Tuesday, July 18, 2017

An Interview with Author Chris Dyer

Book Two The Rocket Series
From Rocket with Love
Release Date July 29, 2017

Currently living in the UK, author Chris Dyer is in the midst of writing poetry, prose, non-fiction, horse remedies, and much more! A chance to meet up with Chris to talk about his writing, his love for horses, and things in-between.

Welcome Chris!

GM: When did you realize you wanted to become a writer?
CD: I have always written even as a child, not consciously I don’t think it was just something I did and enjoyed. I remember we had a very strict, rather large French mistress at school and I had been working on an uncle’s farm over the school holidays and had become fascinated with the rearing of pigs… and decided that writing a book on pig rearing (I was young and it never came to fruition) was far more interesting and constrictive than learning French and so instead of following the lesson was engrossed in writing a passage on the reproductive cycle of a pig. Unfortunately, I had not realised she had been standing behind me asking me something like how to say open the door in French (which was probably a phrase I would never use anyway) but I was so in my own world I didn’t even notice. I received two strokes of the cane for not paying attention (our school was a great school in truth but did believe in discipline) and my embryonic career as a writer binned. It didn’t stop me though and I used to write loads of short stories and then when we were given English homework would use them if we had to write an essay. So pretty well always. It wasn’t though until recently that I started to get serious. I think the problem is it is such a difficult industry. It is easy to write but difficult to get someone to read it… especially if they have to pay for it. You normally get the response of… ohh you wrote a book… do you have a copy you can let me have I would like to read that… which is a bit self-defeating as you are going to work and then paying someone to do so!

GM: Describe your writing regime; do you have a muse or other inspiration that drives your creativity?
CD: In honesty, I think everything that surrounds one gives inspiration. Music, people, animals, life that all give you something if you just take the trouble to look. I don’t think there is really one thing that creates for me. I see a couple hand in hand and it gives me an idea, I see an animal looking lovingly at someone. I tend to be quite observant and study my surroundings a lot. But then I also go into a sort of trance like state where I drift off into my own world where I completely blank, I think if I didn’t the down side of life would be too much to bear. So, in short everywhere and everything inspires me.

GM: Your first volume in The Rocket Series is Sting in the Tail released earlier this year. How much of your own life with horses is weaved into the script?
CD: This is a difficult one. I have always denied this but I think you do put a little of yourself in your characters. Most of my friends say it is me but I think that is an exaggeration. As I say you are bound to put a little of yourself in the characters but I tend to “pinch” bits from other characters that I know or meet and blend them altogether. Having spent a great deal of my time around horsey it was quite easy to take bits from others to make the person I wanted on the pages. Some of the stuff in the book is bound to be about you as a person and one’s own experiences but it has to be remembered that it is still a fiction so just a little of me maybe.

GM: What future books are coming in the The Rocket Series?
CD: From Rocket with Love is soon to be released and then Storm Brewing, I also have an idea to follow that with Both Barrels, that though will I think be the last in the series. I am quite pleased with From Rocket with Love as it really is very different and I think a little surprising. It’s like everything I suppose JK Rowling wouldn’t have written the follow ups to Harry Potter if there was no demand… so if people buy the book… well maybe it will inspire me to do more… I have a couple of ideas so we shall see.

GM: Do you plan to write a book about your other horsemanship adventures?  
CD: I was thinking of trying to compile a book of bedtime stories for children and a know Your Pony book that I am writing with someone else, I think it will be good when it is finished… well I hope so!

GM: I know you have written several prolific poetry and prose books this year. Amazing reads with great reviews. What other books have you written?
CD: I have several other books in the Something series to come as I enjoy doing them, it is great to be able to put all one’s emotions and opinions down, you can say whatever you want in whatever form. I have also written a book called Plant Potions and Oils for Horses a subject that is dear to my heart. I have always believed that we do not use the resources that are under our noses and in fact I consult for a fantastic company called Cavalor based in Belgium that have a really open mind and I formulate remedies based on natural resources. They are extremely demanding in their testing of products, which I like, but also they are prepared to invest in researching the formulations I produce for them. They have several products coming out this year that will have been formulated by me and I am quite proud of that fact.

