Thursday, August 4, 2016

Horse Sense

Keli Gwyn here with a confession. I might write historical romances set in the days before motorized vehicles, but my knowledge of horses, the major mode of transportation at the time, is sadly lacking.

Horses are magnificent creatures. I admire those who ride, train, groom, enjoy and love them.

I rode a horse a few times when I was young. My sister had a little Welsh mare. Rainbow was gray and looked somewhat like the Welsh pony pictured.

Rainbow was quite docile, but that horse had a sneaky side. She had a habit of holding her breath when she was being saddled so the cinch wouldn’t be too snug, which I found out on a chilly fall day.

If I’d had more horse sense, I would have checked the cinch one more time before mounting Rainbow. My sister had told me I needed to do that. I thought everything was fine, but I hadn’t pushed hard enough on Rainbow’s underside to cause her to expel the air.

Rainbow had a surprise in store for me. We’d just set out across our back field at a walk when the saddle began slipping sideways. The world slowly tilted, and I ended up on the ground, stunned but uninjured.

I looked up at Rainbow, who had come to a stop. She’d turned her head to look at me, as the Welsh pony pictured is doing. I’d heard about horse laughs, but that day I witnessed one for myself. Rainbow was laughing at me, I’m sure of it. She’d bested me, and the silly girl knew it.

The rest of the memory is fuzzy, due to the fact that the incident took place 40 years ago. I’m fairly sure I tightened that cinch and got back on, knowing that’s what we’re supposed to do after falling off, but I’ll be honest. I haven’t had a desire to ride a horse since.

My limited experience with horses became woefully apparent when I started writing my stories. I’ll admit to having performed Google searches on “standard horse gaits,” “parts of a horse” and “how to groom a horse.”

I was able to fake it for a few books using what I’d leaned online, but when I set out to write Make-Believe Beau, a story with a horse-racing hero, I needed solid information. I’m blessed to have a young friend who is an avid horsewoman. Rachael answered all my questions, no matter how basic, and she didn’t laugh at me once.

With Rachael's help, I chose a beautiful black quarter horse similar to the one in the photo. Sid, short for Obsidian, is hero Flynt Kavanaugh's pride and joy. Together, they enter the race at the Fourth of July festivities, a real event that took place in my hometown of Placerville, California in 1874, the year the story takes place. To find out what happened next, you'll just have to read Make-Believe Beau. :-)

 (All three images above are from Wikimedia Commons. Photo 1. Photo 2. Photo 3.)

Questions for You

Have you ever ridden a horse?
If so, what was your experience like?

Off all the horses you’ve seen—in real life
or in movies—which is your favorite?
The Courtship Charade 

As a draftswoman in a man’s world, Jessica Sinclair causes a stir as her new male colleagues vie for her attention. And the company manager has an ultimatum: fake a courtship with her boss, Flynt Kavanaugh…or lose her job. But pretending to be smitten with the handsome engineer unleashes a real, complicated attraction—and could reveal the past she hoped to keep hidden.

Jessica is certainly the best person for the job. But as their make-believe romance escalates, Flynt knows that’s not the only reason he wants her on his team. However, with his past shrouded by a shameful secret, Flynt has always focused his ambitions on building a career, not a family. Now he has designs on Jessica’s heart, but can they trust each other with the truth?
Copyright © 2016 by Harlequin Enterprises Limited
Cover and cover copy text used by arrangement with Harlequin Enterprises Limited.
® and ™ are trademarks owned by Harlequin Enterprises Limited
or its affiliated companies, used under license.


  1. I've always been a little afraid of horses, possibly because a childhood friend's horse kicked her in the face. In fact, I was more comfortable taking a ride on an elephant than I am on a horse.

  2. Jean, I can understand your hesitancy around horses when your friend had such a scary experience with one. I hope she wasn't hurt too badly.

    I think it's way cool that you've ridden an elephant. When and where did that happen?

  3. Keli, I adore horses. Always wanted to learn to ride. I've only ridden the kind on the merry-go-rounds, unfortunately! Maybe one day. I write about horses. Have books on the subject. Ask horse people pesky questions. I'm glad you got back in the saddle!

  4. You convinced me :) I've been thinking it's time for a historical :)

    I love horses, took lessons and everything, but now I'm hesitant to ride because I don't fall well.


  5. I read lots of horse fiction in my teenage years, i rode a horse at camp when 16 and was real sore the next day. Fav horse is caramel coloured with white stockings n a white marking on its nose

  6. Lenora, your comment made me smile. I, too, have ridden carousel horses. I prefer them to their real-life counterparts.

  7. Pamela, I encourage you to write a historical. I think you'd have fun. With your experience, you'd be all set for writing scenes involving horses.

  8. Scraparoni, horse stories are often popular with young girls and teens. I'm glad you got to ride a horse wen you were in your horse phase, even if you felt the effects the next day.


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