Thursday, July 31, 2008

A Romantic Ride

Hi Everyone,

I’ve always been a romantic when it comes to horses. As a child I daydreamed about a fictional horse barn near us where the perfect horse would be available for me to ride any time (perfectly free, of course). I never let dreaming get in the way of doing, however. I would muck stalls, feed, teach beginner lessons, anything to earn free rides or just be around the horses in addition to the two lessons a week I was fortunate enough my parents could provide me.

I stopped riding when I turned sixteen and started working to save for college. As an adult I started riding again while in graduate school at Yale. The Equestrian Center was near the playing fields where my then boyfriend, now husband, played football or softball depending on the season. We would go over together when he had a game scheduled and I would ride the edges of the field, always on the lookout for errant balls heading my way.

Eric, my husband, is certainly an animal lover, but nevertheless had absolutely no desire to be on the back of a horse. He would come into the barn to get me and give an absent pat to whatever nose presented itself over the top of a stall door, but that was as close as he got. The only exception I can recall is when a polo pony’s door wasn’t firmly closed and it barreled out. Eric had just come in from playing football and reflexively tackled the pony, who stopped cold and backed right into his stall with Eric’s shoulder against his chest. Handy timing on that one for everyone except the pony.

Still, he wasn’t proof against my plea for a romantic ride on our honeymoon. He agreed, with the firm stipulation that this would be the first and last ride of his life. We honeymooned on Cape Cod and the barn we stopped at found the largest horse they could for Eric, who is six foot two. The found a lovely, gentle giant named King, and Eric dubiously climbed on board. I nearly bit the tongue in two not laughing, but I figured since he was going the extra mile for me to have my romantic fantasy the least I could do was be cooperative.

After a quick lesson on turning left and right, kick to go and pull back to stop (you’d think after years with me he’d know all this but selective hearing at it’s finest had obviously been in play). We had a nice slow walk through the woods with a guide and I loved every minute of it until I turned and saw Eric was no longer behind me. My heart dropped to my stomach and I called out to him. With a huge sigh of relief I heard him call back “We’re fine. We’re on autopilot back here.”

Come to find out King had dropped his head for a few quick bites of grass and Eric was just sitting in the saddle while King had his fill. When we suggested he pull King’s head up, Eric told us “He’s hungry. We’ll be along after he’s had his snack.”

I may not have married a rider, but I sure married a horse lover. When I rode competitively he ran my ribbons around the top of the walls of our den. He would tell people it was the most expensive art in the house (well, actually it was), but he was very proud of ‘his horses’ wins’. We’ve been together over twenty years and he still has a picture of both my horses in his office.

Here’s to all the wonderful supportive horse people’s families!



Sunday, July 27, 2008

Sunday Afternoon

As most of you know, I lost my sister last Wednesday. As a result, I'm not exactly prepared to post today, my regular post day. I wanted to stop in and say hi to everyone. We really appreciate our regular readers and welcome our new readers.

I wanted to post about a holistic clinic I took my horse to last week, but I think I'll postpone that for my next post. In the meantime, if you have had any experience with holistic healing (this particular clinic was emotional healing for horses), I would love to hear your impressions. I have mixed feelings about it. I guess you could say that the jury is still out.

On a postitive note, my first two published books are now availalble in print on Amazon, Barnes & Noble, etc.

You can access the buy links on my website at

Or you can find them on Amazon at:

The Dance

Who's Been Sleeping in My Bed?

Thanks for stopping by and check in later for my post regarding my experience with holistic emotional healing for horses.

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Reflections and a Tribute

I lost my older sister yesterday. She was 58 years old. She'd battled brain cancer for years. For a while, she'd been winning. Yesterday, she didn't.

Yesterday, I received a call from the hospital near the nursing home she'd been living in for the past 2 years. She'd been in the hospital since Sunday night. I had no idea she was in such bad condition, or I would have made the 4-hour drive sooner. I'd been told she had a urinary infection. What she really had were massive blood clots in her heart and lungs. No one at the hospital told me that until it was too late.

My husband and I rushed up there right after the doctor called. He didn't hold out much hope that we'd make it. We didn't. We were 1/3 of the way there when the doctor called us to let us know that she'd suffered a fatal heart attack.

