Tuesday, August 9, 2011

The Romance of the Horse


Knights in shining armor. 


Mounted police.

Rodeo gals.

Where would they be without their faithful steeds?

And where would romance be without the occasional horse galloping through the story? After all, how else are the hero and heroine going to ride off into the sunset to enjoy their happily-ever-after ending?

My equestrian experience may be limited, but nothing jolts me out of a good book faster than misused horse terminology. Do you know the difference between a halter and a bridle? A cinch and a girth? A gelding and a stallion? A fetlock and a forelock?

Myra riding Gem, one of her favorite therapy horses.

If not, better do a little research before you plop a horse into your novel, or you could find yourself up to your ostrich-leather bootstraps in . . . um, you get the picture!

My brother is the horseman of the family. Though I’ve always loved horses, as a city girl my time around these magnificent animals has been limited. Despite a lifelong dream of someday having a horse of my own, I’ve had to accept that it just wasn’t meant to be.

Myra's "horsey" friend Peggy on her Palomino, Gigi.

Which is why most of what I know about horses and riding was picked up during my seven years as a volunteer at a therapeutic riding center.* I met some amazing horses and riders there, along with many wonderful staff and volunteers who really knew their stuff. With the help of a really great “horsey” friend I met there (Peggy, shown above), I had the opportunity to take dressage lessons on borrowed horses (still miss you, GiGi and Radar!) and even competed in my first and only schooling show!

Myra riding Radar in her first and only dressage schooling show!

My love of horses naturally led me to include them in my writing, and of course I wanted to get it right. So today I’m going to share several of the resources I’ve relied upon.

One of my favorites is a book entitled The Complete Guide to Horse Careers, by Sue Reynolds. The book covers a multitude of subjects, including animal health professions, breeding, training and judging, auctioneering, and horse racing. Great inspiration when you’re looking for a unique character occupation!

Another helpful reference is a book I happened upon in a flea market many years ago, Basic Training for Horses: English and Western, by Eleanor F. Prince and Gaydell M. Collier. This book covers just about everything related to horse training, including horse and trainer psychology, longeing, driving in harness, jumping, dressage, and endurance riding.

The same authors published another title I keep on my shelf, Basic Horsemanship: English and Western. This book addresses topics such as the gaits, tack, the rider’s seat, trail riding, and competition.

Other books within easy reach:

The Random House Book of Horses and Horsemanship, by Paula Rodenas. Offers a general overview of horse breeds, history of the horse, anatomy and behavior, and basic training.

Horse Handling & Grooming, by Cherry Hill. “A step-by-step photographic guide to mastering over 100 horsekeeping skills.”

Centered Riding, by Sally Swift. This book takes you beyond the mechanics of riding and encourages true communication with the horse through the rider’s seat, legs, and hands. Swift’s techniques “give mind and body new and relaxed approaches to the inner process of riding.”

The Man Who Listens to Horses, by Monty Roberts. This one is inspiration and then some! A must-read!

If you’re looking online for info about horses and riding, here are some randomly selected links to check out. Many of these will lead you to pages with even more detailed information.

Anatomy and breeds:








Western riding:




English riding:





Horse training:







I’ve also created a YouTube playlist containing a variety horse-related videos (check YouTube sidebars for related videos). (Plus--excuse the blatant self-promo--the book trailer for One Imperfect Christmas, the first of my published novels to include horses.) Watching these snippets of horses, trainers, and riders in action is the next best thing to being there!

Okay, who are the horse enthusiasts among us? Feel free to share your expertise, your favorite horse story (true or fictional), or ask a question that maybe someone with more experience can answer for you.

Book giveaway! Two randomly selected commenters on today's post will receive a copy of my newest release, A Horseman’s Heart, out this month from the Heartsong Presents Book Club.

North Carolina’s a long, long way from Texas, but horse trainer Kip Lorimer needs to get out of town fast, because the woman who long ago destroyed his last remnants of trust has just caught up with him—again. Special-ed teacher Sheridan Cross has trust issues of her own, so when Kip shows up with a horse to donate to the family’s equine therapy program, she can’t help but be suspicious. A cowboy a thousand miles from home and living out of a horse trailer? What’s wrong with this picture? When Sheridan’s mother offers Kip a job as barn manager, Sheridan decides she’d better stick close enough to keep an eye on things, never expecting she’ll soon have eyes only for the handsome cowboy. Can they trust their hearts and find true love, or will their troubled pasts come crashing down on their dreams?

*“My Special Olympians,” a true story based on my experiences working with special-needs riders, was included in the inspiring anthology The Healing Touch of Horses: True Stories of Courage, Hope, and the Transformative Power of the Human/Equine Bond.


KC Frantzen said...

Oh myyyyy

We are owned by 2 Al Khamsa Arabians - a mother and daughter. Saw them both born - an extremely rare event.

Love the way they smell, love how they respond, SO smart, very aware of their surroundings. Horses mirror a lot, so they can truly teach us many things.

There are few moments I like better than hearing a soft nicker of greeting and the contented munching of oats.

Thanks for posting.
I'd add John Lyons and Craig Cameron into the training mix.
Enjoyed your photos, Myra!

I brought carrot cake and oatmeal cookies for today. :)

Helen Gray said...

Coffee's on. Come and get it!

Whoopee, I have internet. More thunderstorms last night. Cable went out. It came back this mornning, but no internet net until this evening.

When I was a girl we used to spend a lot of time at grandma and grandpa's in the summer. We would go to the pasture, put bridles on the two horses he owned, and ride them bareback. One day they decided to go to the barn, whether we riders wanted to go or not, and I got brushed off Daisy's back as she went through the door.

