Thursday, April 24, 2008

A Touch of Whimsy

One of the best aspects of a life lived with horses are the unexpected moments of laugh out loud fun. I’m currently working on a novella celebrating the whimsical side of the horse world. In this work I’m vastly enjoying creating two central characters: Jennifer, a horse crazy eleven year old and her Aunt Susan, who adores Jennifer as much as she fears horses.

When an opportunity comes to gain lessons for Jennifer and a free lease in exchange for working in a local trainer’s barn, Susan gathers her courage and faces her fears. Along the way she makes a few turnkey mistakes, including standing too close to the ring on a muddy day, turning her back on a mischievous lesson horse while a muck bucket is in front of her and trying to convince a mulish mare to move when the horse in question has something else in mind. Of course, the incredibly handsome man boarding at the facility happens to run into her when she has the scent of her misadventures wafting off her and bits and pieces clinging to her hair and clothes.

In creating this story I spent some time thinking about my mother’s role as horse mom. She loves me very much but is definitely not a natural horse person. Although the fear is real her heart is in the right place, as when we were shopping for a horse one cold day. We were considering one who didn’t have a blanket. Mom wanted to go out and buy him one whether we purchased the horse or not. In fact, she fretted about him all evening. For all her warmth and generosity, she was terrified when she was up close and personal with horses. My horse Topper used to love to nuzzle her if he was on the cross-ties and she was sitting on a tack box near enough. Her response was generally “Umm…good boy,” as she scooted out of reach. Since my husband and I didn’t have children at the time, I tried to convince her Topper was sort of like a grandchild, which earned him presents and an occasional pat from a very nervous hand.

Still, love came first and she hung in with me through all the years with horses. One day when I was about eleven I approached a jump from an impossible angle and my poor horse stopped at the base. I, unfortunately, did not stop but managed to grab his neck on my way off. I hung on and careened in a perfect one-hundred eighty degree arc to land on my feet facing his chest with my arms still wrapped around his neck! I figured Mom would be biting her nails, but when I looked over she was sitting on the hood of her car laughing her head off. Of course, so was everyone else at the sight of my long skinny legs sailing through the air and the bewildered look on my mount’s and my faces as we stood facing each other. If he could speak the horse would have said “Dear, you’re supposed to face the other way.” My fictional Jennifer and her aunt have the same experience—I just had to put it in there.

To further the touch of whimsy, the novella takes place on St. Patrick’s Day, which fits in perfectly with the wonderful myths and legends about horses. Of course, for fun I added a leprechaun and some lovable witches, one of whom owns the facility. A talented horse trainer, she keeps her magical interests to herself until one fateful evening. When Susan and Jennifer, along with the very handsome boarder who has his eye on Susan, are trapped at the farm during an ice storm, they encounter this cheerful magical crew planning their Spring Equinox celebration. The chaos is enhanced by a power outage and a thief conspiring to steal a rare Faberge egg. The results are romantic and hilarious!

Now all I need is a great title—not one of my strong suits. In fact, if anyone would like to suggest a title, just put your suggestion in the comments area. I'll pick a winner one week from today and give an autographed copy of A Dangerous Dream away as the prize.

Happy riding.

All the best,

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