cranberry juice
Shake all ingredients with ice and top with half 7-Up and half soda, approx 1 oz of each. Garnish with strawberry, mint sprig, and lemon piece.
So, when you are enjoying these races or using them in your stories remember, a toast is always more from the heart more than the glass. But a beautiful moment is always created.
Here’s to this years Kentucky Derby 2011 and Mucho Mucho Man and Ms Kathy Ritvo’d dreams.
I’m also reposting my blog on the Kentucky Derby history that is so much richer than I can ever touch.
For horselovers, spring holds a special excitement…the running of the Triple Crown of Thoroughbred Racing or as we know it…The Triple Crown. Each yearl we wonder, will we have a triple crown winner this year or not? Hearts soar just thinking of another Secretariat. I still can see that horse making the last turn at the Belmont and heading for the straightaway to the finish line. I also remember actually going to Calumet Farms in Kentucky and seeing this animal grazing in his acre pasture alongside other great horses from that farm. Wow, just to touch the same turf that horse had.
I’ve never been to any of the race tracks during the Triple Crown but Joe and I have gone to a few famous ones a time or two. We’ve been to Churchill Downs, Del Mar, and Aksarben and Kansas City’s own Woodlands. (The last two are no longer running.) Now, I’m not a gambler so I enjoy these races in a different way…I just love watching the horses run and watching how the jockeys work the track. My hubby likes the clubhouse with its air conditioning, nice tables, delicious buffet, fancy drinks, and a better view of the finish line. I love being in what I call the ‘Kentucky Fried Chicken Section’ or down by the fence with the local folk eating Kentucky Fried Chicken, drinking sodas or a beer or two at the finish line, and feeling the dirt filter over the fence as the horses race past. The thunder of their hooves is music to me.
Now, if I had my way, I’d even be down in the barns cleaning the stalls, scrubbing tack or, if really trusted, walking one of the thoroughbreds after a race. That ain’t gonna happen. These animals are more valuable than my house on any given day. And the horses running during the Triple Crown, well, that’s no cheap change either. So I got to thinking about how much I really knew about this jewel of the thoroughbred racing world and I thought’s I’d share what I found out…and it’s no way near everything about this fascinating event. That would take volumes.
History of the Triple Crown
The Triple Crown Stakes did not always happen in the order of the Kentucky Derby, Preakness, and finally the Belmont. That’s only been that way since 1931. Prior to that date, the Preakness ran before the Derby eleven times. And, on May 12, 1917, and on May 13, 1922, the Derby and the Preakness ran on the same day. In 1919, Sir Barton won all three races thus making him the first winner of all three races in one year. However, Gallant Fox created the first recognition of the Triple Crown title by being the “superhorse that could win the Triple Crown in 1930.Thus, the journalist of the Daily Racing Form, Charles Hatton coined the title and only eleven horses have one this crown.
History of the Kentucky Derby
Let’s start with the important stuff….traditions and facts. The Derby or as it’s known as ”the most exiting two minutes in sports” or ‘the fastest two minutes in sports’ is one and a quarter-mile long or ten furlongs. The horses are three years old and is run at Churchill Downs Racetrack in Louisville, Kentucky. This track is still ranked the most attended race in North America including the Preakness and Belmont. Here, the wealthy purchase seats in the Millionaires Row and the ladies wear lavish outfits and very large elaborate hats. Everyone sings “My Old Kentucky Home” while the horses parade onto the track while they drink sip a drink that has graced this race at Churchill Downs for nearly a century–the Derby’s Mint Julep.
The Kentucky Derby Mint Julep
2 C Sugar
2 C water
6-8 sprigs of fresh mint
Kentucky Whisky as Maker Mark or Early Times
Silver Julep cup
Make a syrup by boiling sugar and water together for five minutes. Cool in covered container with 6-8 sprigs of fresh mint and refrigerate overnight. Fill a julep cup with crushed ice, add one tablespoon mint syrup and 2 oz of whisky. Stir rapidly to frost cup and garnish with a fresh sprig of mint.
Approximately 120,000 mint julep are served on Derby day, using 10,000 bottles of Early Times Mint Julep cocktail, 1000 pounds of fresh mint, and 60,000 pounds of ice.
The Derby’s nickname is the “Run for the Roses” because in 1883, E. Berry Wall presented roses to all the ladies at the Post Derby party and the tradition of the roses began. However, it wasn’t until 1896 that the first drape of 554 roses covered the withers of the winning horse, Chant ridden by Frank Goodale won in 2:41.00.
The Derby is one of the oldest Thoroughbred races in America–the Travers Stakes being the oldest, 1864. In 1872, Col. Meriwether Lewis Clark Jr (grandson of William Clark of the Lewis and Clark team) traveled to England and was there for the Epsom Derby and later to Paris for the Gran Prix de Paris. He came home with the idea of such a race for America thus the Louisville Jockey Club was built at Churchill Downs named after John and Henry Churchill who provided the land for the first race that was a mile and half long like the Epsom and Gran Prix. $10,000 was the first winning purse and fifteen horses ran. Aristides won in 2:37.75. (1875) Super Savor won 2:04.45. (2010) with a winning purse of $1,425,000. The first televised race was in May 3, 1952 with a purse winnings of $100,000. Secretariat still holds the records for the speed record 1:59.40.
Let me introduce you to Claire Ashgrove, a mother, a rider, writer and a lady who is wild about horses. She has also spent a lot of time and money on rescuing these beautiful animals on her farm. As a writer and a rider she knows the challenges of owning, caring for, breeding as well as writing about them. So I hope you enjoy getting to know her and her horse world both in reality and her stories….
Hi, Judy! Thanks for having me on your blog today!
About me, huh? I really hate talking about me. Let’s see, I’m a former sport horse breeder who lives on a small farm in Missouri . I’ve always written, although I didn’t always know I wanted to write professionally. I wrote for entertainment and to live out girlhood fantasies about being a rock star. Even had my own band in my books who I knew by heart – talk about bonding with characters! Now I write romance. All kinds of romance. As Claire Ashgrove I write steamy contemporaries (most often involving horses in some way) for The Wild Rose Press, paranormal romance for Tor, and historical romance. I also write erotic romantic suspense as Tori St. Claire. Why do I write? To answer the question, What if?
