This Blog is dedicated to the Noble and Great horses in our lives and throughout history. Visit the land of the unicorns in Behind The Mist, the horse lover's fantasy for pre-teens to adults.

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Thursday, December 1, 2016


Happy December! That means it is almost Christmas...YAY! I love Christmas. My husband is crazy about Christmas, too. He says the best thing, and maybe the only good thing, about having a horse-crazy wife is that it is easy to shop for Christmas gifts. All he has to do is get a gift card from the Dover Saddle Shop in our town of Parker, Colorado.

Here is my Christmas wish list:
1. Warm winter riding boots
2. Warm winter riding socks
3. Warm winter riding breeches
4. Warm winter riding jacket
5. Warm winter riding gloves

Do you see a pattern here?

If you need a gift idea for a horse-crazy kid or adult, pick an award-winning book from my website. I will autograph it and send it to you.  Click here:

May I suggest The Mist Trilogy for fantasy lovers ages 9 and up. You can buy the complete set for just $30 including shipping and handling! This is the story of the noble and great horses who are chosen to become unicorns when they die and the first boy who is allowed into their kingdom and trained to become a unicorn rider. As with all classic fantasy tales, central to the story is the struggle between good and evil. The evil takes the form of a power-hungry unicorn who no longer wants to serve the animals on earth. Rather, he wants to control and rule them. You'll love reading about the adventures and struggles.

Tuesday, November 15, 2016


My award-winning coming of age novel titled "In the Heart of a Mustang" was inspired by two things. First, I worked for several years for PATH International, the organization that trains and certifies  riding instructors to be able to work with not only disabled and handicapped people but also with at-risk youth. I heard many stories about the healing power of horses for teens who were struggling with life's challenges. Second, I have always been fascinated by the wild mustangs that run on public lands in the west. So, I decided to research more about them. The result of these two events in my life is the book: "In the Heart of a Mustang."

I want to share with you some of the things I learned researching information about the wild mustangs.

Our modern day Mustangs are descendants of the Spanish or Iberian horses brought to North America in the 1500's. They were first brought to the mainland by Cortez in 1519. Their name comes from the Spanish word "Mustango" which means "ownerless beast" or "stray horse." Over the centuries, these horses have bred with other types of horses including quarter horses and draft horses and others that got lost or were set loose. Based upon DNA testing, the Pryor Mustangs, found in the Pryor mountains of Wyoming and Montana have the purest bloodline back to the Iberian horses.

The Native Americans began using these horses for transportation while hunting, moving and at war with one another. The early pioneers liked them for their stamina and their sturdiness. Since the earliest days of their domestication, mustangs have been cross-bred with other horses including thoroughbreds.

Because mustangs are descendants of escaped domesticated horses, the wildlife management agencies consider them to be "feral" rather than "wild." To protect these historic animals, congress passed the "1971 Wild and Free-roaming Horses and Burros Act." This act gives responsibility for the management, protection and study of "unbranded and unclaimed horses and burros on public lands" to the Bureau of Land Management and the Forest Service. This act has been revised and amended over the years but, basically, it established lands upon which the horses may roam freely and set the "Appropriate Management Level" (AML) for the size of the herds. The AML is set at 26,715.

The act was passed to protect the dwindling herds. Since then, the size of the herds has exploded. A herd (or band) of mustangs can double in size in just four years. Obviously, this results in serious problems. As of March 2015, there were more than 58, 150 on-range horses and burros and another 47,000 being kept at holding facilities hoping for adoption at a cost to the taxpayers of $43 Million per year.

Solutions are not easy to come by. There are conflicting interests for the land. Ranchers want to run sheep and cattle. Energy companies want to drill for gas and oil. Builders want to develop shopping centers and neighborhoods. The Highway division wants to build roads.  In addition, several of the plots of land that have been set aside are not suitable for horses and they can not survive on it. Some plots of land have no water, others not enough forage.

As the herds get too large, what should be done? The law forbids the moving of large herds to land with smaller herds. So it isn't that easy.

Some people simply want nature to take its course...i.e.. Let the horses starve to death to decrease the herd size. I am not in favor of this solution.

Neutering stallions doesn't work for two reasons. First, it only takes one stallion to impregnate the whole herd. Second, it changes herd dynamics. Geldings become social outcasts.