My sister was 9 years older than me, never married, never had children. For the majority of her life, she'd raised Rottweilers and was the founder of Ebonstern Kennels. She loved those dogs more than anything else in her life and dedicated her entire life to them. Ebonstern had a reputation of raising high quality dogs. My sister was very picky about who bought one of her dogs. I used to say that it was easier to adopt a child than to pass her stringent "vetting" of prospective parents for her beloved puppies. She was a responsible dog breeder and had an extensive contract she required that new owners sign. Only show quality dogs could be bred if they were AKC champions. Her pet quality dogs were to be fixed.

One of her "babies" still lives with us. He is partially blind and deaf but seems happy and healthy for a 16-year-old Rottweiler.

So what does this have to do with horses? Nothing on the surface, but my sister instilled in me a love of horses and animals from the day I was born. That is her legacy. That, and her beloved Ebonstern rottweilers.

May she finally rest in peace and live happily in heaven with her canine children once again.

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Mr. Python and Me

Hi Everyone,

Being a horse person, I’ve always considered myself to be very comfortable around animals. Today, I was shown what real dedication is. I attending a Zoo class for 5-7 year olds with my daughter. The theme was snakes. Yup, I petted an interesting variety of snakes, including (oh, my!) a boa constrictor.

While stifling my urge to flee, I was struck by the incredible dedication of the staff running the class. The way they spoke of and cared for the snakes showed an amazing love for all living things.

The instructors mentioned that Ball Pythons make wonderful household pets. Hmmm. Well, my kids are dying to have a pet and since my husband is allergic to anything with fur or feathers, I gathered my courage and approached the teacher after class to ask about purchasing a python (Gulp!).

I was enthusiastically informed that I should make sure there are no mites on a snake before I buy it and no flakes on the skin. They also encouraged looking in the mouth but they weren't sure a snake would let me. Perhaps here these lovely people were being diplomatic as I'm sure the truth was obvious by all the color draining from my face, the truth being I could never pluck up the courage to look in said mouth. I’ll spare you all the, er, feeding routine, but I was told as far as sleeping arrangements if I buy a twenty gallon tank the snake will be quite comfortable.

Now, I’m right on board with horse mom duties—willing to tote around water bottles, fly spray, jackets between classes and other pack mule type tasks while cheering success and consoling less happy results.

If we had a dog or cat I would be pretty realistic about which family member would be responsible for care and feeding (that would be me). But, folks, much as I do love animals and wish all of them nothing but the best, I draw the line at feeding a family python. When the kids are old enough to take all responsibility for said snake, I may take a deep breath and say alright. Then all I’ll have to worry about is having guests over and Mr. Python slithering down the steps to join the party. As a hostess, I wouldn’t consider my party a success if the guests were stampeding to the door, but on the other hand, I wouldn’t really blame them.

Maybe my horse-crazy kids will be happy enough with the animals at our local barn and Mr. Python and I will be able to wish each other well and go our separate ways. Here’s hoping!



Monday, July 21, 2008

A Tribute and New Beginnings

There comes a day in a day in the life of a parent of a child who rides that is mixed with both dread and excitement. This day came for me last week.

I'll back track for a minute here, so you can get the full story.

My little girl Kaitlin started riding about two years ago. She'd been asking us for a horse and to ride since she was about three or four. My parents had horses and I grew up with them, so it was natural that Kaitlin would want to ride. We felt when she was five that would be a good time to start.

She started lessons for a few months at one barn, but it wasn't the right place for us. Lots of turn over, only twenty minutes by the time she was on the horse to ride and a lot of money. So, one day while visiting my parents who live a half an hour away, I took Kaitlin down to a ranch where I had done some back yard horse shows as a kid. I asked around about lessons and we were directed to Connie who teaches the little ones. We met Connie and started up lessons right away. Immediately my daughter's love for the animal grew because of Connie who is a warm, funny, kind woman with both horses and kids. Now, Connie isn't the hard core structure teacher. She allows kids to be kids and horses to be horses. My daughter would ride for an hour or more when taking a lesson with Connie. She is the kind of teacher who lets a child experience the love and passion for the horse to discover if this is for them or not. She also became my friend during the last couple of years. I've leaned on her shoulder, laughed with her, confided in her and theorized with her on various topics. I wrote an entire book while sitting at the picnic table out at the barn while Connie worked with Kaitlin (tight deadline) and Connie would snap (gently) at anyone trying to interrupt the creative flow by talking to me.