What brought me to horses… well, that’s easy. I was not paying attention in Nobel Lit my Junior year of High School and browsing the school’s job listings. A local stable advertised help in exchange for riding time or riding lessons. I was suckered from there. Shortly after I purchased my first horse, an Arabian gelding. And, as with every horse owner, from there it was all downhill! For the first five or six years of my horse involvement I learned about show life for Arabians and Saddlebreds, I went on to compete in jumping and dressage, and I sucked up every bit of knowledge I could find on a lot of other breeds and disciplines. After college and family I began raising and training sport horses, primarily Arabians, Thoroughbreds and Oldenburgs . I still dabble occasionally – this year I have one foal expected any day now – but the business end of horses is pretty much part of my former life.
What’s my favorite? That’s hard. Very hard. I would have to say above and beyond, the Arabian is. However, many of the Arabians I have loved, worked with, and owned weren’t physically able to do some of the sports that are my passion – such as cross country jumping. (In particular, water jumps. And anyone who’s had an Arab ought to understand that remark!) Which pushed me into bigger, more powerful movers, such as the Warmbloods. I’m pretty partial to the Hanoverian breed – and my Oldenburgs are founded on Hanoverian lines.
As to how I incorporate them? Pick a way. Really. I’ve written on the racing lifestyle, on a breeder’s struggles on pursuing the Arabian dream. You won’t see horses so much in the background, but as key elements to the plots in the stories I put them in.
What do I like to see in books with horses… accuracy. Not so much technical accuracy (although that’s important) but behavioral accuracy. For instance, historical romances, where the hero on his mighty stallion goes for an afternoon jaunt with the heroine and her pretty mare. Then, the mare and stallion are tied nose to nose, or wandering around loose. Drives me crazy. It’s very common, but the natural behaviors there aren’t going to allow for the hero/heroine to have an intimate moment under the tree while their horses pretend each other doesn’t exist. Or if a horse is acting up and someone is in danger, that the “savior” comes rushing in yelling, and doing things that puts the possible victim in more danger, because that seems logical to a non-horse person – also drives me crazy. I’m not such a huge stickler on having the appropriate parts of a bridle listed off, but the logical interaction between human character, horse character, and authorial control needs to be logical. Otherwise, I toss the book aside.
Gosh horse books. Honestly, I can’t answer this question. My reading time is so limited that the books with horses that stand out to me are often the ones with bad horse depictions. However, I can say that movie-wise two of my favorite portrayals are in Lord of the Rings – Shadowfax and the Ring Wraith’s horses. Both of those, although fantasy completely, were very awe-inspiring when on the screen / in the text. And Tolkien built the world so believably that Shadowfax and Gandalf’s relationship was completely plausible. Gladiator also has a very powerful, very realistic cavalry scene in the opening.
I have three books, presently, that incorporate horses.
The first: Waiting For Yes, just released on April 20th. This book is very special to me as it was inspired by my former Straight Egyptian stallion’s bloodlines. And he’s on the cover! If you like beautiful horses, I have some very nice critters in the book trailer on my website.
Gabrielle Warrenton gave up everything to pursue her dream of a first-class Egyptian Arabian breeding farm. Her future lies in her new stallion’s success. Though she possesses an exceptional eye for horseflesh, she lacks the training knowledge, and Bahadur Mamoon has a date with the nation’s most affluent show in three weeks. Nothing that would present a problem given his previous credentials. Only, the sellers disguised one critical fact—he’s crazy. Jake Lindsey-Sullivan was once part of an exceptional Arabian training team. Under his mother’s guidance, he developed an instinctual talent, but she was the star, the cornerstone of his life. Until she met a premature death. Grief-stricken and plagued by guilt, Jake abandoned the world of horses. Now an over-the-road truck driver, he evades the memories. When a snowstorm throws two Arabian professionals into close-quarters, they discover an engulfing passion. But will Mamoon rip open emotional scars, or forever seal them shut?
The second: A Christmas To Believe In, released November 2010. This book pulls on the dream of horses that so many of us hold dear to our hearts.
Struggling Thoroughbred breeder, Clint King, hasn’t been home for Christmas in five years. This year, his prize mare’s due to foal any day, and in the wake of his father’s death, Clint can’t stand the idea of returning. Except, Alex is getting married on Christmas Eve, and their mother’s put her foot down. With his mare in tow, Clint prepares to meet a sister he’s never known, and Alex’s unexpected triplets. The one salvation he looks forward to is childhood companion, tomboy Jesse Saurs. Yet when he reunites with Jesse, he uncomfortably discovers she’s become all woman. Jesse Saurs has everything she needs – financial security, a home, and a foster child who’s about to become her son. With Ethan’s final hearing scheduled just before Christmas, her dreams will come true. When she learns Clint and his brothers are returning, she anticipates a holiday reunion that’s sure to entertain Ethan. But on the night of Clint’s return, the ‘brother’ she expected leaves her trembling after a hug. Even worse, Ethan makes it clear Clint’s not welcome. Will Christmas destroy hopes and dreams, or will it become the gift they’ve all been longing for?
The third: Seduction’s Stakes, released October 2009. This was my first book, and is a very unique view on the world of elite horseracing.
McCleery Racing didn’t become a Thoroughbred racing powerhouse by betting on longshots. Maddie McCleery made it a multi-million dollar player through hard work, logical decisions, and a commitment to never involve herself with men who lived on the sport of kings. But when she sets her sights on a two-year-old colt her rival owns, she never imagines the lengths she’ll go to, to bring the future champion home. Riley Jennings wants unobtainable Maddie almost more than the Triple Crown. After his Kentucky Derby win, however, he sees a way to sure-fire victory. His proposed wager stacks the odds in his favor – if her horse wins the Preakness, he’ll accept her terms. If his horse comes in first, they’ll negotiate his way. When the dust settles on the wire, will love claim final victory, or will unexpected tragedy stop them in the gates?