The best two solutions, in my opinion, are using a mare contraceptive called PZP or PZP-22. These injections will work for a year or two respectively.

The other solution is a program started in 1973 called "Adopt-A-Horse." This has had some success and is the program I promote in my book, "In the Heart of a Mustang." Two problems with this, however, and why I think using PZP is necessary, is that, as noted above, there are already thousands of horses waiting for adoption and there simply aren't that many people qualified to adopt and train a wild horse.

There have been some success stories and great programs. The Chincoteague Ponies off the coast of Virginia have been stabilized using a combination of PZP and adoption. I realize it is a much smaller herd and a controlled environment, but it has worked for them.

Several programs have been developed that provide equine therapy for prisoners such as the Canyon City Prison Adoption Program (W.H.I.P) in Colorado and the Arizona Prison system Adoption Program.

But you don't have to be a convict or troubled youth to adopt! One organization that has promoted adoption is the Extreme Mustang Make-overs. They sponsor a contest each year in which trainers can adopt, train over a three month period, and sell, a mustang. For more information on their program go to their website:

You can also adopt right from the BLM. Go to this link:

If you are interested in reading "In the Heart of a Mustang," a book that will touch your heart, go to the website: 
It is also available on Amazon and for Kindles.

Literary Classics Awards said of this book: "In the Heart of a Mustang is one of the finest books ever written for teens and pre-teens."

Wednesday, November 9, 2016


Great News! is offering 3 free (as in really free!) copies of The Stone of Mercy. You must go to the link below and click on the box that says "Enter Giveaway" between November 9th and December 9th for a chance to win. It would make a great Christmas gift for yourself or a friend!

Click here:

Monday, October 31, 2016


Happy Halloween from unicorn Jazz!
(Jazz is the star of The Mist Trilogy)

Wednesday, October 5, 2016


I am sorry that I haven't written a post for over a month! I have been so busy with the October 1st release of my newest book. I'm excited about it and am sure you will enjoy it. "The Stone of Mercy-Book 1 of the Centaur Chronicles" is the first of a 4 book series about the land of Crystonia and the Centaurs, Cyclops, Ogres and little Deunde who inhabit it. Crystonia has been without a leader for a century and a half while the larger races battle for the throne. However, by tradition, the ruler will be the one who wears the Silver Breastplate. No one expected that the breastplate would be given to a young Duende girl, however. 

The Stone of Mercy received an excellent review from Feathered Quill and they followed up the review by interviewing me. Here is the text of the interview:

Author Interviews

Today, Feathered Quill reviewer Kristi Benedict is talking with M.J. Evans, author of The Stone of Mercy: Book 1 of the Centaur Chronicles
FQ: What was your inspiration for the several different races in this book?
EVANS: I selected races (or species) that would reflect different and competing traits. Some of the traits would logically be held by people hungry for power. For example, the cyclops are not known for their intelligence. Rather, they rely on brute strength. The Centaurs have speed and fighting ability but do so with more finesse and intelligence. The Duende are a made up race taken from the Spanish word that means fairy. They represent the weaker, over-looked and taken for granted species. The fauns, by tradition, have a fun-loving, irresponsible nature. So they were the obvious ones to sell their souls to the Cyclops for protection and then find themselves enslaved.
FQ: Did you do any research on Greek mythology to write about the centaurs, cyclops, etc?
EVANS: I did very little research on the mythology around centaurs, cyclops and fauns because I wanted to create new and unique characteristics in my characters. If I did too much research, that might stifle my creativity. There are many mythological creatures based upon a horse. I think this is because people have always loved and revered horses. I am one of those people. All, but one, of my novels have a horse connection and I love to use the mythological horses as my main characters, however, always with a different twist. My first fantasy series, "The Mist Trilogy," is about the noble and great horses that are chosen to become unicorns when they die. My choice to create a series about Centaurs is a continuation of my love of writing about horses. It is fun for me to include horse behaviors and traits when I write about Tibbals and Tandum and the other Centaurs. Then I get to add human mannerisms as well.
FQ: What demographic were you aiming for with this book, pre-teen or young adult?
EVANS: I initially pictured my readers to be 10 to 14, so Middle-Grade. However, many adults have been enjoying it as well so perhaps it will be well received by young adults as well.
FQ: What is the reason for calling the series "The Centaur Chronicles?"
EVANS: "The Duende Diaries" just didn’t have the same ring to it! Just kidding. I teach English riding lessons and I am always telling my students to become a be one with the horse. After several years of using this phrase, I decided it was time to write a story about Centaurs.
FQ: What do you think are the advantages of using a young girl as your protagonist?
EVANS: As a small, delicate creature, she has an uphill battle to win over the larger races. The Silver Breastplate gives her an unexpected advantage and great power. But, remember, she never aspired to be the queen, consistent with both her station in life and her personality. But her personality is changing with each book of the series, keeping her good qualities but developing more confidence and commitment to her calling. I think it is fun to have a young girl in this position as many girls will be asked to accomplish great things in their lives whether it is to raise a strong family or run a country.
FQ: In the graphic scenes for this novel, such as the attack on the Duende village, how do you decide what details to include so the scene is still powerful but not too overly graphic?
EVANS: I like this question because this is one that I struggle with all the time. The second book has some battle scenes in it as well as will the fourth. I try to picture a PG movie as I write. I want to write books that leave a good message but that are exciting. So it is a challenge to balance both. Some fantasies are even too dark for me. I want to keep it light and fanciful even while describing a battle scene. I don’t want my readers to have nightmares!
FQ: Did your experience with horses help when writing about the centaurs in this novel?
EVANS:I mentioned this in the 2nd question. Yes, I love writing about horses and their personalities. It is so fun using the technique of Anthropomorphism in my writing. My brain just goes right to putting human characteristics on horses because I love them so much and am so familiar with them. For example, when a horse is irritated, he will swish his tail. I had the centaurs do this in the book. They stomp their hooves, rear and kick, just like a horse would.
FQ: Which part of the book did you enjoy writing the most, the beginning, the end, or a specific scene in the middle?
EVANS: I think my favorite scenes are any scene where the Wizard appears. I like that character. In addition, I had fun writing the scenes with the Commander at Fort Heilodius. The bad guys are fun to create!
To learn more about The Stone of Mercy: Book 1 of the Centaur Chronicles please read the review at: Feathered Quill Book Reviews.

The Stone of Mercy is available in Print only at the present time. It is available on Amazon,
Barnes and Noble, and independent bookstores. 
Autographed copies are available on the website:
Just click here:

Autographed copies are available on the website:

Thursday, August 4, 2016


Perhaps the day of the war horse is gone but their legends live on. This is true of Babieca (there are numerous spellings!) the mount of the famous, or "infamous" depending upon the source, El Cid.

El Cid who lived from approximately 1043 to 1099, was the son of minor nobility in medieval Spain. He was raised in the court of King Ferdinand the Great and was a servant to the king's son. He became a renowned, feared and beloved war hero as he battled for the Spanish cause of expanding their territory. To this day, El Cid, full name Rodrigo Diaz de Vivar, is a Spanish folk hero and national icon. He is the subject of numerous plays, poems, and paintings.

But what of the horse? El Cid's favorite horse was Babieca, a white Andalusian Stallion. No one really knows the history of how they came to be battle partners. One story has it that El Cid was offered his choice of any of the horses in the herd of Andalusians by his godfather, a monk at a Carthusian monastery.  He chose the littlest, weakest one. His godfather thought it was such a poor choice that he exclaimed "Babieca!" which means "Stupid." 

Another story is that El Cid was given the horse by King Sancho when El Cid was challenged by another Knight to become the king's champion. The story goes that Babieca was bred and raised in the royal stables in Seville and was a highly trained and loyal war horse when El Cid got him.

Whatever the truth, El Cid loved the horse and even requested that they be buried together. 

A little side note: Did you know that our modern day discipline of Dressage has its origins in the training of War Horses?

Check out my new website for my books:

Sunday, July 10, 2016


On July 1st, it was announced that In the Heart of a Mustang was the first place, gold medal winner, of the Literary Classics Award in the Young Adult General Fiction category. Literary Classics, an organization dedicated to furthering excellence in literature, takes great pride in its role to help promote classic literature which appeals to youth, while educating and encouraging positive values in the impressionable young minds of future generations. Judging is based upon the criteria set forth by Literary Classics' highly selective awards committee which honors books promoting character, vision, creativity and learning, through content which possesses key elements found in well-crafted literature.