Haven't ridden a horse in so many years now that I can't even remember when was the last time.


Christy Olesen said...

Thanks Myra, for the great resources. One of my WIP is about a cowboy. I live in N. Nevada and we have cowboys. I met some doing the Census, but that's the extent of my personal experience. I have had two experiences with horses. First was when I was 12 and the church youth group went for riding lessons. Then at 14 the family went for a half day ride in the Sierra. My horse, excuse me, my mule decided to play catch up with the mule in front who had gotten ahead of him and when he caught up and stopped, I didn't. My family said my screams could be heard thru the entire pack station and campground. But I got back on and rode the rest of the way.

I'd live to win your book. I brought some brownie bites but they're not a bribe.

Anonymous said...

LOL I remember complaints about one author having the horse be a mare then a gelding! Pretty noticeable - I haven't read that book but didn't think that was as bad as the hero going through a name change near the end of the book by a different author!

off to bed - long day ending with a cop pulling me over at 1 am - apparently my front license plate is missing and since I look like a criminal who couldn't be telling the truth about heading home after watching a friend finish her grandson's bday quilt til nearly 1 am...now I get to spend later today at the car registration place buying new plates and trying to figure out how to put them on when the entire bracket is missing - I think duct tape is legal in Texas...


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essay writing help said...

I love horses. in a good sense of "love" )))

Edwina said...

What a wealth of info - thanks for sharing!
One of the items on my "bucket list" is to learn to ride - something I've always wanted to do but never had the opportunity.

Thanks Helen, for the coffee. I've brought homemade pound cake my sister baked for us. Yum-o!

Ruth Logan Herne said...

I love horses. Just love 'em. And although I've ridden a bunch of times, I'd have to double check my terms, current phrases from today's young riders and refresh myself. Myra this is wonderful stuff.

Thank you for sharing all this.

And KC, thank you for FOOD. I've been dying for carrot cake. Love it!!!

Ruth Logan Herne said...

Oh, Susanna!!!


I've messed up name changes.

And Sandra had a Mama bear that was really a Papa bear.

And Mary did something weird with eggs. And a secret one-line conception. I think she gets the gold star.

You know what happens? Sometimes in edits you need to change something and one thing gets missed.


You indicate something to be left out and it doesn't happen.

Or... we just mess up, LOL! But that's okay because Nora does it. Sherryl does it. Jo does it. We're in good company, right? ;)

But my fave is the three-armed woman on the cover. That's a classic.

karenk said...

wow...i learned a lot from this posting...

kmkuka at yahoo dot com

Ruth Logan Herne said...

Edwina.... do it.

And hand over the pound cake and no one gets hurt, sistah!

Julie Hilton Steele said...

I love horses. There is such a variety. Growing up in MD, we had the Preakness and those beauties. In the summers, we went to our grandparents' farm with a horse farm down the road.

It is a toss up between Appaloosas in general or Little Joe's pony in particular when it comes to the horse I love best.

Love the premise of your new book.

KC has it right for horsey related treats!

Peace, Julie

Kirsten Arnold said...


Thanks for the great sources.

Since I write about cowboys there are a lot of horses in my stories, and some have starring roles. Sadly, I don't have a horse of my own (still hoping to change that), but I know quite a few cowboys and can call on them to make sure I have it right.


Glynna Kaye said...

Great reference info, Myra! As a horse-crazy kid who couldn't read enough about horses (Black Stallion, Misty, etc.) & loved to ride my cousins' ponies, I finally got a horse of my own in junior high/high school. Absolutely loved him! While I grew up riding western (or with a bareback pad), in my late 20's I took English riding lessons a couple of summers at the stable of a private college. A beautiful indoor brick arena surrounded by trees and green pastures with white fencing. Picture-book pretty! So I've always enjoyed a good horse story!

Missy Tippens said...

Wow, Myra! What a wealth of info!! Loved the photos.

I've always liked to ride horses. Used to do so at summer camp and when I dated a guy who owned some. But I don't know enough to write about them! This is great info. Thanks for sharing.

connie said...

We always had horses on the place when I was growing up, but mainly they were for my dad he used in working cattle. I didn't get one to ride until I was in junior high. No real training. We just rode. I knew all the questions except the forelock???

Anyone remember the scene in George of the Jungle when George is running w/the horses and a guy comments something like, "what is it w/chicks and horses?" So true.

Please put me in for the drawing.

Esther Wysong said...

Awesome post, Myra! I loved reading all that stuff about horses. My uncle, who lives next door, used to have a horse named Rio, but I never got to ride him before my uncle had a stroke and couldn't take care of him.

I did get to ride a horse once. Copper was more pony than Quarter Horse though, so he wasn't a big huge horse. lol I still remember how thrilled I was that I got to ride him.

Speaking of food...I have to bake cookies this morning. Chocolate Chip, Oatmeal Raisin, and Oatmeal Choc. Chip. YUM! :)

Sandra Leesmith said...

Myra, I love all the horse photos especially those of you on horseback.

My, my I've learned a lot today about my Seeker sisters and friends. Who knew you were all such horse aficionados.

Myra I could have guessed you love them as they are portrayed wonderfully in your stories. Now I know why. smile

I grew up around horses and rode alot. But the funniest story is the time dh and I were in Rocky Mountain National Park and had hiked quite a few trails so our legs and feet were sore. We had one trail left that we wanted to go on so had the bright idea of taking the offered horseback trip. Those horses were HUGE and the trail was STEEP. We had to squeeze our knees to stay on and let me tell you, by the time that ride was finished my dh and I couldn't walk for a week. LOL So much for riding instead of hiking.

