THE GRULLA film script is an adaptation of my book, Lost Betrayal…..
LOGLINE FOR THE GRULLA –
A determined cowgirl enlists the help of a former bull fighter and drug addict in the search for her horse that is still mysteriously missing after a tornado destroys her ranch.
In 2014, my first book Lost Betrayal was released by Solstice Publishing. The tale of the lost horse, Houston was marketed as western romance – there is a good bit of romance between Sage and Garrett throughout the whole story – the truth is that this is a much bigger tale than a traditional romance. Considering the heart wrenching real life inspiration behind the story,that really doesn’t come as a big surprise.
I originally got the story idea for Lost Betrayal years ago when I was involved in shipping some vet supplies for large animals that were victims of hurricane Floyd in 1999 on the east coast. There was an aged stallion that had been rescued after a week in flood waters only to become blind from a reaction to a medication. That’s when I found out that large animals are often the last to be rescued, and the last to receive much needed veterinary supplies and food.
For years I worked on the story that at that time had no name. It haunted me and never would leave. Then in the spring of 2013, I was at the Fort Smith Barrel Futurity competing for the week when a large string of tornadoes hit Moore, Oklahoma just a few hours west.
At one point we were under a tornado warning there at the futurity grounds and were ushered into the main conference building while the storm raged just outside where our horses were stalled. Fortunately, we missed the bullet but let me tell you, for an east Tennessee gal that was scary!
We watched the news following the storm and saw the deadly destruction of homes and farms. The tornadoes had hit several large horse farms and there were massive piles of dead horses that had been killed by the storm.
We also heard reports of horses that were severely injured and missing, and horses that still needed rescuing. In fact, there was one horse that was missing that originally came from a family I knew very well in east Tennessee.
For some reason, the devastation felt closer, my heart ached for everyone that was impacted and it gave me the final push I needed to finish the story that had seeped into my bones a decade earlier.
Here’s the film synopsis for THE GRULLA…
THE GRULLA is the story of Sage Witherspoon who loses her best horse in a devastating tornado and the journeys they both take to eventually bring them back together. In the end Sage finds hope, and true love in the arms of Garrett Wade.
Already a reluctant and bitter widow in her mid- thirties, Sage is just getting her life back together when a tornado touches down destroying everything in its path including her family ranch in northern Georgia and the very horse that the ranch’s future hinges on. Refusing to believe her horse was killed in the storm and refusing to give up on the ranch, Sage begins the journey of rebuilding her life once again and searching for the horse that to her holds the past, and her future.
Houston is an odd name for a horse but he is named after Sage’s father who died not quite two years ago. The grulla colored horse garnered the name as Sage’s father said he’d never amount to anything even though the horse was the culmination of years of what he had tried to achieve in his breeding program. In that sense, the young stallion ironically represents her father’s dreams and one last chance to prove him wrong. With an uncanny athletic ability, the three-year-old stallion also represents Sage’s dreams of finally having a top contender barrel horse to put the ranch on the map.
Garrett Wade is a cowboy in his late thirties trying to forget the sordid past of his younger rodeo days. When he’s asked to help with the tornado rescue efforts, he meets Sage. Unfazed by her constant attempts to convince the world that she can do it all on her own, Garrett sees past all that to the real strength and vulnerability that lies beneath. The next thing he knows, he’s pulled along on a wild horse chase.
Eula Witherspoon, Sage’s mother, came to the ranch when she married Sage’s father and has lived on the Witherspoon Ranch her whole adult life. Although she was raised with horses, Eula wants nothing more than to live a glamorous life in the city. As the years passed, the ranch began to represent everything she couldn’t have in life. When the tornado destroys it all, Eula sees the opportunity to start over but only if she can convince Sage Houston has died and the ranch is done. Eula betrays her very own daughter to finally gain the life she dreams of.
The stage is set when Houston spooks and bolts from Sage into the storm. It’s then that Sage realizes that a tornado is coming their way. Sage runs to the house to warn her mother, and then returns to the barn to release the horses from their stalls before the tornado hits. Sage can’t save the last horse and must take cover in a freezer used for feed as the tornado levels the barn.
The tornado is the largest they have ever seen in that part of the country and the local folks immediately start a search and rescue effort with anyone willing to show up. That’s when Garrett gets a call from his friend, Herman Miller who asks him to come and help as they are overwhelmed the devastation.
The next day as the search efforts continue, Garrett finds Sage who is unconscious among the debris. With a little coaching, he wakes her up only to find his damsel in distress is somewhat rude and can’t remember a thing. It’s only after Sage accidently sees the mangled remains of the last horse she tried to save that she remembers what happened, and that’s when Garrett first sees the softer side of her that draws him in.