In their review they wrote: "In the Heart of a Mustang is one of the finest books ever written for teens and pre-teens. This book is strongly recommended for young readers."

I am so honored by this award. I will be going to their formal award ceremony in Las Vegas on October 14th and doing a book signing with the other award winners on October 15th.

If you would enjoy reading In the Heart of a Mustang, it is available on the website: www.dancinghorsepress or wherever books are sold. Autographed copies are available only on the website or at book signings. It is also available as an ebook through Amazon.

Saturday, June 18, 2016


I am so excited to announce that Literary Classics, an organization that picks the best children's and young adult books for the year, has selected "In the Heart of a Mustang" as one of their finalists for the 2016 young adult category!

In their review they said: "In the Heart of a Mustang is one of the finest books ever written for teens and pre-teens. We strongly recommend it!"

I am really excited about this book and it is fun to have critics love it as well!

If you would like to get a copy for yourself go here:

Also available in ebook version and wherever books are sold.

Tuesday, May 24, 2016


I really love my stable. It is so pretty and so big! I have three 16 X 12 foot stalls that each has it's own run. I have a lovely tack room with a bathroom, and a feed room with a washer and dryer for blankets and saddle pads. (My husband is so happy that he doesn't have horse hair on his underwear anymore.) I also have plenty of room for hay storage. Sounds pretty perfect, doesn't it?

Well...then I found these pictures of stables:

Can you believe these stables? Now I feel like a slacker and a cruel person for making my horses live in a shack!!! I want to know where the dust is? Where are the flies? Where are the manure stains? Where is the scapped off paint and chewed wood?  

Oh well. My horses may not live in a palace like one of the ones above but they are so happy and spoiled that if I leave a gate open, they won't run away! I think I will add some potted plants out front, however!

Monday, April 25, 2016

SNOWMAN-The $80 Champion

 In 1956, a riding instructor by the name of Harry de Leyer from Long Island, New York went to a horse auction in search of a school horse. He was late (Maybe the traffic in New York was terrible at that time, too!) and the only horses remaining were those being loaded on the truck bound for the slaughter house. One horse caught his eye, a skinny, gray, Amish-bred plow horse. He took a chance and bought him for $80.

De Leyer knew horses and horsemanship. He fattened up the gelding, and started using him to teach riding lessons. The horse had been born in 1948, bred by Amish farmers, and was a mix between various breeds including draft horses...making him an original American warm blood! I don't know why he was sent to auction at just the age of eight. However, the horse had tremendous jumping talent that was only discovered by de Leyer after he sold the horse to a neighbor and Snowman kept jumping over fences to get back home.

De Leyer started training him to be a show jumper and started winning prestigious shows just two years after being saved from slaughter. Snowman went on to be the United States Open Jumper Champion in 1958 and 1959. He would jump anything...even another horse:

Snowman had such a wonderful temperament that he even won the leadline class and the open jumper class in the same show. For those who don't know, the leadline class is for children under 7 who show their equitation skills at a walk and a trot while their horse is being led and controlled  by an older child or adult. It is amazing that Snowman was so calm that he could be a leadline horse AND a show jumper. The horse was well-loved by the entire de Leyer family as is evidenced by this picture:
Snowman died in 1974 after having gained the love of those who knew him as well as international fame. He even went on the Johnny Carson show. He has been made into two different styles of Breyer horses and is the subject of a best-selling book and maybe even a movie. He was inducted into the Show Jumping Hall of Fame in 1992.

Monday, April 11, 2016


I am so excited to receive this wonderful review of In The Heart of a Mustang from the editor of Valley Equestrian News out of Minnesota. Other great news is that In the Heart of a Mustang has been selected by the Colorado Authors' League as one of just three finalists for their 2016 Young Adult Book Award! 
Everyone needs loyalty, love, and at times healing.
Lucky is the soul who finds all three
In the Heart of a Mustang.
A synopsis by author M. J. Evans followed by a review by Ley Bouchard, VEN Publisher
A boy is told that his father was a brave and virtuous man, a soldier who traded his life to save the lives of countless others. He was the man that Hunter needed to emulate. The only problem is the whole story is a lie, all of it. The truth, which Hunter discovers as he begins his sophomore year of high school, is that his father has actually spent the boy’s entire life in jail, paying his debt to society, but not mending his ways.
A wild mustang mare is rounded up by the BLM. The spring rains had been sparse, the forage on the plains even more so. The mare and her herd are rescued from certain starvation and placed for adoption. In a sandy corral at Promise Ranch, a home for troubled teenage boys, the boy and the mare meet. A weathered, old cowboy brings them together – a mentor for one, a trainer for the other.
The bond that forms between boy and horse becomes one that saves the lives of both.