Obviously we got lucky finding this lady who loves kids and horses, but last week something happened. Kaitlin got a pony. Yep. We are now a two horse family. We have my Krissy, which everyone has nicknamed Princess at the barn and now we have Monty (or Mister Monty, as Kaitlin insist he be called). Mister Monty is a Gypsy Vanner Cob with excellent manners, jumps anything and everything, kind, smart and probably the cutest little guy I've ever seen. Kaitlin fell in love with him and the next thing I knew we were buying a pony. It was an exciting week. It was also a signal to me when Kaitlin said, "I want to get really good. I want to learn to jump and be a great rider," that we needed to move on from Connie. Not that Connie couldn't still work with Kaitlin and Mister Monty, but it was time to take that leap and recognize Kaitlin was ready for the next step. Her teacher had provided her with a foundation and a passion that will last a lifetime.

I dreaded talking to Connie because as mentioned she is now a friend of the family and we think a great deal of her, but I hate the idea of hurting anyone's feelings and since this was the first time I'd ever had to do this, I wasn't sure how it would go over. I should have known that Connie would be as she always is, sweet, understanding, encouraging and professional. She knew the time was right and explained to me that usually when a child she teaches gets a horse that it is time to move up. I can't tell you how relieved and happy I was and how grateful I am to have had Connie be the foundation for Kaitlin. I still remember my first instructor and all that he taught me.

Now Kaitlin and Mister Monty have a new teacher; Gillian. Gillian is also good natured, kind and caring. She has a ton of experience and is full of knowledge about the animals. I knew we had made the right choice when Kaitlin came home with Gillian from picking up Mister Monty. They had made up a song about the pony.

It's never easy to move to the next level but having people in your life encouraging you helps you find the self confidence to rise to the occasion. Our family is grateful we have had Connie to help our daughter do exactly this.


Thursday, July 17, 2008

Never Trust a Matchmaking Witch

Hi Everyone,

Life is crazy but wonderful right now. I've just signed the contract with Siren Bookstrand Publishing for my novella Never Trust a Matchmaking Witch, which will be released January, 2009.

I’ve always believed the world of horses is magical. It’s been a lot of fun taking it one step further and creating some actual magic in my fictional horse world. In Never Trust a Matchmaking Witch the question is: What happens when a fun-loving group of witches start a new hobby — matchmaking for their mortal friends? Of course, the setting is a very beautiful equestrian facility where the owner/trainer has a plethora of talents, including witchcraft. It’s a given that her horses and even her barn cat have some magical abilities of their own.

Here’s a sneak peek:

Susan has some amazing fantasies about Dr. Brad Conway. Unfortunately, when she’s anywhere near the handsome surgeon, she’s a tongue-tied catastrophe. Along comes Brad’s friend Alicia, a horse trainer with a talent for magic and matchmaking. Trapped at Alicia’s home during an ice storm, Susan is thrilled to be on the receiving end of some fascinating, sensual advances from Brad. When she keeps encountering magical occurrences like a wolf-whistling cabinet, spoons stirring by themselves and a cat with an unerring ability to appear and disappear, not to mention change its own collar, she must decide if she believes in magic. But believing has a downside, because now she has a new problem to consider. Is Brad’s passion for her real or is it part of a spell?

I’ve had such a wonderful time creating the stories A Dangerous Dream and Never Trust a Matchmaking Witch. It seems my love of the horse world has taken flight in a new direction—onto the pages of my books! Hmmm…in my fictional world my characters can even consistently stay balanced in their half-seat (unlike me, for whom that remains an elusive dream). Not that all those hours jumping cavaletti without stirrups or reins wasn’t fun, but I suppose I can let my characters skip that part!

Happy Riding, everybody! Hope you’re all enjoying your summer!


Ride into magic and mystery with novelist Mary Paine

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

After the Finish Line . . .

by Kit Ehrman

Today’s post will be short since I’m away from home, using a hotel Internet that’s extraordinarily slow.

In light of the recent topic here, regarding responsible horse ownership and the fate of horses that are no longer wanted, I’d like to draw your attention to After the Finish Line, a website dedicated to caring for racehorses once they’ve left the track. Please visit

The tragic deaths of 2006 Kentucky Derby winner Barbaro and this year’s second place finisher, filly Eight Belles, brought the plight of racehorses and, ultimately, the whole slaughter issue to the forefront. Thankfully, changes are being made.

