equine

Talking With Author Carly Kade 

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This week I talk with horse writer Carly Kade about her new book coming out, and winning the Best Western Fiction Winnie Award at the EQUUS Film Festival.

Tell us a little bit about what your day to day life is like. 

 

I’m a busy cowgirl, and it can be difficult to fit in time for my creative writing, so I designed a plan for my writing life. I get up every morning at 5:30 am and start my day by writing before I go to my corporate job. At the end of the week, my husband reads back to me the chapters I’ve written. The routine works. I finished two books this way, and I’m already writing the third. Having scheduled time for my creativity really helps move my books forward. I am not a morning person, but the commitment to my morning routine keeps my creativity alive. 

 

Also, I made the rule to “touch” my story every day.  As long as I stay engaged with what I’m writing, the world I’m creating is never far from reach. It’s when I’ve been away from my words for extended periods of time that I find it hardest to get back to writing it so I try not to let that happen.

 

In addition, I have a patient husband, two dogs, and a horse waiting to spend time with me. Being at the barn fuels my creativity and helps me refresh from my life as a corporate cowgirl. I do what it takes to fit in my much needed barn time (although it feels as if it is never for as long as I’d like). Somehow though, I always make everything work and feel so fortunate to be able to have the life that I do. 

 

It isn’t always easy! There’s a lot of heavy lifting involved in getting a dream underway, but I am really proud of the creative life I’m inventing for myself!  

 

Do you have horses? Tell us about them and what you do with them. 

 

When I’m not writing or reading, I’m riding my horse. I am a member of the American Paint Horse Association and love competitively showing my Paint Horse, Sissy. I recently moved to Arizona so I’ve just started to explore all the amazing horse show options that my new home has to offer. I feel fortunate because it seems like there’s a horse event (almost) every weekend here, and I board my horse at a picture perfect ranch nestled between mountain ranges. It’s the kind of place I dreamed about as a girl! 

 

The classes I usually show in are showmanship, Western horsemanship and Western pleasure. Recently, I’ve been back in my English saddle and am thinking about showing in some hunt seat classes again!

 

Just like a make an effort to “touch” my novel every day to keep close to my characters, I make an effort to see my horse every day. Take a tour of my social media channels, carlykadecreative.com or my YouTube channel and you’ll notice my horse, Sissy, is pictured a lot and appears in my promotional videos for In The Reins as the lead horse character, Faith.

 

Here is the book trailer starring Sissy as Faith: https://youtu.be/Glv2Bz-WB-E?list=PLzxx3R-kABSVHJFnmwgn_6vZ3W98S3akk

 

How did get you started writing? 

I’ve always enjoyed creative writing and was recognized as a young author.  My education involved Advanced English and Creative Writing courses, but I didn’t set out to publish a novel until McKennon Kelly, the leading man from In The Reins, came to me like lightning one day in the form of a poem. I vividly remember the day I furiously scrawled him in my journal. That poem ended up being the intro to the book. 

 

From there, I just wrote the novel that I wanted to read. Beverly Cleary once said, “If you don’t see the book you want on the shelves, write it.”  I think I’ve read everything in existence about horses, cowboys and romance.  However, I couldn’t many horse book series written about my particular discipline. 

 

I wanted to read a love story themed around the type of horse shows that I liked to compete in. There are a lot of equestrian novels out there focused on dressage or jumping or rodeo but I hadn’t found many that focused on Western pleasure competitive horse showing at breed shows like Quarter Horse, Paint, Pinto or the Palomino Horse Circuits.

 

When did you get more serious about writing, and what was that process like? 

 

The story seemed to beg me to tell it, but I still pondered whether I should write a book or if I even could. Writing a book is scary! You put your creative self on the line for people to hopefully enjoy, but also to judge.

 

One day, I asked my husband if he would read my manuscript to see if what I had written had any merit. One thing to know about my husband is that the only book series he’s ever read was the Hunger Games on our honeymoon. As he read my story back to me, two things happened. I sat there and thought to myself “who wrote this” and “where was I while I was writing it” because it sounded pretty good, and then I noticed that my husband was laughing, smiling and engaging with my words. He put the manuscript down in his lap and said, “This is really good. You have to keep going.” So, I did.

 

When I started really writing In The Reins, I knew I wanted readers to feel like they were falling for the leading man as they turned the pages of my story. Generating that kind of feeling was my goal – what I wanted to create for readers – so In The Reins naturally became a romance novel. 

 

I’ve always loved reading and have been riding horses since I was seven. I know that I sure wouldn’t be able to resist reading about a handsome cowboy who knows his way around horses so I wrote about what I knew … horses and cowgirl culture.

 

You did very well at the Equus Film Festival. Tell us what the festival is about, and your experience being a part of that. 

 

It was so exciting when In The Reins was named an official EQUUS Film Festival literary selection, and then went on to win the Best Western Fiction Winnie Award.

 

I met so many amazing fellow authors, filmmakers and readers in New York City. The EQUUS Film Festival is an excellent platform for bringing the storytellers of the horse world together through films, documentaries, videos, art, music and literature. 

 

The EQUUS Film Festival expanded its reach into the literary world because of the books that inspired the films screened at the festival over the years.  The decision to add awards for literary works was to introduce new and existing authors to filmmakers looking for their next equestrian story. The festival organizers work to place authors with filmmakers to help develop partnerships through the EQUUS Film Festival.

 

I made a little tribute video to my spur-jingling journey in NYC so my readers could go behind the scenes of the EQUUS Film Festival with me. My cowboy helped me shoot footage as I attended the four-day equestrian extravaganza! We filmed it all – beginning with the VIP Gala & culminating at the equine equivalent of the Oscars called the Winnie Awards.

 

You can watch it here: https://www.carlykadecreative.com/blog/video-go-behind-the-scenes-of-the-equus-film-festival-with-equestrian-author-carly-kade

 

Tell us about your books.

In The Reins is the story of a city-girl-gone-country, a handsome cowboy and a horse that meet by fate on a southern farm. She’s looking for a fresh start and unexpectedly falls for the mysterious cowboy. But the leading lady finds herself wondering if the man with a deeply guarded secret can open himself up to the wannabe cowgirl in the saddle next to him.  

