Monthly Archives: November 2013

The Fussy Librarian

The Fussy LibrarianMy books are being featured Saturday and Sunday at The Fussy Librarian, a new website that offers personalized ebook recommendations. You can choose from 40 genres and indicate your preferences about content and then the computers work their magic. It’s pretty cool — check it out!


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Happy Thanksgiving!

Happy Thanksgiving everyone!

No post this week. Taking off to enjoy the holiday.

Starting Dec  1 and going through January 15, I’m part of a Winter Wonderland Scavenger Hunt put on by Night Owl Reviews.  This is your chance to find great authors and books and win a gift basket. Visit their site and sign up.

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Animal Instincts

Patricia RosemoorWebUSA Today Bestselling Author Patricia Rosemoor has written 95 published novels that have generated more than seven million sales for eight publishers. Her fascination with “dangerous love” has led her to bring a different mix of thrills and chills and romance to each book. ANIMAL INSTINCTS and CRIMSON DUET (2 related holiday novels at a discounted price) are now available at digital retailers.

Welcome Patricia!


What fun, a blog that specializes in books with horses, romance and mystery. I’ve done a few of those myself, including BORN TO BE WILD for Entangled last year. And my new Entangled Ignite, ANIMAL INSTINCTS, definitely has animals, but, alas, no horses.

            The vet was blocking my line of sight. I looked down beyond her. A wounded animal lay on the ground. Not a dog, but what looked like a scrawny coyote, its side open and soaked with blood. What was a wild animal doing here? Where had it come from?AnimalInstincts500 FINAL

I went around the camera equipment and was able to sense its heartbeat. Wanting to know if it was aware, I tuned in to it and got the weirdest sensation…help me…please…almost as if I could hear what it was thinking rather than seeing images as I normally did.  Animals never communicated with me like that.

            …hurt…can’t move…hide…

            A little spooked, I rubbed my arms and thought, We’re going to help you…won’t let you die. Then I looked to the vet.

            “Um, in case you didn’t realize it, the coyote’s alive and needs your help.”

            “It’s still alive?” The vet zeroed in on the animal. “Don’t get too close.” And glanced up at me. “Oh, it’s you.”

            “Skye Cross,” I said, but she didn’t volunteer her name.

            She knew my face like I knew hers. I had a habit of showing up when animals were in trouble, so many of the ACC vets and officers recognized me on sight.


Skye Cross is a pet supply store owner and animal rescuer. At the beginning of ANIMAL INSTINCTS, she thinks she’s seeing that rescued dogs from a fight are safe. But they’re not dogs, they’re predators. Later she learns they’re something else altogether, and hero Luc Lazare is one of them!

bigstock-Black-Leopard--Years--4788401I loved writing this book. Actually, it practically wrote itself.

Of all the heroines I’ve written, I identify most closely with Skye. I’ve had a lifelong love with animals. Didn’t always have them because I was “allergic” and my parents wanted me to stay away from them. So I had an outside cat. When I was older, my parents did get me a dog. But once I was on my own, I started adopting cats and rescuing them from the streets of Chicago. My husband and I rescued a few dogs, too, one of whom made his home with us.

My love of animals brought me to the Lincoln Park Zoo so often that I decided to volunteer there, which I did for eleven years. And while I was still at the zoo, I decided to volunteer at the brand new PAWS Chicago adoption center. I helped socialize cats who were usually wary of humans, and helped convince visitors to adopt now. Many cats and dogs had been taken off the street by Animal Control, and on a daily basis, PAWS went to AC and took the adoptables.

PAWS also sponsored some Humane Society of Illinois meetings about passing laws against dogfighting. Wanting to spread awareness of this terrible practice, I thought to write a story in which murders were linked to dogfighting, but I became convinced that it would be a hard sell, so I switched it to shifter fights, with seeming wild animals as the combatants.

