horse personalities

Weekend Snippets #11

.

I’m back and continuing with a snippet from  FOREWARNING, the first book of my Horses and Healing Mysteries series.

.

Kasey Martin, an energetic healer who has renounced her skills, awakens in the middle of a storm. When a sudden wave of pain hits her, she realizes that someone–a man–is injured and she goes to investigate. She finds the man lying under a horse shelter, but his pain and her fear make her hesitate and decide to go for help.

.

The pickup surged backward then jerked to a stop. Kasey dropped her forehead to the steering wheel. He can’t wait for anyone else. She lifted her head and took a deep shuddering breath. Then she visualized a golden ball of energy surrounding her, creating a protective barrier against the stranger’s agony, while a shaft of white light filled her with calm and strength.

Shaken and unsure, she grabbed the first aid kit and a waterproof horse blanket from the backseat. The ground sucked at her boots as she hurried to the injured man, knelt and spread the blanket over him.

.

Forewarning Cover
 Grieving and guilt-stricken after her husband’s suicide, Kasey Martin has closed her energetic healing practice and retreated to her Oregon horse ranch. One night, she rescues a badly injured man, and against her better judgment, uses her neglected skills to save his life. This starts her on an unexpected journey of healing and danger.  Complicating her life is Jim Bradley, an old friend who has long been in love with her and wants her to return to her work. When criminals looking for her patient invade the serenity of her world, she must use her skills to save all three of their lives.

.

Be sure to check out more fabulous snippets on the  Weekend Writing Warriors website
and also Snippet Sunday, on Facebook.
.
Happy reading!
Categories: alternative medicine, energetic healing, healing, horse personalities, Horses, Mystery, romance, Romantic suspense, suspense, Uncategorized | 28 Comments

Animals as Characters

Like most writers when working on a novel, I usually create detailed character sketches of the main actors in my stories. These will feature physical descriptions, often including pictures of people who look like the image in my mind. I also create family background, education, likes, dislikes, traumas, good times, and lots more. While most of this information never appears on the page, it is vital to envisioning a fully-fleshed character.

Since animalIMAG0335s often play parts in my stories, I also create histories for them, but most often I simply think of ones I have known. This is particularly true in my novel FOREWARNING. I modeled several of the animal characters on my own. In fact, in my first drafts I used their real names to keep their pictures in mind while I wrote. Only later did I change the names to protect the guilty. J

Even though the first horse we meet in Forewarning is named after my childhood buddy Star, she’s actually modeled after my husband’s horse. Like Koko, Star is a sweet, laid-back, bay Quarter Horse, who anyone can ride. Kasey uses her as an all-purpose horse, available to students and friends. In contrast, Paris, the escape artist, is a smart, high strung, energetic character, similar to my Portia. Her antics reflect how I would expect Portia to behave in a similar situation.

Goliath, Kasey’s faithful friend, is very similar to a dog we used to have. Tippy was a Border Collie cross and one of the smartest dogs I’ve ever encountered. Not very big, she nevertheless had the protective instincts (and bark) of a much larger dog. One time she even took on a Great Dane, who had to be three times her size, because she thought he was threatening one of the kids. We suspect her desire to protect may have caused her death. We came home one day to find the gate open and her gone. Later we discovered she had been hit by a car. Perhaps chasing an intruder?large__8489462528

The last animal directly modeled on one of ours is the cat Tiny. He’s a reflection of BK (barn kitty) who we acquired as a five week old bit of fluff. Like Kasey, I had been injured (by a friend’s horse kicking at mine and getting me instead) and was spending two weeks in a recliner with my leg elevated. My daughter brought home this tiny, scrawny kitten and he spent the first few weeks nestled against my neck. To our amazement, he grew into a monster of a cat with absolutely no fear of anything. Among other things, he loved to wrestle and play with our Siberian, Oreo. When BK was a kitten, the dog would let him crawl all over him, attack his tail, and even gnaw on a leg. As the cat got older and bigger, Oreo began to retaliate and the fun would begin. They really enjoyed playing with each other, although sometimes they got a little too rough for the house and I would have to kick them out.