​I like to think that In The Reins captures the struggle between letting life move forward and shying away from taking the reins. Reader reviews suggest that I’ve written a love story sure to touch the inner cowgirl. I hope so!

Cowboy Away, the second book in the In the Reins series, picks up right where we left Devon, McKennon, their horses as well as the Green Briar bunch. It chronicles the history of how things became the way they were in In the Reins. Readers will meet new characters as the book journeys through McKennon’s past. In Cowboy Away, McKennon becomes a cowboy on a quest for revenge and hits the road with nothing but his memories, a pistol and hope to put his demon to rest.

 

Cowboy Away, the sequel to In the Reins, will release in 2017. Early reader, Laurie Berglie, author of Where the Bluegrass Grows says, “Sequels can be difficult to write, but not for Carly Kade. Cowboy Away is fantastic and without a doubt one of the best sequels I have ever read. This follow-up to In The Reins brings McKennon’s and Devon’s story full circle, yet leaves you hungry for more! I very highly recommend this equestrian romance!”

 

The books are available in Paperback and eBook on Amazon, Barnes & Noble and Kobo.  Audiobooks are in the works for both books, too!

 

Buy a signed copy from my website: https://www.carlykadecreative.com/buy-the-book.html

Or from one of these fine retailers

Amazon: http://a.co/fvgIrOO

 

Barnes & Noble: https://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/in-the-reins-carly-kade/1123120771?ean=9780996887908

Kobo: https://store.kobobooks.com/en-us/ebook/in-the-reins

How does your love for horses impact you as a writer? 

I wanted to include a romantic relationship in my story that built on life lessons experienced in the horse world. Horses build character and require dedication. They are a big responsibility and teach us compassion, as we often have to put their needs before our own. I am a better human because I’ve owned horses.

 

I’ve heard that my characters are flawed but likeable. There are a few Bridget Jones style mishaps for my wannabe cowgirl, and she often has to dust off her boots then try again. My heroine heals her broken heart through her love for her horse. Devon invests in her relationship with her horse as much as she does with the humans in her life. I think I built a strong female character willing to face her fears head-on. Devon is committed to becoming a better horsewoman by listening to her heart, her mentors and her brain (most of the time). Her relationship with her horse is a primary part of the story. Perhaps, she is better in her relationship with her horse than with humans.

 

My history with (and rich knowledge of) horses is definitely a reason why I think other horse lovers have been drawn to the book.  I know what it feels like to enter a show pen and be nervous.  I know what it feels like to feel stuck with my horse’s training.  I know what it feels like to swoon over a cute cowboy.  Giggle!

 

I hope that sort of authenticity comes through in my writing. I’m a horse owner. I’ve shown competitively most of my life. I write about my lifestyle, not something I’ve researched, but what I do.

 

Some of the best feedback I’ve gotten though has been that non-horsey readers say that one doesn’t have to love horses or have knowledge about them to enjoy my story or fall in love with the characters. Many readers are actually enjoying the fact that they are learning so much about the human-horse connection because of my book. That makes my spurs jingle!

 

What are your biggest challenges as a horse person and a writer? 

 

The biggest challenge is finding the time. 

 

When it comes to writing, my favorite Stephen King quote is, “The scariest moment is always just before you start.” I always worry I won’t have anything to write, but then I sit and make the time and the story magically starts writing itself through me. That is why the morning routine is so important.  It forces me to make the time to sit and write … no excuses. 

 

What are your goals for the next year?

 

As far as my writing plans, this is just the beginning! McKennon and Devon’s story definitely continues. This is a horse book series of at least four. The sequel to In The Reins will be out this year, and my goal is to have the third installment out in 2018. 

 

The crazy thing is that the fourth book featuring the characters is bucking up a storm in my mind and already taking shape on paper! I am writing the third and fourth book simultaneously. I am super excited about the journey this series is taking me on!

 

A fun fact is that I’m learning that there are a lot of JD McCall fans out there so I’m playing with the concept of a novella that tells the tale of my bull riding heartthrob with swagger!

 

If you had to give a piece of advice to a new horse owner, what would it be? 

Take the time to get to know your horse. 

In In the Reins, my Cowboy McKennon Kelly tells wannabe Cowgirl Devon Brooke this about her horse, Faith:

“Any real, beautiful thing in this world shouldn’t be tamed or claimed or broken. It should be allowed to be, worked with, not against, appreciated.”

That’s how I feel. Take the time to build a relationship with your horse.  When I feel Sissy’s stride beneath me, everything else fades away and I revel in being in the NOW. 

 

When I was younger, I was very competitive and went to a lot of horse shows.  A friend once said something to me that really stuck.  She said, “What about just being a horse owner and enjoying that?” That question really resonated with me. 

 

Now it’s the simple pleasures of horse ownership that I have come to enjoy most … long grooming sessions, the meditative rhythm of barn chores, a lazy Sunday ride. 

 

Take the time to bond with your horse. It is the most rewarding part of horse ownership.

If you had to give a piece of advice to a new writer, what would it be? 

 

My advice to an aspiring author is make the time to write! I recommend setting a goal like writing for 60 minutes uninterrupted or not stopping until you’ve reached a thousand words. Just start … that’s all you have to do. 

I highly recommend reading “On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft” by Stephen King. I loved the book as a reader and a writer. This is a book for anyone who writes, anyone who aspires to write, anyone interested in knowing a little more about the life of an author, or someone interested in knowing more about Stephen King as he gives a brief history of what led him to where he is now. It’s a fascinating read!

 

Also, I think it is very important to support fellow authors. Recently, I saw a graphic on Twitter that said, “Other authors are not my competition. I stand with them, not against them.” I strongly agree with this statement.

 

It makes my spurs jingle when authors unite. I’ve learned so much from other authors and appreciate how unique each of our writing journeys is. I think it is so important to support each other and share knowledge among us.

 

When dreamers band together and support each other anything is possible. You can’t do it on your own. In order to give back to the community, I host an Equestrian Author Spotlight on my blog where I interview other equine authors. I LOVE horse books!