The holidays from Thanksgiving to the New Year is a time of giving, and I’m hoping that this year, those of you who can will support an animal shelter or sanctuary or zoo, whether it is by volunteering, buying gifts that help the organization or by donation. Here are a couple of places that I support:

PAWS Chicago, with it’s adoption center, spay and neuter clinic, and at the forefront of animal advocacy.

Lincoln Park Zoo, one of the last free zoos in the country.

And for all you horse lovers, the Black Hills Wild Horse Sanctuary, where I did on-site research (South Dakota) for TOUCH ME IN THE DARK, my third book in The McKenna Legacy series.



You can find Patricia at

Categories: Books, Dogs and cats, fantasy, Love, Mystery, Paranormal, romance, Romantic suspense, shape shifters, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , , , | 17 Comments

Feet and Farriers

medium_132910292There’s an old rhyme we’ve all heard as kids.

For want of a nail the shoe was lost.
For want of a shoe the horse was lost.
For want of a horse the rider was lost.
For want of a rider the message was lost.
For want of a message the battle was lost.
For want of a battle the kingdom was lost.
And all for the want of a horseshoe nail.

The poem is meant to show that small actions can result in large consequences. It also illustrates a basic fact of horse keeping: without proper hoof care, you can’t use a horse.

Cleaning a hoof

Cleaning a hoof

A hoof is essentially a long toe (or three fused together, to be exact). The outer wall is like a very thick toenail that wraps most of the way around the inner structures—soft tissues, ligaments, and bones. The sole of the foot is also made up of a fingernail-like material that is softer than the wall. It covers most of the bottom of the hoof except where the frog is located. The frog is a V-shaped, rubbery structure that acts as a shock absorber. In a wild horse that casually roams over varied natural terrain these parts of the hoof become hard and tough.

In contrast, domesticated horses that are kept in stalls, used on man-made surfaces such as stone, concrete and asphalt, and are asked to carry weight or pull heavy loads usually need protection for their hooves. In addition, man, through selective breeding, has greatly modified the horse, oft times creating a creature that would have no hope of surviving in the wild. Hence the invention of horseshoes and the development of the craft of the farrier or horseshoer.

Up until the Middle Ages, the distance a horse could travel was limited by how well its hooves stood up to the wear and tear of the load and the surface it was traveling on. Men tried different methods to attempt to protect the hooves, including the Roman hipposandal, a hard leather contraption they strapped on, but none were particularly successful. It wasn’t until sometime in the early Middle Ages that they began to work iron and bronze into horseshoes which they nailed on through the thick outer wall. Suddenly, horses could go much greater distances, which increased travel and trade.

Farrier at work

Farrier at work

When the farrier comes, he first pulls the old shoes, if any. Then he trims the hooves to make them level and even. Like fingernails, hooves grow and can be worn into lopsided patterns, so it’s important to rebalance the foot before putting on the new shoes. Just like people, horses feet are different shapes and sizes and the shoes need to be fitted to them.

Horseshoes can be worked in two ways—either by pounding a (cold) shoe that almost fits into the correct shape or by heating the shoe and reworking it to fit. If the foot is normal with no problems, cold shoeing is easiest. However, if either the type of work or physical problems demand something extra, then hot shoeing is the way to go.

Farriers have to study horse anatomy and physiology because they also deal with diseased and injured hooves that may require special shoeing. Laminitis and Navicular Disease are two problems that require long term, knowledgeable care. My husband’s horse, Koko, had a long ordeal with laminitis. Without our excellent shoer, we would have had to put her down much sooner. A good farrier is hard to find and important to keep.

No hoof, no horse.


Single shoe: photo credit: <a href=””>Leo Reynolds</a> via <a href=””>photopin</a&gt; <a href=””>cc</a&gt;
Cleaning a hoof: photo credit: <a href=””>eXtensionHorses</a&gt; via <a href=””>photopin</a&gt; <a href=””>cc</a&gt;
Farrier:  photo credit: <a href=””>duanekeys</a&gt; via <a href=””>photopin</a&gt; <a href=””>cc</a&gt;
Categories: blacksmiths, Farriers, horse care, horse shoes, Horses, nature, riding, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , | 8 Comments

Top Ten Reasons I’m Thankful To Be A Writer


Elysa Hendricks is the author of 14 full-length books, ranging from sweet contemporary to sexy sci-fi, as well as numerous short stories.  Her “real life” motto is: Boring is good. Excitement is vastly overrated, so she saves the adventure and excitement for the characters in her books.