At Suffolk Downs in Boston, sending racehorses to slaughter will no longer be tolerated. Track management will deny stalls to any trainer who sells a horse for slaughter. It’s great to see that the industry is taking action. Certainly, there’s much to be done, but it’s a start.

What’s needed even more, I believe, is for backyard horse owners to be educated, to stop mindless breeding of their stock, to make sure their horses are well-trained and socialized, and to take responsibility for their fates.

Sunday, July 13, 2008

Exploring Alternatives

I've made the decision to cut back on my showing or eliminate it altogether. I have one more show this season and no plans to enter any others. This decision left me with a void to fill. I'm still going to take regular dressage lessons in an effort to advance my horse and myself, but I want to explore other avenues of horseownership.

So with the being said, I signed up for a holistic clinic next weekend, titled "Emotional Healing Through Horses." I'm not totally sure what that means, but the price was right, and I've always been interested in alternative therapies for horses and with horses.

I loved reading "The Tao of Equus" by Linda Kohanov. It outlines the author's experiences with using horses in emotional therapy. It's a fascinating book, that goes deep into the horse/human connection, and what these animals try to tell us if we'd only listen. Ms. Kahonov talks about the damaged souls in her book, humans and equines, and how they came to heal each other in profound and magical ways.

That brings up an on-going interest of mine and the subject of a future book. A few years ago I read an article in a national magazine about a center that uses equine therapy to healed emotionally abused children. One story, in particular, struck a cord with me. It was about a little girl who had been sexually abused by her father then sold to his friends. She hadn't talked in a few years. They teamed her with a pony and within a short time, she was talking aloud to her new best friend.

I'm a former high school teacher with an interest in psychology, and I felt impelled to write a story in which the heroine works in such a center. If you know of such a place, where I can get information, or perhaps remember the article I'm referring to, I'd love to hear from you.

Friday, July 11, 2008

Animals in Books

You will always find an animal as a secondary character in my books. I don't intentionally do this, they just show up. I suspect that it's just a basic component I feel some subconscious need to add.

In "Who's Been Sleeping in My Bed?" I have a little rat dog I call a poodalo (a cross between a Poodle and Buffalo) named Igor. In "The Dance" you'll find an Andalusian horse named Sueno. In "The Gift Horse," the equine star is a show horse named Gabriella. Gabbie sees things happening in the barn and knows who the perpetrator is if she can only get those stupid humans to listen to her. I'm guessing that a tabby cat will show up in the next book.

I love writing animal points of view because they usually see the world in more simplistic terms and how it relates to their comfort and security. They don't concern themselves with legalities or other's opinions.

I've been reading lately that one of the big trends in publishing is animal points of view. In non-writer terms that means that scene would be written as if the animal were seeing it and relating their interpretation of what's going on. I find that amusing because The Gift Horse originally had several short scenes in the horse's point of view. I was told by more than one published author friend that unless I was writing for children the animal POV's had to go. Reluctantly, I removed them. Now, they're back. ;)

In fact, I'll be blogging at Title Magic next month about writing from a horse's POV so I don't want to give too much away. When it comes closer to the date, I'll remind everyone to check out my post.

Saturday, July 5, 2008

My 2nd Book--The Dance

My second book, The Dance, will be released on July 10, Thursday. Set in the San Juan Islands, it's actually the first full-length novel I ever completed. While I wouldn't exactly bill it as equestrian fiction, it does have horses in it, specifically an Andalusian named Sueno. Here's a blurb and an excerpt from the first chapter:

Jami Davenport
Contemporary Romance
Siren Publishing, July 10

What's a girl to do after her former fiancé declares that she's frigid?

Mariah Baker decides to take a jaunt on her wild side--if she can find it. The scruffy Puerto Rican leasing the waterfront house next door appears to be just the man for the mission. After all, what better way to defrost than with a sexy Latin lover? Only time is the enemy, and Rico isn't who she thinks he is.

Rico finds fashion-obsessed Mariah intriguing and unique. For starters, she makes horses dance, and his heart does its own tango for her. Besides, a hot summer fling is a welcome distraction from his depressing, uncertain future and dysfunctional, freeloading family.

