Horsemanship – a review


Horses will always have a place in my heart, so today’s Thursday Creation Review is special in many ways. When my freelance equestrian writer friend, Gina McKnight collated some quotes from horse people around the world, I was interested, especially as these were an extension to the interviews that she had done with them. And one of those interviews was with me – (My quote, though, is only in the book so you will have to buy it…)




Gina McKnight (Goodreads Author)

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Journey through country stables, city trails, working round pens, and shining arenas where you will find equestrian wisdom from around the world. “What does horsemanship mean to you?” The question asked of cowboys, horse trainers, clinicians, equine writers, eventers, bull riders, barrel racers, and more! As a freelance writer, Gina McKnight connects with amazing horsemen and horsewomen. They are the inspiration for this book. To read their entire interview, visit Thanks to each one for their contribution to this volume. Special thanks to Zorka for inspiration and motivation. Her charismatic character, along with her engaging art, continue to encourage and support our love for horses. A portion of the proceeds from this book will be donated to local horse rescues

Review 5 stars

This collection is more than a taster as it contains some profound quotes by equestrian people from around the world who were interviewed by Gina McKnight over the last few years.

I enjoyed reading the diverse interpretations of ‘horsemanship’ and was not surprised at the overlap. Trust and respect kept being mentioned as well as understanding the horse’s language.

“To me horsemanship means two-way communication between horse and rider based on mutual trust, respect and affection. It is more than physical communication, it is mental and emotional as well. Horsemanship leads to an intuitive connection so that communication requires no conscious thought.”

Lee Atterbury

Wisconsin, USA


Author of Big Fracking Mess


Another theme in the ‘thoughts’ is how important it is to develop a special relationship on an equal basis. In fact, that seems to be the hidden message to many regardless of discipline or nationality.

“To me, horsemanship, is having the ability to establish and then develop a productive relationship with a horse, which subsequently leads to earning the horse’s trust and confidence in you.”

Bill Slader

Ohio, USA

Equine Photographer


I loved reading about all those subtle ways of asking a horse to flourish, not forcing them but forging a natural bond. These horse people understand that a rider must feel what is best for the horse. This is real teamwork – when human and horse are working together for fun or sport. We are reminded that the horse can be a trainer and a partner. And there is another crucial bond.

“The definition of horsemanship is basically the skill, art or practise of riding horses. What it means to me is love. Pure love. Love of a beast that is so big he can squash you like a grape…but he won’t…because he loves you, too.”

Karen Miscovich

Florida, USA

Optimal Horse Environment Horse Boarding at Picalata Farms


There are pages of horse wisdom here, and some of my favourite equestrian writers share their thoughts as well – why not, they are equestrians too.

“…It would make for better equine/human relationships if the human tried to think more like the horse when in the saddle instead of assuming the horse is thinking/feeling human thoughts and emotions.”

TK Lukas

Texas, USA


Author of Orphan Moon


I have watched many proponents of horsemanship with their own techniques and yet, as this book shows so well, their approaches overlap – they seem to have become unified with the horse.

Glimpse that through this collection and at Gina McKnight’s site –


The Shepherdess of Siena – a review


This week’s novel for my Thursday Creation Review was a ‘must read’ that fit two reading genres and offered more: historical and equestrian, plus it was set in Italy.


The Shepherdess of Siena


Linda Lafferty (Goodreads Author)

Raised by her aunt and uncle amidst the rolling hills of the Tuscan countryside, young orphan Virginia Tacci has always harboured a deep love for horses—though she knows she may never have the chance to ride. As a shepherdess in sixteenth-century Italy, Virginia’s possibilities are doubly limited by her peasant class and her gender. Yet while she tends her flock, Virginia is captivated by the daring equestrian feats of the high-spirited Isabella de’ Medici, who rides with the strength and courage of any man, much to the horror of her brother, the tyrannical Gran Duca Francesco de’ Medici.

Inspired, the young shepherdess keeps one dream close to her heart: to race in Siena’s Palio. Twenty-six years after Florence captured Siena, Virginia’s defiance will rally the broken spirit of the Senese people and threaten the pernicious reign of the Gran Duca. Bringing alive the rich history of one of Tuscany’s most famed cities, this lush, captivating saga draws an illuminating portrait of one girl with an unbreakable spirit.