In keeping with the season, today she is talking about the Top Ten Reasons She’s Thankful to be a Writer.


With Thanksgiving approaching I thought I’d talk about some of the reasons why I’m thankful I’m a writer rather than a veterinarian or an artist. (Those were my other choices, but I I’m terrible at math and science, and the only thing I can paint with is words.)

10.  I’m thankful for my family and friends, because they give me a ton of bat-shit crazy material to work with. Of course, I always change the names and descriptions to protect the guilty.

9.  My health. Not having the stress of office politics or commuting in traffic keeps my blood pressure close to normal. And since I don’t go out much I’m not exposed to nasty germs. Of course, I do need to stop eating chocolate while I’m writing, and get up and move a bit before I meld to my chair.

8.  I love being able to spend hours online researching stuff without feeling like I’m wasting time. Even the time I “waste” playing Solitaire (the one game I play on my computer) isn’t really wasted. While I’m matching cards I’m also plotting the comeuppance of the villain or figuring out how to get my hero and heroine alone together.

7.  Wealth – cashing large royalty checks from the sales of my books. Well, I can dream, can’t I? A career as a writer might not be the path to monetary riches, but I’m more than compensated for my hard work in personal achievement and satisfaction.

6.  Having a vivid imagination, I can spend time in other places, times, and realities. I can climb mountains, fly planes and space ships, skydive, drive racecars and motorcycles, kill zombies or aliens, chase serial killers or terrorists, and have sex with a bad boy or two without taking any real physical risks or cheating on my loving husband.

5.  Being a writer allows me to work from home or anywhere I want. Under an umbrella on a tropical beach while a cute cabana boy brings me frozen Margaritas is my ultimate goal.

4.  When people annoy me I can write them into a story then torture and kill them without ending up in jail.

3.  I find it wonderful that being a writer I’m never bored or lonely. No matter what’s happening in my “real” life, I can escape into my fictional worlds. I can talk to my numerous imaginary friends and not end up in a padded room. They’re always telling me stories and nagging me to write them down. I often wonder what people who don’t write think about while they’re waiting in the doctor’s office or at the mechanic’s.

2.  I’m eternally indebted to my long-suffering husband who supports my writing and me. Otherwise I’d have to go out and get a job that pays money.

1.  And most of all I’m appreciative of the many readers who’ve told me how my stories have touched their lives.

These are just a few of the things I’m grateful for as a writer. What are you thankful for?




Thomas Cash (TC) Riley is mad, bad and – dead. Killed in a one car-wreck, the twenty-nine-year old playboy is given one last chance to redeem himself for living a selfish, unfulfilled life and to determine his soul’s final destination.

To help his young daughter recover from the loss of her mother, Daniel Bishop, a widower who dislikes the country and is allergic to anything with fur, has moved back to his wife’s rural hometown to be close to her large family.

Katherine Sinclair, the local veterinarian and the single mother of an adventurous ten-year old son, is wary of the handsome newcomer. Once before she’d given her heart to a wealthy, charming man and she’d ended up pregnant and alone.

With the help of a lonely little girl and a brash young boy, can TC find a way to bring these two damaged people together? Can he remember his past and save his soul in the allotted time?

And can he do it all as a cat?


“Mom, you’re squeezing too hard.”

JT complained, but Kat could feel him trembling and his heart raced in time with hers. She gripped his arms and thrust him out from her.

