Most regular visitors here know I am a horse lover, longtime rider, and occasional horse owner, with a list of horse-related injuries to prove some level of inexpert experience. I have fallen off horses over fences, been spun off, bucked off (both western & English tack), and have had broken bones and concussions. Still, the attraction to horses and their ways, and riding, continues even though I now find it impossible to mount or dismount without some assistance. Still, on a horse feels better…the real me…than me on the ground, gimping around. And I’ve put horses in science fiction before…so, by fiat, horses are not off-topic here. At least not when I’m writing about them.
NewBook has some horses in it, as “the twins” are twelve and eager to get back to riding (forbidden by their grandmother after the incident when they were targeted for assassination and Great-aunt Grace lost her arm.) They’re also more differentiated than in previous books, less “the twins” as unit: more Shar and Justin as individuals. Has three years guiding young wannabee officers in the Academy, after those years of space war and commanding the SDF taught childless Ky any of the skills needed to guide twelve-year-old twins through adolescence? At least she has the sense to get them into a riding school, and not take them to space the moment they’re thirteen for a gap year as gofers on a tradeship. And I had the fun of promoting my own trainer/coach to a middle-aged owner/manager of a full-on equestrian center, not an old battered barn with inadequately fenced paddock space. And using horses in my past as lesson horses or ponies in the book. (The horses & ponies won’t mind…)
Despite their differences, Shar and Justin are more alike than different…both, thanks to their early experiences, have become very goal-directed very early. Both are highly intelligent, sneaky, inquisitive, bold, and willing to do what’s needed to get their goals achieved. The book opens with them, with their plan to get around certain prohibitions to do something they want to do and consider harmless, even necessary to the family honor. The Vatta traits seen in Ky’s father and uncle in the story “Say Cheese,” in Aunt Grace throughout her life, and Ky herself are evident…
Below are the current two horses on my feed bill, Tigger (red chestnut) and Ragtime (B&W pinto). Tigger is mostly (but not completely) recovered from last year’s horrible accident; he may never be riding sound. (Unridden, at his last vet check in late September, he had grade 2 lameness in his right hind most obvious trotting in a circle, and considerable soreness to pressure over his SI joint. However, he now usually stands with his right hind foot flat, bearing weight, and the muscling in his right hind is about equal with the left.) Rags will be under saddle again after a trim; his feet are too long right now to risk under my weight. Tigger can walk, trot, canter, and gallop on his own, looking beautiful, and is clearly not in pain when he does. The lameness can be detected only on a hard surface (like the concrete floor at the vet’s), only by ear when trotting straight, but visible slightly when trotting in a circle.