For more information, and the other titles I’ve written with horses – including what’s coming down the pipe – please drop by my website: www.claireashgrove.com
Dark, Sexy, Timeless RomanceComing To TOR Books January, 2012! — Immortal Knights Templar,Waiting for Yes – April 20, 2011A Christmas To Believe In — OUT NOW!Seduction’s Stakes – 2009 LASR Best Book of the Year Nominee, Night Owl Romance “5 Stars”www.claireashgrove.com
Once upon a time a million years ago, I attended the most wonderful horse school in Columbia, Missouri, and was a member of the most outstanding group of girls in the best horse club anywhere. That school was at Stephens College and that horse club was the Prince of Wales Club. What is most exciting is that both have endured time and are still the premier places for horselovers to learn more about these magnificent animals at this lovely campus…okay I admit, Stephens offers a lot more than horsemanship but that’s secondary to us horse girls.
Let me introduce one of these PWC members Anastasia Dryjanski, a kindred spirit who has been willing to share her thoughts about riders, writers and riding….
Tell us a bit about yourself and the Prince of Wales Club, where you enjoy horses, what you do that involves horses. YOU, Stephens, PWC and horses
- My name is Anastasia Dryjanski and I am a senior at Stephens College. I am from Melrose Park, Illinois (Chicago-land area). I have forever been in love with horses and reading. I enjoy horses here at Stephens College, at the stables located on campus. I currently ride hunter/jumpers and have found a new love for reining. I also love volunteering for the therapeutic riding center back home. The Prince of Wales Club is the oldest riding club in the United States. It all started when girls fell off their horses they called it a Prince of Wales. This is because the actual Prince of Wales constantly fell off his horse. Any woman who fell off was inducted into the Prince of Wales Club. Later on, each member had to take a written and riding test to get into the club. This allowed only the best and most dedicated women to be inducted. The Prince of Wales Club today allows any person to be inducted and are officially a member for as long as they wish.
How did you get into the horse world, where has this taken you in life, and why do you stay? Tell us about your horse world and your dreams of the future
-When I was six years old, I asked my mother every day for about 3 months if I could have riding lessons. When she finally got tired of me asking, she told me “When you turn 10 we will think about it”. On my 10th birthday I asked “So can I have riding lessons now?” and later that year I got my wish and have been riding and dealing with horses ever since. Working with horses and fellow equestrians has allowed me to grow and has shown me that I would work hard and get dirty rather than sit in an office and make loads of money. I stay with the horses because they are always there for you and will always humble you when you need it, but can make you happy with a nicker in the morning to say hello.
What books do you read that you particularly feel were well written that involved horses? What ‘charmed’ you and what have you read that was well done with horses.
- There have been a couple of series of books that have done particularly well involving horses. The Heartland series by Lauren Brooke is a particular favorite of mine. The Heartland series did particularly well showing “problem” horses and that there is no such thing as a “bad” horse. The author did her research into alternative medicines and working with “problem” horses.
What frustrates you when you read a book with horses? What makes you want to scream when an author has done something wrong?
What makes me mad when I read a book about horses is when authors make them seem like dumb brutes who can be “broken” or are just servants to us humans. Horses for the longest time have been our companions, a means of working, partners, and team mates. It frustrates me to read a book with a war in it and the king or hero rides boldly into battle on a horse he has never ridden, when in reality that horse was probably bred and raised just for him/her and that was the only horse he ever rode. Also, when characters just magically know how to ride when they have never ridden before. It takes years to learn how to ride well, maybe with talent and riding every day months. But still, it takes a while.
What is your all time favorite horse book or books? What books authors can learn from
-I think that the Heartland series is a great set of books. They show both that horses are not stupid dumb animals and that it takes a while to learn just a fraction about riding and horses.
To learn more about horses, what would you recommend for writers? Nonfiction books, magazines, blogs, etc you think would assist authors in using horses better in their stories.
-Magazines are a great way to learn about horses. There are ones about riding, like Practical Horseman and Horse & Rider, and ones about care and horses in general like Equus. There is even one for kids- Young Rider. But I think the best way to learn about horses is to ask people actually in the industry. Usually people are so willing to give their opinions and if you go to someone in the industry who is very well respected, like George Morris for hunter/jumper riders, you know you get good information.
Is there anything more you want to share regarding your practice, shows, or promotions Share information about the Prince of Wales, the upcoming show, Stephens College, and you
- PWC is hosting this years show at Stephens College on April 15th and 16th. April 15th is the Western and Saddleseat part of the show. April 16th is the hunter/jumper portion, and will be an open show, which means that the community can compete in the show. We are really hoping to have a good turn out and invite the community to come and watch! Also, the Equestrian Department is hosting the state FFA Judging Contest on April 14th. On April 2-3, another student and I are going down to Carthage, MO to compete in a local reining show. This is our first reining competition and we are really excited! We just enjoyed a clinic with Melanie Smith-Taylor over Mar. 12-13 and learned a bunch.
If you are in the middle of Missouri on about this time, come by and enjoy this horse show. It’s just plain fun. Or stop by Stephens College when in Columbia and meet the most wonderful staff and students anywhere in the world….and I’m not prejudice at all.
Who could show you better how to ride than Goofy?
Happy writing and ridingh
I knew I liked this guy. Jonathan is a great writer and an even better rider. though we’ve never met other than the internet and our blogs. I did enjoy Walls of Jeriicho- a great read! I hope you enjoy meeting him too. His blog is a tremendous amount of horse information…. heeeeerrrre’s Jonathan
About me. Talking about oneself is always difficult. Perhaps it’s a peculiarly British thing, but I’ve never been very good at self-promotion. Or it could be that I count myself as pretty average, really.
I’m lucky enough to have a great family, which is a big help. Wife plus one daughter – both into horses. Maybe it’s just as well we didn’t have more children! And I’ve always worked, in a wide variety of jobs, so even though our small saddlery business fell victim to the recession I found things I could do to get by. Writing is just one of them.
A past employer of mine once suggested that when money was tight perhaps we ought to get rid of the horses. I told him I’d rather lose an arm. Kept that job for sixteen years!
About Horses Ah…horses: the finest form of life on the planet.