 

Ways to keep up with Carly Kade –

 

www.carlykadecreative.com

amazon.com/author/carlykade
goodreads.com/carlykadecreative
facebook.com/carlykadecreative
twitter.com/CarlyKadeAuthor
Instagram.com/carlykadecreative
pinterest.com/carlykadeauthor

Watch Carly Kade Creative Videos on YouTube

 

 

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Talking With Author Liz Hughey

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I met Liz on Twitter and immediately fell in love with her story, Barney The Lopsided Mule. As a fellow author and lover of the outdoors, she’s someone I can relate to and I think you will too!

Liz Hughey is a single mom to one, and an outdoor, equine, canine, feline, and bovine loving, life enthusiast.  Also, a self-published writer and poet to a series of children’s books, highlighting mules and mule packing, the first being Barney the Lopsided Mule.  Her twenties were spent working as a trail guide, packer, and sometimes cook, for outfitters in Northwest Colorado.  Now, 38 years old, she is a mom to a four-year-old son.  Also, the grazing manager of her family’s grass fed/finished Red Angus beef ranch in Southeastern Indiana, Blue Creek Cattle Company, LLC.  Hughey & Son ride their mules and horses as much as their schedules permit and are love living life in the rural Midwest.  But still, Liz’s body and mind dream of the horseback riding, mule packing, and mountain exploration of her twenties. 

You work on your family’s cattle ranch that raises Red Angus. Tell us a little about what your daily life is like. 

Well, it really depends on the day and the season.  I’m a full-time mom to a four-year-old boy and plan my ranch life accordingly.  I am very lucky and blessed to have a family that makes this possible.  Most of our days are planned around an animal activity, or rather, many animal activities; feeding horses and mules, taking care of laying hens, dogs, cats, moving cattle onto new pasture, riding horses and mules, etc.  There are also many dog hikes and creek adventures, lots of fort building.  I’m a believer and a follower of a holistic lifestyle and the slow food movement, so most of our meals are prepared at home.  The typical day for me starts around 7:30AM, 30 minutes of yoga/Pilates, multi-tasking of cooking breakfast (my son loves sunny side up eggs and homemade sauerkraut for breakfast) and morning animal feeding of cats, dogs, chickens, and horses/mules….my son has taken over the feeding of cats and chickens for an allowance of TSC toys.  On days that we are feeding/moving cattle we try to be with them by 11AM, weather permitting.  Obviously, in the winter things need to happen earlier, and they do.  But in the SE Indiana summer while grazing cattle, moving them to new pastures is best after the morning dew is off the clover, this is my rule anyway.  I’ve been mentored that dew on clover can cause bloat. 

Moving cattle consist of running lines of electric fence with fence reel, stepping in post, moving water and mineral into the new section, portable shades if we’re in the heat of summer, and picking up the section from the previous day.  I usually try to set up a few days at a time.  We do all of this with the help of a Polaris Ranger.  My son either helps me by hooking up the water skid to the Ranger or carrying posts.  Or he has an assignment of looking for and catching tadpoles, frogs, toads, box turtles, grass hoppers, etc. depending on the season.  He is also the Official Mineral Mixer, mixing kelp and diatomaceous Earth in the portable mineral feeder with his toy excavator.  Its so cute to see his little legs in there.  Add the garden in the spring and summer and firewood in the fall and winter, along with lunch and dinner, snuggle and story time, and you have yourself a full day.         

Previously the family ranch was a conventional cattle operation. What changes has the ranch made and what are the plans for the future? 

My family and I, Blue Creek Cattle Company, LLC., manage our pastures with a herd of Red Angus cattle.  In 2010 we started moving the cattle to a new smaller section of pasture every day.  We section off our larger pastures and hayfields, after the first cutting, into smaller sections, giving the cattle new high quality and desirable forage every day.  To prepare for this we added infrastructure of water lines to fence rows, making water accessible to the cattle though out the pasture.  We also added water trough skids, portable mineral feeder, and portable shades to the equation.  Having these tools allows us to manage where the cattle hang out during the day, spreading their valuable nutrients and giving back to the pasture.  We keep the manure out in the middle of the pasture instead of under the oak tree on the perimeter.  We also invested in a bale unroller so that we can unroll bales of hay on our hayfields in the fall and winter instead of feeding in a lot, adding organic matter to the soil.  Doing all of this has increased our grazing season by over a month and added much diversity to our ailing pastures and hayfields.  Our cattle now work for us doing a job that they love, grazing.                

You also work with horses and mules. Tell us a little bit about getting to do that and how that influences that stories that you write.  

I love working with horses and mule, it is a passion and hobby that I have had for many years.  Nothing better than taking a ride, and someday, riding will again be my main daily activity.  However, Horses and Mules are not part of my primary job of moving cattle, so they unfortunately take a back seat to bovine.  At some point in time I would love to teach myself and one or two of our hoofed friends to reel and unreel fence and pick up posts with me in the saddle.  That mental photo paints a great image in my mind and brings a smile to my face.  But now, with a four-year-old in tow, it’s just too much for me to bite off.  Currently, my work with the mules and horses is centered around caregiving, weekly riding, and giving my son a foundation in horsemanship.  My son will have memories of digging in his sandbox while equine graze the surrounding yard.  I ride as much as possible and one of my son’s chores is to ride his mule Ben once a week.  We do driveway rides.  I sometimes have my own steed, but am on foot most of the time while he digs through his pommel bags for snacks and juice boxes and enjoying the ride.  I am happy to report that my son took his first mule ride last week without me touching the lead rope.  I can now ask him to independently lead the two old men, one at a time, to the rail for their daily senior feed.  He ties a good knot too; must run in his blood.  In the winter months we visit the barn twice a day for feeding, my son tossing flecks into stalls and manning the nylon fork, building piles of loose hay to catch himself as he jumps off the stack.  I don’t want to force this life on my son, he doesn’t need to love farm/equine/ranch life.  But he does need to know this type of life and be comfortable in the saddle.  I feel that these skills will be used, consciously or subconsciously, no matter what path he chooses in life.  Giving him this foundation is a major influence and inspiration in my writing.       