GM: What are you currently writing?
CD: I am finishing off Storm Brewing, have started working on the follow up to the (working title Both Barrels). I have another that is in the pipeline called Fired Up, again working title that is based on a small farmer come horseman that becomes involved in the underworld through chance. I think it will be okay and make quite an exciting read. I have another called The Hit which I am not sure will ever see the light of day in truth. it is very dark and it is graphic and deals with the darkest side of the underworld. It is quite shocking in places which I wanted it to be as I would like the reader to realise there are a lot of things we close our eyes and ignore because it is so far out of our comfort zones but as I say I am not sure it will ever go to print. Apart from that I have a couple of fantasy novels I am working on that again may one day see the light of day. I am also thinking of doing another book on natural remedies for horses but that is sort of just an idea I have penciled on a scrap of paper at the moment.

I have a couple more poetry books I am working on and have a few ideas. I tend to have a lot of work “started” and then will select which I like the most and concentrate on that. I am not a consistent person if I am honest and tend to be a bit unpredictable, half the time I don’t know what I will be doing or working on from one second to the next! As my publisher knows well and probably means she needs to restock on Valium to cope with me!

GM: Congratulations on all of your award-winning new books! I’m positive your publisher does not take Valium (lol). Do you have advice for novice writers?
CD: I’m not sure that anyone would want to take advice from me! Actually, my advice to others is normally pretty sound, it is me that I have problems with, I seem to have a distinct lack of any sense when it comes to trying to advise myself! I don’t think there is any secret formula that you can use, you just have to go with the flow, write what you think and don’t be restricted by convention. Allow your imagination full rein. Don’t allow rejection to stop you, keep trying, accept criticism with grace and if it is constructive act on it. We all hate to have our work criticised but without it will never improve and always remember that some will like what you do but it will not suit everyone, otherwise we would all write the same and that would be extremely boring.

GM: Back to horses. Tell us about your favorite horse and why they were your favorite...
CD: It would be a stallion I owned, an Anglo Arab. He was the kindest horse I ever knew and would always give his all for you. he would follow me around the yard even past a mare without breaking stride, no head collar, he was incredibly intelligent and we just had a special relationship, we were the best of friends. To show how good he was he was being skipped out one morning and we had some friends visiting and their daughter who was about two had sneaked into his stable without being noticed. She waddled up to him wrapped her arms around his back leg and was hugging the life out of him and he never as much as twitched. Just looked at her looked at me as much to say please get her off my leg. He was the best.

GM: As a former horse trainer, what is key to creating a winning horse, and a horse that will be a well-loved companion?
CD: Learning to relate to your horse and having patience. I trained Arabians and pre-trained Thoroughbreds. I have to tell you Arabians are harder to train as they think a lot more than a Thoroughbred. You really do have to gain their trust. Sadly for me the bureaucracy spoils the job, the small man has no chance against the big owners that have huge resources to back them, though I have to say I did manage to give them a run for their money! It is also about understanding that it should not be a numbers game but about the individual horse. We shut them in a box for 23 hours a day to train them for a few minutes and think that is good enough… I did things a little differently than that. if you told a human athlete he would only have to do a few minutes a day and he would be 100% fir in six or twelve weeks he would laugh at you. For me personally, and it is only my personal view as there are some amazing trainers out there at the moment, horse need a stronger regime to become ultimately fit shall we say, they need patience and the opportunity to enjoy their work not be expected to be at their peak when they are given say a five-furlong workout then expected to run over say two miles. But then we all have different methods mine just worked really well for me.

GM: What does horsemanship mean to you?
CD: Not doing the wrong thing, which we have all done! If you are in a bad mood don’t go working your horse, you will not do the job properly, your horse will sense it and you will end up giving yourself three times more than you need to and making a mess of it. Come back after an hour when you are feeling less agitated. Once you have started something though you cannot walk away keep going to the end and have patience. Take the time to get to know your horse, watch him or her, learn and that means from the horse or from someone who gives you sound advice. The thing about horses is friendship and trust but also being the boss, quite a hard combination to find a happy medium. Be kind but firm, have understanding and discipline and always remember your horse can teach you as much if not more than you can teach them.

Connect with Chris…

See all of Chris' books here...

Monday, July 17, 2017

Reach Out to Horses with Anna Twinney

with Anna Twinney
 Press Release

World renowned horse whisperer and communicator Anna Twinney shares her current Animal Communication Class schedule! Sign up today! Classes fill quickly!

