Monthly Archives: March 2014

Kentucky Derby Facts



May is coming soon  and with it the Kentucky Derby. Today author Kathryn Jane, a race horse trainer, tells us some interesting facts about the Derby and its traditions.

With the approach of the first Saturday in May, better known in my circles as Kentucky Derby day, I thought I’d share six  interesting facts for writers and everyone else.

When including the Derby in your writing, there are a some things that really shouldn’t involve artistic license so I’ll save you the embarrassment with a few details that may help you with your work, and those of you who aren’t writers will have a tidbit of knowledge to impress your family and friends as you settle in front of the television on May 3rd to watch the 140th Kentucky Derby.

Fact 1
The Kentucky Derby has been tagged as the “Greatest Two Minutes in Sports” because the journey begins before a horse is born, takes years of preparation to get to the race itself, and then the whole thing is over in about two minutes.

Fact 2
The Derby is exclusively for Thoroughbreds in their three year old year. This year, all entrants will be foals of2011, and because Thoroughbreds are typically born between January 01st and May 31st, most of the horses competing will be literally, three years old. (Officially, Thoroughbreds are all considered to have the same birthday, January 1st.)

Fact 3
The field will be made up of mostly colts. That is, unaltered (unneutered) males. Geldings and fillies are allowed to compete in the race, but fillies usually run in the Kentucky Oaks instead, a race restricted to three year old fillies. There have only been three fillies and nine geldings to win the Derby. Colts and geldings carry 126 lbs, and fillies carry 121lbs

Fact 4
The Derby is run on a dirt racetrack, never on turf. (Turf is a grass track and a much different surface for horses to run on. Horses are very rarely successful on both surfaces as the two require different types of conformation and running style. It is not unusual for a well-bred horse that has been a racing disappointment on dirt to be switched to turf and show amazing talent.)

Fact 5
Approximately 400 foals will be nominated each year, and no more than 20 of those will be allowed to compete in the Derby when they turn three. Entry eligibility is based on money earned.

Fact 6
The race is a mile and a quarter, is run counter clockwise (as are all US horse races), and has never been run in less than one minute and fifty-nine seconds. Secretariat still holds the record for the fastest win at 1:59:4

It’s been fun to stop by and I’ll stay posted for any questions you’d like to ask


DaringToLove(2) final coverDaring to Love

A woman who reads hearts…
“Help me…” As an empath working for an organization dedicated to locating missing children, Liz MacKenzie is accustomed to using her unique abilities to sense the emotions of others. She’s not accustomed to hearing them call for her. That’s the specialized skill of a telepath.

A man who reads minds…

Galen Keifer’s special method of interrogation involves telepathic seduction, a technique that drove away the love of his life two years ago. In spite of their rocky past, Liz has reached out to him again. He’s the one man who may be able to discover the truth about the mysterious voice calling to her.

A voice from the darkness…

Liz can’t ignore the child’s voice, one that may be connected to a dark secret in her past. Barely recovered from her last rescue mission, she doesn’t trust her own senses, or a man who uses seduction in such a devastating way. But with the possibility of a child’s life in danger, Liz and Galen can’t afford to let it get personal again. Finding the child comes first, even though their hearts and minds are daring them to love…


Stubborn, self-sufficient women, and the men who dare to love them.


You can find out more about Kathryn at:

Kindle :
Twitter: @Author_Kat_Jane


Categories: Horses, Kentucky, Kentucky Derby, Racing, riding, Thoroughbreds, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , | 16 Comments

Jumping For Fun or Ribbons


Horses are good at jumping things. It was necessary for their survival in the wild. People love to ride horses over jumps. In the past it was a fun as well as useful skill. If you were running at speed chasing prey to eat or perhaps charging in a battle, the ground was unlikely to be perfectly level and you and your horse needed to be able to handle ditches, streams and other obstacles.

Today, of course, we don’t have to face those challenges. Instead we ride and jump for the fun of it. Some people ride cross-country in Three-Day Events (see Not For The Faint of Heart) or follow a Hunt (see Hunting—With Horses–Not Guns). But most people ride in a ring and jump over artificial obstacles or fences. For those who like to compete there are horse shows with jumping classes.

Horse show jumping is divided into two separate disciplines—Hunters and Jumpers.

small__4458883343Hunter classes focus on the ease and style of the horse and rider as they go over jumps that are similar to what they might face on a hunt field. Hunters move with long, low, ground-covering strides and are very calm and collected. The rider almost looks like a passenger with the horse just casually floating over the fences. But the hunter must have perfect form as it jumps—knees up and forelegs parallel to the ground, legs even and tucked, and a graceful bascule (curved shaped). Style is all important. Besides way of going, this also includes appropriate tack (saddle, bridle, and martingale), braided manes and sometimes tails too, polished hooves, and the rider in conservative attire.