Do you write full time or part time?

I write part time.  I cannot choose the exact times though, I must be flexible.  Writing tells me when it needs to be done.  It’s funny, I can have endless months of writing….then it just runs dry.  Sometimes it comes at 2am, I have to get up and write down the thoughts or they may be lost in sleepy dreams and gone by sunrise.  I do not feel like I’m alone in this.  If inspiration were constantly firing, it would lose its magic.  I love to write mule, horse, and cattle poetry; lights me up, makes me laugh.  My current publications are children’s book’s, inspired by wanting to share equine experiences and memories with my son. 

Spring 2017, we self-published Barney the Lopsided Mule, introducing children to a pack mule with a relatable problem and the lesson of healthy eating habits.  Barney has earned an Amazon Best Seller and an “Honorable Mention” from the New York Book Festival.  Barney the Lopsided Mule will also be up for a Will Rodgers Medallion Award, created to recognize quality works of cowboy poetry that honor Western Heritage, in the children’s book category.      

The second in the series, Pack String Hang-up….A Mule Trail Tale, introduces children to an entire string of mules and the different personality strengths and weaknesses that accompany them, with a lesson in forgiveness and teamwork.  Pack String Hang-up….A Mule Trail Tale will be available for purchase by Thanksgiving 2017.  Both books are available on Amazon, author signed copies available on my website, http://thecowgirlpoet.com/shop.html

One can occasionally read a bit of my equine philosophy in Western Mule Magazine, a fantastic monthly mule publication, filled with stories of the trail and training recommendations.  http://www.westernmulemagazine.com/

I also have work featured on my website, http://thecowgirlpoet.com.  And have had a poem, “The Salty Ones” chosen for the Oct 2017 issue of Cowboy Poetry Press, https://cowboypoetrypress.com/

Tell us about your books. Are the characters based on people and animals in real life? 

My current work is inspired by people and animals in my life.  If my close friends and family read my writing they may see themselves or relive experiences that we have had together, but I rarely mention names.  They wouldn’t mind though, I don’t write painful memoirs.  The mule books are all about the pack mules that I worked with in my twenties.  With them, I do name names.  My memories of packing and outfitting are so fond that I feel it’s important to immortalize the mules and freeze the time with their names.      

How do you think your stories make an impact in today’s world? 

I want to take kids back to nature, let them know it’s OK to get dirty, and enjoy a life without constant screens.  I say this as I type and look at my laptop.  The world of mule packing and outfitting is slowly fading away.  That is not my assessment, but the assessment of many packing and outfitting friends.  Finding people that want to work hard and do a tireless job is hard.  Packing/outfitting is not for everybody.  Owning an outfitting business is for a select few.  For this life to survive, kids need to know that it exists.  With so many young adults taking “Gap years” and time to reflect on life after they have earned an education, it seems to me that the perfect way to spend this time, summer breaks too, is on horse or muleback exploring our nations beautiful National Forests.  I have a dream that one day two dude wranglers will be sitting in a barn between rides, talking about what influenced them to spend their summer or fall riding and packing, and Barny the Lopsided Mule is part of the conversation.

 

What are your biggest challenges when it comes to creating stories? 

Finding the time to do create them.  I have a note pad with a list of stories and poems to be written, many started and not finished.  I just need the time and a rested mind to get there.        

What are you biggest joys in writing?

Creating a story and rhyme that is simple enough for a child to understand and funny enough to make an adult laugh.  I love the feeling of all cylinders firing while writing a poem.  When its flowing, it flows out of me like water.  I have no idea where it comes from, my brain, my heart.  Wherever, it makes me, an adult, laugh. 

If you had to give advice to an aspiring writer, what advice would you give?  

Write it down.  If you think of an idea or a line at 2:30 in the morning, get up and write it down, because it may not be there in morning.  Ask questions.  Don’t be afraid to cold call or send a note to your favorite writers and heroes, the worst thing they can tell you is “NO”.  You will never know until you try.  Use social media, I know its scary to put yourself out there, but you can reach the world with your writing in one key stroke.     

 

Living On The Edge

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This time, instead of doing the usual interview questions, I thought I would do something a little different as this young rodeo competitor, Zakk Tompkins of On The Edge rodeo apparel, has quite a story to tell. You can find Zakk and his brand on Twitter at @OnTheEdgeRodeo . Check out his  unique brand on his website at On The Edge apparel.

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I’m a 23-year-old cowboy, entrepreneur and freelance writer born and raised in central,IL.

Running both a full service equine facility, and an apparel company, keeps me fairly busy! Average days consist of feeding and caring for the 18 horses we have on site providing full board, training and lessons. Whether it be cleaning stalls, fixing fence or working colts my days are filled with these chores for the most part.

We currently do about 20 lessons a week with folks of all ages. Lessons are western riding ranging anywhere from complete beginner to those wishing to compete in rodeo. The latter is perhaps the most important part to me and the motivating factor in continuing even during tough times.

As a young kid, like many others I wanted to be a cowboy. Although I didn’t fully understand all that the lifestyle and job entailed, I knew wanted to be a part of this amazing subculture. Unfortunately, I was already committed to competing in wrestling and martial arts.

I began training Muay Thai with my dad at age two, as he had competed professionally prior to my birth. I vividly remember religiously watching episodes of Walker Texas ranger and then having to “Walker fight” my dad after each show. This consisted of him being the bad guy and me of course playing the part of Chuck Norris. By about 4 years old, my cut kicks were leaving sizeable welts on my dad’s legs which apparently was a green light to further my training.

As the years went on my training continued. I began to compete across the country at national events. Although I loved the sport and travel, I always wanted something a little different. I just wasn’t sure what.

School work and sports came easy. I had many friends and a seemingly happy home life. Yet, even though I was only twelve, I was slowly loosing myself, slowly dying. As fear, doubt, and anger consumed me, I fell into a deep depression.