And yes, Ruthy caught the bear sex change. We both laughed pretty hard over that. But then its easy to get Ruthy to laugh.

Thanks Myra for a fun post.

Melanie Dickerson said...

Oh my goodness, Myra!!! You are one thorough woman when it comes to research!

I write medievals, and other historical time periods, so I naturally have horses in all my stories. When I have a question about horse behavior, I usually ask a horsey person. But I do try to get everything right and will research whatever I need to. I have to admit, though, I've never read an entire book about horses. Or even thought about reading an entire book about horses! :-) But thanks for all the resources! I'll have to check out your YouTube horse videos!

And I will say it again. You are one thorough woman, Myra!

Whitney said...

When I was a little girl, we had miniature horses and I’ve wanted to have my own horse for many years. I’m still hoping for that someday! My mom lived in a saddle growing up, and so I learn a lot of the jargon from her because dogs and/or horses always make it into my stories.

Thanks for all the great resources, links, and photos, Myra!


Myra Johnson said...

Good morning, Seekerville!!!

And KC, thanks for the lovely first comment! "Are owned by" about sums it up, doesn't it? Yet I bet you can't imagine life without those dear equines!

Yes, definitely John Lyons, another great horse trainer. Cameron is a name that's new to me, however. You'll have to tell us more about him.

Carrot cake and oatmeal cookies--how appropriate!

Myra Johnson said...

HELEN, thanks, as usual, for the morning coffee. And also the horse memories.

You reminded me of my first horse memory. My two brothers (quite a bit older than I) had horses, and one morning when I was around 3, my mom put me on one of them bareback to ride around the little corral. His name was Rusty, so I said, "Go, Rusty, go!"

And he went! And Mom had hold of my ankle so I didn't go with him. Instead, I ended up headfirst in a pile of . . . need I say more? SHAMPOO TIME!!!

Myra Johnson said...

CHRISTY, I can SO relate to your horse--er, mule--story (see previous comment). I've also ridden a mule on a trail ride in Arkansas. They are very, very smooth rides! Even so, I prefer horses.

Good for you for getting right back on, though! And thanks for the brownies! (And yes, I CAN be bribed!)

Myra Johnson said...

SUSANNA! So sorry about your little "cop" incident! Bummer! We just got our new state tag yesterday so now we are "legal" again after our move. We couldn't register the car until we got our state driver's licenses, and to do that, we had to take a written exam that was NOT a piece of cake. So we studied the handbook for about a month first!

Hey, I finally figured out how certain Seekervillagers are usually the first ones to post each day. You're probably all still up the night before in the Pacific or Mountain Time Zones.

The rest of you . . . GET SOME SLEEP!!!

*lizzie starr said...

What a great list of resources--I'll be using some of those for various projects. In fact my H/H are riding mountain ponies on another planet as we speak. :)

'I' had a horse when young (Grampas are so nice sometimes). He was a patient fellow to carry 4 or 5 cousins at a time. Best of all was the day he thought he was running away with my grandmother. He didn't win that battle of wills!

Thanks for sharing your research!

Myra Johnson said...

EDWINA, even though I had chances to ride my brother's horses growing up, I didn't get to take riding lessons until my mid-40s. No regrets!

Except for leaving my "horsey" friends behind when we moved out of Texas 5 years ago. Maybe since we've just moved again I can find some new connections.

Myra Johnson said...

Hey, RUTHY! Yep, it really is easy to let a name change or other goof slip by in the editing phase. And short deadlines don't help. Glad we're in such stellar company, though!

Myra Johnson said...

KARENK, glad you found some useful info here!

JULIE S, oh my, Little Joe's pony!!! You do bring back memories! Appaloosas are a great breed. The flyspecked gray, Gem, in the photo is part Appaloosa. He was my absolute favorite of all the therapy horses, and I had the blessing of getting to work with him quite often for "training Mondays" when there were no classes for clients.

Myra Johnson said...

KIRSTEN, a cowboy you can call on is the next best thing!

GLYNNA, how great that you actually had your own horse for a while! That riding stable sounds idyllic! My brother and his family are strictly Western riders, but I'm quite partial to English. I absolutely LOVE the beauty of dressage (no jumping, thank you very much!).

MISSY, your books are utterly charming without the horses. We will forgive you for not including any.

Myra Johnson said...

CONNIE, so true--something about chicks and horses! Forelock? That's the little hunk of mane that hangs down the horse's forehead.

ESTHER, there's nothing quite as thrilling as a horseback ride! Wish you'd had more opportunities. Thanks for the cookies--YUM!!!

Myra Johnson said...

SANDRA, what an adventure! Your story reminded me of when hubby and I vacationed in Hawaii about 10 years ago. On Maui we took the trail ride down into the volcano--OH MY!!!!! Somehow they figured out li'l ol' me had the most riding experience of the tour group, so they gave me the most spirited horse.

Cute little guy, but on the way back up, he was determined to be FIRST! I was trying to keep hold of my very expensive new camera and snap pix but had to hold on for dear life every time he took off up the very steep trail at a gallop!

Myra Johnson said...

MELANIE, you definitely need horses in your medieval stories with all those handsome knights!

Which reminds me of another area I failed to touch on--horses and carriages. This is a whole other area of equine expertise that deserves in-depth research before inclusion in a novel.

Myra Johnson said...

WHITNEY, those miniature horses are adorable! Have you seen the TV specials about minis as service animals? Amazing!

LIZZIE, your story sounds fascinating! Thanks for sharing your "Grampa" memories. Seems so many of us had our first "horsey" experiences as very small children and the memory (not to mention the thrill) stays with us all our lives.

Julie Lessman said...