Review by Ley Bouchard

      In the Heart of a Mustang, MJ Evans weaves a tale of two souls whose spirits meet and are irrevocably changed! Following the subtle nuances of the relationship, we understand how two animals of different species communicate, learn from one another, and those messages impact the lives of everyone around them.  Horse lovers or even one who has never experienced the love of an animal will find this page-turner unforgettable.
     I found In the Heart of the Mustang educational,  touching, poignant; I experienced complete verisimilitude, often wondering if it is a work of non-fiction.
     There are many lessons to be learned in reading In the Heart of a Mustang and each reader will apply their own significance to each one. I most enjoyed seeing through the eyes of the young protagonist, Hunter, how both characters, a wild mustang and a young boy, are able to interact and learn vitally important life lessons, by spending time together.
     The story of a boy and a horse may be geared to a young reader but is definitely a book for all audiences, horse lovers or not.  I found the reading sagacious, clever, and informing.
     I believe In the Heart of a Mustang to be a very important book.  Many people may wonder how places like Promise Ranch or Dakota Boys Ranch benefit people or youth. And it’s a hard thing to explain how working with a horse can be therapeutic. The reader will know and understand this concept upon completion of this fine book by M.J. Evans.
In the Heart of a Mustang may be found at or it is available wherever books are sold.

Wednesday, March 30, 2016

SPRINTER SACRE - Champion Steeplechaser

Are any of you steeplechase fans? If so, I'm sure you have heard of Sprinter Sacre. This fabulous horse is a dark bay thoroughbred gelding from France. He made his first racing appearance in 2010 at Ascot where he won by a nose. This was over a flat course. His first appearance in a Steeplechase (over jumps) was in December of 2011 at Doncaster and he won by 24 lengths!
Earlier in the month of March, 2016, Sprinter Sacre came back to win the 2016 prestigious running of the Cheltenham festival's Queen Mother race. He was the "come back kid" having won the race in 2013. But then, he spent two years recovering from heart problems. There was great celebration when he returned to the winner's circle!
Two miles galloping over fences can really take its toll as a horse ages. Sprinter Sacre was fouled on April 23, 2006. That makes the bay almost 10. But his owner, Caroline Mould, is still a believer in her horse and hasn't talked about retiring him. His jockey and trainer say he still has the fire in him.

Here is a short video of Sprinter Sacre winning the Queen Mother Race a couple of weeks ago:
About Steeplechases: Generally, a steeplechase is a cross country race (though now they are run on tracks) that includes jumps, though there are some that are called flat races and, as the name suggests, do not include jumps. Steeplechases began in Ireland in the 18th century. It got its name because the horses and riders would race from church steeple to church steeple across country and would jump whatever hedges, rock walls or water ditches that got in their way.

Steeplechases are the most popular in Ireland and Britain. The most famous race is the Grand National held in Liverpool England and made famous for Americans in the movie staring Elizabeth Taylor titled "National Velvet."

There are Steeplechases held in other countries as well, including France, Czech Republic, Australia and the United States.  

Ready to read a wonderful fantasy for horse-lovers:
Read the award-winning THE MIST TRILOGY:
Behind the Mist, Mists of Darkness and The Rising Mist.
Available on its website and wherever books are sold.

Thursday, March 3, 2016


As the Pryor Mountains in southern Montana and northern Wyoming catch the clouds so, too, do they catch another cloud...a famous, almost to the level of "super-star," mustang stallion that humans have named Cloud. Cloud is a nineteen year old Pryor Mustang made famous by three documentaries on PBS about him and his herd.