As their summer together comes to an end, Rico’s phobia toward falling in love and Mariah’s insecurities are a recipe for a trouble in paradise; but in the magic of the San Juan Islands, anything is possible. Or is it?


Chapter 1
The Fall

Okay, who turned out the lights?

Was she dead? Did they have mud in heaven? Sticky, gooey, cold mud? Certainly heaven’s mud wouldn't smell like rank fertilizer and stale water. A distant voice penetrated her muddled brain.

Mariah Baker wiggled her toes and fingers to test each one. Lifting her head, she scraped the mud from her face with her gloved hand. Her blurry eyes focused on two large cowboy boots about a foot away. Angels didn't have big feet and wear scuffed cowboy boots.

“Are you okay?” A deep, sexy voice vibrated with concern.

She tried to raise her head higher. A large hand to match those big feet entered her field of vision. “What happened...?”

“You fell off your horse.”

Oh, yeah, she remembered now. An invisible horse-eating troll lurking in the nearby woods scared her ditz-brained gelding. He’d bucked and sent her flying like a rag doll, ending with an ungraceful face plant. At least it was a soft landing, as last night’s rain had transformed the footing in her riding arena into a mud bog.

“Are you all right?” The man sounded rattled.


“Don’t move. You might have broken something.”

“Nothing’s broken. I just had...the wind knocked out of me.” She choked and spit out a mouthful of mud. The owner of the cowboy boots squatted next to her. Long legs, strong thighs, narrow hips, broad chest. Definitely heaven.

With a groan, Mariah pushed herself to a kneeling position and came face-to-face with Adonis. Well, at least he could have doubled for a Greek god. His appearance tickled her memory, yet she was certain she’d never met him. She blinked a few times to clear her vision and stared.

And stared.

And stared.

Heaven wouldn’t have temptations like him. He’d turn any good girl into a very bad girl.
A day’s growth of beard darkened his handsome face. His unruly brown hair begged for attention from a decent stylist. He wore clothes most garage sales wouldn’t bother to sell. His threadbare jeans had never seen a designer label. Yet his disheveled appearance didn’t come close to concealing his model good looks. Suffice it to say, the man fit every clichéd description of a hero in a romance novel, despite his scruffiness.

Too bad she'd sworn off men as of last night. So what if he was kiss-your-heart-goodbye gorgeous? Unfortunately, her heart wasn’t listening. Instead, it told her brain to get lost and snuggled up next to Mr. Scruffy, at least in its dreams.

He might appear scruffy, but he smelled wonderful in a clean, masculine sorta way. His scent actually permeated the smell of rancid mud that clung to her body. Without thinking, she leaned closer to get a better whiff of his expensive aftershave. A dedicated shopper, Mariah knew expensive when she saw it or smelled it. She’d also bet a winning lotto ticket he wore a Rolex watch and Gucci sunglasses.

Raising her gaze back to his face, she found him staring at her. He removed his sunglasses and shifted his gaze from her lips to her eyes. The man had the most incredible brown eyes, as yummy as a chocolate mocha espresso fringed with long, black eyelashes. Now why did guys always have eyelashes like that when they never appreciated them?

Those mocha eyes sucked her in like dust bunnies sucked into a vacuum cleaner. She felt light-headed. And hot. Really hot. Taking a deep breath, Mariah gathered her composure—and her dust bunnies—about her like a suit of armor.

Relax, girl, relax. This guy radiated sexual energy like the sun radiated heat. She’d just been gobbled up by his magnetic sensuality. He was dangerous, and she didn’t need a guy like that to complicate her life. Get rid of him, the sooner the better, her boring good girl side warned her.

“I’m Ric...” He hesitated. “I’m Rodrigo Perez.” He studied her with interest, as if waiting for a reaction. “I’m staying at the Delgado’s vacation house for a month. That’d make me your neighbor.” He held out his hand to her.

She stared at it, while her mind stalled somewhere between fantasy and reality. He cleared his throat to get her attention. Her cheeks burned with embarrassment. He grinned with amusement. His hand still hovered in mid-air. Mechanically, she removed a mud-encrusted glove and offered her hand to him. His long fingers surrounded her smaller hand with a firm but gentle hold. His thumb traced a sensuous circle on her palm. He lifted her fingers to his lips. His warm mouth grazed her trembling knuckles, lingering on each one. All the while, his dark eyes never left hers. Mariah fell for his technique, hook, line, and sinker; stupid, gullible woman that she was.