“That was the most foolish, dangerous stunt. You could have been badly hurt. If it wasn’t for this man. . .” Her voice trailed off as she looked up at the man now standing next to them. Her gaze traveled up his khaki-clad legs, skipped quickly past his slim hips over his broad chest to his face. The crowd of people – ancient, fussy Amelia Muellner with her troop of yapping Chihuahuas, George Baker and his hunting dog, young Timmy Widowski and his mother with his sick rabbit, and Missy Taylor and her cat – clustered around them, chattering and gesturing in excitement, faded away.

With the man’s body in silhouette against the sun, she couldn’t see his features, but like a stately oak tree in the middle of field of brambles, he radiated an aura of calm, of solid strength, someone to cling to when the weather turned mean and ugly.

Something twisted painfully inside Kat. Though her grandfather had always been there for her, in the last few years his health had failed and his mind had drifted to the past. She’d had to become the strong one, physically and emotionally. Then he’d died. Now there was no one in her life she could lean on, depend on, count on to be there for her when things got rough.

Anger at her weakness, her need for what she knew she’d never have sharpened her tone. “Thank you.” She saw the man recoil, but before she could start again, JT, fear forgotten jumped in without reservation.

“Man that was awesome, better than a carnival ride. Thanks. You saved my a -”

“JT,” Kat growled a warning.

“Butt,” JT amended quickly with a grin.

She stood, smiled and held out her hand to the man. “I’m Dr. Clark, Katherine Clark, Kat to my friends.”

A thrill ran up her arm as his strong, warm fingers closed around hers. With a nervous laugh she snatched them away. “Thank you again.”

“Daniel Bishop, and this is my daughter, Alana.” He laid his hand on the girl’s shoulder.

Kat recognized the name. He was Hannah Sager’s husband – widower. Try as Kat did, she couldn’t avoid hearing small town gossip. Hannah’s death had hit the close-knit Sager clan hard. Tall, thin, blonde, beautiful, brilliant and driven, Hannah had been the town’s bright, flaming star.

Kat had grown up with Hannah. As children they’d been inseparable, but after high school they’d grown apart. Still, the bond between them had never been broken, so when Hannah asked for advice on what to do about her future, Kat had encouraged her to follow her dream and take the job at a Chicago zoo. It wasn’t true, but the Sagers, especially Hannah’s mother felt Kat had only done so because she didn’t want any competition for her veterinary practice. After considering the Sagers almost a second family, their current enmity hurt. Though the Sagers didn’t have the social standing of the Sinclairs they were wealthy and powerful in the community, so Kat tread lightly around them.

Nor, according to gossip, were they accepting of Daniel. They blamed him not only for keeping Hannah away from them, but also as irrational as it might be, for her death.


You can buy Must Love Cats at:



See the Video Trailer:

Contact Elysa:

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Categories: fantasy, Love, Mystery, Uncategorized, writing, writing characters | Tags: , , , , , | 4 Comments

Eventing – Not For the Faint of Heart



Three-Day Eventing is an Olympic and international equestrian sport that originated in Europe as a competition to demonstrate the fitness of cavalry horses. In those days, the armies wanted horses that looked impressive on the parade grounds, could travel across any kind of terrain at speed and for long distances, and then be ready and able to continue the next day. To test these abilities they developed a three day competition—in essence an equestrian triathlon.

The first day the horses demonstrate their dressage skills, performing intricate movements requiring high levels of training and obedience. The second day they show their courage, endurance, and ability to handle all kinds of difficult situations by completing a challenging cross-country course. The last day they prove their fitness by doing a precise and demanding stadium jumping round.

These tests developed into national competitions, culminating in becoming an Olympic sport in 1912. Initially, only military officers were allowed to compete. In 1952 male civilians became eligible, but women weren’t allowed into the club until 1964. Equestrian sports are among the few where men and women compete head-to-head. With a couple of exceptions—rodeo and racing—male strength is not a particular advantage and both sexes can be equally successful.

Eventing has become a popular activity for all levels of riders. You can start out on very easy Beginner Novice, Novice or Training courses, then move up to Preliminary, Intermediate and Advanced. You can also take part in one day events known as Horse Trials.

