Sunday, November 22, 2015

Candace Wade, Author and Equestrian

Candace riding Shabeah
Residing in Tennessee, USA, meet author and equestrian Candace Wade. Candace is the co-author of Horse Sluts - The Saga of Two Women on the Trail of Their Yeehaw. Horse Sluts tells how to face your fears. How to challenge yourself. How to spit age in the eye -- on horseback.”

Along with her co-author, Penny Langley, Candace writes, “We create audacious events that surprise. People can't wait to play in our "sandbox." 

Welcome Candace!

When was your first encounter with a horse?
We all had the usual pony rides as a child. Then I had the "stay-ons" (I know now I wasn't truly riding) bouncing for two hours in Griffith Park in Los Angeles and Palm Springs.  The spiffy clothes associated with riding English moved me to take a few English riding lessons in the Malibu hills in my late 20's. This was also "away time" from my husband at the time. I was more interested in creating myself than being married.  Competing wasn't my goal, so I traded the riding Saturdays for hanging out at the beach with my girlfriend.  Is there a study that shows how many women use horses as an escape from (fill in the blank) and/or a vehicle to re-invent themselves?

What horses do you currently stable and what are their dispositions?
The world is my stable because I don't own, I rent.  "Jag," a Paint Quarter Horse and "Shebeah" (as in "she be a b****"), a grey Tennessee Walking Horse are the two main horses in my life.  "Shebeah" is my favorite ride at Southeast Pack Trips at Big South Fork, Tennessee. She's not really a b****. The owner, Larry McMillan, calls her that because she bites him. Maybe he deserves it? "Shebeah" is willing, fast, has a soaring walk. Her canter rocks like a cradle. She makes me look good.

My lovely "Jag" belongs to a teenage girl who rides and boards him at Equine Training Center in Mt. Pleasant, Tennessee.  He works as a schooling horse for selected riders.  His previous job as a barrel racer makes him expect that every rider wants to fly around the arena and make bat-turns.  I (and his owner) ride him English.  He is smart, willing, fast and is a tailor-made teacher for me. He challenges me just enough.  "Jag" is not social. I have discovered this works with my personality. I have been reading Ride the Right Horse by Yvonne Barteau. She breaks down horses' and riders' personality types to help match them and to understand why we might not be blending with our rides. I love "Jag." I don't expect/need him to love me back. That would be about "me." My riding with him is about "us" and him as my teacher.  I love to love "Jag." I don't need him to love me in return.

Congratulations on your book Horse Sluts !
Thank you for your support and acknowledgment on writing, completing and bringing Horse Sluts - The Saga of Two Women on the Trail of Their Yeehaw to print.  My goal was to express Penny and my experiences as creative non-fiction.  True, but visceral and visual. 

What is the premise for your book and who is your niche audience?
The blurb from our marketing card expresses the premise as:

When memories of who we were and what we used to do smash at our egos like bugs on a windshield, Horse Sluts gives a leg up on recapturing the yeehaw of youth. It's how to stand up to fears, how to challenge ourselves.  Horse Sluts is for women who refuse to surrender to age, women who embrace moving forward; it's for women open to the thrill of freedom, of movement, of power -- okay, of controlling a large animal between her legs. Yeehaw! 

Penny and I discovered early into the fantasy process of writing Horse Sluts that the book was not about us; it was about reaching out to other mature riders who used to ride, never rode and/or wanted to feel "juicy" inside again.  Penny and I are just the foils -- examples of overcoming the foibles of being a middle-aged human.

How did you and Penny connect and collaborate?
Penny and I became friends through another friend before my husband and I moved from San Francisco to Middle Tennessee in 1999.  She and I were both in our 40's and plunged into riding lessons together.  We became dear friends and riding buddies.  After years of lessons, riding trips and carting about within an eight hour drive to horse events, the idea that writing a book about our crazy riding adventures became the next audacious challenge.  We dubbed ourselves Horse Sluts because we didn't own horses and were motivated to do most anything to ride. "Hey, Mister, I'll muck your stalls if I can ride your horse."  Truth is, mostly we pay cold hard cash to rent.

We cobbled a list of riding trips we had taken (together and apart), our lesson experiences and focused on what we felt.  I started to get a sense of how the stories could be organized as examples for the learning and growing processes older riders experience.  A "three act" form began to emerge. Our journey of growth became the engine to bring the reader along with us. 

Penny would send her recollections and personal experiences to me to weave into the story fabric. Her view is shown in italics.  Penny is an engaging, "sit on the couch with a glass of wine" storyteller.  I tried to replicate her "voice" in those sections. As usual with us, we had no idea how to do any of this, but believed if other people could do it, so could we. Much like learning to post on the diagonal -- if kids can do it, so can we.