I learned to ride when I was five years old. My parents weren’t ‘horsey’, but my younger sister was into ponies so when she started to have lessons I sort-of tagged along. The riding school closed a couple of years later and apart from the odd beach pony I didn’t ride again until I was twelve. I can’t remember what rekindled my interest but it must have been something pretty spectacular because I’ve been involved with horses ever since.
I bought my first horse at fourteen, much to my mother’s disgust. She’d unwisely offered to fund half the cost, should I find a suitable animal. Provided I saved the rest, of course. Knowing I could never keep money in my pocket for very long, I suppose she thought she would never have to keep her promise, but I found an evening and weekend job delivering groceries. Within a year I’d saved enough.
After six months of trundling around looking at unsuitable horses, my parents had just about given up hope. ‘Well – I couldn’t see anything wrong with that one,’ was the grumble after yet another wasted journey. But find one we did, stabled in a garage in the South Wales valleys. I tried him out on the only patch of ground we could find: a rubbish tip. He was worth the wait, that horse; I had him for twenty-three years.
About Writing Writing about horses is difficult, even for people who know them. It depends on the audience. Specialist equine non-fiction ought to be fairly straightforward; readers can be expected to have a certain, if variable, level of knowledge. But what if you’re writing fiction? How much detail should you put in, so those totally ignorant of horse-culture are entertainingly informed, whilst those who know what you’re on about are not bored rigid? Unfortunately, I’ve not found a straightforward answer – I just stick to two, simple rules
(a). Don’t treat your readers as idiots
(b). Make sure of all your facts.
It’s really obvious to me when writers know very little about horses, especially in Historical Fiction, which I tend to read a lot of. Now, less knowledgeable readers may not notice errors. So as long as they enjoy the story, do these really matter? As the writer, that’s your decision.
I started to write thanks to a woman. Actually, that’s not strictly true: I’d written a novel in my teens, but it was never good enough to be published. I started again because….because wives sometimes nag. Mine told me I wasn’t romantic enough, we never did anything different, I never bought her flowers etc. etc. I’m sure you know what I mean. So for some reason I can’t work out I decided I would deliver her flowers on our anniversary as a 19th century Hussar and take her out to lunch in a carriage. What could be more romantic than that?
I soon found I’d bitten off a bit more than I could chew. I’m a stickler for accuracy, so the cavalry uniform and saddlery had to be period correct. The uniform I could source but saddlery? I made it all myself but there were no patterns available, so I had to troll through non-fiction histories (ugh – I hate history!) to find as many descriptions and pictures as I could. And the more I read about British cavalry in the Napoleonic period, the more frustrated I got about the criticisms heaped upon them. They couldn’t have been that bad, could they?
It seemed just about every historian and his dog disagreed with me, and that’s what eventually prompted me to start writing about the cavalry. To try to give a more balanced picture of what life was really like for these men, and why their efforts and sacrifices were, and have never been, truly appreciated.
The anniversary? That went off without a hitch Except that the restaurant staff had a good laugh when I turned up for lunch wearing the uniform!
About Horse books Picking a list of favourite horse books is a nightmare, so I’ve kept it short:
Black Beauty – Ann Sewell The book that started it all, Sewell’s story of a horse’s treatment in Victorian England is as powerfully evocative today as when it was written, made even more poignant by the fact that she was ill when it was published 1867 and just lived long enough to see its huge success.
War Horse – Michael Morpurgo The story of a farm horse purchased by the army and sent to France during WWI. Written originally for a young adult audience, it is recommended reading for anyone keen to find out how horses fared during that conflict.
Red Rum - Ivor Herbert Red Rum won the Grand National three times – an unequalled record. But he was a poor racehorse on the flat and suffered from crippling pedalostitis.
Eclipse - Nicholas Clee The 18th century racehorse that sired a dynasty, yet was owned by an Irish rogue and a brothel madam.
Champions Story – Bob Champion with Jonothan Powell Jockey Bob Champion survived cancer, and partner Aldaniti a serious leg injury, to win an emotional Grand National in 1981
Saddlery – Elwyn Hartley Edwards A fellow Welshman, the late Capt. Hartley-Edwards wrote numerous books. He was (and still is) the God of commonsense horsemanship in my view.
Training the Event Horse – Sheila Willcox. This was the horse-fittening bible in my teens. Most of the interval training techniques pioneered by Ms Willcox are still in common use today.
About my novels
Walls of Jericho is the first book in a series featuring two young cavalrymen during the Peninsular war, when the British joined Portugal and Spain to fight Napoleon. The second story, Leopardkill is currently in progress and takes place during the horrendous British retreat across the Spanish mountains in the middle of winter.
Thank you for reading, and I wish you all the best with your own writing.
See I told you he was a cool dude. Thank you Jonathan.
An interview with Jan Scarbrough
….Writer and horse lover exceptional!!!
As a lover of American Saddlebreds, I can’t tell you how wonderful it was to read Jan Scarbrough’s books. To me, it was going back to some of my best memories. Jan also does an exceptional job of including horses in her stories as well as writing a wonderful story around them. I’ve also learned she is a sweet person…but hey….she loves horses.
· Biography: Tell us about yourself, who you are, live around where, what got you into writing, what you write, and maybe why you write.
As my Facebook Fan page says, I’m a technical writer by day, romance novelist by night! I live in Louisville, Kentucky, with my husband of eleven years, two geriatric cats and two frisky dogs. My writing dreams started in the ninth grade thanks to a very special English teacher. I actually reported on freelance writing for my career project that year. However, I didn’t seriously pursue my dream until after a life threatening illness when I was 38.
I write because I love it. I feel it’s one of my God-given talents. I write mostly about what I know—books set in Kentucky with recurring themes such as single moms, reunions, and horses, if I can fit them in the story.
· What brought you to horses and how do you like to include them in your stories? Do you own a horse, wish you did, plan to someday?
Reading the Black Stallion books brought me to horses, although a psychic medium I know tells me I’ve been around horses in many past lives. <g> I took riding lessons for a while as a child, but there was never any thought that my parents would get me a horse. That had to wait until I was all grown up.