Saturday, July 8, 2017

Barney The Lopsided Mule by Liz Hughey & Son

Barney The Lopsided Mule
by Liz Hughey & Son
Barney stars as the lead character in Liz's first children's book. Illustrated by Bonnie Shields, 'The Mule Artist', Barney the Lopsided Mule will make children and parent's grin and laugh with his tall, wide ears, and lopsided saddle. Children will learn about mules and the wonderful world of outfitting along with the benefits of eating a healthy, balanced diet. Barney the Lopsided Mule is a great introduction to our nation's National Forests, the backcountry, and the animals that can take you there.

Liz Hughey is a mud puddle loving mom from Brookville, Indiana. She has a degree in Geography from Indiana University and spent the better part of her twenties working as a horse guide and mule packer in the National Forests and Wilderness Areas of Northwest Colorado. She now resides in Southeastern Indiana on her family's Red Angus beef ranch with her son and their rather large brood of pets. She and her son are the grazing managers to the ranch's grass-fed beef operation and spend most summer days with the herd. Liz has a passion for educating children in mules and horses, animal husbandry, environmental stewardship, healthy eating habits, and an organic, simple lifestyle.

Connect with Liz…
Purchase signed copies: http://thecowgirlpoet.com/shop.html

 Cosmic Cowgirl Remorse
By Liz Hughey 
(c) thecowgirlpoet.com

As I sit here on this front porch step
I feel so far removed.
From the mountains, from the prairies,
from the cowgirl groove.

Much further than a phone call,
Or an airplane ride.
A feeling that’s been felt before,
often taken in stride.

Most times, when I feel this way,
I go catch up my horse.
But it’s too late for that.
Time for cosmic, cowgirl remorse.

“Go West my friend!
It’s the land of opportunity!”
Of dreams and National Forests,
the cowboy community. 

But go too far, and you’ll land
in the exact same place.
The true life for this packing gal’s
Is a rural, mountainous space.

East of the “Mighty Miss”
and West of the Sierra’s
Cowboy hats are worn for fun,
as costumes and tiaras.

There, a hat and boots,
Is a rustic, fashion statement.
Not useful, honest tools to help
with weather and displacement.

“Chinks” and “chaps” are slurs,
not rightful leg protection.
The only way to buck this feeling’s,
traveling the right direction.

To where one sees, a pack boot
and knows a person’s trade.
Where they call a “mule” a “mule”
and a “spade” a “spade”

The place where one can ride for days,
not ever crossing fence.
And diamonds are a hitch thrown
with a lash and packing sense.

Right now I have the North Star,
to take me to Lost Park.
Just wish this cowgirl’s day dreams
didn’t happen after dark.

Friday, July 7, 2017

Clinch River Justice by Alfred Patrick

Recommended Reading
Available at Amazon.com

Clinch River Justice
by Alfred Patrick
In Clinch River Justice, a boy matures into manhood, falls in love, and begins to find his way in life. As an inexperienced but idealistic deputy sheriff, this young man, Charley Scott, faces a rash of deaths in a normally idyllic, peaceful Appalachian community in the early 1940s. These deaths of neighbors and a beloved family member result when greed, passion, jealousy, hopelessness, or utter disdain for the life or welfare of another human overcomes some residents’ sense of fidelity and of right and wrong. In the young deputy’s endeavors to apprehend killers and in his quest for justice, he learns how difficult that simple concept is to achieve.


Alfred Patrick grew up in the Appalachian Mountains of Southwest Virginia, the setting for Clinch River Justice. He earned degrees at Bluefi eld College, Virginia Tech, and the University of Tennessee. After teaching at high school and collegiate levels in Virginia and Louisiana, he served as professor, department chair, and dean in the College of Business at Eastern Kentucky University, where he retired. He enjoys reading, traveling, gardening, and backpacking and has completed the Appalachian and John Muir Trails and others. He and his wife, Peggy, live in Richmond, Kentucky; they have a daughter, a grandson, and five granddaughters.

Read my interview with Alfred Patrick here!

Friday, June 30, 2017

Roping & Riding with LeAnna Billie

LeAnna Billie
Archived Freelance from the June 2017 Issue of Florida Equine Athlete
No duplication without permission.