Where are the best riding trails in Tennessee?
Penny and I are still exploring.  Not owning, we are a tad bit limited to areas where we can procure horses.  Big South Fork on the Cumberland Plateau is my fave. We rent at Southeast Pack Trips. We stay at either Laurel Fork Rustic Retreat or the newly re-opened The Fork. It used to be Wildwood Bed and Breakfast. We shop and party at True West Campground and Mercantile. True West has a prime location at the entrance of the park for those who trailer their horses to stable and camp.

We enjoyed two hours of varied terrain just outside of Nashville at Percy Warner Park. I have friends that love Bowie Park for wide, loamy trails. Trailering to Milky Way Farm is on our list, too.

Describe a day in the life of Candace Wade…
Those of you who work at home know that beginning and end times and days off have to be brought to ground -- found -- lassoed -- respected. My day is a juggling act among marketing Horse Sluts (Facebook, e-mails, ferreting out PR and book related opportunities); writing for Horse Nation and Mature Lifestyles; looking for other freelance writing opportunities; quiet time to let new writing ideas seep into my brain; preparing to moderate a panel at the Equus Film Festival NYC in November; writing a sample treatment for a scripted version of Horse Sluts (just in case); carving out riding time and the usual home and husband stuff.  I am a lark. Coffee and a stab at the NY Times Sunday crossword puzzle begins at 6:00 a.m. I check the week's weather in case I can go out to Equine Training Center to ride "Jag." My husband and I suit up to take our pooch out for a long walk, then zip over to the gym. We are back at our perspective desks by 9:00ish.

Penny and I soaked-up a seminar on a work discipline for success. Identify and focus on the one thing that is the path to your goal.  Isn't this true when working to improve our riding?  Find and focus on one thing that you can accomplish -- do well -- then, move to another task another day (or, in your work day, later that day).  Facebook and Twitter can be an explosive tool for marketing, keeping up horsey relationships and connecting with new horse friends, BUT, it can be a blood sucker. Its siren call pulls us away from our tangible lives.  Facebook and e-mails get their own time block in my day, then that's it.  I put my fingers in my ears, focus on my writing and repeat, "I can't hear you. I can't hear you."  By 3:00 p.m. I'm blitzed. Then, time for another dog walk; inventing something for dinner that my husband can identify as food; laundry; garden; house and falling to sleep to re--runs of Law and Order.

What are you currently writing?
I am scouting ideas and dogging interviews for new pieces that include:  what is involved in "unstacking" "big lick" gaited horses; how and when did soring and "big lick" start; a friend who jumps sidesaddle on a stunning spotted mule; mature riders who play polo; and pieces focused toward older riders (especially those who don't own) and motivating mature people to claim their yeehaw.  I am incubating a novel based on a film scrip I wrote.  Fiction writing scares me -- the "edge of the world"  lack of boundaries.  I'm one of those who feels comfort by rules and boundaries -- so I know where and when to bust them.

What are you currently reading?
My reading is heavy on non-fiction. I'm reading Ride the Right Horse mentioned before.  I have started The Broken Road by Patrick Leigh Fermor. Following picaresque journeys sucks me in. Anything by Bill Bryson, but especially Lost Continent and Neither Here Nor There. God's Middle Finger by Richard Grant is stunning in its language and visuals.  Fiction? Anything by James Lee Burke and the Aurelio Zen series by Michael Dibdin.  I'm drawn to the sensuous (gratifying the senses) styles of writing. I want to smell and taste the crawfish po' boy and drink in the scenery as I'm led to the car crash of the character's emotional adventure.

Do you have advice for novice riders and those looking to purchase their first horse?
We crafted our stories not to play-act as experts. That said I would look an adult beginning rider in the eye and say, "Name your emotions and I've been there.  You are not alone.  Take a deep breath and jump in."

Jane Smiley's interview "Everything I Need to Know I Learned from a Horse" reaffirms much of what we older riders experience.

I'd pass on the advice given to me to work on one task at a time. You can say "no" to any activity for which you have real fear or concern, but keep giving them a try. One day, you will be the master of that fear. Turn off your day, turn off your brain, turn off your "have to's" and trust the horse.  Acquiring a first horse?  Like buying a used car, take along a "mechanic" -- someone who knows horses.  I would hope you would consider a rescue.  Close your eyes and choose with your gut.  Like with us, beauty is under the saddle not on the face.

What does horsemanship mean to you?
Most of us will never win a silver cup or perform airs above the ground.  Even if we do, for me, horsemanship starts with responsible care and stewardship.  It is a willingness to continue to learn and improve riding skills in order to keep both horse and rider safe. It is patience and grace under stress. It is turning the me into we on entering the barn.

Connect with Candace…

Candace on Jag with Penny at Equine Training Center

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