Sunday, December 8, 2019

Your Essential Companion


HANK PHILLIPPI RYAN:  I wonder how many of us will say yes: did you play with horses when you were a girl? You know we had real ponies and horses when I was growing up—we had to clean out stalls before we took our morning showers before school. (And I still have a scar on my leg from a rambunctious ride that did not end well. ) 

Not mine--but I definitely had these!
I also had about, well, fifty million plastic ones, of all sizes and types. Mostly hunters and jumpers and dressage, but also some with Western saddles and gear.   And I read every horse book, from the Connemara McGuire books (Golden Sovereign and Silver Birch? And more? Did you read those?) to the Black Stallion and Misty and Flicka and I know you will all remind me of more.

I can’t wait to hear what you all thought of horses when you were..11? Ish?  But some of us were lucky enough to maintain our equestrian life as adults.  How cool is that? And I am so delighted to introduce you all to the amazing Kari Bovee.  And her pals. And how horses changed her writing life!

 My Essential Companion
I’m so excited to be with you here on Jungle Red! Thank you so much, Hank, and the rest of you lovely Reds for inviting me spend some time with you and your readers.

I’ve just come inside in beautiful Corrales, New Mexico where I have been playing with one of my beloved horses. I honestly don’t know what I would do without these amazing creatures in my life. They have consoled me, inspired me, excited me, and at times took me wayyyyy out of my comfort zone, for which I am grateful.

My love affair started with horses when I was very young. My father traveled quite a lot for business, and he would always bring home a present for my brother and me. I don’t remember what my brother received, but for me, it was books. One time, he brought home Misty of the Chincoteague by Marguerite Henry, and I was spellbound. Several more of her books later, I also became enchanted with Walter Farley’s Black Beauty series. These reading adventures set me on a course that would forever change and enhance my life in ways I never imagined.

Although I loved reading about these majestic creatures, I had no desire to ride them. They were other worldly to me, and quite scary. But, my mother, seeing how much I loved the books, decided I would benefit from riding lessons. So, she marched her terrified eleven-year-old daughter to the neighborhood stables. My instructor assured me I would come to no harm, and she set me upon her prized horse, an Arabian mare named Fahar. And then, the magic happened. I was in love!

From then on, I ate, drank, slept, and dreamed of horses. After a year of lessons, I got my first horse, and there have only been a few years in my life since that I did not have at least one equine companion. I’ve competed in almost every horse showing discipline, and have also spent the last decade studying natural horsemanship, horse behavior, and equine psychology. And, I still have so much to learn.

It was only fitting that I should feature horses in my novels. When I started researching the iconic Annie Oakley for my Annie Oakley Mystery Series, I found that she did oftentimes perform on horseback, but it was never clear if she had a special horse in her life. So, I decided to bestow one upon her with the creation of Buck – a buckskinned beauty who was fashioned after one of my horses, Hi Handsome CCR, an Arabian Quarter Horse Palomino. 

Handsome is what we in the horse biz refer to as “my heart horse.” I have had the pleasure of being his human for almost fifteen years, and he has taught me so much about love, compassion, patience, and most importantly, about myself. Horses are often a mirror—and in them we see the parts of ourselves that we can rejoice in, or in many cases, what we need to work on.

When I was writing Grace in the Wings, the first book in my Grace Michelle Mystery series which takes place in New York City, 1920’s on Broadway, I wanted to somehow incorporate a horse into the story. So I sent Grace on a transcontinental train trip out West, where she encounters a lovely Palomino named Golden Ray of Light. I won’t give any spoilers here, but suffice it to say, the spritely mare makes an impact on the talented costume designer turned Ziegfeld star.

It’s hard to imagine what life, or my books, would be without horses in them. These spiritual, magical beings have infused themselves into my heart and into my soul. They are where I go when I am jubilant and inspired, or when I am disheartened and need to escape from some of the harsh realities of life. And, they have made me a more complete and fulfilled person, which is really what this journey of life is all about.

Is there someone, or something, that you cannot imagine having in your life? That very special person, animal, or thing that rounds you out as a person and is completely essential to your well-being? I’d love to hear about it!

HANK PHILLIPPI RYAN:  Oh great question! Love this, Kari!  What say you, dear Reds and readers? Horses? Past of present?  Or who’s your essential companion?





Empowered women in history, horses, unconventional characters, and real-life historical events fill the pages of Kari Bovée’s articles and historical mystery musings and manuscripts.