I don’t tell you this to make you feel sorry for me, I tell you this because I want everyone to see and realize that depression is a biological disease. One that does not discriminate between race, gender or socio-economic status.

The ridicule at school became nearly unbearable. I was withdrawn and depressed and couldn’t explain why. Being someone who relied on logic, the feelings of sadness and anger being inexplicable were totally unacceptable to me. No matter what I got or how good life was, I was depressed. Coming home only to lay under a blanket in total isolation. Weight gain and self loathing followed. I allowed the symptoms of the disease to consume me.

This was a mistake that at the time I wasn’t aware I was making, and had no idea how to combat it. As the symptoms worsened, I finally spoke with a professional. In the midst of getting the help I needed, things continued to worsen.

At age 13, I left a suicide note and ran away from school. I will never forget every detail of the steps I took that day. I was found very shortly by my father who had been contacted by authorities. As he eased my mind and convinced me to come home I felt some relief. I was admitted to a local mental health facility where I spent three agonizing days. Help was not immediate and it took years and personal dedication to make any headway.

Although I still suffer often from depression, I have found one of the greatest God-given coping mechanisms – purpose via horses.

One thing that drove me to get help from day one was that I knew others, who were less fortunate than me, were suffering the same as I was. As I slowly dropped out of traditional sports and grew older, I found various ways of becoming involved with horses.

I began dating a girl from school my freshman year who had a few Haflingers and was involved in Pony Club. Although English wasn’t my first choice for riding, it was my only option. My girlfriend at the time began teaching me to care for and ride the horses they had. Before long, I was volunteering full time at a local barn. I worked seven days a week doing the worst jobs you can find on a farm. I did this as a way to afford lessons.

I spent every free moment watching people ride and train, learning what I could. I watched and read everything I could get my hands on. Eventually, I got a paying job as a glorified stall boy at another local barn and took the horse I had purchased there. After about a year and working with several other trainers in both cutting and pleasure, I began leasing the property and running Westbrook Stable. This is the full service facility I now run.

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When I took over, it was a small operation providing boarding only with about 8 clients a month. Over the past three years, it has grown to 18 horses, a lesson program and training.

Having struggled through the grind to get where I am, I wanted to find a way to give back. We began a rodeo team for youth and adults that provides all the necessary equipment, knowledge and connections at the most affordable rate possible. It is amazing how many young lives we have been able to touch, and honestly is better than any medicine I’ve ever been prescribed. It took a combination of correcting the chemical imbalance, professional therapy and a LOT of self-help.

My girlfriend and I now compete in rodeos across the Midwest in barrel racing and tie down roping respectively. And yes, we are seeking sponsors!

This eclectic background is what drove me to start my apparel company called On The Edge. I wanted a brand that represented a lifestyle. I began designing apparel with a message. The message was simple – Lose the fear and doubt, live on the edge and chase your dreams! The brand is still small, but is gaining steady business we sport my brand and travel the rodeo circuit.

As last year was my rookie year in IPRA, I had a lot of tough times and lessons to learn. I’m now practicing harder than ever. In tempo with my usual MO, my goals for this year are sky-high, yet attainable. I am currently working to gain sponsors as well as preparing myself to chance to compete in RFD Tv’s The American. I will also be part of a six shooter series put on by a popular stock contractor on the IPRA circuit and am looking forward to a chance at winning the series and buckle.

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If any one person can take an ounce of motivation from my story of struggle and perseverance, then it has all been worth it. My personal strategy every time I back in the box is to improve on ONE predetermined area of my roping during that run. Perfection is great but only comes after the building blocks are set in place. With that in mind, I don’t expect to be perfect.

My pastor, Jason Schifo was a major factor in my mindset. After hours and hours of talking with him, I finally realized that perfection wasn’t ever going to happen. It was beyond my control. What was in grasp of my control was the proper mindset, and remembering to get better with each and every run to the best of my ability. Leaving it all in the arena, one run at a time.

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Talking With Shanna Hatfield & Learning about Justin Cowboy Crisis Fund

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This week we are chatting with Pendleton Petticoats romance series author Shanna Hatfield. She’s quite an entertaining author to interview and one that I think many rural folks can relate to.

From Nov. 7-Dec. 24, Shanna will be donating 10% of the net proceeds from all her book sales to the Justin Cowboy Crisis Fund which is a fund to help injured cowboys. Shanna is also hosting a Facebook Party with prizes this week. I’ve listed the details at the end of the interview along with ways to in

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What is it like to live in your boots for a day?

Day to day, I treat my writing like a career, even though I work from home. I get up early, respond to emails, post to my blog and social media outlets then try to get in some exercise before I get ready for the day. After that, I generally spend the rest of the day in my office writing or editing. Some days I put in as many as twelve hours if I’m in the writing “mode.” My husband, Captain Cavedweller, refers to the mode as the times when I’m so involved in a story I forget about everything else like fixing dinner and making sure he has clean socks. On days when I’m editing or working on promotions, I like to cook and often experiment with recipes (you can find my latest and greatest culinary adventures at savvyentertaining.com) I’ve also gotten into western photography recently. My niece kindly provides much of my subject matter with her horses and cattle.

 Are you a full time writer?

A little more than a year ago, I quit my job in the corporate world to pursue writing full time. My comfortable boots replaced the high heels I wore every day and I love every minute of my new life. I know I am very blessed and fortunate to be able to get up every morning excited to work at something I love so much. I don’t regret a minute spent pursuing my dreams.

 What role do horses play in your life and your books? Any good horse stories? 

I grew up on a farm with cattle, horses, and an older brother who worked on remote ranches next door to nowhere. Between the stories he’d bring home when he’d come to visit and the fact I always had a horse to ride, horses and cowboys play a big role in both my historical and contemporary sweet western romances.

I’ve got many horse stories, but one my family feels compelled to tell everyone happened when I was four with a red pony named Dynamite. I wanted to spend every waking moment with the pony. One afternoon, while I was supposed to be taking a nap, I snuck outside and around to the room where we kept the tack. I couldn’t carry my little saddle, but I managed to get the bareback pad and drag it out to Dynamite’s pasture. I slid it on his back and tightened the cinch then led him by the halter over to a stump so I could climb on. Things went along fine for the first few minutes as he walked around then he let out a big breath and the pad started to slide. By the time my mother realized I was missing and made a beeline out to the pasture, I was clinging upside down to the pad with my head dangling beneath Dynamite’s belly. After that, Mom put quite a damper on my horse-riding adventures.

