Wednesday, February 18, 2015

HORSE CRAZY

by Patricia Rosemoor, half of Lynn Patrick

One of the things that Linda (the other half of Lynn Patrick) and I have in common is that we both grew up horse crazy, so we loved the idea of incorporating horses into our April Sparrow Lake romance, THE LONG ROAD HOME. Throughout our years of writing together, we’ve done some fun things to research horses for various stories. We’ve been to the Kentucky Derby and Lexington area horse farms. And we toured the National Stud in Ireland. Of course we spent many a summer weekend day at Arlington Park Racecourse and got familiar with all the top horses, riders and trainers.
    My own romance with horses started when I was a kid, when my uncle took me on a ride through Prospect Park in Brooklyn. The next time I rode was a dozen years later in Mexico. I didn’t know what I was doing, but I went on one of the most thrilling rides in my life, up a mountainside and across a river. I was hooked. When I got home, I started lessons in the far suburbs. I rode for nine years—both Western and English—and learned to jump. I even tried Saddle Seat, though I always felt uncomfortable with the long stirrups.
    In addition, I spent weekends and a couple of full weeks at a dude ranch in Michigan, where I got to ride twice every day. My favorite horse was Shoshone Squaw, pictured here.

I felt a special connection to her, the same way I did to my own cats and dog, and I would have loved to buy her. Unfortunately, I would have had to board her at a pricey suburban stable. And I lived in Chicago, so how much would I get to see/ride her? I did share board on another horse for a year and was the only rider two or three times a week, as close as I have ever come to owning my own horse.
   A few of my Patricia Rosemoor romantic suspense books are horse-centered. Before writing  TOUCH ME IN THE DARK, the third book in my The McKenna Legacy series, my late husband and I spent several days at the Black Hills Wild Horse Sanctuary in South Dakota, where we bunked down at night in a Dances with Wolves teepee and got to talk to Dayton Hyde, the man responsible for the sanctuary’s existence. Talk about a real life hero! To research ranching for the The Sons of Silver Springs series, we spent time on a New Mexican ranch and learned to move cows. In the snow. And learned about the sacrifices ranching families make to keep their way of life alive.
    Back to THE LONG ROAD HOME...
   We knew our heroine was Priscilla Ryan, owner of the Main Street Cheese Shoppe. A friend of Kristen Lange (heroine of HOME TO SPARROW LAKE), Priscilla has been a bridesmaid several times—she has the dresses to prove it—but never even came close to being a bride. So who would be her perfect hero?
    While the book is set in Wisconsin, we wanted to make our hero someone Priscilla cared for who left Sparrow Lake years ago, and has now come home, bringing horses and an idea for a new business—a dude ranch—with him. Having spent a dozen years riding the rodeo circuit, Sam Larson fit the bill in every way. With all the riding and horse research I have done, I fear I only had a minor brush with rodeo myself when I barrel raced horses at that Michigan dude ranch, but rodeo has always fascinated me. As do cowboys.
    Maybe that’s where it all started. Movies with cowboy heroes. The romance of the Old West. I loved watching them as a kid and still do now. Though it’s not a romance, Hidalgo is one of my favorites, because I love the bond of the hero with his horse. Hmm, maybe I need to watch it again...

18 comments:

  1. Gorgeous covers, Lynn, and a fun blog post, too! Can't wait to get my hands on The Long Road Home!

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  2. I asked for a horse and got a bike. I asked for a baby brother and got a puppy. Yup, my parents had a sense of humor. Love the picture of Shoshoni. My riding history is like yours. I used to go quite often to a stable in Scottsdale. My favorite horse was Eclipse.

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  3. Thanks, Loree, hope you like the story.

    Pamela -- Thanks for the laugh. And I have a feeling riding out of Scottsdale is a lot different than a Chicago suburb :)

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  4. My first experience on a horse was on my honeymoon. My husband loved to ride and wanted to go fast on the final leg. “Hold your horse back,” he told me. Well my horse was trained to keep its nose attached to the tail in front of him, so when my husband took off, my trusty mount did, too. My husband stopped, possibly when he heard me screaming, and so did my mount. I nearly went over the horse’s head. Two more similar experiences taught me riding horses was not for me.