In the aftermath, Houston is still missing and injured and has wandered onto the property of a no-good horse trader, Arthur Gilliam. He can’t feed the animals he has and the last thing he needs is another mouth to feed, especially a stallion without papers. Arthur leaves the young horse to die in his pasture. Houston doesn’t die, and Arthur recognizes the brand on the horse’s hip as belonging to the Witherspoon ranch and calls Eula Witherspoon hoping for a reward. Instead she pays him to make the horse disappear.
Sage immediately starts the task of getting her ranch back in order, against her mother’s wishes. Eula tries to convince her daughter to give up, telling her, “You know, all your hopes for this place rested on that young horse and he’s gone now. It might be time to finally think about selling out.” Sage responds by reminding her mother of the last time she sold her out, and telling her she’s not going to sell.
While they’re in this heated discussion at what’s left of the ranch, Garrett shows up to check on Sage and help with clean up. It’s then that they get to know each other a little more, and Garrett offers to help with ongoing fence repairs.
Arthur’s greed gets the best of him as he realizes he can take Eula’s money and sell Houston to farrier and fellow trader, John Cobb. John has two sons, Benn and Jess. John finds out first hand Houston is dangerous. But just like Sage, he sees the young horse’s potential. He warns his two little boys, Ben and Jess, to stay away.
While Houston is getting settled in to his new home, Garrett shows up to work on Sage’s fence. Shortly after he arrives, Sage’s high school boyfriend and insurance agent, Nick stops in to bring bad news. There’s not enough money to completely rebuild, and Nick also attempts to get Sage to sell out but Sage stands her ground. Garrett also poses the question that maybe Nick is interested in more than just Sage’s insurance and wants to rekindle an old flame.
Back in Houston’s world, boys will be boys and they want to impress their father. Jess defies his father’s orders and gets too close to Houston who accidently kicks him in the head and kills him. In his grief, John grabs his gun and lines up Houston in his sights only to be stopped at the last minute by his youngest son Ben.
Garrett and Sage continue making progress on the ranch, and in true cowboy style Garrett surprises Sage with a picnic. It’s then that he asks her out on a date to the nearby horse sale where maybe she can find out if anyone has seen Houston.
Houston’s future drastically changes as John chunks him off at a horse sale and sells him to a pen hooker at the gate which happens to be a rodeo stock contractor, Travis Meyers. Travis wants the big horse for his bucking stock in the bid for the National Finals Rodeo.
Garrett and Sage finally go on their date and kiss for the first time. Both are somewhat taken aback by the fireworks between them, but Sage is over thinking the whole relationship and tells Garrett she wants more than just a fling. Garrett tells her to relax and stop overthinking. He’s not out for a one night stand.
While Garrett is trying to not act like a wayward stud, Travis has his ranch hands Sam and Pete geld Houston. Sam and Pete get Houston caught and hogtied, but in the middle of the removing the horse’s testicles, he kicks almost injuring both men.
Travis’ wife, Pam, also takes a liking to the big gray horse as a barrel prospect and she wants the horse just as bad as Travis. The problem is that Pam’s eyes are bigger than her horsemanship skills. She decides to ride the horse the very next day after gelding so he won’t buck as much but he still launches her into the dirt, head first. It’s then that Travis knows Houston is his ticket to the NFR finals.
Back at the Witherspoon Ranch, the house is almost finished. As Sage is checking out the progress of the house, she thinks she’s alone when suddenly Nick shows up. As he’s attempting to rekindle an old flame with Sage in his arms, Garrett shows up unexpectedly.
Garrett is full of rage and feels like a fool for even thinking he had a chance with Sage. He tries to leave but Sage begs him to stay and tells Nick to leave. The next thing you know, the two are passionately entwined in each other’s arms and almost to the point of no return. Against his nature, Garrett pulls back and tells Sage he doesn’t want to make love to her on a kitchen floor, he wants more than that.
Suddenly Garrett realizes part of the reason that he came to see her in the first place. He’s gotten a lead that Houston has wound up in the hands of Travis. Garrett used to work for Travis years ago. As Sage pushes for information, Garrett must reveal his sordid drug past to her and the fact that he had made a pass at Travis’s wife, which seriously jeopardizes their plans to get Houston back.
Sage and Garrett sneak their way into the rodeo to get a look at the horse they think is Houston. Sure enough, it is Houston but they’re caught by Travis who doesn’t want to give the horse up.