From Okeechobee, Florida, USA, welcome seven-time EIRA Year-end Woman's All-round rodeo champion, and more, LeAnna Billie! As a professional rodeo rider, LeAnna has competed against some of the best riders in the USA. She began loving horses at young age, and tells young riders, “Never limit yourself or your dreams based on what other people think you can or cannot do.”

GM: You have an amazing history with horses! You have roped against the PRCA and INFR Rodeo Pros. Your passion for your sport shines through!  Who do you accredit your love for riding and your success as a horsewoman? 
LB:  Well even though I come from a non-horse/rodeo family I grew up with a love of horses. After watching my first rodeo at the age of 13, I was determined to learn how to ride horses and compete in rodeo. I accredit my mom for supporting me every step of the way, and for my love of riding. I accredit my husband, Ivan BruisedHead, for my success as a horsewoman. He is the one who believed in me, helped me to accomplish my goals, and pushed me to be the best I can be, and much more. I am still learning everyday.
GM: Throughout your career you have ridden several horses - Jet, your big black quarter horse - and others. What does it take to be a rodeo horse and how do you pick the right one?  
LB: Well what I look for in a rodeo horse is a stout build, good conformation, a good mind, to be able to handle the pressure of the rodeo scene, to have speed and athleticism.

GM: As a rodeo cowgirl, you frequent and ride the best venues. Where is your favorite arena to compete?
LB: My favorite arena to compete in is in Reno, Nevada, during the PRCA rodeo and BFI roping. The Reno Rodeo Committee is very accommodating to its contestants and horses. It’s just an all-out fun rodeo to go to.  

GM: You have a lot of accolades to your credit. What accomplishment/titles have you won? 
LB:  Seven-times EIRA Year-end Woman's All-round champion. In 2011 I was the first Seminole to win two Breakaway Roping Go-round buckles at the INFR. Six-times INFR Qualifier in the Breakaway, also I was the only female to qualify and compete in the team roping at the 2014 INFR, also the only Female hazer in the steer wrestling. I hazed for the 2008 Indian World Champion steer wrestler Ivan BruisedHead at the 2014 INFR. I am the only Seminole to compete three-times at the WPRA roping finals in the Tie-Down roping, Breakaway roping, and Team roping. I am the only Seminole to make the WPRA roping world standing in both Tie-down roping and Breakaway roping standings. In 2016, I made the top 15 in the WPRA world standings in Tie-down roping and Breakaway roping. I am the only female Hazer in the steer wrestling in the PRCA Southeastern circuit. I am the only female to win money and make the PRCA Southeastern Circuit standings in Team roping.

GM: Rodeo requires a lot of stamina and grace. How do you stay fit?
LB: One of the most important things I do is try to eat healthy to keep up my energy for the day. Just everyday working, stacking hay bales and loading feed, working horses and practicing team roping, calf roping, is in my way a work out.
GM: What routine, if any, do you do that helps you to focus on the patterns and rodeo routine?  
LB: What helps me to stay sharp in my roping events - I do a lot of slow work practicing my basics on the ground, roping the dummy. I never practice on live cattle, so to keep my rope horses and my barrel horses tuned up, I do a lot of slow work on my horse with my perfect calf and heel-Omatic steer dummies that get pulled around with a four-wheeler. When I get ready for a rodeo, since I compete in more than one event, I do a checklist to make sure I have what I need for each horse. I will load saddles and saddle pads that I will need to get to first at the top, then so on. I always make sure I check all my tack in case something needs to be fixed or changed out.

GM: Do you have a mentor/trainer who helps you to stay focused?  
LB:  My Aunt Darlene Fletcher and my husband Ivan BruisedHead. They are the ones who motivate me to improve myself in my rodeo. My horses help me to stay focused when I am feeling overwhelmed, by being in a slump in my rodeo, or if I have issues with a horse and need help, they are always there for me.