WOW, Myra, you've got me hankering to put a horse in my next book, which I actually could because the heroine is a Texas cowgirl who visits her wealthy cousins in San Francisco for the summer. So I think I am going to go right ahead and have her pine for her horse back home, comparing the hero (who she butts heads with) and the fiance who dumped her to the horsey's back end. :)

GREAT INFO, Myra, and I am salivating to read this one, girl -- the cover is GREAT, and I already know the story will be even better!


Nicole said...

Loved this post, Myra!

I've ridden, trained, showed and rodeo-ed all my life and am now down to one Arabian gelding. I've also done a lot of volunteer work with therapeutic riding centers and horse rescue organizations.

Some of my fondest memories were my two years as a rodeo queen. Yes, a rodeo queen—curly hair, sparkly shirts, chaps and all. I had a blast representing the sport of rodeo and traveling throughout the Pacific Northwest to different parades and rodeos.

I've got some stories about that on my blog - http://www.nicolemillerbooks.com, but now I'm writing historical romance with strong horse plot elements.

Thank you for this post - it is important to get the little horsey details correct (and even I have to do my research when it comes to dressage or jumping, since I'm a western rider all the way!)

Mary Connealy said...

I grew up with horses, Myra. But like a true farm kid, I didn't have a lot of starry eyed dreams about the big old lugs. They were hard to catch, they kicked and bit, The fought being bridled and saddled, I broke my arm falling off of one and frankly, I preferred TV or a good book.
Having said all that. I think I've got a really good knowledge of horses. Not GREAT. But I know the basics. Also, about ten years ago...no maybe twenty, I fell off one. No harm done. And you know what they say about you have to get right back on? Well, I thought about that and decided I just wouldn't. Get back on that is. I've never ridden a horse since and I can't bring myself to regret that.

Walt Mussell said...

I have a horse question. The only thing I know about a horse is that people get on them from the left hand side. However, my books take place in medieval Japan and samurai tended to mount from the right hand side. Would a reader be thrown off (and think I'm crazy) when one of characters mounts his horse from the right side?

Myra Johnson said...

JULIE, you are such a sweetheart! Your SF book sounds as fun and fascinating as your Boston stories, so you can bet it'll be at the top of my "must read" list.

NICOLE, you made me so curious that I just had to pop in at your blog and look up those "Rodeo Queen" pix! For anyone who's interested, check out Nicole's "Fun Facts About Me" page.

Jan Drexler said...

I'm finding that the Black Hills is really horse country - even more so than Lexington KY. (Maybe because in Lexington the horses are all millionaires...)

Anyway - I've always wanted a horse, but my dh has no interest. I'll have to get one of the children to go trail riding with me someday.

(After the Sturgis rally is over! It's insane around here this week!)

Back to horses - my current research project is finding out about draft horses, harnesses, training, etc. There aren't too many draft horses here in cowboy country! I'm thankful for the internet and my Dad's good memory. When he was a boy he worked on a neighbor's farm and part of his job was to drive the hay wagon.

KC - oatmeal and carrots? We really are horsey around here today!

I'd love to win your book, Myra!

Mary Connealy said...

I also always wanted to ride an elephant. This isn't off topic is it?
So I was at the zoo or a circus or something about ten years ago...no make that twenty...and there were ELEPHANT RIDES!!!

I eagerly went up to have one. I finally didn't have a small child who needed watching, could afford the ride and had a few minutes to spare.

I read the sign only to find I was OVER THE WEIGHT LIMIT. There is little in this life that is more humiliating than finding out you're over the weight limit to ride an elephant. So that's out too...unless they raise the limit or I lower my weight.

Nicole said...

Thanks, Myra!! I also shared the full story here: http://www.nicolemillerbooks.com/2009/08/13/beyond-the-hairspray…/

There are a few more pictures there too. :-)

Mary Connealy said...

Walt it's absolutely fine to do things in a historically correct (but not understood) way. But you need to make some mention of it. Very minimal and easy to do.

He saw the youngster getting ready to climb up on the horse from the left and hurried to intervene before the horse got upset. All samarai horses were trained to expect a rider to mount from the right.

Myra Johnson said...

MARY, I can sort of understand your present attitude toward horses. I have to admit, it was nice being able to brush my "borrowed" horses down after a ride and then just walk out of the barn and let someone else handle the feeding, stall mucking, vet bills, etc.

Speaking of falls, I've only fallen off once (as an adult, that is). It was at a riding lesson in a jump arena on a very windy January day. I wasn't jumping, but the wind blew down a jump standard and my horse spooked. He went left, I went right. Pulled something awful in my thigh--and just before my #3 grandson was going to be born! I was supposed to go help my daughter for a week or so afterward, but the best I could do was sit in the rocking chair and hold the baby.

Mary Connealy said...

Jan! You're in Sturgis? We've been watching the motorcycles heading north all week.

Myra Johnson said...

WALT, based on my VERY limited knowledge of horse lore, I recall something about mounting on the left having to do with the fact that cavalry soldiers wore their sword hilts on the left, so it was easier to mount that way without the sword getting in the way.

As for Samurais, they may have an entirely different mindset about that. Do what works for your story.

Myra Johnson said...

JAN, when I volunteered at the therapeutic riding center, they also had some carriage driving classes for clients who couldn't ride at all. I learned how to put on a driving harness, steer, etc. Fascinating! I've forgotten a lot of it after all these years. Also did some long-lining, which is like driving a horse while walking behind. We mostly did that with smaller horses and ponies. You get your exercise that way!

Myra Johnson said...

Must pop out for a little bit to take care of some errands. Back shortly! Keep the horse talk going!