Travis knew someone would be looking for such a nice horse so he did his homework and is a little very happy to share what he’s learned. It’s then that Sage discovers Houston wandered on to Arthur’s property and the reason he was missing for so long was because Arthur had made a deal with her own mother to make him disappear so she’d give up the ranch.
Fortunately, Travis’ wife Pam sees dollar signs and a chance to make a buck. Against Travis’ protests she offers to sell the horse back to Sage for a decent sum of money. Sage doesn’t have the kind of money that Pam is asking but Garrett knows who he was dealing with and has brought the money. He pays the price so Sage can get her horse back.
Once Sage has her horse back home on the ranch, she only has one more hurdle to cross, confront her mother about her betrayal. Sage is too devastated and angry to face her mother and decides to stay with Garrett for a few hours to clear her head and get some rest.
When they arrive at Garrett’s quaint little cabin, the passion heats up and they finally consummate their relationship.
The next day it’s time to face reality again and Sage meets with her mother. When Sage finally confronts Eula, she sees her for who she really is and discovers Eula had arranged to sell to Nick from the very beginning. Sage offers to sell a few acres and release her to live her life.
The story ends with a happy little twist. No one knew that Houston had bred one of the mares that survived the storm. The surprise foal has just as much attitude as his sire.
The script is currently being submitted to film managers and agents. Inquiries can be sent to qheventer (at) yahoo.com . Also visit my page on IM Db Pro.
Love great western stories and a great cause?
WILD DEADWOOD TALES Anthology
Rodeos and romance, Old West adventure, and even a few ghostly tales. Deadwood’s wild past and exciting present come alive in seventeen original short stories written by USA Today and Amazon bestselling authors to benefit the Western Sports Foundation. Contributing authors: E.E. Elisabeth Burke, Zoe Blake, Paty Norman Jager, Teresa Keefer, Megan Kelly, Sylvia McDaniel, Amanda McIntyre, Peggy McKenzie, Angi Morgan, Nancy Naigle, Jacqui Nelson, Terri Osburn, Ginger Ring, Maggie Ryan, Lizbeth Selvig, Tina Susedik and A.C. Wilson
Proceeds from this limited edition collection go to benefit the Western Sports Foundation, an organization providing critical assistance to athletes competing in Western lifestyle sports. Whether they need help recuperating from an injury or planning for the future, WSF is there for them.
Here are the links to the book to prerorder at the various retailers. It is available May 1st.
The book will be available in ebook and print May 1st, and you can purchase autographed print copies at the PBR Rodeo in Deadwood, SD on June 8th and 9th.
She was his…and it was past time he staked his claim.
Jessamine Cooper was determined to stay independent and run her late uncle’s ranch on her own. When she shows up in Deadwood with an ill-advised plan to win the money she needs playing poker, Cash decides it is past time for him to stake his claim.
A friendship that never died.
Calamity Jane is drawn back to Deadwood by a force more powerful than death, and becomes an unexpected savior in the midst of an epidemic.
Everyone deserves a chance.
When a miner tosses his daughter into the pot at a poker game and the winner is a brothel owner, Beau Gentry is determined to keep the young woman out of the man’s hands.
THE GAMBLER AND THE PREACHER’S DAUGHTER
Can a preacher’s daughter play poker with a gambler and win?
Leticia Chasteen was always getting dragged into situations she didn’t want to be in. Rusty McGraw the gambler was always coming to her rescue. Who will end up with the winning hand?
A RISKY PROPOSAL
He loves her. She loves him. A proposal should be good news, right?
Callie Jones never wanted to date a bull rider. Now she’s fallen in love with Rome Anderson, who’s intent on winning the PBR Championship buckle. When he asks her to marry him, she has to decide: Does she break his heart with a no or doom her future with a yes?
LOVE ACROSS TIME
Is it possible to love someone in another time? Are dreams real?
Sadie Mae Miller is hanging up her barrel racing crown and beginning a new life. But when her grandmother asks her to sleep under a new wedding ring quilt with promises of visions of the love of her life, she doesn’t quite believe her. Until she falls asleep. Only problem is, he lived in 1880. Does time separate the lovers?
ONCE UPON A DEADWOOD DREAM
Sometimes to find your future you must face the past.
Past and present meld together in Deadwood when a woman who discovers true love must fight to escape a deadly twist of fate.
Sometimes, love is hiding in the most peculiar places.
Major Lucas Hamilton, widower and father of four boys, insists on the disciplined order of a regimented household. But when a bumbling young woman falls at his feet, will he take a chance on her or send her packing before she burns his house down to the ground.
Teenage crush or true love. You decide.
Sean Maverick is on a charity auction block until a beautiful woman from his past buys him for the night. Em Stone believed in love at first sight even if she had to lasso and knock Sean off his feet.