What made you decide to donate a portion of your proceeds to the Justin Cowboy Crisis Fund? 

When I was researching details for the first book in the Rodeo Romance series, The Christmas Cowboy, I learned about the Justin Cowboy Crisis Fund through Rick Foster, program director of the Justin Sports Medicine Team. In the book, my hero, Tate Morgan, is a saddle bronc rider who gets hurt at the national finals rodeo. Trying to get all the details right is what led me to JCCF. It’s such a great organization. JCCF is a non-profit organization that assists rodeo athletes who sustain catastrophic injuries and are unable to compete for an extended period.  I’m on a blog tour all this week with the Cowboys and Christmas tour to kick off a promotion I’m doing with the Justin Cowboy Crisis Fund. Now through Dec. 24, I’ll donate ten percent of the net proceeds from all my book sales to the Justin Cowboy Crisis Fund.

 What inspires you to write the stories that you write? What is your muse? 

I find inspiration everywhere – even standing in line at the grocery store. My over-active imagination rarely shuts down. Captain Cavedweller is a great sounding board and I most always come up with story ideas when we go for a drive. There’s something about forcing him to be a captive audience, trapped in a vehicle with no escape, that gets the ol’ creative juices flowing.

 Do you have any particular writing rituals? 

As a visual person, before I start writing a new story, I gather photos of people who are my ideal of the characters. If the characters have pets (dogs, horses, cats), I try to find photos of those along with landscapes, house plans, anything that helps me visualize the story and my characters.

Any parting words of wisdom for those looking to be published writers? 

Never give up on your dreams! You can do it!

 If you’d like to find out more about Shanna’s books see below — you’ll notice she has a Facebook Party coming up soon with prizes! 

You’re Invited to a PARTY!

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 You’re invited to join in the online Cowboys & Christmas Facebook Party Thursday, Nov. 13 from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. (PST). Drop in anytime during those four hours to enter to win great prizes, chat with guest authors, and more! Here’s the link to the party:  http://tinyurl.com/cowboychristmasparty

Enter to Win Prizes!

As part of the blog tour, I’m giving away some exciting prizes. To enter the drawing for an Amazon gift card, autographed books, chocolates, original western artwork, and more fun goodies, fill out this form. http://tinyurl.com/cowboychristmasprizes

Find Shanna’s books at:

Amazon | Amazon UK | Barnes & Noble | Smashwords | Apple

Follow Shanna online:

ShannaHatfield | Facebook | Pinterest | Goodreads | You Tube | Twitter

Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/Shanna-Hatfield/e/B0056HPPM0

Amazon UK: http://www.amazon.co.uk/Shanna-Hatfield/e/B0056HPPM0/ref=sr_ntt_srch_lnk_1?qid=1391485546&sr=8-1

Barnes & Noble: http://www.barnesandnoble.com/c/shanna-hatfield

Smashwords: https://www.smashwords.com/profile/view/shannahatfield

Apple: https://itunes.apple.com/us/artist/shanna-hatfield/id450458896?mt=11

Website: http://shannahatfield.com

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/AuthorShannaHatfield

Pinterest: http://www.pinterest.com/shannahatfield/boards/

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/4981400.Shanna_Hatfield

You Tube: https://www.youtube.com/user/ShannaHatfield?feature=watch

Twitter: https://twitter.com/ShannaHatfield

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Talking With Ceri Dickinson With Pure Essence Photography

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This time we talk with UK photographer Ceri Dickinson of Pure Essence Photography. Not only does she live and love the horse life, she has a fantastic eye for capturing the moment. I think you’ll love seeing her work and finding out more about what makes her tick.
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Tell us what a day in your life is like.  
A day in my life can be very different depending on which day you catch me! I work as assistant manager on a livery and hunting yard so, on a work day, it’s up early to do my horses and then off to work.  Work can involve anything from a lot of mucking out to schooling a horse, teaching a client or getting hunters ready for action.

On a photography day I will (again) be up early to see to my horses and then prepare for the shoot.  It’s really important that all my gear (and back up gear) is in good working order and ready to go – batteries will be fully charged the day before.  I also like to spend a little time reading through the booking form the Client’s fill in so that I can get a feeling of who they are and what kind of shots they are going to like.

On a day off it gets really boring – that’s when I have to catch up on the paperwork side of the business and do my housework! If I’m really lucky I might squeeze in a bit of free time to do some “just for fun” photography.

Are you a full time photographer? 
No, I’m part time. In all honesty I’m not sure I would want to be full time.  As much as I love photography I also love working with horses.

I tried to leave a couple of times but ended up going back!  I’m very lucky with the job I have now as it allows me a balance.  Horse jobs are generally all consuming, they are not a job, they are a way of life and I always accepted that.  I never thought I would find a way to be able to do both horses and photography but I have an arrangement with my current employers that I work 3 days a week in summer and 5 in winter, which leaves me with enough time to do both!  I’m a lucky girl!

What types of photography are you most known for? 
I like all kinds of photography and particularly enjoy a bit of landscape or macro photography when I’m just having fun but Pure Essence is all about lifestyle portraits.
What led you to that type of photography and what inspires you when you’re behind the camera? 
What first drew me to photography was landscapes. I love the outdoors and was constantly disappointed with my inability to capture the scale and beauty of nature on my little compact camera so I decided to go and learn how.  I never intended to get hooked! I thought I would stick with my (decent) compact and just learn to use it better – how wrong I was!

At first I hated portrait photography, I thought it was too posed and false and there was too much airbrushing (no, it’s not just for celebs) the finished photo often looked nothing like the person once all their imperfections were removed.  Then, one day, I was at a competition with a friend and was snapping a few pictures of her horse.  I decided I would try not to attract her attention and grab a few candid shots.  I loved the results, I fell in love with the idea of photographing relationships and moments.  This technique is the aim of all my shoots whether with animals, children or couples  I always want to put them at ease, make them laugh and then capture the real them.