One day my nine-year-old daughter said she wanted to take riding lessons. That sounded great to me, so I looked in the Yellow Pages (this was before everything was online) and found a riding stable. Fortunately for me, I picked an American Saddlebred stable. About six months after my daughter started taking lessons, I began taking them too. It’s been a twenty-six year love affair. I continue to get my “horse fix” once a week by taking a riding lesson.
I’ve owned three horses in my lifetime—all American Saddlebreds. The first one was a pleasure pony named Mr. Too Little. My daughter showed him. We graduated to a pleasure horse named Royal Tierra that we both showed. Finally, I owned a retired equitation horse named Starhart’s Heritage. I don’t know if I’ll own another horse. It will depend on money, of course, and maybe whether one of my grandchildren take to the sport.
· What horse books are your favorites and why? What did you enjoy most?
The two books I’ve enjoyed most are Seabiscuit: An American Legend by Laura Hillenbrand and Secretariat by William Nack. Both were made into movies. I like to read about famous horses and the people around them. I’ve recently started reading about Zenyatta. She has a website (http://www.zenyatta.com/) where “she” posts diary updates daily and a Facebook page.
· What have you written that has a horse galloping across the pages?
I write romance. When I started my first book, Kentucky Flame, I knew I wanted to write a book with American Saddlebreds in it. You can find out about all of my books at my website. They are in e-book formats and print books.
The following books from my Bluegrass Reunions Series from Resplendence Publishing contain horses.
I’ve also included horses in Tangled Memories and My Lord Raven. When I was writing my latest book, A Father at Last, I needed a first kiss scene. How romantic is a first kiss on horseback? I think it is.
I hope you have enjoyed meeting this fascinating horse rider and writer as much as I have. You’ll enjoy her books even more.
Now, on to another interview for next month. Stay tuned.
Happy New Year and may it be blessed,
Disney’s Maximus is everything a horse should be and exaggerated to an adorable fault. I absolutely fell in love with this cartoon horse the first time I saw him in a commercial when ‘Flynn elbowed Max and Max shoved back. I remembered instantly the time Val, my American Saddlebred and best friend, placed his hoof on top of my foot and pretended to put weight down on my instep, of course trapping me then and there. I pushed back and he lifted his foot like a ‘gotcha’ moment. And the wild rides through the movie…brought back memories of Val wanting to race. Me not wanting to race. But I gave in and he took off after a friend and his mare running down a power lane in a cornfield. Suddenly I was airborne, flying over the tops of the half-grown corn. How we got up there I do not know. But I do remember the fear of coming down. However, it was light as a feather and Val shot after the other two. Like Max and Flynn jumping between buildings etc. And the attitude Max has…the cute little nickers I remember at feeding time.
I LOVE THIS HORSE.
Be sure to go see him. YOu will love him too
Oh and I apologize for not posting over this summer. I can not say this has been my best year for keeping up with things. Life has been very demanding. But I promise to return as often as I can…thinking maybe monthly or every few weeks. I’m also considering posting reviews of books that have written horses well. I have a few in mind already. Gotta figure out how to do this as in getting betting the cover art etc. If you would like me to review any scene you may have or would like me to check out your book for a review, I would be honored to do so. A contest may be in the works as well. But first the holidays and then the new year. Hang in there with me. I promise to get back into this saddle.
Here’s to a wonderful Christmas and an even better new year. God bless ya all,
I’m so excited and so jealous of all the spectators at the Alltech Equestrian Olympics 2010. Just watching the riders and seeing the beautiful animals working, simply takes my heart. I have thought of all of you writers out there using horses in your stories. If you want your hero to ride, just watch a few of the dressage riders. Want action for a hunt, watch jumping. Just listen to the MC and you’ll get some ideas of what you’ve picked up here.. Or be like me and just enjoy every moment of this historical event occurring HERE in the USA in Lexington KY for the very first time and it won’t happen again for four years. Tune in to NBC for showings in your area . Don’t miss it.
Enjoy the video and see what’s happening in Kentucky.
Sorry it’s been a while since I blogged…this summer has been crazy…but fun.
I was feeling rather down one day as teenagers are at times and went into Valjean’s stall. The overwhelming need to hug him hit me. So, I wrapped my arms around his beautiful neck, knowing he didn’t like thatm and would break my hold. But today, he knew I needed him and he didn’t break the hug. Instead, he bobbed his head over my shoulder as if to say, “I understand. I care. It’s okay.” A thousand years later, I still feel that pat on my back. He was the best friend I ever had and I still love him and miss him daily.
Horses are like that. As you can see in the video, horses love freedom. They love to play, kick up their heels, run, tease and just plain be lazy. Give them a warm summer day and they love to just stand next to another horse and swish at flies. And, like dogs, they can be your best friend. They have been the kid’s best toy or playmate.
Like people, horses can love or hate accordingly. And like people, it’s usually because of some tragedy that has happened in their life. Another story I once heard was about a stallion that only trusted women. This large stallion become violent if a man tried to handle it. Why? It was told to me that its trainer once pulled this stallion’s wolf-teeth (misplaced teeth) without anesthetic. Therefore all men were associated with this abuse. Women didn’t carry this association so he preferred them. Haven’t we all seen the horrors man is capable of toward any animal or children. So it’s not unusual that horses should react any differently.
I’m sure there are statistics out there about the age and IQ of horses; however, today I’m going by what I have seen and dealt with in pastures, stables, during riding lessons, at shows, and first hand experiences. First of all, horses are social animals, herd animals, loving companionship be it another horse or human. They can be playful and teasing. Val occasionally would set his hoof on top of my foot as if to press on it. He didn’t.He simply expected me to fuss at him and push back. Then, he’d step away. If I rode him bareback, he was sure to ‘stiff leg’ me at a canter. Stiff-leg is to do just that– jar me off. He’d only do this while we out bareback–never under saddle But I could count on him doing it soon after we started cantering. In fact, one time I caught the teasing gleam in his eyes seconds before he stiff-legged me. “Val, don’t…don’t you…” He did. I laughed and I’m sure he chuckled quite proud of himself.
