I was born with manure in my blood! What I mean is that once I took my first breath outside the womb, I needed a horse to survive! Some of you can probably relate to driving your parents crazy until they either let you take riding lessons or...better yet...got you a horse once they were convinced you wouldn't kill yourself. I bought my own horse when I was thirteen and taking care of him certainly kept me out of trouble as a teenager. Decades later, and now a grandmother, I am still a horse-lover and owner.
A few years ago, I worked for PATH, Intl., here in Denver, Colorado. PATH stands for "The Professional Association of Therapeutic Horsemanship." While there, I learned that horses are truly magical...something I knew intrinsically but had never put into words. The stories of the miracles that took place at PATH riding centers around the country came in almost daily, often bringing tears to my eyes. One autistic child, who had never spoken a word, got on a horse and started talking! Veterans who are suffering from the loss of a limb or PTSD, have programs with horses that help them heal and find joy in their shattered lives. Children with cerebral palsy learn to improve their balance and coordination. Children and adults who can't walk, get on a horse and fly!
As a former middle-grade and High School teacher, I was particularly touched by the programs for troubled teens. Many of these kids had never had a friend...until they met a horse. Many had never felt loved...until they met a horse. Many had never felt a purpose in their lives...until they needed to care for a horse. Many had always felt powerless...until they moved a thousand-pound animal through an obstacle course. This isn't fantasy, but it is magical!
This was my inspiration for my only non-fantasy fiction novel. My Award-winning, coming of age novel, In the Heart of a Mustang, is about a teenage boy who is sent to a therapy ranch in Arizona. He arrives with his suitcase and a huge chip on his shoulder. It takes a wild Mustang and a wise, old cowboy to knock that chip off. Literary Classics Reviews said: "In the Heart of a Mustang is one of the finest books ever written for teens and pre-teens." Grab a copy wherever books are sold and have a wonderful time at Promise Ranch!
Autographed copies are available on my website: www.dancinghorsepress.com
(Pictures are taken from the PATH webside.)