Erica Vetsch said...

Myra, I love horses and love reading about them. Your new book looks delightful.

Mary, you are so stinkin' funny. I wish we were having lunch together today.

Kav said...

This city girl is horse mad -- from a distance. I'm swooning over those videos and all the great links. My 'relationship' with horses started in books...Anyone remember King of the Wind by Marguerite Henry? Not to mention Susannah of the Mounties by Muriel Denison.(oh and thank you for including a mountie in your line up!)

But then I found Trixie Belden and my dream life was never the same again! Every girl should have a stable of horses at her disposal (accompanied by a hunky groom like Regan) and the best friends in the world to go off adventuring on horseback with. Sigh.

Alas...that's about as close as I've gotten to the real thing. But I still love reading about them. And I dream about living in the country with a bunch of sheep, a couple of herding dogs and a horse or two. :-)

Susan Anne Mason said...

Hi Myra,

I've only been on a horse once - not something I care to repeat. Could not get that animal to do anything but eat grass!

But I do love to read about horses! Love Linda Lael Miller's rancher series (and of course the hunky cowboys!)

Your book sounds wonderful. How has the ending of the Heartsongs line affected you? Will you still be able to write for a new line?

sbmason at sympatico dot ca

Linnette R Mullin said...

A friend in my writer's group has written A Writer's Guide to Horses. I think you can find it at www(dot)lrgaf(dot)org. She wrote it with/for the Long Riders' Guild. The Guild was constantly asked questions by writers and decided to have the book written specifically for us. :D

I'd love to read your book, Myra! Please include me in the drawing.

Janet Dean said...

Very impressive post with all your resources and links, Myra! I'm terrified of getting info about horses and tack wrong. Though I think I know, please define the differences between a halter and a bridle, a cinch and a girth. No need to explain the difference between a gelding and a stallion.

I'm impressed with your years of volunteering at the therapeutic riding center. Horses scare me. The few times I rode, I learned they didn't play nice. Guess they knew who was boss.

Great cover! The sparks are flying between your cowboy hero and your special-ed teacher heroine. Love it!


Myra Johnson said...

ERICA, I am so envious that you've had so many chances to have lunch with Mary! Can't wait till ACFW!!!

KAV, I'm with you--adoring horses from a distance, especially the past few years. When we left Texas back in 2006, my "horsey" group gave me one of those specially made throws with a blown-up photo of Radar. I keep it folded atop a chest where I can see it every day.

Myra Johnson said...

SUE, the demise of Heartsong has definitely been disappointing, especially since I had two more books planned in the "Horseman" series. Maybe they'll yet find their way into publication.

LINNETTE!!! Thanks for this great resource!!! A Writer's Guide to Horses looks super! I'm going to bookmark this page!

travelingstacey said...

Myra, this looks like a great resource! The only thing I know about horses is what I've read in novels. So now I know that if I ever write something about horses I need to be sure to get it right!
Mary, I saw your comment about riding an elephant! I've gotten to ride elephants when I lived in Thailand. Great fun! And they don't have a weight limit! But...one time when I about to get on I heard the elephant guys speaking in Thai and said something about my being the fat one and I needed to sit on the inside...lol. Too funny. But another time I wasn't the fat one anymore and got to sit on the outside : ).
Please put my name in the book drawing! God bless~Stacey

Myra Johnson said...

JANET, at the risk of embarrassing myself in front of all our "horsey" visitors today, I will attempt to answer your questions.

A cinch is the thingy (equine technical term) that you tighten on a Western saddle to keep the saddle on the horse.

A girth is almost the same thing except it's more of a belt with a buckle on both ends that you use to attach an English saddle around a horse.

A halter is the leather or nylon or rope thingy that is just for leading your horse around.

A bridle is the fancy thingy with reins attached that you steer the horse with, usually with a bit that goes in the horse's mouth.

And yes, most horses can tell if you're going to be the boss or let them be the boss. And they WILL take advantage!

Myra Johnson said...

I forgot to mention that the halter and bridle both go on the horse's head, usually behind the ears and around the nose and chin.

Mary Connealy said...



Myra Johnson said...

STACEY, whether it's horses or history or a real place or person, somebody who reads your book is going to notice if you get something wrong. And just ask Mary--they WILL tell you about it!!!

Hey, I've ridden an elephant before at the zoo somewhere, San Antonio, I think. I've also ridden a camel across the Egyptian desert to view the pyramids. All the while being harassed by an Egyptian camel driver who wanted to know how big a tip we were going to give him.

Myra Johnson said...



Mary Connealy said...

TRAVELINGSTACY You have my eternal envy...elephant? Thailand?

Yeesh, I can barely get to the store to buy bread and milk.

Nancy Kimball said...

Myra, I taught myself to ride and care for my first pony with the Basic horsemanship books!
The pictures and appendices are wonderful and that book has been around a long time.

My favorite horse story is when I was on a trail through unfamiliar country on my horse Lady (that I still have, at 24 years young!) We came to a break in a tree line and I reined her through but she stopped. I nudged her with my knees and nothing. Heels. Nothing.
Now I'm mad because the opening is just wide enough for her to get through so I whip with the ends of my western reins and still nothing.
Now it's a contest of wills and I whip and kick and she lays her ears back. (For non-horse people, this is like a girl taking off her earrings because she's about to throw down and fight).
I dismount to lead her through and then I see it. A single strand of old barbed wire blocking her way.
Talk about feeling lower than a snake's belly! I still do and that was seventeen years ago.
But that's what a lady my girl was, let me wail on her without once snorting, pawing, kicking, or rearing up.