A horse and rider compete either as individuals or, at the international level, also as members of a team. Scores are computed on the numbemedium_2568292756r of faults a pair collects. As in golf, the lowest score wins. You acquire faults through mistakes in the dressage test and refusals, course mistakes or taking too long in the two jumping portions. Three refusals or a fall of horse or rider will result in elimination. Horses are also eliminated if they don’t pass the daily vet inspections.

The most important qualifications for the horse and rider are courage and fitness. The horse has to trust her rider and be willing to go where asked, sometimes jumping blindly, not knowing what is on the other side. Of course, the rider has to be equally brave, trusting that the horse can do what he asks and will keep him safe.

One year I served as a jump judge at a local Intermediate championship. This involved sitting by a large wood pile jump and watching to see if any horse refused, totally missed the jump, or fell. While I had done some cross-country for fun, I’d never tried anything the size of that wood pile. The sight of those horses tearing downhill and then having to slow and gather themselves to jump had my heart in my throat a good part of the time. Unfortunately, one rider did not get her mount back enough so the pair did not make it and fell hard. The rider got up sooner than the horse. There was no question of it doing anything more that day. That was the inspiration for a similar incident in my book Forewarning. My heroine Kasey Edwards is a former Three Day competitor.

Just as vital is the athletic ability of both. Top ranked riders cross-train, ride multiple horses daily and are extremely fit. They also put in long hours conditioning their horses to be able to finish the grueling second day.

medium_8123864734Unlike most other Olympic sports, Three-Day Eventing started as an Olympic event and then developed as a more general contest. The Badminton Horse Trial in Great Britain was the first major non-Olympic event and is still considered the most prestigious. The premier Three-Day in the US in the Rolex, held at the Kentucky Horse Park in Lexington, Kentucky.

While the limited TV coverage of Eventing in the Olympics used to concentrate on jumping falls, the increased public interest has resulted in actually being able to see portions of all three events. Below are a couple of videos.


Three Day Eventing:
2012 Rolex:
The Cross-Country Ride to London:



photo credit: <a href=””>clickerjac</a&gt; via <a href=””>photopin</a&gt; <a href=””>cc</a&gt;
photo credit: <a href=””>Zlatko Unger</a> via <a href=””>photopin</a&gt; <a href=””>cc</a&gt;

Categories: dressage, Horse Trials, Horses, Kentucky, nature, Olympics, outdoors, riding, Three Day Eventing, training horses, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , , | 15 Comments


GloriaToday I’d like to welcome Gloria Alden author of the Catherine Jewell mystery novels The Blue Rose and Daylilies for Emily’s Garden. Gloria is a former third grade teacher who is spending her retirement writing short stories and novels. Her published short stories include “Cheating on Your Wife Can Get You Killed,” winner of the 2011 Love is Murder contest; “Mincemeat is for Murder” which appeared in the Bethlehem Writers Roundtable, “The Professor’s Books” in the FISH TALES Anthology; and “The Lure of the Rainbow” in FISH NETS, the newest Guppy Anthology. Her latest novel Ladies of the Garden Club will be coming out soon.



When I was a young girl, I galloped everywhere hitting my thigh to go faster on my imaginary horse. I galloped through fields and woods leaping logs, galloped across the road to my cousin’s house or to my grandparents farm and sometimes further down the road to another cousin’s house. Sometimes I rode Wildfire, and sometimes it was Thunderhead or Flicka or another horse in my stable of horses. I dreamed of someday having a ranch in the west with hundreds of horses.

I think my love of horses came from the story my dad told of a pony he rode one summer in the mining town in Pennsylvania where he grew up. My grandfather was foreman of the mining stable. The superintendent of the mine bought a beautiful black pony for his son, and it was kept in the mining stable. The pony tossed the boy the first time he tried to ride it so the superintendent asked my father, about the same age as his son, to ride and gentle it. All summer my father rode that pony, but the superintendent’s son never got over his fear of it so the pony was eventually sold.