An award-winning author,  Bovée was honored as a finalist in the Historical Fiction category of the 2019 Next Generation Indie Awards for her novel Girl with a Gun. The book also received First Place in the 2019 New Mexico/Arizona Book Awards in the Mystery/Crime category, and received the 2019 Hillerman Award for Southwest Fiction. She was also a finalist in the 2019 Best Book Awards Historical Fiction category for her novel Peccadillo at the Palace. Her novel Grace in the Wings finaled in the unpublished Romantic Suspense category of the 2012 LERA Rebecca contest, the 2014 NTRWA Great Expectations contest, and the RWA 2016 Daphne du Maurier contest. The novel was released in September of 2019.

Bovée has worked as a technical writer for a Fortune 500 Company, has written non-fiction for magazines and newsletters, and has worked in the education field as a teacher and educational consultant. She is the author of the Annie Oakley Mystery Series and the Grace Michelle Mystery Series.

She and her husband, Kevin, spend their time between their horse property in the beautiful Land of Enchantment, New Mexico, and their condo on the sunny shores of Kailua-Kona, Hawaii.





81 comments:

  1. Horses are beautiful, but the only horses I’ve ever ridden all lived on the carousel. [I have, however, read about them; I loved “Black Beauty” and “Misty of the Chincoteague.”] Now I’m intrigued and I want to find out how Grace meets the Palomino . . . .

    Essential companion? My twin sister . . . .

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    1. If you are ever in Dallas during the State Fair of Texas, you must come ride the historic Dentzel carousel at Fair Park. All the horses are hand-carved and each one is unique, with their names painted on their saddles or bridles. It's my favorite part of the fair.

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    2. Carousel horses are magical, too! When we lived in Ventura, CA, we used to take our kids to Marina Park to play. There was a beautiful carousel there. So much fun! I've always wanted to have a carousel horse in my house, but alas...

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  2. Oh, my goodness, yes! I grew up reading Anna Sewell's Black Beauty, Walter Farley's Black Stallion and Island Stallion books, and collecting tons of those great plastic horses. I think my sister and I played with those more than we played with our Barbie dolls. My favorite book when I was seven or eight was Zilpha Keatley Snyder's Season of Ponies, and I was thrilled when my mother bought me my very own copy for Christmas so I could let the library keep theirs.

    Although I grew up in small towns and rural places, I never had my own horse, and had to make do riding the horses my friends owned. Dogs became my essential companions. As an adolescent I depended on my Irish setter to share all my teenage angst, and as an adult I credit one wise old border collie with getting me through the toughest years of my life. More recently I have tried to return that favor by volunteering with a border collie rescue group, adopting a remarkable pack along the way.

    I have also known some excellent cats, including a feral guy who clearly wanted to be a lap cat, and the latest addition to my menagerie: a four-pound former street kitten who claimed me as her own, even though I wasn't planning to adopt a cat. She arrived on the scene just before my birthday, so I have named her Gift. I'm eager to see how this relationship unfolds.

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    1. So wonderful..Aw—those cats must sense that you are a good good person!

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    2. Isn't it wonderful to have animals in your life? They take us out of ourselves and help us to deal with the stresses of every day. We have four dogs. It can be a bit chaotic at times, but they make us laugh, so it's worth it. I've always had a cat for as long as I can remember, but our most recent kitty died last year. We haven't been able to bring ourselves to get another one, but I think we have enough fur baby love to keep us satisfied!

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  3. Of course I read horse books - all of them - when I was young. The only riding I did was every summer at girl scout camp, where we also learned about the tack, about how to brush them down and feed them. We had a big southern California back yard and I asked for a horse every single Christmas - never got one (as if, with one school teacher supporting his wife and four kids...). The Annie Get Your Gun record nearly wore out with how many times I listened to it and I had no idea you have a series about her! Adding those books to my list, Kari.

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    1. Oh yes I listened to that constantly—you mean Betty Hutton and Howard Keel?

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    2. Excellent, Edith! I think every little girl wants "a pony for Christmas!" I am so fortunate that my parents supported the idea of me having one. It taught me so much. I'm so glad you got to enjoy horses at summer camp.

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  4. Congratulations on your recent award!
    I learned how to ride at Y camp, but dogs were my passion. My chocolate brown miniature poodle Coco was born on my 8th birthday and had her own basket on my bike.
    Fast forward to this week: we're picking up our fourth standard poodle, Louie, to join standard Jazz. She'll have her paws full training him.

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    1. Thank you, Margaret! I love that you carted your poodle around on your bike! I bet that was a cute picture. There were a couple of Standard Poodles in our neighborhood when I was growing up. They are such regal dogs! And smart! We have two Bouviers. Many people mistake them for Standard Poodles. (???) Enjoy your new fur baby!