Review 4.3 stars

A Historical novel with horses and set primarily in Tuscany was a Must Read, and it proved enjoyable.

Virginia Tacci is the young shepherdess that loves horses and wants to ride – something that few women in the sixteenth-century can do on an even playing field with men. Even those from the nobility like Isabella de’ Medici that can attempt to ignore social expectations are prey to their male superiors – or those that believe in their right to manipulate and persecute.

This is a world of rules and rulers, and Linda Lafferty paints the period and the setting vividly, demonstrating her painstaking research. This is a realistic medieval world from attitudes to architecture, from struggling peasants to scheming nobility. Many of the characters are historical, yet the author gives them distinct personalities – at times needing to build on limited documentary evidence from the period. (The author’s notes at the end make the extent of the research clear.)

The novel is strongest when focused on the horses and on Virginia. It is their story that kept me reading from the birth of a key foal, through the event that makes Virginia the centre of a thread of plots. The equestrian elements were meticulous in their detail as well as vibrant. The choice of having the protagonist tell their own first-person story also worked and enhanced this central thread.

However, with multiple plotlines, there was a need for some of the other viewpoints used. All these were the third person, and, in most cases, these worked and gave the plotlines momentum. But, purely from this reader’s perspective, there were too many, and some characters suffered through too little ‘screen-time’. There were moments when I stopped and wondered if some of these POVs could have been amalgamated – perhaps giving one observer more chapters to record events as they experience them.

This applied to the probably accurate de Medici scenes which led me to comment, mid-reading, “Whose story is this?” At times, I wanted to get back to Virginia and the horses as those scenes had a momentum that never tailed off. Of course, to me ‘Mares rule’ – except I will always find room for a great stallion.

Virginia’s ride is not always easy and not just because of her gender, although that prejudice never lets up. The ending is unexpected, but many have argued that it is right given the era. One question was uppermost as the threads converged together: “How would the antagonists atone for their sins?”

How can a historical novel ever have a neat ending? Reality is never what we expect or desire. And life goes on beyond the end of a novel. If characters evolve, as they do here, then that is the truth.

Although this novel rates 4.3 stars adjusted to 4 stars, I would recommend this to fans of historical fiction especially if they love horses.

Story – four stars

Setting/World-building – five stars

Authenticity – five stars

Characters – four stars

Structure – four stars

Readability – four stars

Editing – four stars


The Writer’s Cut


You are invited to the launch of my equestrian mystery Spiral of Hooves: The Writer’s Cut aka The Second Edition on August 7th, 2017, which is incidentally my 64th birthday.

Join me on Facebook or Goodreads as I discuss how the novel came about, my horse world, being an MS warrior, and my future from motorbikes and longboats to spacecraft and airships. I will answer any question posed…within my ability to do so. Of course, there will be prizes from signed copies to other goodies.

The party begins at 9 am. MDT (1600 BST; 1100 EDT; 0800 PST) on Facebook – see HERE for details and invite. (Facebook says in Boise but the party is online so come as you are.) I will also drop in and out of Goodreads to chat and answer questions – HERE – whenever I can slip off Facebook. I am running Giveaways for signed paperback copies of “Spiral of Hooves” – one copy on Facebook, one on Goodreads, and one on each Blog running my ‘interview-promo’ post.

If any authors are willing to join the Facebook party it would let me sit back and chill for an hour – or visit Goodreads – while you entertain the fans and promote yourself. Just ask for a slot and I can add you to the schedule.

ARC copies are still available to read in PDF format, and there is still time to review Spiral of Hooves before the release on August 7th.

I can also supply blog copy to anyone willing to post about the novel and my world. Each blog will be invited to run a Giveaway for a signed paperback copy.

The following links should also direct you to specific Amazon sites:[1548508411[1548508411

  • BLURB: In Canada, researcher Armand Sabatier witnesses what could be the murder of groom Odette Fedon, but traumatic images from his past smother his memory, and a snowstorm buries the evidence. Harassed by nightmares but fighting through them, Armand remembers the crime a few months later. By then he is in England, where he is dragged into a plot involving international sport horse breeding.