Walt - ditto on the Cavalry saber. Most soldiers were right handed and so wore their swords on the left side. Mounting from the left kept the saber from tangling.

I always try to see the World famous Lipizzaner stallions whenever they are nearby touring.
Magnificent, especially the Airs Above the Ground.

Myra Johnson said...

NANCY, what a great story! Reminds me of one day when I was riding Radar around the back of the owner's property. We were in the woods coming up to a pond, and he stopped dead still. I couldn't make him move forward for anything.

Then I looked ahead and about 50 feet in front of us was a water moccasin stretched out across the trail. So we turned around and went back the way we came!

Oh, the fabulous Lipizzaners!!! We went to see them a couple of years ago when they came to Oklahoma. Simply amazing!!!

EC Spurlock said...

Thanks for being with us today Myra! What a terrific cover on A Horseman's Heart, and what a wonderful job horse therapy must be, giving people joy in accomplishment as well as in the bonding with the horses.

I've always been a horse lover but like you it was never in the cards for me to have my own. I did live for a while with a roommate whose mom was an accomplished equestrian and who used to take us to shows ans exhibitions with her. Met a lot of wonderful horses there, including a Clydesdale who was trained as a hunter. For such a big horse, she was amazingly graceful and agile!

I just finished rereading one of my favorite horse stories, which i about wore out in my youth -- The Horsemasters by Don Stanford. It's still a great YA read, not a lot of drama but a lot of heart.

Linnette R Mullin said...

You're welcome! For those interested in civil war and revolutionary war info, Susan has 20 years of research on her website. In a hurry here, so I'll just say that you can get to her link on our network blog - pcwn.blogspot.com. The links are on the left column. Susan Craft is her name. Just click on her link.

Myra Johnson said...

EC, I'm glad you like the cover. I sort of wish they'd included a horse, but you can't go wrong with a cowboy!

When we lived in St. Louis about a million years ago, we went to see the Budweiser Clydesdales. Awesome! Their feet are huge! We had a big gray Percheron at the equine therapy center, and trying to pick his hooves was one tough job!

Myra Johnson said...

Thanks again, LINNETTE! Great to have such handy research sources at your fingertips!

Jan Drexler said...

Why do I come back to Seekerville several times in one day? Because the comments are as much fun as the posts!

Mary - We're not in Sturgis. Rapid City is close enough. Those cycles are LOUD! We won't even go into the biker culture, but they're a minority. Just think, the population of South Dakota is around 850,000 people...and nearly 700,000 show up for the rally. I've never seen anything like it.

And I did get to ride an elephant once at a zoo...but that was three children ago. The handler yelled at me because I wanted to touch the elephant. Sheesh.

And Erica gets to eat lunch with Mary? When did this happen? Why weren't the rest of us invited?

As much as I love cowboys, I'm in awe of the draft horses. My favorite part about the Elkhart County Fair in Goshen, Indiana is the draft horses. They're something. If you're ever in northern Indiana at the end of July, make sure you visit that fair - it's huge, family friendly and full of old fashioned small town fun.

CatMom said...

Great post, Myra (and great photos too!) - - thanks for sharing all this information with us today. ~ Although I've always loved horses, I haven't been around them very much. But I have a niece whose life revolves around horses (truly!) and she would also be a good reference if I ever had "horse questions"! ~ Thanks again for this post, and blessings on your day, Patti Jo :)

Myra Johnson said...

JAN, you can revisit Seekerville as often as you want! And you reminded me of a trip we made through Durango, CO, several years ago, right when a big motorcycle convo was nearby. It was so late when we got there that the hotels were completely booked, so we were referred to a private home that rented out extra bedrooms. Very, very strange feeling . . .

PATTI JO, thanks for stopping in! I really envy girls who get to grow up with horses in their lives. My niece has ridden and had horses all her life and still does. She's also a recent first-time grandmother!

Ruth Logan Herne said...




Ruth Logan Herne said...

Mary, you are a petite and beautiful woman who should be able to ride any elephant in the world.

I mean really?

You could ride a horse...


We need PETA for humans, for heaven's sake.

That's the most ridiculous thing I've heard in longer than I care to admit remembering.

Ruth Logan Herne said...

Mary Stewart... Airs Above the Ground.... one of the great novels that hooked me on romance writing...

Madam, Will You Talk?


And they always let people ride elephants in Mary Stewart books. I checked.

Ruth Logan Herne said...

This message is just for Walt:

(I got nothin' big guy, but I wanted to be cool like Mary and Erica.)


Myra Johnson said...

Right, RUTHY. Pay extra attention to the only guy to stop in at Seekerville so far today.

And what does that say about women and horses, huh?

We love you, Walt. Samurais and all.

Faye said...

I love horses! I have a pinto pony of my own that I just adore. I agree. Horses are romantic, and great in books!

crazi.swans at gmail dot com

Myra Johnson said...

So true, FAYE!

Okay, what is everyone's all-time favorite movie about horses? Right up there at the top with me is The Man from Snowy River.

Okay, I don't know if it's the horses or the horseman I like best about this movie!

Myra Johnson said...

Off to meet the grandkids at the pool for a bit. Back soon!

Mary Connealy said...

One of my daughters competed in riding in college. There was a western team, an English riding team and rodeo. She did western (of course) and she was so stinking cute in her hat and chaps with her big silver belt buckle.

She traveled around with it quite a bit, too.

Mary Connealy said...

Erica and Mary did NOT get to eat lunch, which is why we're sad.
There was a chance, for one brief, magical moment in time, where it seemed like it might happen, our paths might cross. But alas, it was not to be.


Erica and I have actually perfected the five hour lunch. We're writing a book on it to teach others.

No publisher yet.