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  5. Welcome Kari! I also read Misty and the other books, but I have never been a horse person--they seem big and scary to me. I wonder what would have happened if I'd been introduced as a kid? For me, it's all about dogs and cats...

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    1. So interesting! Yes, I think you are right, it depends on what happens when you are a kid…

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    2. Thank you, Lucy! I've come to realize that horses are not for everyone--and that's ok. My daughter caught horse fever when she was a tween and asked for lessons, which of course, I obliged. She absolutely loved it, and before long she was a camp counselor at a horse training facility. I thought my son would enjoy it too, so I signed him up for lessons as well. He did not have the same experience. He found them big and scary, so I pulled him out. Now, he appreciates my horses for their beauty and personalities, but I haven't been able to get him back on one since!

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    3. I watch this video and tear up every time I watch it. https://tinyurl.com/r2r4ddx

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    4. What a beautiful video. Horses always seem to know what we need, when we need it. If only we were as good at reading them as they are at reading us!

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  6. I am smiling as I read this because my neighbor’s daughter is at this stage, and it’s all horses all the time. I will tell them both about the books.

    As for me, I grew up in a cattle family—cows were the business, and horses were for work and round-ups, not pleasure riding. I’ve ridden but it’s been ages. My dad liked horses that were big and frisky. My favorite horse times were local rodeos. My father, uncles, and their cowboy friends would participate in goofy races meant to entertain the crowd. Such fun!

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    1. I love your stories about that, Ramona - I never knew there were cowboys and rodeos in Louisiana!

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    2. Ramona— I had no idea! You must write a blog for us about those stories, I would love to hear!

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    3. Hi Ramona! Cattle ranching has always intrigued me. What a wonderful experience you had growing up. It's funny that you mentioned rodeos. Our little village has a holiday parade every year, and we went last night. One of the floats was graced by four beautiful rodeo queens, and my daughter and I commented that we both always wanted to be a rodeo queen, but, alas...

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  7. Hi, Kari! You're so lucky to have had a long, happy string of equine relationships. The comment that horses show you who you are, or aren't, is fascinating. I can see that.

    I was captivated by horses when I was a child, reading about them, and yearning over them when we watched Westerns on TV. But the closest I ever got to a horse was seeing The Cisco Kid on horseback on the main street in Hamilton, Ohio when I was about five. He reared up, which was thrilling!

    Until I was 55 and decided to learn to ride. I took lessons for several years, and had the best time ever. My husband said I would grin from ear to ear for the next day or so after a lesson, I loved it so much. There is just something so amazing about communicating with and working together with such an intelligent and powerful animal. I always asked them if we could share time together, and always thanked them afterwards, because I was grateful for their grace and companionship.

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    1. Karen, what an adventure! That is so lovely to imagine. And well, the Cisco kid! Hilarious.

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    2. Hi Karen! I love that you "asked" the horse and then thanked the horse. That is beautiful. One of the things I've learned through natural horsemanship is the importance of doing just that. It's a relationship--whether you are spending an hour or a lifetime with a horse. You seem to understand this innately, and that is a wonderful thing!

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  8. I was never an eleven-year-old girl, nor much of a fan of horses. At that age I was a long-suffering fan of the expansion Senators. The person without whom I can't imagine living is my wife of 41 years.

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    1. Baseball! The traditional boy passion! Xx 41 years—lovely! Xxx

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    2. Congratulations on 41 years! That's wonderful.

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  9. Although I lived way out in the country I was never particularly interested in horses. The only horse book I even remember reading was Black Beauty. But I had 2 friends who were extremely "horse crazy." They probably would have given anything to have horses of their own. One of them was a very talented artist and draw horses non-stop. These girls even got their mothers to take them to Saratoga, a 2 hour drive, and they got to know the jockeys and other track people. One of those girls grew up to become Master of the Hunt in a very horsey area where she lived. I'm not sure if the other girl continued with her love of horses or not.
    The young girl across the road from me is living her horse dream since her grandparents own a couple of horses. I've asked my granddaughter who is the same age if she would like to own a horse or go riding. No, she's just not interested in horses at all, although she loves all other animals. So I'm thinking there might be a horse gene and either you have it or you don't.

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  10. Misty of Chincoteague! That's one I remember. ANd the horse movies and TV? My Friend Flicka and National Velvet? What is it about 8-year-old girls and horses? I had quite a few but not nearly enough to satisfy my passion for them. Cari, Congratulations!! I love a series featuring Annie Oakley - she was a fascinating historical figure. I read Girl with a Gun but now I have to catch up on the newer ones.