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  5. Marion, I hate you had bad experiences! I love riding and passed it on to my daughter who uses horse therapy with her speech patients. And my granddaughter is working to get her young rider medal in dressage.

    Patricia have you been to the Kentucky Horse Park in Lexington? It is such a beautiful place.

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  6. I ride 3 or 4 times a week and show Saddleseat (Morgans and Saddlebreds). I love reading romances with horses, so I'm excited for The Long Road Home. Thanks for bringing it to my attention :)

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  7. Oh, Marion, so sorry. Reminds me of a trip my late husband I took to Mackinac Island. Stayed at the Grand Hotel and went riding. My dh wasn't as experienced a rider as I was. To my horror, I watched as his saddle turned to the right and he got ejected. He didn't know he was supposed to check the saddle girth after he got on and tighten if necessary. Horses blow up their stomachs with air in protest of the saddle, but once it's on, they let the air out. :)

    Patricia, I have been to the Horse Park -- right after John Henry was retired there.

    Manga -- I give you credit with those long stirrups. My cousin has a "ranch" about an hour and a half outside the city with 5 horses. She rides dressage. So the one time I got on one of her horses, I could hardly get my leg over his back because the stirrups were so long. Definitely out of riding shape these days.

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  8. I had a horse (although not as long as my family raised sheep). Loved her, but it was hard work because no one took care of her but me. My hero in One Perfect Year (out 3/1) is a horse whisperer to pregnant mares. That was fun to write.

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  9. Patricia - you are the definitive research for the soul of a heroine who really loves horses! Although you should have moved from Chicago to Kentucky. I grew up in the heart of a city and thought horses were beautiful but didn't feel the need to ride or own one. Is your office in a stable? Or is there a horse in your office? Tell us the truth. Nice post Thank you. And beautiful cover - I love the backs of characters. When you open the book, you get to learn about the other side.

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    1. Actually, years ago, I wanted to move to New Mexico and get a horse property in Corrales, an hour from Santa Fe, my fave place in the US. And then the economy bottomed out. :(

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    2. Forgot to say, yes there is a horse in my office -- a couple of decades ago when I was still actively writing, I took a stained glass class and did a window with a horse and a lion (I'm a Leo). So that hangs in my window. In the living room, I have 4 fab prints of a herd by the same artist. In the dining room, I have a small oil of a horse I picked up in Santa Fe on the plaza. Plus a painted small sculpture horse. And in the hall to the kitchen, I have a professionally shot and mounted photo of horses that I bought in Ireland.

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  10. When I was growing up a lot of my friends had horses and I got to ride. We also went to the Oregon coast a lot where there were horses to rent and ride on the beach. One of my favorite things to do. One rental place let us go out without a guide and so we felt like we weren't being watched over. Looking forward to your book.

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    1. I wish I had known we could do that the one time we were on the Oregon coast!

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  11. Once upon a time when I was little, we used to go to a farm where I could ride this fabulous pony. I loved it. It was years since I'd been on a horse (like maybe 35?), so when I went to Hawaii last year, the one excursion I wanted to do was a horseback ride through the mountains. Yeah. Should have thought that one through. The horse was a lot bigger (and so was I). I ended up walking a good way back since Mr. Spock decided to dump me in the grass. So while I love the IDEA of horses and horseback riding, I'll admire from the ground. :) Lovely post. Thanks for sharing!

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    1. Oh, Anna, so sorry! I've been dumped several times. Once I had to be taken off the field on a board in an ambulance -- nothing broken, thankfully, though I had to wear a collar around my neck for 6 weeks.. But I'm so stubborn, I keep getting back on!

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  12. I love horses, loved riding. Broke my arm falling off one (my fault, not the horse's), which took some of the fun out of it. I had just bought my first guitar after saving for months, which added to the pain of it all. Fortunately my mother sewed all my clothes and made matching slings!

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