Mary Connealy said...

I agree about the elephant weight limit, Ruthy. I mean talk about the pot calling the kettle fat. (that is the saying right?)

CDeesBooks said...

We own two Quarter horses and a Rocky Mountain gaited horse, and guess what? The horses don't know whether you get the terminology right or not. ;-)

WALT - Myra's right. We traditionally mount on the left side because of the way soldiers carried their sword; doesn't make it right or wrong. In fact, if you study Parelli Natural Horsemanship, (which we do and absolutely LOVE) you mount from both sides. (Not at the same time of course, duh!) Alternating the side you mount from helps your horse in so many different ways; bravery, balance, etc.

When I talk horse terminology, I sound different from the majority of the horse owners in our neighborhood because natural horsemanship is completely different. Tired of the same old, have to bribe or trap your horse to get a halter on him? Tired of a "won't go" horse, or a "won't stop" horse? Tired of so-called "bad manners"? You've got to check out Parelli. Our relationships with our horses is so much better then we could have imagined. They love to be with us, and we learn so much together. Okay, commercial over.

Thanks for bringing up this subject, it was fun to read and participate in.

Pamela S Thibodeaux said...

I Love horses! There is nothing more soothing to the soul than being on horseback.

Great post - sounds like a wonderful book too.

Please enter me in the drawing... pthib07@gmail.com


Patty Wysong said...

Oh wow! What a post loaded with info! LoL, I see my daughter in the comments--not surprising the way she loves horses. ;-)

Jason H-M said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Anita Mae Draper said...

Yay, a horse post! Good job, Myra.

In my ms, Emma's Outlaw, the horses are an integral part of Dan and Emma's life. I've tried to use that to advantage, but I did have some problems...

Emma's Outlaw is set in the Old West, so here's the problem I had with the wording:

English vs Western
canter = lope
trot = jog

Jog? When I used this in my manuscript, every judge and crit partner laughed. So, I changed it to trot even though it's wrong.

Here's another thing... in the same manuscript, I was using the word tack for horse equipment. Wrong. The word tack - as it pertains to horse equipment - didn't come into use until the 20th century. Prior to that, the correct word was 'gear'.

To ensure the accuracy of my manuscript, I loaded it onto an eReader and let a local rancher read the story. That's not saying I/we missed something... it just means I tried my best.

Anita Mae.

Cara Lynn James said...

Interesting blog, Myra! I used to love horses when I was young, but I only had a chance to ride once or twice. It was so much fun, but I have to admit I was terrified.

I now know where to turn when I put one of my characters on the back of a horse.

Can't wait to read your new book.

Myra Johnson said...

CEDEESBOOKS, thanks so much for stopping in to share your thoughts! Parelli is definitely a name I've heard of, and I love the idea of natural horsemanship!

I also remember learning that it's not a bad idea to get your horse used to being mounted from either side. Seems to me we had the occasional client at the therapeutic riding center who for some reason had to be mounted from the "off" side. Those dear, sweet horses would put up with just about anything from their riders. Truly amazing!

Myra Johnson said...

PAM, thanks for visiting! The "soothing to the soul" part is what I miss most after being away from horses for over 5 years now. Sheesh, all this horse talk is making me want to go out and find a stable right now!

PATTY, does your daughter ride?

ANITA MAE, you taught me something new! I had no idea "tack" wasn't used until the 20th century. Very interesting! And you're right--English riders "trot" and "canter" while Western riders "jog" and "lope."

Sandra Ardoin said...

Great to hear about so many horse lovers! There is definitely that girls and horses thing. My motto was always "Love me, love my horse." Probably why it took me a while to marry.

My "baby" passed on twenty years ago. I'd had him 18 years--just a pleasure horse, but what pleasure! I haven't done much riding since. Going to places where you walk nose to tail along a path the horses could walk in their sleep doesn't appeal to me.

It's been long enough ago, that I felt I needed a book of reminders for my writing and added Storeys Guide to Raising Horses to my shelves, bought at a library book sale.

I would love to have another horse, but don't have the property for one. I boarded for so many years, I don't want to do that again.

Okay, just had to add my horse sense for today. Going back to my stall now.

Myra Johnson said...

CARA, your characters may not ride horseback all that often, but they're definitely still in the horse-and-buggy era. I'm seriously considering doing a Seekerville post on that subject one of these days.

Myra Johnson said...

SANDRA, you can visit Seekerville's stables any day! Being a city girl I've given thought to getting my own horse and just boarding it, but when you add travel time (it used to be a 45-minute drive each way to visit Radar and Gigi) on top of grooming tacking, riding lesson, after-ride brushing and/or hose-off, etc., it takes a big chunk out of the working day. Not to mention the expense.

I'm not too keen on the nose-to-tail mindless trail rides either, but sometimes, when that's all I can get, I'll take it just to be on the back of a horse again!

Virginia said...

I grew up with horses, riding western and bareback when we were too lazy to saddle up or even put a blanekt on them. Trail riding, barrel riding, treaing up the neighbor's alfalfa field riding! My best friend was our state rodeo queen and 2nd in the national barrel racing competition.
That said, I'm not really a horse fan! I like them, I admire them, but not in love with them. I was always afraid I'd get stepped on, and I'd seen too many 'roll overs' happen to feel really secure taking those racing turns.
But I love the links! Very fun post for those horse lovers who don't have one to look at in the back pasture. :)

Virginia said...

KC, your description makes me almost want to go out and buy me an Arabian!

Nicole said...

KC and Virginia -

I've owned Arabians my entire horse career and I'll never buy anything else - you won't find more intelligent, refined or spunky animals out there. ;-) Of course, they can be a bit hot-headed at times and require a certain amount of patience and understanding.