Hunter video:

There are different tysmall__4630636060pes of hunter classes and a couple don’t include fences. Flat classes, often called hunter under saddle or hunter hack, are judged on the horse’s gaits, way of going and suitability. In-hand or model classes judge the horse’s conformation and gaits. In these the horse is led and has no saddle.

Jumper classes are very different from hunters. The focus is on clearing the jumps in the time allotted. Style, looks, attitude—none of that matters. In a hunter class, your horse may clear all the jumps but unless he does it in an easy, stylish manner with exactly the right striding and take off, he may still not score well. It depends on the subjective evaluation of the judge(s). In a jumping class, numbers tell the story. How many jumps cleared, how many faults from refusals or knockdowns, how many time faults—these are what determine the results.

small__9633348424Instead of natural looking jumps, jumpers are faced with colorful and sometimes quite outlandish obstacles, which can be scary or confusing for the horses but fun for the audience. You can see some of the most dramatic at the Olympics. Not only are the courses unusual, they are also more difficult and technical. These require bold, powerful, fast horses that are also accurate and balanced. Faced with a high fence a horse naturally speeds up. In contrast to the relaxed, laid back hunters, jumpers charge their jumps and often look barely under control. In speed classes, the audience often has their hearts in their throats.

Jumping video:

If you have the chance, go to a horse show that features hunters and/or jumpers. You’ll see some marvelously skilled athletes and have a great time.


High jump:  photo credit: <a href=””>Thowra_uk</a&gt; via <a href=””>photopin</a&gt; <a href=””>cc</a&gt;
Hunter photo credit: <a href=””>Nico&#8230;.</a> via <a href=””>photopin</a&gt; <a href=””>cc</a&gt;
In hand:  photo credit: <a href=””>Five Furlongs</a> via <a href=””>photopin</a&gt; <a href=””>cc</a&gt;
Zebras:  photo credit: <a href=””>R~P~M</a&gt; via <a href=””>photopin</a&gt; <a href=””>cc</a&gt;

Categories: animals, Horses, hunting, Jumping, Olympics, ponies, riding, Show jumping, Thoroughbreds, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , | 7 Comments

Another Snippet


I’m back again with another small piece. Be sure to catch all the other snippets posted by the many talented authors via Snippet Sunday and Weekend Writing Warriors.


Here’s a following bit from the second chapter of Wyoming Escape.  Let me know what you think.


Wyoming Cover - 1600

One dead body is frightening enough. A second one, plus a dirty cop, sends chef Mikela Richards fleeing for her life. She hides on a Wyoming Dude ranch, but her attraction to an on-leave Marine threatens her fragile feeling of safety.


Hiding her shaking hands under the table, Mikela offered a tentative smile. “I’m fine–just not good with loud noises.” Damn, when would she get over jumping at the slightest racket? How long before the memories of dead men stopped haunting her? She took a deep breath and willed her trembling to quiet.

Once she was sure she wouldn’t spill anything, she sipped at her cup and glanced around the small coffee shop. Not much to look at. Whoever was manning the stove knew their stuff, though. The scrambled eggs passing her table were fragrant with herbs and the coffee was the best she’d tasted in a week.

Categories: Cowboys, Dude ranches, Mystery, nature, Romantic suspense, suspense, Uncategorized, Western romance, writing, Wyoming | Tags: , , , , , , , | 26 Comments

My Therapist Barks


GenieGabrielPhoto600Today my guest is Genene Valleau, writing as Genie Gabriel. Genie is an optimist whose rose-colored glasses have bent frames and cracked lenses. She writes about people who find courage and integrity in the darkest times of their lives, who rescue stray dogs and kittens, who find a person they would willingly give their lives for, and who make their little corners of the world a better place.

Genene is offering a free PDF copy of her most recent book, St. Batsy and the Time Machine, to 5 commenters!


Raz150x174Love unconditionally. Dream big. Play with great seriousness. Bark at strangers and skateboards.

These are some of the lessons my dogs have come to teach me. I’m working on the first three, but think I’ll leave the barking to my herd of doggies.

Fur against my face and the soft smell of a dog curled protectively around me existed before my first memories of this life. My mom used to tell stories of me as a toddler, sleeping with my head pillowed on our Collie’s belly.

I grew up on a farm, and we always had a dog. I wanted a horse too, but was in high school before my dad gave in to my begging to have one. Do you think you can become addicted to the smell of a horse? To this day, even the memory of that sweet aroma totally relaxes me.