During my galloping period, I read every horse book in my small rural library numerous times, and at Christmas I usually got a horse book, too. I dreamed of horses and drew pictures of horses, but I was thirty-eight years old before I finally got my first horse. My husband heard of a horse for sale and took me to see it. Of course, I fell in love with that strawberry roan paint. I thought he was beautiful. A few days later he was delivered. We had no barn, no saddle or bridle or even a lead rope. We did have hay, grain and a water bucket.

We put him in a shed and a few days later my husband and young teenage sons started building a barn – a large barn with five stalls. A week after my horse arrived, I now had a saddle and bridle.  I was ready for my first ride on my very own horse. Now, mind you, my riding had been very limited over the years. Mostly it was while we were on vacation and found a riding stable where you paid for an hour ride with a group on trails following a guide. Seldom did we move out of a walk, but maybe we’d trot a little and once in a great while gallop for a few minutes. Neither my husband nor I had ever saddled a horse, but we’d watched while these trail horses were saddled so we knew how to do it. Or so we thought.

As soon as the horse was saddled, I mounted and headed down a trail into the woods beside our home. He was a high stepper and both of us were eager to be out and on the trail. I was euphoric. His ears were perked forward interested and curious as we went along. And then I turned him around to head back. Maybe I should have thought twice about buying a horse named Rebel because as soon as we were heading back, he took the bit in his mouth, and I couldn’t slow him down. He was heading home, and just where that home was in his mind, I didn’t know. It was then I felt the saddle slip. I learned from that experience, you always tighten the girth, wait a bit for the horse to relax and then tighten it more. Anyway the saddle slipped and ended up under Rebel. Fortunately, I was able to kick my feet free from the stirrups and landed on the ground still holding onto his reins so he didn’t end up in some other county. He jumped about trying to get rid of that thing, but fortunately, I was able to unbuckle the saddle and not get kicked or stepped on.

So at the end of my first ride on my very own horse, I walked home with a saddle on my back now leading a docile horse. It wasn’t exactly the way I had envisioned that first ride. Eventually, Rebel was sold. He was a rebel. Over the years there were other horses and ponies. Once we had five at one time, one we boarded for a friend. My four kids joined 4H, and I became proficient at saddling and caring for horses. I learned to pull a horse trailer to take them to shows and for riding lessons and even took riding lessons, too.ponies2

Then there came a day when I had to move. I had to sell my last two horses because I didn’t have the money to put new fencing around the pasture of the small farm I bought. The house needed too many repairs and the barn needed a new roof. But my love of horses never went away. However, I down sized the dream. Now I have two totally useless small ponies – sisters – that I rationalize keeping as being compost makers for my gardens, but it’s really because I love them.

What dream did you have when you were young? Did it ever come true?


blueRose_flatIn The Blue Rose Catherine Jewell enjoys the small quiet town she’s recently moved to where she’s a botanist at Elmwood Gardens and also has a small garden center, Roses in Thyme. At least she does until she discovers a body with a garden fork in his back at Elmwood Gardens. John MacDougal, the police chief of Portage Falls, has never had to deal with a murder in his ten years as police chief. As he questions the suspects, many who are Catherine’s co-workers and friends, she works to divert his suspicions elsewhere since she’s sure none of them could be the murderer. When another body is discovered, they start working together, and in spite of their inexperience and several close calls with death, they solve the murders and restore calm to the little town of Portage Falls.


In Daylilies for Emily’s Garden Catherine Jewell is excited about restoring the gardens at the estate ofdaylilies_frontPreview1 the reclusive Emily Llewellyn. Everything for this project is arranged through Charles McKee, her secretary and companion. Catherine’s curiosity of this eccentric recluse is piqued when her only contact with Emily is through brief glimpses of her through a window before she quickly disappears. Catherine’s excitement dims a little when she discovers a dead body. Meanwhile other unsettling events are going on in Portage Falls. A bypass coming closer to town threatens wet lands and the residents are divided on the next phase of the construction.  When environmental activist Bruce Twohill comes to save the wetlands some consider him a savior while others like Police Chief John MacDougal are suspicious of this stranger. Another dead body is discovered and the buzz around town thinks it’s connected with the first body.  Returning characters from The Blue Rose plus new and interesting or quirky characters add color to the small town of Portage Falls in this second book in The Catherine Jewell Mystery Series.