Horses nip butts, yours or another horse to aggravate and cause a reaction. They swish tails into your face when you are cleaning the rear hoof. They nudge you off a fence rail and laugh… that is…stretch their upper lip way out and up. (see video again) And sometimes, they’ll eat something sour and make this funny face. Snorting is another way to pester you…right in your face. Rub or lean on you is always a possibility. Well, anything for attention because they love attention.
But we all know there are some horses that frighten us for fun. Usually there is a reason for this as the stallion I mentioned earlier. I was once told about a mare with a new foal and was told to not go near them. Well, I saw the foal and totally forgot. “Oh look!” I said.Well, I did look…right down the throat of the mama mare. Her teeth snapped inches from my nose. I didn’t forget the next time or I was far enough from the mama when I watched her foal.
And there was Pat, my uncle’s mare who ran away with me because she had been separated from her yearling foal…for the first time. Yes, she ran off with me. But when the saddle slipped too far to the side, she halted long enough for me to reset it. She wheeled about and took off again back to the barn, racing into the feed lot, stopped long enough to let me vault off, and off bolted off bucking and breaking the saddle.
Of course there are warning signs of their attitude. Best known is the flat ears or ears plastered back on the neck. And there are rolling eyes, snorting and tossing heads,pawing or angrily swishing tails. And of course kicking and biting. And they aren’t stupid. they know how and when to use these defense measures. Banjo, a friend’s horse, knew that he could scare you off by trying to bite at you. Well, he scared me; I didn’t want anything to do with him. However, my friend thought it was funny, ignored him. He never bit her either. If a horse can figure out a way to get the best of you, they will and use it often. Fidgeting,nipping, or whatever innocent game they can play on you will be used against you until you ‘pull their card’ –gently is best–on them and usually they give up. Horses like dogs are great at reading nonverbal cues as fear.
As with runaways, horses can be selfish and belligerent, so you have to know how to deal with the situation. Or the bad behavior can be caused by simply as a burr under a saddle blanket, torn muscle in a back or leg. They can’t tell you it hurts; they can only show you by resisting. It’s up to you to figure out the reason and sometimes that is next to impossible. I think this was Big Deal (my second horse’s) problem….now I think that anyway. This horse could work like a fine tuned engine one day and the next refuse to move forward. There was no reasoning with him then. I have horror stories about this horse or rearing, whirling left and right, running backward, bolting forward. However, I also have the story about him almost eating the lid to the apple cider vinegar bottle. He’d eat anything. Now I wonder if there was a pinched nerve or something.
And there was The Big Horse (Big Deal’s replacement) who hadn’t cantered for at least nine years because he’d been worked in harness and they aren’t allowed to canter in harness. So,he’d forgotten how to canter. This sounds unbelievable but it’s true. I couldn’t figure out what his problem was when it came to simply ‘taking’ a canter lead/breaking into a canter . In fact, one day he panicked and reared. I was tossed backward, accidently snatching on the curb bit, and brought him back over on top of me. Miracles of miracles, we were both fine…seeing stars though. That winter, when I turned The Big Horse loose in the pasture and saw that he didn’t know how to even run down to Val already cavorting in the pasture. By spring, cantering had all come back to him and he and Val were racing to the barn.
There are stories upon stories about good horses and bad, gentle horses and mean. So when you write horses into your stories remember, horses are like people and come in all varieties: :loving, honery, serious, fun-loving, timid, very brave or just plain goofy. And like you and me, the way they are treated and trained has a big effect on how they treat you…or your characters.
So you may want to even do a character sheet on a special horse in your story.
Somewhere in time’s own space
There must be some sweet pastured place
Where creeks sing on and tall trees grow
Some paradise where horses go,
For by the love that guides my pen
I know great horses live again.
I remember my horse Valjean racing off lickety-split out into the pasture. Show horses have shoes like models have long fingernails, so I had decided that winter to remove his show shoes. I took him out of the barn, undid his lead line, and off he bolted like any race horse. He raced down the lane to the pasture and rounded the corner fence pole like any barrel racing horse. What a beautiful site to see!
Man of Integrity, my three-gaited horse, was next to let go. I realized then that someone had decided to make him a three-gaited show horse instead of remaining a show harness horse. Problem was for all those years he he was in harness, he wasn’t allowed to canter and he’d forgotten how. I led him out of the barn and took the lead line off and he just stood there…nickering for Val cavorting out in the pasture. He wanted to go but he’d never been turned loose since he was a foal. His instincts drew him to race as fast as he could out to join Val. However, he trotted. He peg-legged..that is canter stiff-legged. He came to the same fence pole and stopped…walked around it…and peg-legged it out to Val. I stood there stunned.
The beautiful thing was that spring when Val and ‘the big horse’ as I called him raced neck and neck, speeding around that fence pole to be the first to the barn for dinner. Horses love to race. They love to run. And they are good at it. For thousands of years, man has had the pleasure of watching them run, race, and win. But as life has it…tragedy happens and we cry. And we remember. I think that is our nature to honor and remember and then hopefully make something good come out of this tragic happening. Thus, this blog is a tribute to favorite Thoroughbred horses who have captured the hearts everywhere at one time or another and changed the world.
As I said in my blog on the Preakness Stakes,it got its name from a three-year old colt named Preakness who won the Dinner Party Stakes race at Pimlico in 1870. Preakness was a born winner, enjoying a winning career for eight years. His owner sold him to Duke of Hamilton who lived in England. Over the next years, Preakness developed a temper and attitude. Unfortunately, the duke also had an attitude and temper. (This causes me to think where Preakness developed this new personality) Anyway, the Duke shot and killed Preakness. So, not only did this fine colt name the Preakness Stakes but he also “touched off a reform in English law which governs the handling of animals.” (www.gohorsebetting.com/preaknessstakes/history) Good for you Preakness.
Seal brown and almost black, this seventeen hand filly stole the hearts of the racing world In fact, she won the nickname as “Queen of the Fillies” in 1975, and winning the Triple Tiara- the triple crown race for three-year-old fillies. She went undefeated in her first ten races, setting new records and stakes for years to come. Then came her eleventh race at Belmont Park on July 6,1975. It was a match race between Ruffian and the Kentucky Derby winner of that year Foolish Pleasure. The race was dubbed as the ‘equine battle of the sexes” and was run before 50,000 spectators and 18 million television viewers.