KC - I'd love to talk bloodlines sometime! ;-) One of mine was of Spanish blood, another Polish...

In my opinion, they're the best. :-) That said, I've rodeoed on a paint and owned a thoroughbred as well.

Myra Johnson said...

VIRGINIA, my niece did barrel racing and pole bending at 4H shows when she was a kid. As an adult she's done some team penning. I've WALKED the barrels--LOL! Those speedy turns scare me silly!

NICOLE, we had some Arabian therapy horses that were so sweet! They could be feisty too, but usually they were very good for their clients. One I really loved was an Arab/Morgan mix. It broke everyone's heart when she passed away.

Pepper said...

What a wealth of help here. I don't write about horses a lot, but I think they're one of the most beauitufl animals on God's earth.
Horses, wolves, and butterflies
my favs

But NOW when I write a part with a horse, I have an entire arsenal of info to sort through. woohooo!!

Myra Johnson said...

PEPPER . . . horses, wolves, and butterflies? That's quite a combination! I'm sitting here imagining how you'd work all those creatures into the same story. Could be interesting!

Wait! I just remembered Mary has done horses with wolves! Mary, were there any butterflies in that scene?

Eva Maria Hamilton said...

Thank you for this Myra!

My debut Highland Hearts is set in 1748 so it has horses in it and I had to research which horses existed back then in Scotland, etc. But, it was also nice to bring up some things from experience, even though I have a lot less horse experience then most Seekers :)

Eva Maria Hamilton at gmail dot com

travelingstacey said...

Mary...I was a missionary in Thailand for almost 4 years...so I had some pretty fun, scary, and interesting experiences. If you get a wild streak and want to go over, let me know : ). I can hook you up. I promise, you will be able to ride an elephant, feed an elephant, and even watch the baby ones paint pictures. I even went to one place where they make paper out of elephant poop. ; )

Anonymous said...

well all I can say is to pray no one ever swipes your front license plate...$270 and 3 hours later I had a new front grill, bracket, and plates put on my car. The only good thing is I got a lot of reading done while waiting.


Here's some bags of chocolate I have left over - I used it medicinally of course but it's really just a placebo - though a darn good one!

Pepper said...

Myra, I write fantasy. Anything is possible :)

Erica Vetsch said...

Ruthy, how about we start PETA - People for the Ethical Treatment of Authors? :D

Myra Johnson said...

EVA MARIE, I bet that was very interesting finding out about horses in Scotland back then!

Paper out of elephant poop, STACEY??? Don't think I'll be writing any letters on that any time soon! I remember something in the news not long ago, though, about an elephant who painted the most beautiful pictures. They are highly intelligent, from what I've read.

PEPPER, I bet you have quite the imagination, girl!

ERICA, can I join your organization? I promise to be nice to Mary.

Ruth Logan Herne said...

Susanna, bummer about the license plate. Oh my stars, pass the virtual chocolate, sweetie.

Pepster, the butterflies add an ethereal touch, very Green Mansions.

Erica, YES. YES. YES.

Authors need respect.



Clean cages.

Regular grooming.


'Sup wi' dat?

Myra Johnson said...

SUSANNA, so sorry your license plate incident turned into such a nightmare! Yes, a big bag of chocolate is definitely what the doctor ordered.

(But keep the duct tape handy.)

Myra Johnson said...

My computer is about to turn into a pumpkin, and so am I. You night owls can keep Seekerville open awhile longer if you want. I'll pop in again tomorrow.

'Night, all! Thanks for talking "horsey" with me today!

Debby Giusti said...

Away all day and stopping by Seekerville late.

Great info, Myra. You should be the Seekerville head researcher! Love the resources you provided. Thank you!

Also, love the cover and blurb for your newest release. The story sounds like a Must-Be-Read-NOW!

Congrats, too, on the publication of your personal piece working with special ed kids.

Loves 2 Read Romance - Laura said...

I have never been on horse in my life. But I do enjoy reading books that feature them. I definitely understand how a mistake can break you out of the book. I don't know the difference between any of the terms you mentioned in your blog but spelling mistakes or the use of the wrong character's name is another way of breaking the spell of the story. Thanks for sharing with us!

Since it's evening I brought some ice cream to share!

Jessica Nelson said...

Oh dear. lol I could've used this post a few months ago. I love horses but know so little about them. Thanks for the links!

Linda Cacaci said...

Love the post! I, too, love horses. I used to get a horse magazine. I didn't have any horses. I just love them! Please enter me in the drawing.
Linda Cacaci

Anita Mae Draper said...

Oh, Linda just reminded me that I keep forgetting to enter the draws... not sure if it's valid only on the day of the post, or until the weekend, but here goes...

anitamaedraper (at) hotmail (dot) com

Myra Johnson said...

Checking in once more after a really busy day of shopping and then an afternoon at the movies with my hubby!

DEBBY, I don't "love" research like some people do, but I'm learning. I always thought Sandra was our research queen!

LAURA, thanks for bringing the ice cream. I have some A&W Root Beer in the fridge. Wanna make floats? And I agree--as authors we have a responsibility to be as accurate as we can in all areas. We are the creators of the fictional dream and must do everything possible not to "awaken" the reader.

JESSICA, as always, a pleasure to see your smiling face here!

LINDA, glad you stopped in! It's perfectly okay to love and appreciate horses from afar!

ANITA MAE, don't worry. Winners usually aren't selected until the nearer end of the week, depending on the hostess for the day. And I personally enter everyone in the drawing unless they specifically opt out.

Thanks again, everyone, for talking horses with me! It's been fun!