Both books are available on Amazon and Smashwords


You can contact Gloria at:

Categories: Horses, Mystery, nature, outdoors, ponies, riding, Romantic suspense, Trail riding, Uncategorized, writing | Tags: , , , , , , , , | 7 Comments

Draft Horses – Gentle Giants

219597161_deb25f55f6_nEvery winter when I was a kid, my friends and I looked forward to the week before the Pasadena Rose Parade. That was the time when the Budweiser Clydesdale horses came to town and stayed at our local stable. We’d all ride (horses or bikes) up to the barn and hang out for hours watching their handlers bathe and groom the gentle giants. We’d never seen horses that big—approximately twice the size of our own. The average riding horse stands around 15 hands tall (five feet at the withers, where the neck joins the back) and weighs about 1000 pounds. The Clydes stood 18 hands (six feet) and weighed around 2000 pounds. They were so big their grooms had to stand on long tables in order to reach the top of their backs and necks. Their feet were three to four times bigger than our horses’ hooves and their huge horseshoes were said to weigh five pounds. They were a wonderful, exotic sight.

Of course 50 years earlier they wouldn’t have been exotic at all. For millennia draft horses were the tractors and trucks of the world. They pulled plows to work the land, logged the forests, hauled freight wagons and coaches, and sped the early fire wagons to their destinations. During World War I, the U.S. shipped more than 1,000,000 horses to Europe to haul artillery and pack supplies and ammunition.

The conformation (build) of draft horses differs from that of riding horses because they are used for pulling, instead of carrying. In addition to being big and medium_343344475powerful, they have an upright stance, which is better for working in harness, and huge hindquarters that, combined with their over-large feet, give them tremendous pulling power. Most also have lots of hair, known as feathers, on their lower legs, heavy bones and either straight or roman noses. They come in a variety of sizes, ranging from about 1300 pounds to over 2400. The largest horse on record, a Shire named Samson, was 21.2 hands high and weighed approximately 3,300 pounds.

No matter the breed, one characteristic all drafts have in common is a calm, sweet temperament. While a fiery, aggressive attitude might be desirable or at least tolerated in some riding horses, a 2000 pound hot-head would be extremely dangerous. So they’ve been bred to be patient and docile. Children routinely handle the powerful animals. The faithful, loving farm horse is not a myth.

Drafts were vitally important to American agriculture from about 1820-1920. Before that oxen were cheaper to use. But a revolution in farm machinery required bigger, more powerful and faster animals, so the work horse came into its own and helped create the breadbasket of America. Then in the 1920’s the motor vehicle entered the picture. Tractors and trucks took over and the number of drafts decreased dramatically, with some breeds actually becoming endangered.

In the 1960’s people became interested in them as pleasure animals medium_410928490and their popularity grew. Today they are mainly used at shows and parades, in pulling contests and for carriage and wagon rides. However, some are again being used for logging and farming too.

Drafts are also sometimes crossed with lighter riding horses to create sturdier sport horses used for jumping and cross-country competitions. While most drafts are used in harness they most definitely can be ridden and you will see them both on the trails and in the show ring.

Here are a couple of videos showing draft horses in action.


Clydesdale photo:
Draft photo:
Three horses photo:

Categories: Clydesdales, draft horses, Horses, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , | 6 Comments

Horses are Characters, too…


JoAnn_hands_chinWingsEdit-v2_300Today my guest JoAnn Smith Ainsworth talks about a very special animal that helped her through a difficult time in her life.

