For the Love of Horses

Middle Grade Mondays

For the Love of Horses

by Natalie Bright

I love horses, and they rarely even tolerate me.

Horses are hyper-sensitive to everything and everyone around them. They are super-smart, skittish, mystical, magical, and they like things calm. If they have a job to do, they want to do it. They are not fond of dallying around on something that doesn’t make sense to them.

Eating Dirt

Every summer as a kid, I’d visit my cousins and the first thing my dad would say before he left, “do not get on a horse.” Of course we did on occasion. Just so you know, if you’re riding along and you laugh really loud at something your cousin said, you’re eating dirt quicker than you can spit. It happens that fast.

So I learned early on that I’m loud and hyper and spastic and horses do not roll with that kind of person. I also discovered that horses have personalities.

Personality Plus

Many years ago, a friend gave me a tour of his stable and introduced me to all of his horses. He explained how their names are unique to their personalities and physical traits. I feel in love with those beautiful animals, never imagining that I’d write middle grade books where these animals would need to play an important role in the plot.

As a ranch owner, I’ve discovered that ranch horses are highly trained, cowboys are very passionate about what they do, and they have the ability to talk horse all day long. And although I wished to have a horse more than anything when I was younger, I’ve never really had a special connection with these majestic creatures.

Writing the West

As a western writer, there’s no doubt that horses have to be a part of my stories. The challenge is in giving them a personality. I want them to be more than just livestock or  a part of the setting. I want them to be larger than life characters with humorous traits and behavior habits.  I rely on all of you horse people to tell me why you love these amazing animals so much.

Cheers to horses, and thanks to those of you have shared your experiences.

Keep them coming!

Elmer Kelton on Westerns

Elmer Kelton on Westerns

By Natalie Bright

Elmer Kelton remains one of my favorite western authors, and continues to be an inspiration for me in my efforts to publish my middle grade westerns. As I mentioned in a previous blog, the owner of Cactus Bookstore in San Angelo was a long-time friend of the great western author, Elmer Kelton.  He sold me a cassette tape featuring two of Kelton’s keynotes from a Chilsolm Trail workshop which was held in Fort Worth in June 1989. From that tape, I’ve paraphrased a list of advice from Kelton, in his own words.

1. Western genre is about authenticity. Stories are real: with real backgrounds, real incidents, about unusual events in history.

2. Read alot of history. Find obscure books without wide circulation. Look for periods of transition.

3. A plot should grown out of characters and situation.

4.  Conflict equals change. There’s always somebody changing and always others resisting.

5.  Best that can ever happen to a writer is when a character takes over the story and runs away with it.

6. Best three of all time that you should read: #1 A Trail to Ogalla by Vincent Capp; #2 North to Yesterday by Robert Flynn; #3 Lonesome Dove by Larry McMurtry

7.  Greatest character ever portrayed: Augustus played by Duval.

Natalie Bright