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What role do horses play in your life & in your photography? Any good horse stories? 
Horses are a huge part of my life. I have tried to get away from them a couple of times but I’m always drawn back.  I have worked in many different areas and have some amazing memories….. grooming at the European Eventing Championships, competing at the BD National Championships, seeing horses I’ve backed and produced go on to have wonderful, happy lives.  I think one of my favourite moments was riding a pretty sharp, 14.3hh, 6 year old who had been bred by the people I worked for and backed and produced by me to 8th place in the BD Novice Winter Championships.  It wasn’t the rosette that made me happy, I was just so proud that the little horse went into that scary arena with all the people and stands, etc and trusted me enough to get on with his job.  Moments like that make all the hard work worth it!
What is the most favorite photograph you’ve taken and why? 
My favourite photo is one from that first day when I was taking pictures of my friend and her horse at a show. Barnaby (Hailstone Hero) was a horse I had produced and sold, I kept in touch with his new owner and she became a good friend.  I took this picture of Barnaby as he was tied at the side of the lorry, there are things I could have done better and things I would change given a chance but I love this photo as Barnaby’s personality just shines out of it.  His owner has a framed copy in her home.
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How can readers find out more about your work? 
I am based in Yorkshire but am willing to travel to any area of the country with a travel fee, if you can organise a group of 4 or more of you at any one yard I would waive any travel costs.

My website is www.pureessencephotography.co.uk I apologise for the lack of updates on my blog – I’m a terrible blogger but there are plenty of examples of my work there.

My facebook page is https://www.facebook.com/puressencephotography or you can follow me on twitter @PureEssPhoto

Any parting words of wisdom for people that want to pursue their passion?
Do it! Always do it, but be ready to give it everything you’ve got and expect disappointments along the way!

Talking With Equine Photographer Anna Kemp

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This time we chat with Equine Photographer Anna Kemp who lives in the UK. She’s a horse gal with a fantastic eye for capturing just the right moment in photographs. I think you’ll enjoy finding out more about this budding photographer and seeing her work.

 

  • Tell us a little bit about what a day in your life is like.

 

Since we are still enjoying the summer holidays here, a day in the life at the moment typically involves horses, horses, and more horses! (And the occasional sleep in…) I spend as much time as I can with my own horse, Freddie, schooling and hacking out when the lovely English weather permits. When I’m not at the yard you can usually find me volunteering at my local RDA, or out on a shoot! I attend local equestrian events and travel to different yards around the area when people ask me to do a shoot. This will soon begin to change however as I embark on my final year of A-levels – scary stuff! There’s a lot of studying to come but I hope to still be able to fit this around my riding and photography!

 

  • Are you a full time photographer? If you work at another job tell us about that as well.

 

I am unable to pursue photography as a full time profession as of yet since I am still a student, however, I do conduct shoots for people and their horses all over my area for a small fee – we all have to start somewhere, right? As mentioned previously, I also volunteer at my local RDA yard as often as I can which is an extremely rewarding experience when I get to share the joy on the rider’s faces when they get to trot for the first time, or go for a walkabout on their special pony outdoors! In the future I hope to be able to combine my passion for writing, photography and, of course, horses to be able to work for an equestrian publication.

 

  • How did you get into photography?

 

For as long as I can remember, my dad has enjoyed photography as a hobby so my interest was probably sparked by him! I got my first little Kodak camera at the age of about six and it could only take up to twenty photos at a time – though I never let that stop me! From that moment on, wherever I went, the camera went. Just over a decade and several cameras later and I’m onto my first bridge camera which I got for my 16th birthday (Canon SX40 – DSLRs still terrify me a little bit!) From a young age I have also entered some of my work into an annual local agricultural show and always enjoy learning from other people’s expertise there!

 

  • Out of all the pictures you’ve taken what is your favourite and why?

 

I think my all time favourite photo has to be one taken when I was still taking riding lessons and helping out at the yard, about two or three years ago. I had brought along my little pink Lumix to take some snaps of the horses and, on passing my all-time favourite ride, a 14.2 Welsh D named Topper; I decided this would be an ideal opportunity to practice the elusive macro mode! He stood there calmly as could be as I came right up close to his cheek to try and get a good shot of his eye – this was something I’d often seen in equine artistry and websites and the like, so I wanted to replicate the style as best I could! An Old English proverb states that the ‘eyes are the windows to the soul’ and I think this is part of the reason why I ended up loving this photo so much and why an edited, more cartoon version of the image is the hallmark of Hoofprints. Particularly since Topper still is one of the greatest horses I’ve ever had the fortune to meet, this photo will always hold a special place in my heart!

 

  • What role do horses play in your life and in your photography? How do they inspire you?

 

Horses have played a huge role in my life for approaching ten years now and last year my sister and I decided to take the leap from taking lessons and helping out at our yard once a week, to loaning our own horse. We have now found Freddie, or ‘Fantasy Feeling,’ a handsome TB gelding who we have on part loan 3 days a week; though through these summer months it has tended to work out more often than that (we’re not complaining!). He enjoys dressage and together I hope that we can attend some local competitions next season!

 

The work of Monty Roberts and Kelly Marks is of particular interest to me and so I try to incorporate their techniques and advice wherever possible. A special friend gave me ‘Perfect Confidence’ for my 11th birthday and was even lucky enough to be able to include a postcard of Pie signed by Kelly! I think it was at that moment I knew that I wanted to be involved with Intelligent Horsemanship. Next summer I hope to attend one of the Intelligent Horsemanship courses to expand my knowledge of their amazing concepts further.

 

I also attend as many equine events as possible, including HOYS in 2012 and Blair Horse Trials last year – I’m delighted to say I am able to return to both for 2014! Events like these also provide a great opportunity to practice my photography and it was from this, as well as taking photos of my friends and their horses, that inspired me to set up Hoofprints. For me there is no greater joy than being able to capture the beauty of horses, whoever they are and wherever they come from, to enjoy at any time at all!