A five-alarm siren clanged in her head, and she jerked her hand away. The sudden movement dislodged a mud clump from her riding helmet, and it plopped onto her nose. The irritating man raised one dark eyebrow . His mouth twitched in a suppressed smile as he dabbed the mud with his thumb. It was a good thing she was still kneeling or she’d have crumpled to the ground in a heap of female hormonal mush.

“And you are?”

“I’m Mariah,” she croaked, feeling like an idiot.

“Well, Mariah, it’s a pleasure to meet you.”


Rodrigo straightened to his full height, leaving Mariah to stare at his belt buckle, tight jeans, and... Oh, my.

“Can you stand?” He didn’t wait for an answer but bent down to help her. Avoiding his touch,

Mariah scrambled to her feet.

“Are you sure you’re okay?” Concern gentled his brown eyes.

“I am. Really. I’ve fallen off many times. It’s nothing. Something in the woods scared my horse.”
“Can’t imagine what that would be.” He shrugged and looked away, shifting his weight from one cowboy boot to another.

Sueño, her gray gelding and the guilty party, wandered over and stuck his head between them. Mariah picked up his reins.

“Where did you...? I mean, how did you...?” Her brain couldn’t seem to form words. His amused grin didn’t help.

“I was walking along the road and saw you launched into the air like a human catapult. I ran over to check on you.”

“Thank you for helping me.” She wiped her face with the bottom of her T-shirt. She must look a fright. And she considered him scruffy?

“I’m just glad to see you’re okay.” A slight accent blended with the rich timbre of his voice. A handsome man with an accent made for an even more deadly combination.

Attempting to be inconspicuous, she rubbed her clammy hands on her thighs. Her horse stirred beside her, and she glanced at him. The big busybody hadn’t missed a thing. One furry ear swiveled to catch each tidbit of conversation. His eyes followed their every move with interest.

Mariah glared at Sueño. Maybe you’d like some popcorn and a beer while you watch me squirm? Whose side are you on? After all, who feeds you? Help me out here, will you?

Sueño shook his long forelock over his eyes and ignored her.

Copyright © 2008All rights reserved, Siren Publishing, Inc.

Cannot be reproduced in whole or in part in any form without expressly permitted to do so in writing from the publisher.

Thursday, July 3, 2008

Once a Horseperson, Always a Horseperson

Hi Everyone!

It’s funny how horses wind their way into every part of our lives. I was on vacation this past week in Chicago with my family and certainly figured horses wouldn’t be a part of the plan, since we were staying in a hotel in the city, but I was wrong.

The first thing we did was take my daughter to the American Girl Tea. For anyone who isn’t around young girls, this is the current ‘in’ doll to have. They have a store complete with an array of dolls, outfits, a beauty salon (for the doll’s to have their hair done – no, really), a theatre (to attend with your doll), and a café serving breakfast, lunch, dinner, and a full Afternoon Tea, complete with finger sandwiches and pink lemonade and, of course, a place setting for your doll.

Our first purchase, after sampling the tea, was a doll. When my daughter had a choice of dozens of outfits, she immediately honed in on the Equestrian Outfit. Yup, she’s my daughter alright. So now that our American Girl doll was suitable outfitted in red riding jacket, white britches, long boots and hunt cap, we moved on to enjoy Chicago. We exited the American Girl store and directly across the street were an array of horse drawn carriages for rent.

Radar on target, my daughter was jumping up and down for joy, all else forgotten but the four legged friends she just had to meet. Now, a former trainer of mine said that some of the horses used for these carriage services did not receive good treatment, so I had some mixed feelings, but the horse my daughter was zeroed in on seemed happy and in good condition, so off we went on a ride. Yup, a vacation including horses. We were in heaven.

Since my daughter had recently seen Princess Diaries Two, which included a scene with the princess waving from a horse drawn carriage, she knew just what to do. As we rode she waved consistently for nearly half an hour, smiling at passersby, and Chicago really welcomed her. We had countless people waving back, grinning at her, and we even had a group of people stand up at the plate glass window of a restaurant to wave and cheer. They must have thought there was a parade they hadn’t heard about.