However, after graduation, I moved to the city to claim a job and my own life. A back yard isn’t the best place for a horse, but I could indulge my love for dogs. A small, mixed breed Lady became the first beloved companion in my adult life. She tried to teach me to choose my relationships wisely. Ah, if only I had listened to her. An ill-fitting marriage ending in divorce turned my focus back to dogs as companions.

Batman150x194I was almost forty years old when I discovered the joy of shelter dogs and living with more than one canine. The more time I spent with dogs, the more I learned.

When I began writing, dogs naturally turned up in my stories. My first novel, published as The Rock Star, featured a dog who turns on the coffee maker for his mistress and has an attitude similar to my first shelter dog, a Border Collie mix.

Two of my romantic comedy novellas also feature dogs inspired by canines who have shared my life. My latest book to be released in print, St. Batzy & the Time Machine, features a terrier with a penchant for misadventures. His attitude is quite similar to my own terrier, who views fences as something to try to dig under, jump over, or wiggle through.

Dogs will definitely continue to be strong characters in my writing. In fact, I will soon be publishing a book about my journey with dogs and how they have guided me through traumas and brought me face to face with sometimes uncomfortable truths. However, underlying all their actions is pure, unconditional love and the support to make our most precious dreams a reality.

Oh yes, and to play–no barking needed on my part!


StBatzyCoverFront200An eccentric inventor is determined to reclaim his wayward time machine and save his beloved wife from her latest misadventure. If only they can travel safely past the black hole…


When they were seated, he told Dorinda the story of how he and Maddie had met. How he loved her from the first moment, and never thought a woman as bold and brave would ever love him in return. “My Maddie still goes on grand adventures to change the world. I worry about her, but I’m so proud of her.”

Dorinda remained quiet for a few moments after Horace stopped talking, then said softly. “I would like to live in a world where there is plenty of food and women are allowed to follow their passions.”

In the next breath, she pushed out a sigh and stood. “’It is not productive to grumble about what cannot be. I will leave you to rest, and I have much to think about. Thank you for a look into the future. You have given me hope.”

“Let me accompany you back to the village.” Horace also rose.

However, Dorinda shook her head. “As an elfenchaun, I’ll be quite safe with the creatures of the forest.”

Still, Horace watched Dorinda from the entryway of the time machine until the trail of shimmering green faded into the night. Elfenchaun or not, he worried about the delicate creature who had shown him such kindness. Would she truly be forced to give up the life of relative freedom she had known and marry a man who would control her every move? He would not want to smother his Maddie’s bold spirit, even if it cost him days of worry when she was gone.

All the next day, Horace toiled under the watchful eye of Dorinda’s grandfather. As the light of day faded into twilight, the man shook Horace’s hand and presented him with a curved piece of metal to repair the time machine.

Though exhaustion threatened, the desire to return to the year 2011 and rescue his Maddie gave Horace the energy to drag the metal back through the forest and replace the damaged panel of the time machine.

As Horace gathered his tools and placed them back inside the time machine, he looked forward to seeing Maddie again. He walked the short distance to a small stream and splashed cool water over his face, any tiredness dripping away with the water that ran down his skin. Soon he would see his Maddie!

The short distance back to the time machine took only a few moments, yet Horace knew something was not as he left it. His steps slowed and he looked cautiously around, listening carefully for any clue to what might have happened in the moments he had been gone.

A moan near his feet was all that prevented him from stepping on a tiny crumpled body on the ground. “Dorinda?”

He bent over the little elfenchaun, stunned by the pallor of her face and the broken remnants of her iridescent wings. “What happened?”

“Over here! I saw her fly this way.” Strident shouts tore the peace of the night to tatters as lanterns bobbed closer and closer.

Adrenaline surged through Horace. As carefully as possible, he lifted Dorinda and carried her into the time machine. Laying her on a pad next to Batzy, Horace locked the door panel and started the sequence for the reactor. “Clement, can you give us a boost to get us out of here?”

“Thank the heavens!” Maddie appeared on the monitor beside Horace’s cousin.

Clement’s fingers flew over the computer keyboard. “What took you so long to make repairs?”


Print version of St. Batzy plus Genie’s other books on:

ebook version of St. Batzy also available at Rogue Phoenix Press:

Categories: animals, dogs, healing, Horses, Paranormal, Relationships, romance, Romantic suspense, suspense, Time travel, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , | 13 Comments

I is for Horse Illnesses


small_185495090For such large, athletic animals domestic horses are surprisingly fragile, due to the artificial environment man puts them in. Wild horses are sturdy, hardy animals—smart, wily and able to take care of themselves. They graze all day, move constantly and only the healthiest survive and reproduce. They are also relatively small, not particularly pretty and very strong-willed.