 

  • How can people find out more about your work? List your website, blog, facebook, twitter, etc.

 

FACEBOOK: facebook.com/hoofprintsep

INSTAGRAM: hoofprints_ep

 

TWITTER: @hoofprintsep

 

  • Any parting words of wisdom for those that are interested in becoming a photographer?

 

Work hard – and don’t give up! I realise that probably couldn’t sound more cliché but it’s the best advice I can honestly give. Showcase your work wherever you can, gather critique and keep practicing! It doesn’t matter what kind of camera or software you have, providing you know how to use it. There are many free editing websites out there as well as video tutorials on how to get the best from your camera which can be extremely helpful. Don’t forget it is usually the smallest, most simple things that can make the biggest difference!

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Talking With Maureen Gregory…

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This week we talk with fellow Solstice Publishing author and horsewoman Maureen Gregory. I think you’ll enjoy getting to know her, especially since she’s a fellow horse lover, loves animals and has a great sense of humor!

Tell us about where you live & what your day to day life is like.

I live in rural England in an area known as the Peak District, with my husband Chris and a collection of creatures great and small. Our home is a very old stone farmhouse, we can only date it back 400 years, but it is older than that. The lounge has old oak beams, the main one was off a ship apparently! There is a stone fireplace, in the winter the fire is blazing, but today, it is hot and sunny.

When I am writing I sit at an oak table with the window behind me. As I have two small dogs and one cat there is always one of them curled up on the chair and one in my lap. The only problem is when Minty (the cat) decides to walk over the keyboard.

My routine is dictated by the weather! If it is lashing down with rain/snow/hail or blowing a gale I get my outside chores done as quickly as possible, come in, light the fire, have breakfast and begin writing. However, if the weather is ok, I like to ride my horses, and potter about outside. At the risk of sounding a bit bonkers I confess to spending hours sitting with my two pet sheep – Rambo & Sweep, just chilling out and pondering on this and that. I then look at my watch, shriek “OMG where has the time gone!” and rush back into the house.

Tell us about your horses and what you do with them.

I have two horses Apollo and Jassmin. Apollo is a Welsh Cob, chestnut with a flaxen mane and tail. He is twenty now and still very lively. We do dressage competitions together, but our favourite is dressage to music. He loves it. We recently won a dressage to music championship, despite the speakers to the main arena breaking down just as we started our test. I couldn’t hear a thing, but Apollo could, and I just followed his lead.

Jassmin is a ten year old coloured Gypsy Cob, she has blue flecks in her eyes, long white eyelashes and a long flowing mane. On a recent hack a little girl shouted out “Oh look that horse has angel hair!” She also has silky white feathers.

My friend made a short promotional video to promote my novel, and it features Jassmin, looking very windswept. Although she is not typical of a dressage horse she has lovely light paces and does very well in competitions. Our favourite pastime is just hacking out along the many bridleways and lanes.

I also have the pleasure of owning Dylan the donkey. He is fifteen, very loveable and cheeky. Dylan doesn’t really do anything, he just is!!

Do you write full time?

I gave up a career in psychiatric nursing and mental health counselling to renovate an old farmhouse. It took several years and after the work was completed I decided not to go back to that line of work. I felt as if I had moved on and things would not be the same if I went back.

I began to write short stories for magazines, with some success before I decided to concentrate on writing my debut novel. Also by that time I had added to my collection of fluffies and furries, paws and claws, so alongside assisting Chris with his paperwork I find my day is busy enough.

Here’s some info and a review on her book The Seventh Wave….

In the novel deceit, obsessive love, betrayal and murder are threaded alongside the fabric of normal life. Emma is convinced she has found the man of her dreams, until she suspects her lover may have a darker side. Was he a cold, calculated killer or a victim in someone else’s deadly game? Emma believes she will uncover the truth, but are some lies better left undiscovered?

Review: 

“Beware the Seventh Wave,” begins with Emma rushing to make it to a funeral. Things just haven’t been going her way for a long time. An early morning argument with her husband, Phil, left her feeling exhausted. She over slept and was running late. A quick breakfast from the local eatery drips on her clothing.  The weather is gloomy. To just top her day off, she scraps the side of her car trying to enter the cemetery lot.  Nothing is going right.
At the funeral, she knew she was going to be running into her ex-boyfriend and his wife, Mark and Alicia. She just wasn’t prepared for the reactions she was going to be experiencing. Seeing Mark brought back feelings that she tried so hard to suppress over the years. But what can you do when you are both married to someone else?
As we all do when we are trying to sort out our lives, Emma is conflicted with her feelings. Instead of checking into a hotel as she originally planned, she returns home to find what can be the most devastating thing ever. Walking in she finds what she’s hoping is a romantic event planned for her only to find her husband in the throes of passions with her friend Katie.
Totally in shock, Emma had the difficult task of trying to sort out her life. Does she fight for her husband and marriage? Does she give up and let the other woman win, again? Is she ready to restart her life all over again? Is there anyone in her life that she can actually trust?
It’s a phone call from Mark, a week after the funeral that sets Emma up for the most drastic and important event in her life. With her marriage failing, she willingly runs to Mark in hopes to help him in a time of need. But will the help that she offers Mark, help her find what she is missing in her?

How can people find your work? (List all your buy links & contact info — this is about promoting you!)

Buy Beware the Seventh Wave by Maureen Gregory on Amazon UK

Maureen Gregory’s Amazon UK Author Page

Book Trailer: Beware the Seventh Wave by Maureen Gregory

Maureen Gregory’s Website – www.maureengregorybooks.com 

Maureen Gregory’s Facebook Author Page

Link to Maureen Gregory on Goodreads

Twitter @MaureenMgregory

Profile name on LinkedIn: Maureen Gregory

 

Any parting words of wisdom for those writers looking to be published? 

If you think you can do it, or you think you can’t – you are absolutely right! It’s all in the mind-literally.

 Feel free to include comments, etc. 

Just a bit thank you for hosting me on your blog. Happy riding, writing & all the other things that make life worth while FJ!

Thanks again!

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