Tuesday, April 9, 2013

H is for Horses

Day 8 of A to Z Challenge, which is, if you're alphabetically aware, the letter H, which means...


My step dad bought me my first horse, and that first pony began my long, and enduring love affair with the horse. I think one of the reasons I chose to write a turn-of-the-20th-century novel was so I could ride horses--er, so my characters could ride horses. Rangy roans, sturdy bays, gracious greys, Clydes, Quarter Horses...they're all found somewhere in the story.

Sometimes I miss owning a horse so much it's a physical ache, an itch my dear husband kindly scratched on a recent anniversary.

Me. Photo by my husband.

In honor of the noble horse, a small excerpt from my novel, Everything That Matters (remember, copyright!)

He found her in the horse barn. Her eyes glimmering with unshed tears, she was rubbing Sonny's face and mumbling softly. The breeze must have carried his scent, because Sonny and four other equines turned their heads as far their ropes allowed, and offered a throaty welcome. Miss Marshall immediately stepped away from Sonny, stared at Jake with the wild eyes of a cornered rabbit. By rights, he should have turned around, relieved her fear by removing its source. Instead, he grasped the handles of the wooden barrow by the door and wheeled it forward.

"Don’t run away," he said when she attempted to sidle past him. "I mean no harm. In fact, I brought you something to eat." He lowered his kit to the ground, the contents clinking merrily as the bag settled on the hard-packed dirt floor like a broody hen on a nest of eggs. 

Her hands balled at her sides, she tilted her chin at him, a tiny quivering spear warning him to stay back. "I never said you would."

He hesitated, and finally realizing what she referred to, he said, "Not in so many words."

"Not in any words," she exclaimed.

"There's more than one way to get a message across, Miss Marshall," he said. "Take Sonny here—" He moved to massage the gelding's neck. "He doesn’t speak any English, but we understand each other just fine."

She took two steps back, crossed her arms. "You mean you interpret his behavior."

"And physical cues. Even the most subtle. It's the oldest language not recorded, Miss Marshall. And much more reliable than words. For instance, right now, you're scared, closed off." He copied her posture.

She lowered her arms, and then her lashes, rubbed a section of her black skirt between her fingers.

"You're still scared," he said. "And furious. With me. Only you're afraid to tell me, scared I'll retaliate, do something to hurt you more than I already have."

 She jerked her head up, eyes wide. "I—I never claimed you hurt me."

"Not in any way that leaves physical marks. But I have hurt you, and for that I'm sorry."

Her lips parted.

"You're not used to hearing those words, are you?" he asked gently. "Probably not used to hearing someone admit he's the underside of a mule's tail, either."

** End Excerpt.**

Where there is great love, there are always wishes. ~Willa Cather


Lara said...

I love horses! I always wanted one when I was a kid, but I had to settle for riding lessons :)

Deborah said...

Riding lessons are good too. Access is access, and any time spent on horseback is, imo, a good time. :)