Monthly Archives: December 2012

Horses and Victims

Glory #2Lacy cowered in the closet, her arms wrapped tight around her legs and listened to the footsteps coming closer and closer. The door swung open and she tried to scream but she couldn’t make a sound as the knife descended.

We’ve all read and seen variations on this scene, a victim, usually a woman or child, too frightened to do anything to help themselves. You’ve probably felt that way a time or two in less dire situations. I know I have. Interestingly, people aren’t the only beings that react this way. Horses and other animals often do too.

Today I’m going to finish my series on horse personalities and how they connect with writing novels. Since it’s been a while, I’ll do a short recap. Horses can be generally classified as four personality types. The extrovert-thinker compares to the typical alpha hero—confident, outgoing and brave. The extrovert-reactor is similar to the smart-ass heroines—emotional, reacting before thinking and taking chances. The introvert-thinker is more like a stalker villain—quiet, careful and determined.

The fourth type is the introvert-reactor—horses who are easily overwhelmed by their emotions. My horse Glory is a typical example. An extremely sensitive Thoroughbred, intended for racing, she was apparently handled inappropriately for her personality and was too timid to fight back. Instead, she shut down and stopped reacting to anything at all. She was very well-trained and my instructor had recommended I get her as a school master for learning dressage. (For learning an intricate skill such as dressage it’s best to have a horse that already knows what to do and can teach you to do it right.)

She seemed very sweet and obviously knew her stuff, so I decided to take a chance on her. And she ended up teaching me much more than I ever expected. It soon became apparent that she was very different from any horse I had handled before. Not only was she so sensitive that she hated being brushed, she was unexpectedly uptight, but expressed it in an unusual way. While most horses act out in some way if they’re upset, she shut down and turned it inside. During one of our first rides, we weren’t communicating well and suddenly she got a nose-bleed. When this happened again in different situations, I realized this was a stress reaction.

The thing that I found oddest was how afraid she was of making a mistake. I was used to horses trying to do what I asked and if it wasn’t quite right, we’d just do it again. Not Glory. If she thought she’d made a mistake, she’d either get a nose-bleed or stop and start shaking, obviously expecting to be punished. This fear carried over to the trail. Another horse could spook big time at something unexpected and she wouldn’t move a muscle. It was eerie.

I almost gave up on her the first year, she wasn’t much fun. But gradually she started being less uptight and we began to communicate better. It took a lot of years for her to really trust that she’d found a safe place and it was okay to express opinions on things. Now she will boss around the other two horses and she doesn’t worry about miscues. Now she really is MY horse and I am her person.

I’m so glad that girls and young women are being taught to stand up for themselves nowadays. We’ll always need helpless victims for our stories, but hopefully they’ll be less common in real life.

Have you encountered a situation where you froze and were unable to react? Do you use helpless victims in your stories?

Categories: Books, dressage, horse personalities, Horses, suspense, Trail riding, training horses, writing, writing characters | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , | 19 Comments

The Next Big Thing – What I’m Writing Now

Today I’m going to talk about my upcoming book, FOREWARNING, as part of the Next Big Thing blog series. I was invited to share my plans by the marvelous Kris Neri, author of the Tracy Eaton mysteries and the Samantha Brennan & Annabelle Haggerty Magical Mystery. You can find out more about her at:

At the bottom of this post I list the next five authors who will be talking about their work next week. Be sure to look them up.

What is your working title of your book?

FOREWARNING – Book 1 in the Horses and Healing series

 Where did the idea come from for the book?

I’ve had horses most of my life and love the outdoors. I also use alternative medical techniques for many health problems. I wanted to write about both of these within an intriguing story. Having visited the Oregon Cascades, I thought they would make a great setting for a horse ranch.

 What genre does your book fall under?

 It’s a cross-genre book with suspense, romance and a touch of the paranormal.

 Which actors would you choose to play your characters in a movie rendition?

That’s really hard to answer. I think Stana Katic, who plays Kate Beckett on the Castle series, would be good for Kasey. (If she’d agree to go auburn.) Matthew McConaughey might do for Jim. Still trying to think of someone dark, muscular and intense for TJ.

 What is the one-sentence synopsis of your book?

Forced to use the healing skills she has rejected, Kasey Martin saves an injured man and begins an unexpected journey of danger, rebirth and love.

 Will your book be self-published or represented by an agency?

I plan to self-publish it on all the epub venues, Amazon, Barnes & Noble, etc.

 How long did it take you to write the first draft of your manuscript?

It was the first long novel I attempted and I had a lot to learn, so it took much longer than it would now. Probably about two years. I revised it several times and then put it aside to work on my just published book WYOMING ESCAPE.

 What other books would you compare this story to within your genre?

Since it’s cross-genre, I can’t think of a close fit, but Robyn Carr’s books are similar in tone.

 Who or what inspired you to write this book?

One of my horses had physical problems that traditional veterinary medicine couldn’t solve, so we embarked on an exploration of alternative modalities. Some were helpful and others weren’t. The technique that proved the best for her, and ultimately for my husband and myself, is similar to what I describe in the story.

 What else about your book might pique the reader’s interest?

It’s the first in a series with the theme “Horses and Healing.” My next book will feature a psychologist who uses horses in her practice.


 Next week five more writers will share their answers to these questions about their upcoming books.

Nora Barker is the author of four published ebooks, all of which involve murder on a small Midwestern university campus. You can find her at

K.R. Morrison, author of BE NOT AFRAID. A prequel, UNHOLY TRINITY and a sequel, RESURGENCE: THE RISE OF JUDAS will be published in early 2013.
Blog link:

Annie Adams is the author of THE FINAL ARRANGEMENT, a cozy mystery and part of the Flower Shop Mystery Series including the Zombie Delivery Van. Her blog link:

D’Ann Burrows is the author of SMALL TOWN SECRETS. You can find her blog at

Mardi Ballou is the  author of fun, sexy romance with a twist of wry. She’ll be blogging at

Categories: Books, Horses, Romantic suspense, Western romance | 7 Comments

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