Please welcome Leag Braemel, who is joining us with her recent release of SLOW RIDE HOME.
When I was little, my sister was horse-crazy. Me? I loved the idea of being able to ride—there was something very exciting about sitting in a saddle like the Lone Ranger or Little Joe or Adam from Bonanza (yes, I know, I’m dating myself), but I wasn’t quite as horse crazy as her. Still, one summer when I was about five my parents took us to a local riding stable as a treat, I was pictured myself being very cool and in control as I climbed into the saddle on a pony named Dolly. Except Dolly had other ideas—like, never leaving the barn. I think I managed to get her halfway down a field (maybe 50 yards?) but then that stubborn old pony decided she’d had enough, turned around and bumped her way all the way back to the barn and refused to budge again. (Hmm. Now I think about it, I’m surprised my parents didn’t demand their money after that lack of ride. Or lack of supervision—I don’t remember any adult being anywhere near me, other than someone saddling up another pony yelling at me to just “kick her sides” to get her going, and when I returned they just shrugged and said, “Yes, Dolly is stubborn.”)
While I was thoroughly disillusioned, my sister went on to take lessons when she was a teen—English riding, including jumping, complete with the fancy outfit. The first time I remember going to see her ride she fell off while taking a jump. She only got winded, not badly hurt, thankfully. Oh, I’ve been on the back of a horse a couple more times in my twenties, wishing I could learn to ride competently, but the places I tried were more interested in the “take their money, mount ‘em up and leave ‘em to their own devices” theory, so once again thoroughly disillusioned, I gave up.
Then I visited Becky, a friend of mine in Texas, who raises Blue Arabian horses. (And is my horse guru—she’s even written a book about writing horses—and mistakes to avoid. Maybe in part based on some of the questions I asked her?) In addition to being my very first critique partner, she put me on the back of the beautiful Cimmi—and gave me a ride I won’t soon forget. Becky has that “born in the saddle” type seat, moving with her horse as if she were part of them. It was so cool, riding across a field in Texas, getting the horse to cross a small stream and scrambling up a bank on the other side, her dogs racing ahead of us, all while I was acutely aware of the prickly pear and the rocks and yuccas that I could fall into. Not that I did. The ride ended too soon, and I would love to go back and be able to ride with her every day. Unfortunately poor Cimmi passed away a few months after I got to ride her.
While I know there are cowboys in lots of other states (and even up here in Canada) Becky, and a few other friends down in Texas, are the reason why my cowboys in my newest books are Texans. I can picture brothers Ben and Jake being carried on horseback by their father before they could sit up, being placed in the saddle before they could walk. When they were the same as me when I had my first pony ride, they’d probably been mastering their horses for many a year. And they probably knew not to turn their back on a stallion in a barn and get bitten in the chest because they weren’t paying him enough attention. ;)
Leah is giving away one digital book from her backlist to one reader. To enter, just leave a question or comment on this post and then fill out the rafflecopter below.
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