When JoAnn Smith Ainsworth carried wood as a pre-teen so her Great Aunt Martha could stoke up the iron stove to prepare dinner, she wasn’t thinking, “I could use this in a novel someday.” Yet, the skills she learned from her horse-and-buggy ancestors translate into backdrops for her historical romance and paranormal suspense novels.

Her most recent release is Polite Enemies, published by Whiskey Creek Press and available as an ebook too. Here’s JoAnn.


POLITE ENEMIES features a farm horse, Old Molly, who appears in many high-profile scenes. In 1895 Wyoming, Old Molly thwarts outlaws, hauls equipment to fight a fire and, notwithstanding exhaustion, comes out of the barn one more time for the heroine to defend her hero. Old Molly has a personality that makes her one of the story characters.

Old Molly has been with the family for over a decade. Whether called upon to pull a plow or haul a load of farm produce to town, Old Molly placidly does her duty. The hero is a rancher so there are other, more powerful horses in the novel, but none of those horses have the personality and importance of this tried-and-true farm horse.

Incorporating a horse with a “personality” into POLITE ENEMIES came from my own experiences as a horse owner. I owned a horse for a few years and he played a central role in my life.

Sensacional was a Peruvian Paso with dark coloring, an almost-to-the-ground, black tail and a flowing, black mane. He had a very smooth, specialized gait, (which looked like this horse riddenSilvano Taipe show horse by my trainer, Silvano Taipe). Sensacional played a major role in helping me survive the transition of my son from a dependent child into an antagonistic teenager and, finally, into an independent young man. I had to learn to step away, to give my son enough space so he could grow. Sensacional was the “crutch” that helped me through the transition. He kept me from a mother’s despair as her child pulls away from her.

Sensacional was a rescue horse. In a way, we rescued each other. He was a beautifully trained gelding with quality features, but his owner died suddenly. Those family members dealing with a human death forgot about the horse. Not being fed and watered, Sensacional went to skin and bones. By the time I got him, he was too weak to carry a person. The trainer spent a few months to fatten him up and rebuild muscle tone. We took long walks together while Sensacional was unable to carry weight.

I would speak to him as we walked and he seemed to understand and accept the bond of mutual need being built. Although he was a show horse at one time, I wanted him for trail rides on a Napa County recreational ranch. Peruvian Pasos can cover miles with ease and provide a smooth ride because of their gait. As Sensacional responded to food and exercise and companionship, we became closer. Eventually, he was fit for trail rides.

My mothering instinct traveled from my son to my horse. Where my son rejected fussing and care, Sensacional loved being coddled and groomed. The horses in POLITE ENEMIES benefitted from my experience.

As is the nature of things, during this time my son and I became more estranged, but Sensacional took the sting out of it. It took my son into his early twenties to return to a belief that parents might have some value in this world. It took Sensacional less than a year to return to his original beauty and most of his strength, but the starvation had taken a toll on his health and shortened his life span. Sensacional neared the end of his days and passed out of my life at a time when my son reached his maturity and eventually came to believe a mother might be worth acknowledging once again.

Have you ever had an animal which helped you over hard emotional times? Describe your experiences for us.


Polite Enemies COVER_300x200IDA LOUISE OSTERBACH survived Indian and range wars and the murder of her husband. She’s kept the farm going through sheer grit and the help of her cousin, a friend and two farm hands. She’s managed a profit, paid the mortgage and re-paid the crop loans. Hard working, focused, fiercely proprietary, the last thing she has time for is romance.

JARED BUELL—widower neighbor and wealthy rancher—was never particularly charitable when it came to farmers, even eye-catching ones like Ida. He’s not looking to start trouble or anything else with her. His comfortable existence needs no complications, thank you very much. Then an old nemesis comes to town and threatens his and Ida’s property. He has no choice but to get involved.

Experience this action-packed romp through 1895 Wyoming where an outlaw schemes to take over the town and Ida and Jared find love when they least expect it.

Read an excerpt at


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Categories: Horses, nature, Romantic suspense, Uncategorized, Western romance, Wyoming | Tags: , , , , , , | 13 Comments

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