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    1. Elizabeth Taylor in National Velvet. Who didn't want to be her?

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    2. Hey Hallie! Thanks so much. Your editing workshop at Book Passage was a great help!

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  11. What a great tradition to continue, Kari, the horses sound wonderful. However I didn't have horses in my life as a child living in the tropics. When I returned to England for boarding school, there were horses at the bottom of my grandfathers garden, where I lived, and they belonged to a friend of mine. So a couple of times I did ride briefly. I think many of the horse books mentioned above are American and did not come my way. Thinking back I don't remember and teen horse books for girls. However I an a very long time fan of Dick Francis and have all his books which I love. As for a companion essential tome? Well I don't how if it counts, but my books have travelled with me from my first home in England, to the Caribbean, Asia, Africa and finally to my settled life in the USA.

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    1. You have had such a fascinating life, Celia! You should do a book of your own!

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    2. Hi Celia! I too loved Dick Francis. How wonderful that you've been able to experience such amazing international locales!

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  12. I've never had much of an attachment to horses myself beyond loving Silver from The Lone Ranger TV show as a kid. I've never ridden one or anything. I imagine that it would be cool to do but the days of riding the open range are not something that's coming back so it probably won't ever happen.

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    2. Those horses were famous in their own right. Silver, Trigger, Tornado . . . I may still have an autographed publicity photo of Duncan Renaldo as the Cicso Kid, with his horse, Diablo. I only had eyes for the horse.

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    3. I forgot about the cowboy shows! Of course!

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    4. Hi Jay, there are cattle ranching outfits that host "riding the range" experiences, like in the movie City Slicker with Billy Crystal. It's never too late!

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  13. I still have my collection of china horse figurines, and kept my most beloved horse books (Silver Birch, Challenger, Horse Show Hurdles and Jump Shy. There's actually a streaming TV channel devoted to all things equine.

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    1. You read to Silver Birch? I am so thrilled… I have never met anyone else who read it…

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    2. Hey Leslie! I've heard of that channel, but can't recall what it is. Refresh my memory?

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  14. I wasn't the Crazy Over Horses girl. That was my best friend Donna. But I enjoyed the side benefits....horse books, and occasional riding lessons when her dad drove us to the nearby stables. And of course, being a Trixie Belden junkie, I loved reading about the horsey lives of the BWGs.

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  15. *Raises hand* Horse girl here! I became obsessed at age nine and stayed that way until I was sixteen when friends and boys and jobs took over. My heart horse was named Cocoa Bar and she was definitely my first love. Right now I’m in the midst of raising teens so I am feeling very much like I’d enjoy NO companion for a little while.
    Thanks so much for reminding me of one of the favorite periods in my life, Kari. I can’t wait to read your series!

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  16. Kari is trying to comment! We will figure it out… And she will be here ASAP!

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  17. And I am off to a Barnes and Noble signing… Back this afternoon! Eager to see what you all are chatting about then!

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  18. I was a horse girl, too! I read all the books, over and over. Did anyone mention King of the Wind, also my Marguerite Henry. I loved that one! I still have that, and Misty, and My Friend Flicka, Black Beauty, and some of the Black Stallion books. Maybe the granddaughter will want to read them one day. I did ride, but never had my own horse, sadly.

    As for the companion I can't imagine being without, I think I would have to say books. I can't imagine a life without books.

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    1. Ah! King of the Wind! I forgot to mention that one. A classic! And I also can't imagine a life without books. :)

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  19. Shalom Reds and fans. I only can remember riding a horse once in my life. I can’t rule out that I might have been put on a horse as a child, perhaps at a petting zoo or something. I just don’t recall that. I did go on a date once when I was in my late twenties and we went riding as novices in Queens. There was a time when you could ride in New York City streets if you knew what you were doing. The horse knew that I did not know what I was doing so it mostly just hung out lazily.

    I did love the movies like John Wayne’s The Cowboys, The Man from Snowy River, and the marvelous The Last of the Dogmen.

    When I was a kid, I longed for a dog. So, as an adult, I got a dog as soon as I was able to provide for myself. Her name was Bianca and she was a very black and tan German Shepherd. More recently, I had a Boxer named Rocko and then an Australian Cattle Dog. However, in the past almost 15 years, my lifestyle has been such that I can’t properly care for animals.

    My essential companion has been music. My whole life. To listen to recorded, to play on the piano or sing, to enjoy live in concert or at coffee bars. I live with earbuds now almost 24/7. Half the day, I listen to talk but the rest is music of all sorts and all the time. Even when I am spending time reading, I listen to music in the background. I burn the candle at both ends and wish that there were more hours in the day.