TIMING IS EVERYTHING
Always a bridesmaid, never a bride? Never say never.
Kendra is fine with being a bridesmaid. She hung up her wedding hopes and dreams eight years ago when her cowboy chose the rodeo over her, but when these two cross paths in Deadwood it looks like the timing just might be right for a reconciliation.
In a gold rush storm, can an unlikely pair rescue each other?
Raven wants to save one person. Charlie wants to save the world. Their warring nations thrust them together but duty pulled them apart—until their paths crossed again in Deadwood for a fight for love.
AFTER THE FALL
When it comes to love, sometimes falling is the easy part.
Aspyn Fielding blames Tucker Stargill for not talking her brother, Colt, out of riding bulls. When Colt is gravely injured during a ride, Aspyn is hopeful Tucker will finally see things her way, but Aspyn is the one who has a change of heart.
Finding the perfect results from one simple test.
Orphaned at a young age, both Adam and River yearn to find a living relative from either of their families. After finally deciding to put down roots in Deadwood, a simple DNA test brings a result that is more than they ever expected.
A GIFT OF GOLD
There may be gold in the Black Hills, but Bennett had his eyes on a far more valuable prize.
Not one to be deterred by the dictates of society, Lorelai Samuels had a dream to open a restaurant in the bustling new town of Deadwood and no one was going to stand in her way, especially not the infuriatingly handsome and stubborn Bennett Redding.
GOTTA HAVE FAITH
Win or lose, she’s about to take on the big boys.
Faith “Rabbit” Redmond forms an extreme plan at the Deadwood rodeo to convince a champion bull rider that women can excel at the dangerous sport. If she wins his respect, she might also win his love. .
THE SCHOOL MARM
Can a schoolmarm with dreams of a better life, fall for a disreputable man?
Suzanna Lindstrom travels as a schoolmarm in fledgling Deadwood. Having left her parents’ struggling farm, she dreams of a better life in Deadwood with a man who’s struck it rich in the gold fields. Fresh off the stagecoach, she meets Kingston Winson, whom she disregards as disreputable. Is he who she thinks he is? What lesson will she learn?
Tricks inspire courage and new love while daring others to dream.
Pushed to choose a direction for her life, Tandi discovers that some crossroads are necessary. Surprisingly, each marker leads her to an arena of spectators with her talented horse and a handsome guy who gives her hope to do the impossible.
Earlier this year, I found out about female Saddle Bronc rider, Kaila Mussell.
The fact that she rides Saddle Bronc is pretty impressive in itself, but the fact that she’s come back from a broken neck is a clear witness to the strength that she has on the inside. She’s a phenomenal athlete and I think she’s someone who exhibits the strength and toughness we all aspire to.
What was it that made you decide you wanted to try riding broncs?
I started off in rodeo, barrel racing at 11, and steer riding at 12. I did well at both events, however I got more of a rush out of riding steers and wanted to stay in the roughstock events. When I became too old to ride steers, my initial inclination was to ride bulls, however my dad convinced me otherwise. I’m glad he did, as at that point I knew of some women who have ridden bareback broncs and bulls, but didn’t know any women who rode saddle bronc in the modern style of saddle bronc riding. It turned into a more prestegious goal for me then, becoming the first woman to do so. At that time, my brother also wanted to ride broncs, so we both went to some bronc riding schools together to learn.
How did you feel the first time you rode an actual bronc out of the chute?
That was so long ago, and I’m pretty sure that I blacked out. When I was first learning that happened a lot, and even when I rode I couldn’t remember what happened. Eight seconds happens pretty quick, however over time and practice that short time (8 seconds) slows down, and when everything is happening right, it feels like all your movements are in slow motion.
When you decided to actually compete the first time, how did you feel? What were some of your thoughts & fears and how did you overcome those?
I was pretty nervous the first time I completed. I did, however grow up breaking colts since I was 10, so I already had alot of exposure to riding horses that bucked, and I already had rodeo experience, although not in saddle bronc. Most of my thoughts would have been related to not wanting to being a “failure” and get bucked off, not wanting to look like a “girl” out there, or scared that I wouldn’t be accepted because I was a girl. I really wanted to be accepted and to show others that I was just as capable as other bronc riders. Nowadays my attitude on all of these feelings has been completely turned around, however at that point in time that is definitely what I thought.
You broke your neck last year. Tell us a little about that.