The Pryor Mustangs are genetically related to the horses brought to the Americas by the Spaniards. Wild horses have been running free in the Pryor Mountains since the late 1600's. By the early 1900's they numbered in the thousands. Many were rounded up or killed to make way for grazing of cattle. By 1964, there were only 200 wild horses left. The herd is now protected by the 1971 Wild Free Roaming Horses and Burros Act. This law gave responsibility to maintain the herds to the BLM.
Since that time, the BLM has attempted to improve the mustang's range land through several measures including improving access to water. However, the BLM has set a very low "Optimum Herd Number" of just 120 horses for the Pryor Mountain herd. This necessitates several programs to keep the herd size under control, considering that a wild mustang herd can double in size in just 4 years. The Cloud Foundation, which, like me, supports the use of PZP, a temporary contraceptive, fears the permanent sterilization techniques proposed by some in the BLM. You can read more about The Cloud Foundation here:

Now, a little about Cloud himself! Cloud is a pale palomino. His unique color saved him from capture by the BLM. Actually, they captured him in one of their round-ups but let him go because of his color.  His life has been documented by film maker Ginger Kathrens. You can watch one of her documentaries here:  He is quite a super-star. One thing going for him is that his herd lives in an area where the horses are easy to observe and many tourists have come to see the horses in the wild.

Cloud is short and stocky, typical of the Pryor Mountain Mustangs. People who have adopted and trained these mustangs love them for their strength, sure-footedness and their stamina.

In my newest book: In the Heart of a Mustang, I focus on adoption as a great answer for managing the mustang herds as well as the ability horses have to be healers for troubled teens.
 If you are interested in learning more about mustang adoption, go to the BLM website. Click here:

Warning: You need to know what you are doing if you want to train any horse...they are big and powerful, not just beautiful! I have trained all three of my horses and have the broken bones to prove it!

In the Heart of a Mustang is available on the website:
or wherever books are sold. It is available in print or Ebook versions

Tuesday, February 9, 2016


Thunder at Super Bowl 50

I am not a professional sports enthusiast (unless, of course, it is equestrian sports we are talking about!) but I did watch the Super Bowl on February 7 because you really can't live in Denver and say you didn't watch it. Besides, MVP Von Miller lives right across the street from me so I have to support the neighbors.

However, I must say I was really disappointed about two things regarding the television coverage. 1) the cameras didn't focus on Thunder, the Bronco's beautiful mascot, and 2) the Budweiser commercial wasn't about the Clydesdales!

So, I decided to make up for that by writing this blog post about Thunder.

Thunder is the stage name for the gray pure-bred Arabian gelding that is the mascot for the Denver Bronco's football team. The beautiful horse leads the team onto the field at each home game and gallops the field after a touchdown. There have actually been three horses that have been the mascot over the years since the first one made his appearance in 1993. All three have been owned by Sharon Magness-Blake, the rags to riches girl from Philadelphia who married the cable magnet and can now afford all the horses she wants.

The first Thunder was a gray stallion and was the mascot at the games from 1993 to 2004. After that he still made public appearances until his death in 2009. Thunder II and the present mascot, Thunder III have been gray geldings. The latter two have been trained by Ann Judge-Wegener who is also his rider at the games.

As the owner of three spirited horses and the past owner of an Arabian, my hat goes off to Ann. She must be an incredible trainer to get her horses to put up with everything going on at a football game! Think of the loud music and cheering crowds, the cheerleaders shaking pom-poms, the jets flying overhead, on and on. Talk about serious de-spooking! I have one horse that spooks if the neighbor's car has changed parking spots! I rode one of my horses in our community parade and it wasn't fun!

Anyway, Thunder is amazing. Thunder III has been to two Super Bowls, 2014 and now 2016. This year, shipping him to Santa Clara from Denver presented some challenges. In 2014, Thunder was flown by Fed Ex to New Jersey. Flying is not an easy thing for horses, as you might guess, so it was decided to trailer Thunder to Super Bowl 2016. However, we had a big snow storm and what should have been a 44 hour drive with a horse trailer ended up taking 4 DAYS when I-80 was closed for a day! The poor horse!

If any of you are non-horse people, you may be wondering why I describe the three Thunders as "gray." You see, there are actually very few truly white horses. A horse who appears white actually has some black hairs on him, making him technically gray. However, as the gray horses age, they actually become lighter and lighter.