GM: You teach kids in your neighborhood how to ride and care for horses. Finding time for other people is inspirational; taking time out of your busy schedule to devote to others is something we all should do. What advice do you have for novice riders and those looking to become rodeo riders?  
LB: Rodeo is an unforgiving sport. Things are not always going to go your way, so don't get frustrated and don't start blaming others, instead learn from it, fix it, get over it, and move on to the next one. I see this a lot in both novice and Pro riders in rodeo. Also, try not to get caught up in watching what others are doing because what may work for them and their horse, may not work for you and your horse. And remember your top priority should be the healthcare of your horse, your horse works hard for you in competition. You should work hard to care for your horse. Be competitive, but also have fun. Never limit yourself or your dreams based on what other people think you can or cannot do.

GM: When you're not practicing, competing, or helping others learn to ride, what is your favorite thing to do?  
LB: I like to go fishing and hunting.  

GM: What would you like people to know about horses, riding, and the rodeo, that they may not already know?
LB: What I think a lot of people don’t see about rodeo is how unchanging it is in its traditional values compared to other sports. Rodeo is the one sport that stands strong in their belief. When I hear people talk about how bad they think some of the events are, it is because they don't really ever take the time to fully understand why we have these events and see that we take every step we can to insure the safety of all the rodeo livestock and the competitors. But they do need to understand the fact that they are animals and accidents happen, somethings we cannot control in rodeo. We know that and we do what we can to be prepared for those things. What they also don't know is that the rodeo family has the strongest bond. We are not blood related, but we stick together as if we are.

GM: What does horsemanship mean to you?
LB: To me horsemanship starts with good healthcare of the horse. Then it is in building of trust and also to gain the respect from the horse on the ground. When you start with getting a horse’s trust and having them respect you on the ground, it makes them so much more responsive when you get in the saddle and start working with them. Unfortunately, horses with no ground manners or respect for their rider is something I see a lot of when I am at shows. It’s also usually the main problem I deal with when someone sends me a horse that they are having problems with. I strive to educate more people on the importance of ground work, its where trust and bond between horse and rider will start to build. It’s something that requires a lot of dedication and patience for because it is not something that happens quickly, it takes time, a lot energy, and it can really get frustrating at times. But I can tell you this, the work is all worth it. To me it is the best feeling in the world and if I had to do it all over again, I would.    

Gina McKnight is a freelance writer and author from Ohio, USA. gmcknight.com

Saturday, June 10, 2017

The South High Horseman: Stories and Poems by a Teen Cowboy

The South High Horseman
Stories and Poems by a Teen Cowboy
Written by Peter Smith
Compiled by Gina McKnight
Illustrations by Kelly Lincoln

Journey to 1956, South High School, Denver, Colorado. In this heartfelt volume of essays, South High teenager Peter Smith writes of cowboys, poachers, horses, rodeos, and much more.
A sincere writer who brings to life his perils on and off horseback.

Available from amazon.com

Readers’ Favorite 5-Star Review!
Reviewed By Ashley Tetzlaff for Readers’ Favorite

Saddle up and ride the Colorado range as seen through the eyes of Peter Smith’s 1950s High School Essays in The South High Horseman: Stories and Poems by a Teen Cowboy. There are about ten essays and two or three poems written by Peter as well as about twenty comments from friends that were written in his high school year book. The collection was published by family members as a way to remember and honor their father/grandfather after his death in 2010. The tales cover things like breaking in horses, climbing a mountain in winter, hunting wild cats, thoughts on God and religion, and much more! Recommended reading age is for Middle Schoolers and up.

The South High Horseman: Stories and Poems by a Teen Cowboy is a great tribute to a simpler time as seen through the eyes of a high school cowboy. Reading Peter Smith’s work, it is hard to believe he was a high schooler when he wrote these! They reflect the musings of a much more mature mind. Peter’s dry wit and attention to detail make each stand-alone tale something to be amazed at and chuckle over. I felt like I got a very good picture of what being a cowboy in Colorado was like in the 1950s. I felt the bitter cold nights, the joy of scaring off poachers, the exhaustion of riding from sunup to sunset, the satisfaction of a night of deep sleep after a grueling day of work. Very descriptive and enjoyable. I soaked in every word and thoroughly enjoyed it. I’m so glad the family published Peter Smith’s writings so we too could enjoy them. Wonderful read!

Thursday, May 25, 2017

Trailering Horses: An interview with Curt Courtney by Gina McKnight

Kia and Joy learn to love the water

Trailering Horses: An interview with Curt Courtney
by Gina McKnight
Archived Interview from the May 2017 Issue of Florida Equine Athlete
No duplication without permission.