At Belmont Park, Ruffian slammed her shoulder into the gate when she bolted from the starting gate. At the first furlong, she was ahead by a half-length and then both bones in her foreleg snapped. Her jockey Vasquez tried to pull her to a stop but she refused. She fought him and continued on, pulverizing her legs, ripping skin from her fetlock, and driving bones through her skin. Sand from the ’Big Sandy” racetrack stung into the raw skin, tearing her ligaments and leaving her hoof flopping. Handlers immediately raced to her, managing to get her into the hands of four veterinarians and a equine orthopedic surgeon. The surgery lasted three hours. When Ruffian came out of anesthesia, she went nuts as if she were still running in the race, spinning in circles on the floor, destroying all that the surgery had accomplished as well as the plaster cast. The cast slipped. allowing her to break the rest of her legs. She was ultimately euthanized.
The result of her death caused a change in treatment for horses that undergo surgery. Ruffian’s behavior is common for horses coming out from anesthesia. Thus, the ‘recovery pool’ was developed so horses will awake in warm water and won’t re-injure themselves. Thirty four years later the Ruffian Equine Medical Center opened. Here, specialists work to solve ‘horse’ problems in particular for future horses.
Ruffian is buried near a flag pole in the infield of Belmont Park with her nose pointed to the finish line.
Ever watched Olympic events and the contestants jump seconds before the start. then they have to get back into place. Well, on May 20,2006, Barbaro broke from the starting gate at the Preakness Stakes before he should have. Going into the Kentucky Derby, this bay stallion was undefeated and was the favorite to win the Triple Crown. He was one of the only six undefeated winners of the Derby. So, he bolted out too soon from the starting gate at the Preakness. Why? No one knows. Did something snap in his leg and scare him? We’ll never know.
The race was restarted and his start from the gate was clean. He was in contention to win as he rounded the last turn and headed for the finish. No one knows what happened there either but suddenly Barbaro apparently broke his right hind leg in twenty places: a cannon bone, a broken leg bone, his pastern, the fetlock was dislocated and his hoof was left to dangle. His jockey, Edgar Prado immediately brought Barbaro to a stop, letting the others pass. Prado then vaulted off, and leaned into Barbaro’s shoulder to support him. Track attendants arrived and they managed to get Barbaro safely into the Equine ambulance and taken to Pennsylvania’s New Bolton Center.
Unlike most animals, a horse can not survive on three legs because the horse tries to carried its weight on three legs. Well, Ruffian’s recovery pool was well used because Barbaro underwent many surgeries and showed the promise of possible recovery. Of course, he would never run again but maybe sire a future Triple Crown winner and just enjoy grazing in his pasture. That wasn’t meant to be.
By July, Barbaro developed a severe case of lamintis (inflammation of the hoof) in his other hind leg. This was because it had carried the weight from the other healing leg. Surgery was again and half of Barbaro’s hoof was removed. Now, both hind legs are in casts and the boy was left hanging a sling. Still, Barbaro seemed determined to win this race. Mares were waiting for him. In fact, in August, he was taken out to graze for the first time.
August, September, October, November, December 13, Wednesday…Barbaro had his casts removed. However, his front legs developed lamintis. His removed hoof wasn’t complete. His fractured leg wasn’t developed enough without the cast. Now, the old boy had no legs to stand on at all. January 29, 2007, Barbaro was euthanized because his pain was no longer manageable. He was later cremated.
A statue of Barbaro created by Alexa King was unveiled April 26, 2009 at Churchill Downs one week before the Kentucky Derby. This statue was placed atop part of his ashes outside one f the entrances to Churchill Downs adjacent to the Kentucky Derby Museum so the public that followed Barbaro’s struggle can pay their respects without paying an admission feet to the race track.
University of Florida was the recipient of $30,000 from Gulfstream Park for scholarships for two senior veterinary students and one graduate student in equine veterinary research. And the New Bolton Center received a large anonymous donation, creating the established Barbaro Fund to aid treatment and care for large animals. In 2006, the Preakness Stakes established the NTRA’s charities Barbaro Memorial Fund for Equine Health and Safety that will look for a cure of lamintis. This had gone on around the world…check this out http://www.horsetalk.co.nz/health/110-laminitis.shtml
How many of us have stumbled and fallen? I know I have a time or two. Well, it is possible this is what led up to this last catastrophe. According to the trainer of this grey thoroughbred filly. Eight Bells had a habit of stumbling over her hoofs. Her trainer said she wouldn’t pick her feet up high enough, which was one reason she could run so fast and far. Once going, she had perfect motion that was effective and efficient, however at times, she would stumble.
Eight Bells was on the tail hairs of Big Brown, the winner of the 134th running of the Kentucky Derby, when they passed the finish line. As the horses were slowed from their neck-breaking speeds, she collapsed, suffering compound fractures from both front fetlock joints. Her legs were lacerated, absent of joint fluid to these areas, and her lungs congested. The fall she took bruised her head and hemorrhagde her thyroid gland. She had to be ’ put down’ on the track. Eight Bells is buried at Churchill Downs Kentucky Derby Museum and a race that is run on the day of the Derby has been named in her honor.
Eight Bells was a winner. She came to the Kentucky Derby with a proud winning record. She was a filly with Native Dancer’s bloodline and her mother was from Northern Dancer also a descendent of Native Dancer’s bloodline. Sally Jenkins of the Veterans Washington Post wrote, “She ran with the heart of a locomotive on champagne-glass ankles.” Thus raising the question of whether these thoroughbred horses have become too strong bodied on bones too fragile to hold them up. This controversy is still in question. Her legacy to the racing world maybe to strengthen bloodline for more stamina. It is yet to be seen.
But Preakness, Ruffian, Barbaro, and Eight Bells have given the world a better place for horses and those who love them. “When life gives you lemons, make lemonade.” And their lemonade will forever be remembered as sweet. I believe all these horses are racing about in Stanley Harrison’s ‘sweet pastured place” with my Val and Man of Integrity and free of pain, frolicking and playing with all the other greats.