Suspecting everyone around him, Armand is forced to brave the past that he has kept buried. But what made Armand leave France? Where did he learn to survive and fight for justice? Why is the English rider Carly Tanner treading the same path as the first victim, Odette?

Can he save Carly before he has more blood on his hands?

  • Genre – Mystery-thriller
  • Tone of the book – serious but not gory
  • Target audience – young adult upwards interested in horses and mysteries

I hope to see you at The Writer’s Cut Party.


Carly Tanner ~ Leading Lady & Athlete

Indie Block Party Post 3: Interview with Carly Tanner from ‘Spiral of Hooves’


For my third post in the Indie Block Party I feel very privileged to be interviewing Carly Tanner the leading lady-athlete in ‘Spiral of Hooves’, who I have lived with now for over thirteen years.

1. What was your life like growing up?

In some ways simple and relaxed, well as much as growing up on a farm could be. But I suppose that was when I first learnt that there were chores to do and that animals had to die. I’m not sure whether that was why my dad, Peter went back to college and got his architect qualifications; but it was when my mother decided to focus on the horses rather than milking cows. I just wish she hadn’t put horses before her own health and her family. Or was that because dad buried himself in his work? Even now his building designs seem to come before horses. But he does support me, now that… mum’s dead.

2. Did your mum’s death change your dreams? What are your hopes for the future?

My mum is still central to my life. Finding her face down in the mud almost drove me to abandon everything. But I was unable to give up horses. There are moments when I wonder if I should resort to a nine-to-five office job, and become a weekend rider, but that isn’t me. I need to get back into the heart of my sport so I can show the potential of the horse my mother bred – Sylvan Torc. But it would not be sensible to accept the first job that seems to answer my dreams. My friends joke about finding the rich guy that can buy me anything – a way out of a life juggling to keep the income trickling in. They wonder why I mix horses with nights of pub work and waitressing. But despite the long, often dirty and wet hours, horses rule and I’m not ready to be bought.

sign on a truck, transporting horses

3. How would you describe your looks?

Nothing special, plain and fit enough to ride. Maybe that is meant to be muscle, as I have to exercise to help cope with my diabetes. Oh, and some guys tease me about being ginger, but not for long.

4. What do you think is going to happen next?

If I’m being honest there are too many unknowns, as well as my shortcomings, like my diabetes and my mixed success with horses. If this was some romantic fiction then that rich guy would make my dreams come true – once we’d gone through unimaginable problems getting together. But I’ve been having bad dreams lately – real weird ones. So I suspect that I’ll get involved in some crime. As long as I’m not the victim it will be a challenge, of sorts. Just please don’t harm the horses, they’re too precious, even the ones who are struggling to jump.

5. What prank or crime would you most likely pull/commit?

Does this question imply that I’m not going to be the victim? Thank god… or is that just my need to put bad luck behind me? If I get to commit something it would be a prank – like putting a horse inside someone’s house. Mind you I’m not sure how the horse would react. Rose fertiliser?

6. Who do you hate, and why?

Not sure that hate is right for Mick Roper, my ex-boyfriend. He proved to be more of an idiot and I should have chucked him out sooner. Waiting until I discovered about the affair was not soon enough. I hope by hate you don’t mean there is someone that I end up killing. I’m not the killer type. Am I? Or do they want to kill me? Doesn’t sound like Mick, maybe the bitch he went off with.

English: English singer Adele performing at th...

7. If you could only listen to one album for the rest of your life what would it be?

Adele’s 21 although some might say that this dates me. But when it came out in 2011 it meant so much with the album’s themes of anger, revenge, heartbreak, self-examination, and forgiveness. I was still torn up by my mother’s death the previous year and had to clutch at things that could help me through the tough times. Maybe it echoes the betrayal by Mick as well. Hopefully in time it will just be soulful music that evokes pleasant memories instead. Can I amend my choice in a few years? If I live that long.

8. What are your 3 most prized possessions?

My home-bred mare Sylvan Torc, my flat coated retriever Guinness – a 21st birthday present – and my mother’s family bible in French. Sadly I have no living ties with my French relations even though I speak the language. Not much call for French though in Sussex, or anywhere in England.

Flatcoat retriever teef.

Flatcoat retriever teef. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

You can view the blogs of other participants in the Indie Block Party at: