Writing and horses are two passions that traveled with me from childhood to adulthood. I was the pesky kid who bugged her parents for a horse every Christmas and every birthday. I got a Breyer model horse instead (haha, not funny mom). Then around age 13 I got a Saturday job at a nearby stable in exchange for riding lessons. I found my bliss. I wrote my first “book” about a girl and her horse around that time. Bliss struck again.
Both have been a huge part of my life ever since.
I got to wallow in my two passions writing my latest paranormal romance novel, Omega Rising. It’s about a stable owner and the unusual group that surrounds her. The fictional Sky Blue Farm is based on a stable where for years I lived and breathed and worked horses (minus the sexy shapeshifter wolves and bears and magic and murder. There was drama there but not that kind of drama 😀 ).
Horses need care 24/7 no matter the weather. In winter we bundled up in long underwear and held hot packs in freezing hands and hand-walked horses indoors when the sub-zero temps made it too dangerous to ride. In summer we sweated through our tank tops under the hot August sun in jeans or breeches with leather boots because riding in shorts is something you only try once (sweaty skin + leather saddle = omg-it-hurts-so-bad burns).
I’ve called vets for injured or sick horses. Scary.
I’ve called ambulances for injured people. Scarier.
One of my horses (a clever, handsome bay TB/Quarter Horse cross) was so quick sideways that he once left me hovering in mid-air for a split-second, during which I literally thought holy crap I’m in a Road Runner cartoon before I hit the ground in a heap. I’d have used it in Omega Rising but readers would’ve snorted in disbelief unless they were riders, too. In that case they’d nod yes, been there, that does indeed suck.
I’ve had young horses, tall horses, lazy horses, and spooky horses, learning something with every one. Grays and bays, mares and geldings, skinny chestnuts and fat ponies. I’ve been stepped on, knocked down, bucked off, bitten, kicked, and yes, sailed over a fence or two without my mount. But I loved them all.
In Omega Rising the opening scene shows the heroine and her mare, Peeka Booyah, jumping fences in a field. I based her on my own lovely mare except for the talent at jumping fences thing. Fiction is awesome 🙂
I wouldn’t trade my experiences at that farm for anything. Some of those memories made it into the book, some will NEVER see the light of day. Yeesh. But the camaraderie, that sense of family and belonging ran deep, overcoming the hurt feelings and squabbles and allowing us to survive when things went sideways. Much like it does for the Sky Blue Farm family in Omega Rising.
Our barn family isn’t together anymore; we peeled off one by one after the farm was sold but I’m in touch with some of them. My forever horse and I are at a different barn, one filled with good people, but I look back on those years at “my” barn with so much love in my heart. They changed me, shaped me; as a writer, as a rider, as a human being.
My heroine in Omega Rising, Cass, is funnier than I am, certainly ballsier, but we share an enduring love of and respect for all horses, small and tall. Oh, and we both have a passion for sexy, shapeshifter wolves *cough* Nathan *cough*
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