    Kari, I will read any book or article with Grace in the title. So I am on the lookout for the first in this series.

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    1. Music is certainly essential in our household. It's so inspiring, isn't it? Oh, and Grace in the Wings is available on Amazon! Here you go!

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    2. Here's the link! https://amzn.to/2LzKwBs

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  20. Living in Kentucky all my life and growing up just an hour from Lexington, KY with all its beautiful horse farms, I do have a love for the beauty and grace of horses. The Paris Pike road that was the part of my road trip to and from Lexington, which I drove a lot, especially when attending the University of Kentucky, was filled with horse farms on either side of the road and gorgeous horses in the fields. I never outgrew my excitement at seeing the horses.

    But, my love of horses is that of the distant love affair. I don't ride and didn't grow up with a desire to. As an adult, I wished that I could ride, but, alas, I was scared of the big, beautiful creatures by then. I tried to overcome that fear when I took my young children (young then, now adults in their 30s) to the Kentucky Horse Park and they wanted to ride horses there. I asked the attendant to give me a nice, slow, steady horse. He gave me a horse called Firey and told me that the horse sometimes likes to wander off the path. Really? I guess I was his laugh for the day. Well, Firey did like to wander a bit, but I made sure one of the helpers riding with us was close by me the whole way, and I did make a promise to God that I would never get on another horse if he allowed me to make it back to the starting point safely. I've kept my promise. But, I encouraged my daughter when she wanted to take riding lessons, and she did and isn't afraid of horses. My son didn't seem to have an interest.

    I have to share that shortly before my father died, he was reliving some memories from his youth, and one of those memories was when he was on his parents' farm and would race on horses bareback on his favorite horse named Lucky. I only learned about my father's early love for horses then, although he had told me when I was little he was going to get me a Tennessee Walking horse one day. That got forgotten, and my life might have definitely taken a different direction with horses had he done so.

    Oh, and one more horse experience. My husband and I went to Assateague Island about ten years ago and saw the wild horses there. What a thrill! The wild or feral horses are called the Assateague horses in Maryland and Chincoteague pony in Virginia, but whichever they're called, they are glorious to see. And, of course, Marguerite Henry's books helped make this area popular, too.

    My companion is the same as Debs', books.

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    1. I can't imagine that a horse named Firey wouldn't live up to his name! What a great story. And, the story of your father is touching. Thanks for sharing your experiences. The trip to Assateague Island sounds fascinating!

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  21. Kari, I, of course, meant to thank you for being here at the Reds today and sharing your wonderful life with horses. I'm off to add your books to my wish list at Amazon. I love Annie Oakley related stories, so that series sounds perfect for me, and Grace in the Wings sounds like a great read, too.

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    1. It's my pleasure! Thanks for your kind words!

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  22. Looks like you all live in having a fabulous time! I had a great time at Barnes & Noble, never a dull moment! Sold many books, made many friends, and had one guy say:” I’d rather have you than your book.”! Dear Miss manners…

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  23. My grandparents were born before automobiles and grew up on farms in the Oklahoma and Kansas so horses must have been part of their lives. They didn't talk about those working horses but I know granddad had horses here in Northern California. He and Dad rode when dad was growing up but those horses were gone by the time I was born. I have a marvelous picture of granddad sitting on his horse in his Shriners getup: puffy pants, puffy sleeves and that fez on top. Granddad did board a couple of horses when I was a kid and I'm sure he would go out and talk to them but I have no memories of him on a horse. I did see my dad get on a horse once. We were visiting my mom's Washington family and one of the aunts had a new horse. We went to see it. We all tried riding but no one could get that horse go where we wanted it to go, including the owner. That horse was smarter than everyone but dad who got on it's back and the horse did exactly what my dad wanted it to do. I have a great respect for these marvelous creatures. Their strength and beauty are unrivaled.

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    1. Thanks for sharing this, Deana! Sounds like your dad had a way with horses. How cool!

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  24. Yes, read all the horse books, watched the TV shows and movies and had lots of plastic horses, which my dolls rode. Barbie had a hard time doing that! I also drew horses. But living in a city, I never rode except for pony rides. I still watch the Triple Crown and the equestrian events at the Olympics.

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    1. I love watching the equestrian events at the Olympics. Especially Dressage!

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  25. I grew up riding horses I still love them.

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  26. As a not-a-girl, I rode the neighbor's horse sometimes, but mostly I was a dog, and dog book, guy.

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  27. Loved carousel horses on the merry go round.

    And books have been my constant companion since childhood.

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