From Council Bluffs, Iowa, USA, welcome horseman Curt Courtney! Curt is an expert in horse transportation. Riders and horse owners know the importance of providing a safe environment for your horse while on the road. Curt and his wife Joy have trailered horses all over the United States.

Curt writes, “I have been around horses my entire life, my parents were avid trail riders. My wife and I own and ride horses. We know a lot of horse people. We started delivering trailers and all types of cargo/horses all over the United States, which led to opening our own trailer sales company.” Curt continues by emphasizing the importance of trailer safety, keeping your horse comfortable in the trailer, and purchasing the right trailer.

GM: Curt, you’ve an awesome horse history! With both parents loving horses, and being around horses your entire life, you have the experience to help others with horse transportation! When was your first encounter with a horse?
CC: I barely remember my "first" encounter with a horse. I have been around horses since I was a small child. My first was with a buckskin mare named Trixy. My four cousins and I would all get on her bare back together. She would take what my dad referred to as "baby steps" then when you put an adult on her she was a regular step out trail horse. I then ended up with my very own Shetland pony named Babe who took very good care of me and helped me lose fear and gain confidence.

GM: What horses do you currently stable?
CC: Currently we have seven horses. Kia is Joy’s registered Paint mare, then we have Bo who is my granddaughters POA (Pony of the Americas) gelding. We have two minis, a pony, and donkey who is our watchdog. We also have a Tennessee Walker and a Rocky Mountain as well as a Quarter Horse – all mares.

GM: As an avid rider and horse enthusiast, you must ride a lot. Where is your favorite place to ride?
CC: My favorite place to ride would have to be Turkey Creek Ranch located by Newcastle, Nebraska. Turkey Creek Ranch offers 16+ miles of groomed trails that allow you to explore the beauty of northeast Nebraska. Terrain ranges from scenic hilltop views of the Missouri River, to peaceful shaded ravines for a quiet ride. The perfect weekend getaway, Turkey Creek Ranch offers some of the most beautiful horse trails available. The views from up on the hills as you look out over the Missouri River bottoms are simply amazing.

GM: And your best horse?
CC: Kia is by far the best horse on our property. She belonged to Joy’s father before he passed away. She is the same horse every time out no matter how long she goes between being used, there is not a mean bone in her. Joy trail rides. Joy and our granddaughter Calyla have been doing trail challenge courses on Kia. They brought home a championship buckle last year.

GM: As a seasoned horseman, very knowledgeable about horse trailers and transporting horses, what is the most important item buyers should know when purchasing a horse trailer?
CC: As horse owners, we know when we are selling a trailer the risks that come with hauling horses. When we sell a horse trailer, safety is top priority. That is why our trailers are equipped with electric brakes on BOTH axles not just one and they also include a spare tire. I always say going is great, but when you need to stop, you want to stop, and nobody I know wants to sit alongside the road with animals with a flat tire waiting for help.

GM: As a horse owner, I prefer hauling my horses in a stock trailer vs. a horse trailer. What are your thoughts on this topic?
CC: People have used stock trailers to move horses for years and there is nothing wrong with that. After all, a lot of your horse trailers are simply stock trailers that have had options added to them to make them horse specific. We offer a swing wall tack room with removable saddle racks, and once you remove the saddle racks, the swing wall opens and is suitable for use as a stock trailer.

GM: So far you have seen a lot of horses, a lot of horse people, and have had your share of riding history. Can you share a favorite riding anecdote?
CC: A horse memory for us is a bittersweet one. Joy’s dad was near the end of his battle with cancer. His hospital bed was in the bedroom by the window. My brother-in-laws removed the screen from the window and Kia was brought up to the house. She put her head thru the window and nuzzled him. I guess she was saying her goodbyes.

GM: Do you have advice for novice riders?
CC:  My advice to novice riders would be to learn your horse and never let the horse decide when you get off.

GM: What does horsemanship mean to you?
CC: To me horsemanship is being in the same place as your horse, not physically but mentally being in the same place. It is about mutual respect between you and your horse. It is about understanding each other

If you have questions about transporting your horse, contact Curt…

Gina McKnight is an equestrian, author, freelance writer, and editor at Monday Creek Publishing.

Calyla and Bo establish their bond.