Thank you for joining me on this wild race through the world of the Triple Crown. I’ve enjoyed it. I hope you have as well.
And thank you to wikipedia/Ruffian/Barbaro. Eightbellslegacy.net
“The Test of Champions”
We’ve all been to Belmont Park one time or another. Okay, maybe not physically but virtually because The Belmont has been the site for many radio broadcasts, television programs, photo shoots, and motion pictures. We’ve watched movies and television shows featuring a lot of actors who have been in pictures here. But, I bet only a few of us have ever had the Belmont’s featured cocktailcreated by Dale DeGroff in 1977. I know I just learned they even had one. So, On June 5,2010, we can all enjoy a toast to the 142nd running of the Belmont Stakes. Here’s how to make the traditional Belmont Park cocktail….
The Belmont Breeze
1 1/2 oz Kentucky Bourbon or American blended whiskey or 3/4 oz of Harvey’s Bristol Cream Sherry
1/2 ox fresh lemon juice
1 oz simple syrup
1/ 1/2 oz fresh orange juice
1 1/2 oz of cranberry juice
Shake all ingredients with ice and top with half 7-Up and half soda, approx 1 oz of each. Garnish with strawberry, mint sprig, and lemon piece.
And together, we’ll sing ‘New York New York’ (or maybe hum) as the horses parade onto the track. Maybe we’ll bet between ourselves on who we think will win, who we want to win, and then watch who does win and walk away with the garland made with 700 white carnations. This is the official flower of the Belmont stakes race that stands for ‘love and luck,’ a perfect symbol for the ‘Test of Champions’ as this race is nicknamed.
The Belmont Park was named after August Belmont, one of the main financiers of the Old Belmont–the oldest race of today’s Triple Crown races. This race started at Jerome Park Racetrack in the Bronx in 1867. The original site stretched a bit into Queens from Nassau county. Since bookmaking was illegal, the bookies could escape from being arrested by crossing this line. It was even believed that horses rounding the far turn crossed into Queens for a few strides and then returned to Nassau County in the final stretch. This site near Elmont, New York, is also near the first racing meet ever officially held in North America in 1665.
On May 4, 1905, the first Belmont Stakes race was run and the first winner of the Belmont Stakes was Ruthless. For fifteen years, the race was run in the fashion set in England…clockwise ending in front of the clubhouse. In 1880, the first post parade, bringing the horses out in line, was held at the 14th running of the Belmont race.
There are a few unique features of this Park. First is the the origin of the corporate insigna…the White Pine Tree. A mansion once set here. The owners had planted trees that predated this white pine. As the trees were lumbered for the construction of the track, August Belmont saved the pine tree. Now, this 184 year-old tree, older than the track itself, stands in the paddock .
Four stone pillars from the entrance of the Washington Course of the South Carolina Jockey club are now found at the clubhouse entrance at Belmont Park. Along with the stone pillars are a set of wrought iron gates with a racing motif that came from Jerome Park. They were salvaged during the 1963 demolition by Perry Belmont, Belmont II’s son, and he donated these wrought iron gates that now border the walking ring .
The Belmont Stakes weren’t always held at Belmont Park. While the stands at Belmont Park were reconstructed, the stake races were held at Aqueduct.
The quest for the Triple Crown ends on the dirt course known as the ‘Main Track’ and nicknamed ‘Big Sandy.” In 1973, Secretariat set the world record for one and a half mile on ’Big Sandy’ (2:24.00)and his record still holds. And, Secretariat’s thirty-one length victory clinched the first ’Crown’ in 25 years- dating back to Citation 1948. Thus, a statue of Secretariat graces the center of the Belmont paddock near the beloved White Pine.
Some unique events besides horseracing have also happened at the Belmont Park:
When the state of New York banned gambling from 1911-12, the Belmont didn’t run However the Wright Brothers International Aerial Tournament did. This ten-day event on October 30, 1910, happened before some 15,000 people. It included aerial time and distance races over the course of ten days. The last race of the day flew from the Belmont Park to the Statue of Liberty The American pilot claimed to win; the English pilot contested the win; so the prize was presented to the French pilot.
Eight years later, on May 15, 1918. Belmont Park became the origin and destination of the first Air Mail flown between New York and Washington D.C. The 4000 letters were transferred to a second plane in Philadelphia and flown on to DC. Flights to Boston and Chicago soon followed.
$891, 320 was raised for the American Red Cross when the Belmont Park hosted a War Relief Day in 1940.
On October 2, 1943, Belmont Park hosted ‘Back the Attack Day” when the admission to the track was exclusively the purchase of one or more War Bonds, producing the largest ‘gate’ in sports history….30,000 fans bought $30 million worth of War Bonds.
On September ll, 2001 after the terror attack on the World Trade Center, Belmont Park became the staging area for emergency vehicles and personnel.
Aside from all this history and excitement, the future of the Triple Crown appears in jeopardy. With the creation of ‘racinos’ (race tracks taking on the appearance of casinos), the growth of gambling as in New York pizza parlors,various scratch-off games,lotteries, and NASCAR’s popularity, people aren’t coming to the tracks anymore. Now add the nation’s economy hitting state revenues, the state governments that once banned gambling are now tapping gambling profits. So,the race tracks are struggling. The Pimlico and Belmont Park have filed for bankrupcy and many other race tracks have disappeared as Aksarben in Nebraska. As people get farther and farther from dealing with horses, such moments in history as the Triple Crown may possibly fade out.
But, never to be forgotten is Secretariat and his claim to the Test of Champions and the Triple Crown:
May the Kentucky Derby, Preakness and the Belmont or as we know them–The Triple Crown– never be lost or forgotten. I hope you’ve enjoyed this trek thorugh horse racing history as much as I have researching the Triple Crown. What a wonderful ride though history!
Thank you: Wikipedia.org/Belmont Park, Wikipedia. org/United States Triple Crown of Thoroughbred Racing, Belmontstakes.com/history, newjerseynewsroom.com/Preakness-and Belmont-Stakes futures.