I broke my neck on April 5, 2014 at a BCRA rodeo in Barriere, BC. I got bucked off and landed on my head and kind of rolled onto the right side of my neck and shoulder. I felt a shooting pain down the my right arm, and what felt like a crunch, but I chalked it up to a concussion, because other than being pretty sore, that’s what it felt like. I drove home that night, which was a couple of hours away and didn’t go to the hospital. The next day I was talking to my brother who is a doctor (GP), and he convinced me that I should go get it checked out because I was supposed to be flying to Hawaii the next day for a family vacation. I went to the hospital more so to eliminate anything being wrong with me, because I didn’t want to chance having high medical bills in another country. I happened to be picking up a friend at the airport that day and decided to stop in at VGH (Vancouver General Hospital) which is the only spinal unit in BC. I’m happy that I did. They took the injury very seriously and put me on a backboard and in a neck brace. Multiple x-rays, CT and MRI later I was told that I broke my neck in 2 places on the right side of C6, and that I wouldn’t be going anywhere. I wore a brace for a couple of weeks until they realized my neck wasn’t healing properly. Immediately thereafter I went in for surgery and ended up getting a fusion between C5-C7, and two of my disks replaced by part of my right hip bone.
When did you decide to start riding again after that and why? Was riding the first time after your injury different from what it was like before?
While I was healing from a broken neck I was faced with all sorts of thoughts and decisions about what my future would be. After weighing all the facts, talking to my surgeon and hearing everyone elses often unwanted “opinions” on what I should do with my life, I dug deep down and realized that my passion for bronc riding was still there. At minimum I wanted to come back to riding if only to end on my own terms. I waited a full year after my injury to completely heal to ride again. My first ride back was on a “practice” bronc, a day prior to Williams Lake, BC Indoor Rodeo where I was to be competing for the first time after breaking my neck. The bronc “Starbucks”, was a horse I was familiar with and I had ridden a few times in the past. I managed to get her rode, but it wasn’t pretty and got off on the pickup man. It definitely was a huge relief to get that one out of the way, as I came away without injury! From there, the major fear was gone, and I was back to the swing of things.
How was it different?
The main difference with coming back riding after such a major injury, was that I appreciated the opportunity of being able to ride again. I’ve noticed this year that I’ve had a lot more fun, not taken things as seriously as I have in the past, and enjoyed the whole journey of riding broncs in all aspects of the experience both outside and inside the arena. I also managed to win the year-end season leader saddle for the BCRA (BC Rodeo Association) in the saddle bronc. So overall, my comeback has been amazing!
How do you stay mentally tough?
I think pretty positive on a regular basis. When I don’t, I remind myself why I’m doing this, focus and look at the bigger picture. I read inspirational/self-help books, say positive affirmations to myself and post them around me. As well, journaling has been a huge help in focusing on my goals, seeing where my mindset is, noticing things that may have helped in the past that can help me now, and/or seeing how far I have come and being able to acknowledge this.
What is that motivates you to keep going?
This is a really hard thing to describe what motivates me, as only a small amount of this can be put into words. Motivation is more of a feeling, a passion that can’t be described. I’m driven to do it, in part because I love the sport, the lifestyle, the challenge, the adrenaline and excitement of the sport. To a large part these days I am motivated by seeing how much I inspire others to pursue their dreams by doing what I do.
What is your fitness routine to stay in shape to ride?
My fitness routine varies throughout the year depending on my work and rodeo schedule. On a regular basis I strength train (primarily core training) 3 days a week (30-40 mins), do cardio (primarily jogging) 3 days a week (4 miles), and yoga (1 hour) 1-2 days a week as well. This may be alternated with other physical activities such as hiking, biking, MMA training or otherwise.
As for eating, I have had a lot of structured strict diets over the years. I now find that its easier to eat well on a regular basis and stay active than to go to extremes. I really don’t deny myself any foods, however less healthy alternatives I eat in moderation. On a daily basis I do eat a high amount of protein, stick to whole, unprocessed foods, and eat small amounts throughout the day rather than eating large meals. Mind you, when you are on the road, it is sometimes hard to eat well or regularly. I try to always pack lots of water and healthy snacks in case this happens.
Any words of wisdom for anyone that wants to ride broncs, or anyone that wants to rodeo in general?
Set clear goals of what you want. Be willing to learn and put in the time and effort into what you do. The skills for your chosen event in rodeo will not come overnight, but with hard work and dedication it will all come together. Strive to constantly learn and improve.
What’s mandatory to be able to rodeo?
Mental and physical toughness, love of traveling, getting dirty,and performing under pressure, aside from investing a lot of money. Nothing in life is easy, but when things come together, it is all worth the effort. Rodeoing is a lot like gambling, the only thing you are in complete control of is your effort in your ride or run.
If you’d like to keep up with Kaila, you can keep up on her social media accounts –