I started out a bit of a rebel. Mom says she put a harness on me one day when I was a toddler. I had a penchant for toddling off. Most toddlers do. Fearless, ignorant of danger and mobile, young children get into things—and out of places—they shouldn’t. So, on went the harness. For about five minutes.
That was how long I flailed on the sidewalk, outraged by this sudden, insulting limitation. Unable to plead, cajole, or threaten me into cooperation, she removed the harness, and I popped up on to my feet, happy, and ready and raring to go.
I still like the freedom to do my thing. I enjoyed a lot of that freedom growing up.
Mom wasn’t truly submissive (not even close!), and the harness episode aside, she kept a close handle on me, and my brother. Especially with regard to life, or morally-threatening things, like cigarettes, drugs, and hitchhiking. But riding my horses, or bike, or hanging out on the block with my friends… I had more freedom than even my children had growing up.
Weekends were best. My friend and I headed straight for the Horse Pen, the lower, flat part of the acreage I grew up on where I kept my horses (our house was up on a hillside). We’d catch, and brush the horses, and depending on the day and mood, we’d saddle and bridle, or just bridle, and off we’d go. Often with a packed lunch. There were acres and miles of unfenced meadows and country roads for us to explore. And an old gravel pit full of water for us to swim in—with the horses. Those were amazing days. They’re also the days I credit with helping build in me confidence to do things, on my own.
When my friend was away, or occupied with her family, I had the horses, and hours to myself. And I was never happier.
Long rides in quiet countryside. Sitting cross-legged on the grass, chewing on a stem, watching my horse graze. Plucking cockleburs from mane and tail; resting my cheek on my horse’s warm neck to admire the gleam and polish and silken feel of its coat after I’d curried and brushed it. The smell of the barn, and hay; those soft warm nuzzles as a questing nose searched for a carrot or bit of apple. I miss those days. And found a way relive the pleasure, and sense of confidence I found in owning and caring for a horse, through writing. And there’s never been a better time to be a writer.
I’m excited by the opportunities open to me, as a writer, and reader. Online sale and purchase options. Paper and e-reader options. Indie and traditionally published options. It’s like having a stable filled with horses, from the staid and sensible but wily old gelding, that if you can catch him, will get you safely where you want to go; to the spirited and green two-year-old that requires a lot of concentrated effort to train and get a saddle on, and even once you’re mounted, you still have a ton of work to do, and you can never let down your guard. That’s me. I’ve chosen the green horse. The one I have to wrangle and train …
I’m published in magazine and newspaper form: Canadian Living Magazine and The Vancouver Province. But I’m not published in book form. Which I intend to change this year, via Indie publishing.
I’m terrified. And excited. The same way I felt as a kid, galloping my horse, bareback, along wooded paths and over fallen logs. Fortunately, I have a history of resisting limitations; and of popping up ready and raring to go once they’re removed.
For me, the biggest limitation I’ve had to shed, is my fear of failure. Of falling, and getting hurt. Of doing It wrong. I felt the same way when my dad set me up on the two-year-old green gelding he bought from my grandparent’s neighbor. And I was justified in my fear.
Green riders should not begin their riding career on green horses. Especially green horses that are proud cut geldings (only half of the required equipment removed)—my first horse was not a gelding; it was a stallion. Yeehaw!
Fortunately, I survived that first ride. And the many that came after it, including the ones where I was bucked off, kicked at, and bit. It helped that Dad figured out the reason my gelding was so naughty, and had the problem fixed—for good. It also helped that I had no idea what to expect from a horse, so I rode what I had. And by the time I sold that horse, he was a well-trained and trustworthy mount. And I had learned. A Lot.
I’m not the fearless toddler I once was. I know too much. Like, despite the wealth of in-person and online resources available to me, how-to articles, freelance editors, and marketing gurus; the friends and colleagues who support and encourage me; the family who’s always had my back, this is my rodeo. My horse. My ride. And I expect to get kicked. Bit. Possibly bucked off. But I also expect, if I keep at it as I did with my horse (Dad threatened to sell him if I didn’t get over my fear and ride him) I’ll get stronger, more confident, and find my rhythm. I hope you’ll come along for the ride. You can. Just sign up for my newsletter, or these posts. Or just new book news. And when I’m ready to ride my first horse out of the barn, you’ll be one of the first to know. Bonus: if you enter before February 28th, you’ll enter a draw to win a shiny new novel, and a Starbucks gift card.
I used to tremble from nerves so badly that the only way I could hold my head steady was to lower my chin practically to my chest and look up at Bogie. That was the beginning of “The Look”. ~Lauren Bacall