If you were writing a story, do you have any animals that you’d include? Have any made a big impact on your life?

.

.

Cat photo credit: <a href=”http://www.flickr.com/photos/vivalivadia/8489462528/”>N’Grid</a&gt; via <a href=”http://photopin.com”>photopin</a&gt; <a href=”http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-nd/2.0/”>cc</a&gt;

Categories: Books, Dogs and cats, horse personalities, Horses, Romantic suspense, Uncategorized, writing characters | Tags: , , , , , , , | 21 Comments

Horses, Alternative Medicine and My New Book

Portia at 29

Portia at 29

When I got my mare Portia over twenty years ago, alternative care for animals was in its infancy and generally frowned on by traditional veterinarians. While I had tried acupuncture for a chronic bursitis, I wasn’t really that open to alternative techniques. But trying to help my sweet mare cured me of that attitude and introduced me to a new way of looking at life. And inspired the heroine of my newest novel Forewarning.

Portia was a beautiful, grey Anglo-Arab with wonderful gaits, a very willing attitude and a delightful joy in life. While she could be silly, mostly she was a lot of fun. Unfortunately, after I’d had her for about six months, she developed unusual problems that the vets couldn’t figure out. First, she started having trouble going down hills. Then she began tripping over things if we rode at dusk. Finally she came up with a really dramatic symptom. She would stumble and fall to the ground. Now lots of horses stumble, but rarely do they go down. This was weird as well as dangerous. And I had the bruises to prove it.

We went through a variety of diagnoses. Navicular disease—but the x-rays and the lack of response to shoeing changes and medicines seemed to rule that out. Weak stifles—but injections and keeping her on hill didn’t change anything.

This went on for about a year and a half and I was ready to give up on her when a friend suggested trying chiropractic. I hadn’t heard of equine chiro before and resisted the idea for quite a while. Then I heard about a vet who did acupuncture and worked with a chiropractor, and I decided to give it a try. If a vet was supervising, maybe there was some worth to it.

The acupuncture to relax the muscles, followed by chiropractic treatment to correct the misalignments in Portia’s spine and sacrum, produced an amazing and immediate improvement. I was ecstatic! I would have my talented, fun horse back again.

The jubilation only lasted a couple of weeks, then Portia started having problems again. It turned out that the chiro put things right for a while, but didn’t correct whatever was causing her back to go out in the first place. While I continued to use chiropractic on all my horses, I now began a journey through just about every alternative modality that existed, in an effort to find a solution to Portia’s trouble.

Finally, I encountered a woman who was learning a new-to-the-USA technique called Manual Therapy. For the first time we got improvements that lasted. She was actually able get to the cause of some of Portia’s problems and many times fix them.

Jacquie’s main work is with people and she only occasionally works on horses. Both my husband and I have gone to her and benefitted greatly from her work. Through her I’ve met several other manual therapists, most of whom also work both with humans and animals. When I began writing fiction seriously a few years ago, I thought it would be interesting to have a protagonist who was a Manual Therapist. The story possibilities were many, and I might also introduce some readers to alternative techniques.

If you read Forewarning, I’d love to hear your reaction to the heroine, Kasey Martin, and the work she does.

*****.

Here’s a small excerpt from when she is working on a horse.

Then she put both hands on the horse and just stood there. After a minute she shifted position and again stood without moving.

“What is she doing?” TJ asked Billy, who had come into the barn too.

Billy glanced at Kasey and gave a shrug. “She’s listening,” he replied.

“What do you mean, listening?” TJ turned to the younger man with a disbelieving frown.

“That’s what she calls it—listening to the body, to figure out what needs to be done. I’m no expert. I just know she does some pretty amazing things. Watch.”

So TJ did watch while Kasey finished her initial assessment and stepped back to make notes on her chart. Then with a determined expression, she placed one hand on the mare’s spine and another low on her left hip. She kept them there for almost ten minutes while talking softly to the horse and Ben. As far as TJ could see, she was doing nothing more than lightly touching the horse.

