Sunday, November 22, 2015

Penelope Langley, Author and Equestrian

Penelope (Penny) Langley is an avid equestrian, certified equine massage therapist, hooker (rug hooker!), fiber diva, and author. Along with Candace Wade, Penny wrote Horse Sluts: The Saga of Two Women on the Trail of their Yeehaw. 

Living with her dog Sookie in Tennessee, USA, Penny interviews about her riding, writing, and much more…

Welcome Penny!

When was your first encounter with a horse?
My sister and her husband lived on his family’s farm and there was a pony all the kids rode.  They used the pony in 4-H shows and the local pony club mostly barrel racing.  The barrels were set up in a field and we would ride to the starting line and the pony knew exactly what to do without any encouragement from us.  She would take off and go through the barrel pattern and as soon as she rounded the last barrel she would go into a mad dash toward the finish line.  I had no problems staying in the saddle and felt no fear whatsoever – oh, the joy of youth!

What horses do you currently stable and what are their dispositions?
I’m a horse slut so I don’t have my own horse but I have had some favorites.  I’ve ridden a Tennessee Walking Horse named Spur at Southeast Pack Trips the last few times I’ve been and I really enjoy him.  He’s good natured, smart, steady and has no problem moving out into that walking-on-a-cloud gait that the horses are known for.  We’re a great match because we both like to move with a little speed.  My all-time favorite horse was Buddy, another TN Walking Horse that was owned by a friend.  We bonded the first time we met and he was the only horse that would always come to us when we went to the pasture to bring them in.  He would lay his head on my shoulder and follow me like a puppy.  I would canter him across a field and all I had to do to turn him was tighten my little finger and he knew exactly what I wanted. 

Congratulations on your novel Horse Sluts!
Thank you and I hope you enjoyed it.  We started it more for our own entertainment than for the public but as we met more women who ride and shared their horse experiences with us, it soon became clear that we needed to put this out there as a way for all horse women to connect.  We’ve met wonderful people who we now consider friends through the book and hope it will continue.

Candace, your co-author, has already interviewed about Horse Sluts, but your viewpoint is important, too! What is the premise for your book and who is your niche audience? 
The book is about our experiences as two 40-something women who decide we want to learn to ride.  We find out that our minds may still be in our 20’s but our bodies definitely aren’t.  Fear raises its ugly head as we realize the repercussions of a fall or injury and suddenly helmets are a great idea – no, they’re mandatory!  Candace and I are the same in that we love to learn new things and to track our progress as our skills advance.  If you could learn to ride from a book, we would be national champions but we took what we learned from books and applied it to our riding.  For me, it’s a reminder that life is an adventure and age is no reason to stop doing the things you love or to start learning new things.  Our niche audience is middle-aged women who ride, have always wanted to ride, have always wanted to get back into riding or have always wanted to do anything they’ve never had the courage or the time to pursue.  It’s also for people who enjoy reading about other’s adventures and the feelings and emotions that come up when on this journey.  One of the most important things when we were writing was that we were brutally real and honest.  I think that has helped us connect with other women because having fun comes before being perfect.  It doesn’t matter if you do something perfectly – just that you do it!

How did you and Candace connect?
We met through a mutual friend when Candace was still living in California and hit it off immediately.  Our friend hosted a party in Tennessee and we had come up with our first joint venture within an hour of meeting.  Another friend had spent the previous weekend at her husband’s fishing camp watching an hour long video about skeet shooting because she was trying to show some interest in his hobbies.  We decided to develop a line of eye cream specifically for the woman skeet shooter since they have to close one eye and focus and there are bound to be additional wrinkles.  We were going to call it Skeet Cream and sell it in a double pump action dispenser.  As we howled with laughter, some joined in and some looked at us like they weren’t quite sure if we should be committed.  I guess you already know the ones we’re still friends with? 

Where are the best riding trails in Tennessee?
In the book I say that if I could only ride one place for the rest of my life, it would be at Big South Fork.  There are so many trails with terrain that can be flat where you can move with speed to some serious climbs.  It’s incredibly beautiful and mostly heavy forest with wild rhododendron that blooms in the spring.  You can ride all day and only see one or two other people.  It’s truly a slice of heaven on earth.

Penny on Cheyenne at Big South Fork
Describe a day in the life of Penny Langley…
Since I work full time as mortgage operations manager for a bank, I get up and go through the house like my hair is on fire trying to get to work on time.  I’m not a morning person.  I have a commute of about an hour so I listen to books on tape as I drive and then dive into work.  I check Facebook and e-mail during lunch to see what’s happening and also post on our Twitter and Pinterest accounts.  I often work late but continue to do social media marketing once I get home.

What are you currently writing?
I’m not currently writing anything because I’m more of a storyteller than a writer.   I’m a traditional rug hooker and fiber artist and am currently working on one of my all-time favorite hooked rugs.  My goal is to finish this one (a lion) and then start a project of hooking various horses and western-themed rugs.  I hooked one of cowboy boots several years ago and sold it through a ranch and lodgings specialty store in Los Angeles.  I’ve sold several others in Middle TN and want to do more original designs. I do have a plan to eventually write a trail snacks and cocktails book.  I love to read about food and come up with new cocktail recipes (former bartender) and specialize in the quick and easy when it comes to food.  A great cocktail and snacks is the perfect way to end the day after a great ride, followed by a nice but easy dinner.  I was diagnosed as a diabetic last year so I want to provide some trail snacks that will meet the needs of diabetics when they’re out on the trail miles away from a store, house, etc. in case there is a drop in blood sugar. 

What are you currently reading?
I read everything but can never remember titles.  I’m finishing up a book about a man who saved a mustang captured by the Bureau of Land Management.  I’m also reading one about matching people and horses up through personality types such as the Briggs Myers test for horses and people.  I always have several fictions going as well as catching up on the latest Vanity Fair – love their articles.  Another book I’m reading is Insight Mediation since getting into meditation is on my list of things to do.  With working full-time and promoting the book as well as everything else in my life, I think meditation will bring me some of the peace I find when on horseback.

Do you have advice for novice riders and those looking to purchase their first horse?
I would suggest lessons for anyone who wants to take up horseback riding as well as always wearing a helmet.  The lessons you learn about safety around a horse are well worth the cost of lessons and you can then move on to riding skills.  Another thing I would say is that not every trainer is right for every student and it’s important to find someone who works well with you and your style of learning.  People learn differently and if your trainer isn’t able to teach in a style that works for you, frustration will soon set in and may sour you on riding. 

Another thing I’ve found is that just because someone has horses or says they’ve been riding a long time, it doesn’t’ always mean they know best.  We’ve been in some interesting and unsafe situations around people who were supposed to be experts.  If your gut instinct is telling you that something isn’t a good idea, listen to it.  As far as buying that first horse, I would consult that wonderful trainer you’ve found who knows your personality and your riding level and have them check the horse for temperament and health problems. 

Penny and Candace
What does horsemanship mean to you?
Horsemanship is the relationship established between a human and a horse with mutual respect and trust.  It’s a partnership with the human being a kind and loving leader.

Connect with Penny…

Read Candace Wades Riding & Writing interview here.

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