Horse talk

Horses feature predominantly in the book I am writing.

My main character, Josey Miller, grew up with horses. Josey is an 11-year-old girl who lives with her father, Carl, on their farm in southern Missouri. Josey has always had an Arab mare, Ruby. She doesn’t know life without her. Toward the end of the book, Ruby is taken from Josey, so she is left with Chief.

Chief is an Arab stallion that their banker, Mr. McInerny, brings to Carl to train. Chief is chaos on four hooves. On paper, his bloodlines look great. The problem is, as my mother-in-law says, you can’t ride paper.

I’m a novice when it comes to horse training, so I didn’t know if this was plausible. Could a horse that is dangerously out of control with one trainer be rehabilitated by another?

I had the privilege of meeting a husband and wife team who compete in equestrian endurance rides on the international level. They are the real deal. He has published a book on this sport. How I got so lucky to meet them and see their horses, I’ll never know. I think it’s indicative of horse people that they are willing to share their time and expertise.

Sitting in their kitchen, they told me that yes, it is plausible that Carl Miller could retrain Chief. They have been given horses that were thought to be beyond rehabilitation and turned those horses around. Changing feed alone could affect a horse’s behavior. It is plausible. The reverse is true too. They have worked with horses that are not capable of rehabilitation. In that case, the horse is put down.

Readers may wonder where I got the name for these pivotal characters. If you’ve been reading this blog, you’ve met Ruby. She’s my cat. As for the name Chief? When I was a young girl, my grandparents owned a pair of American Saddlebreds. The gelding, Chief, was huge. I feared him and rightly so. My grandmother, Dorothy Drake, worked with horses her entire life. She was injured while riding Chief, and spent a few days in the hospital. My memory may be faulty, but it seems like her passion for horses, including Chief, cooled after that.

Hands and arms inside the cart, please. Next: meet Josey’s friends.

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About Annette Drake

For me, a great book is about the people who live in it. So when my characters talk, I eavesdrop and write down what they say. My three favorite words: what happens next. I make my home in Washington state. A member of Romance Writers of America, I love ferry rides, basset hounds and bakeries. I do not camp.
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