Yea! My author copies of Taking the Reins, my first Heartwarming, arrived today. I love the cover.
It’s the story of five veterans, wounded in different ways, who come to a draft horse farm to learn how to drive draft horses so that they can build new careers. But all wounds aren’t physical, and sometimes love heals when nothing else can.
I hope you read it and like it. Please let me hear from you.
Last week one of my carriage driving buddies was married on horseback. She wore a pale blue silk riding habit of the Civil War era, and rode her great gray Percheron, Rebel, a saintly horse, aside—as opposed to astride. The whole wedding party and guests dressed up in Civil War era costume.
Several years ago I borrowed a sidesaddle from a local tack shop and took it to my local romance writers group to show the members what one looked like and the way it functioned. Amazing that even most of the writers of historicals had never actually seen a sidesaddle, nor had a clue how to ride in one.
It looks precarious, but in reality provides a remarkably secure seat. The saddle itself is much longer than a normal English saddle and nearly flat. On the left side one stirrup hangs down below a padded leather horn that can be swung down for pleasure riding, or twisted up to provide purchase for fast riding and jumping. So long as you keep your left knee pressed up against the bottom of the leaping horn, and the right leg, which is crossed over the saddle, pressing down from the top, you are held in a kind of scissors grip. So long as you keep your right shoulder back, you’re good to go. Allow your right shoulder to swing forward, however, and you may describe a balletic tour jete right onto the ground. I’d never have the nerve to canter in one, much less take a fence, but then I grow more cowardly the older I get. Maybe that’s because my dressage horse is 17.2 hands tall.
Msny historical writers don’t know how it feels either to drive a carriage, or even to ride in one. Off the paved roads around tourist hotels or Central Park, the ride is bumpy, the carriage sways from side to side, and trust me, it’s a long way down. To me, however, a leisurely drive through the woods on a sunny afternoon is guaranteed to smooth out whatever miseries my day has held. For some reason, the sight of that big horse rump undulating in front of me is good for my soul.
If you are a historical writer, I highly recommend at least sitting in a sidesaddle and taking a carriage ride. You might like it. Be careful! You may wind up hooked like me.