Our newly purchased doll sure knew what kind of family she’d joined. Within the first hour she had a Master of the Hunt outfit and a carriage ride through the city. Hope she enjoys being part of a horse crazed family!


Wednesday, July 2, 2008

On Vacation

By Laura Crum

Just wanted to let you all know that I’ll be gone for the month of July on our annual family vacation. This is a camping trip, so I’ll be taking a break from the internet, too. Thanks to all of you who have commented here on the blog; I‘ve enjoyed hearing your opinions and reading your own blogs, as well. And a special thank you to those who have expressed an interest in my books and even (like mugwump) actually purchased them. I will be happy to read any reviews you would like to give me—just add em to your comments on my posts when I’m back in August.

In the meantime, some of the other equestrianink bloggers will be taking my scheduled Weds posts—thank you Michele and Mary! I’ll return to blogging August 6th and will catch up with what you’ve all written then.

Its always hard to leave my home and horses for the month, but fortunately my boarder is able to stay here and housesit and care for all the critters, so things are in good hands. Cross your fingers for me that we have an uneventful July. Happy summer!


Tuesday, July 1, 2008

How We Deal With Issues In Our Books, Or Not . . .

The posts on Equestrian Ink over the last week or two have been thought provoking, to say the least. I’ve been thinking about the slaughter issue for quite some time, especially since the American Horse Slaughter Prevention Act (H.R. 503/S. 311) was introduced and is making the occasional headline. And this profound topic was going to be a part of my next mystery, although that has changed, but that’s a whole other story.

But research for that book took me to places I didn’t want to go, mainly to a video that I found on the web of a horse being killed in a Mexican slaughterhouse. I have a pretty good imagination, and this was so much worse.

Then, thanks to Laura Crum’s tip, I spent last night reading the Fugly Horse of the Day where I found examples of incredible human stupidity, laziness, and disregard for what is right and moral, as well as some admittedly funny stuff, too.

One reason so many horses end up on a slippery slope that may very well lead to slaughter is that so many humans breed inferior animals with poor conformation and unsuitable temperaments. They don’t properly care for and train the horses they do own, and they don’t take responsibility for them when they can no longer do their job, preferring to have them take their chances at auction where they are at extreme risk.

I owned my first horse until his death at age thirty-one, when I had to put him down because of old injuries and arthritis that anti-inflammatory medicine could no longer touch. He let me know when it was time to let go.

I am sad to say that, after him, I sold three other horses. They were all gorgeous, well trained, and athletic, and perfectly suited for their new owners, but I’ve lost touch with them over the years. And that was a mistake. If I ever purchase another horse, it will be for life.

Anyway, I have very strong feelings about human responsibility in the human-horse equation, and some of my opinions find their way into my mysteries. I don’t preach. After all, I write to entertain, but my character has his own opinions, and it’s only natural that he would consider them as the story plays out.

In DEAD MAN’S TOUCH, Steve gets his first look at the world of horse racing after working exclusively in the hunter/jumper arena. Here’s a short excerpt:

I flipped through my program and matched names to faces. None of the trainers looked younger than forty. Most were much older. One was a woman, and all of them were white. The grooms were easy enough to spot, wearing numbered pennies over tee shirts and jeans. They were a mixed group. Black, white, Hispanic. Old, young. Male, female.

The horses themselves were not what I was accustomed to. Nothing like the fat, glossy horses, essentially expensive pets, that resided at Foxdale. These animals were lean and hard. As I watched the bettors along the rail study the Form, I realized that the horses were viewed simply as a commodity. If they couldn’t earn their keep, they were out.

A signal must have been given, because the trainers legged the jockeys up onto the horses’ backs, then the grooms took them out onto the track.

The grooms peeled off their pennies and dropped them into a plastic bin as they slipped through the barricade. They walked back on the path I’d taken while the trainers went into the grandstand through a side entrance. A guard stood at a podium just inside the doorway, checking passes or ID’s of some sort. I retraced my steps. As I drew level with the barricade, I turned and looked back at the grandstand. A wall of sheer glass reflected a single line of cumulus clouds drifting across the horizon.

I walked back and leaned against the fence next to four of the grooms, three guys and one girl with halters and lead ropes draped over their shoulders.

A distant bell rang. The horses broke from the starting gate and surged forward in a rainbow of color.

Happy reading and riding,