All of a sudden, Doll let out a big sigh and visibly relaxed, dropping her head low and almost closing her eyes. Kasey stepped away, and tension seemed to flow out of her as well. A few moments later, with a much calmer expression, she moved back to the horse. She continued to hold her hands in different spots for varying amounts of time, changing their position after Doll sighed or yawned. Obviously, something was happening, but TJ had no idea what.

At one point Doll swung her head around and touched her ribs, just behind her front legs. Kasey nodded. “I know,” she said, and kept on with what she was doing. A few minutes later Doll twisted around again and touched her side a couple more times. Kasey smiled and responded. “I’ll get to it. I know it hurts. I need to take care of this first.”

TJ widened his eyes in disbelief. The horse is telling her where it hurts? At that point, he almost left in disgust to go back to the house, but hesitated when he saw how seriously Ben and Billy were watching. Pushing down his skepticism, he decided to wait and see how her treatment played out.

A while later Kasey finally switched her attention to the area Doll had touched. The mare bobbed her head up and down a couple of times, then let it hang in total relaxation. After spending a good ten minutes working on the area, Kasey stepped back.

******

.

Forewarning CoverYou can buy FOREWARNING on Amazon http://amazon.com/ dp/B00DP5VOHK/

Categories: alternative medicine, Books, dressage, energetic healing, healing, horse personalities, Horses, Romantic suspense, Trail riding, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

Fear and How You See the World

© Forca | Dreamstime Stock Photos & Stock Free Images

© Forca | Dreamstime Stock Photos & Stock Free Images

A few posts ago I talked about Horses and Victims–about fear distorting how an animal or human deals with the world. Sometimes the reaction is a result of an over-sensitive individual having to put up with unaware or uncaring people, such as with my horse Glory. Sometimes it is a result of direct abuse. Recently I encountered an unexpected reaction which came from the latter source.

Last month I self-published a short story titled IMAGES – A LOVE STORY. Before I put it up I had several people critique and edit it. Everyone thought it was a sweet tale and seemed to enjoy it. Except for the last person who saw it. Her reaction totally astonished me.

My friend was extremely upset by the story. She thought the hero was manipulative, had ulterior motives and was not to be trusted. Going through it page by page, she pointed out all the suspect things he was doing. I was blown away by her interpretation of his actions. I would never have thought that about someone without a compelling reason. And frankly, she was amazed at the intensity of her reaction too. I’d really hit a hot button for her.

It seems she had been molested as a child and, even though she has been happily married for many years, that has skewed her view of men. Also, she has a daughter who has been in an abusive relationship, and she has worked with a battered women’s group. Talk about a different background from my nice, safe, sheltered life!  While I understood where her response was coming from, I didn’t think most people would feel the same and didn’t change my story.

But the incident pointed out again how differently people can react to the same stimulus. I’ve entered my stories in contests and received both perfect scores along with quite low scores in the same contest. Some people seem to really like my writing and others don’t. I’ve only gotten a few reviews for my novel, WYOMING ESCAPE, and mostly they’ve been quite good. But I did get one person who didn’t like the heroine at all–thought she was wimpy. Other people have admired her guts. As the saying goes, “different strokes for different folks.”

All writers go through the same thing and have similar stories. But it’s interesting to speculate on what provokes such opposing opinions. What happened in the reader’s life to cause this reaction? Hmm, fodder for a new tale?

Have youCover - Images - 2 encountered a really off-the-wall reaction to anything you’ve done? Were you able to discover the reason for the response?

************************

If you’d like to read IMAGES and compare your reaction to my friend’s, you can find it for Free on Smashwords.

You can also find WYOMING ESCAPE on most online bookstores.

Categories: abuse, battered women, Books, fear, horse personalities, Horses, romance, Uncategorized, writing, writing characters | Tags: , , , , , , , | 12 Comments

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

Blog at WordPress.com.