Consequently, when man decided horses were good for more than providing meat and milk, he began breeding them for specific traits. Good temperament, large size, speed and beauty were some of the prized characteristics. Over the millennia horses morphed into creatures that often would have a hard time surviving in the wild and even have problems surviving in man’s care. The desire to win races has resulted in many Thoroughbreds being very fast but having weak feet and overly sensitive emotions. Show ring “fashions” have encouraged huge bodies with slim, tiny legs and feet that cannot stay sound for the long run. And, of course, miniature horses, as cute as they are, would be hard pressed to survive on their own.

small__598978125Add to that, being confined twenty-three hours a day in a small stall, being fed large amounts of hay, instead of eating grass, and being asked to do intense work instead of moving casually, and today’s horses develop problems that they wouldn’t encounter in the wild.

One of the most common and deadly problems is a result of how they are kept and fed. The horse’s stomach is designed to digest small portions of food all day long. While some horses are kept in large pastures where they can graze naturally, this kind of open land is disappearing and most horses, by necessity, live in confined areas, either stalls or paddocks. Then they are fed calorie-dense hay and often grain too, usually twice a day because that fits best with human schedules. As a result their digestive systems can be easily upset and they can colic.

Colic is basically a painful bellyache that can be relatively easy to treat or can develop into something deadly. It is the most common cause of death in horses. Bad food, dirty water, parasites, lack of exercise, a sudden change in the weather are some of the many things that can provoke a colic attack. In most cases, the problem can be solved by a visit from the vet. Sometimes surgery is required (a very expensive proposition) and other times the only thing to do is to put the suffering animal down. Good management is vital to keeping horses healthy and happy.

freeimage-144227Another illness connected to food and care is known as laminitis, a very painful condition that affects the hooves. The equine digestive system cannot handle large amounts of concentrated, high-carb food. If a horse should get loose and into the grain barrel or pig out on high-sugar Spring grass, this can trigger an inflammatory response which destroys the tissues in its hooves that hold the boney structures in place. Depending on the extent of the damage, the result can be devastating. Conditions such as Cushings Disease or Metabolic Syndrome can make horses susceptible to laminitis problems too.

As odd as it might seem, horses have many of the same problems that humans do. They can have allergies, COPD, arthritis, thyroid dysfunctions, bursitis and a host of other disorders. And they are treated with many of the same medicines. I used to give my daughter’s mare powdered Synthroid for her low thyroid and albuterol for her breathing problems. Horses with stomach ulcers often get Tagamet.

Of course, wild horses are unlikely to have ulcers or allergies or a lot of the other problems. These tend to be the result of living with man and doing the work he asks of them. So it behooves us to be aware of the consequences and do our best to take good care of our equine friends. Today, because of advances in understanding and veterinary care, horses are living and working into their thirties. Something very rare in previous times.

Race horse photo:
Stable photo:
Categories: horse care, Horses, nature, outdoors, ponies, riding, stables, Thoroughbreds | Tags: , , , | 10 Comments

Weekend Snippets Again


It’s been a while since I did a Snippet Sunday , so I thought I’d try it again.  I know I have lots of fun reading all the other snippets posted by the many talented authors via Snippet Sunday and Weekend Writing Warriors.


Here’s a bit from the second chapter of Wyoming Escape.  Let me know what you think.


Wyoming Cover - 1600

One dead body is frightening enough. A second one, plus a dirty cop, sends Mikela Richards fleeing for her life. She hides on a Wyoming Dude ranch, but her attraction to an on-leave Marine threatens her fragile feeling of safety.


Mikela squinted against the bright Wyoming sun pouring through the cafe window and gave her breakfast order. Her last words were drowned out by a loud blast that shook the building and rattled the dishes. She clamped her hands over her mouth to stifle a scream while images of blood and death flashed in her mind. The waitress’ hoarse, smoky voice brought her back to the present.


“It’s okay, honey. Just old Cranky’s truck backfirin’ again. Wish he’d get the darned thing fixed.” The buxom woman peered at Mikela in concern. “You all right? You’re white as a sheet.”



You can find Wyoming Escape on Amazon
Be sure to check out more fabulous snippets listed on Snippet Sunday on Facebook
and on the Weekend Writing Warriors website
Happy reading!
Categories: animals, Books, Cowboys, Dude ranches, Horses, Love, Mystery, nature, outdoors, Romantic suspense, suspense, Uncategorized, Western romance, Wyoming | Tags: , , , , , , , | 33 Comments

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