I’m happy to welcome equestrian and author Julia Merritt. Today, Julia shares equine tips and her debut novel, horse/man.
1. Horses are wonderful creatures with far more intelligence and ability than they have been given credit for. There’s new research coming out every day that illuminates difference facets of their capabilities, and a growing number of equestrians who want to honour and work with horses as partners using their language and perspective.
2. Horses are a mirror of ourselves, and they will teach the humans that interact with them – whether the humans want to learn or not! If you become involved in horses, make sure you invest in some serious self-reflection. The journey is very rewarding.
3. There’s a discipline for everyone! Whether you prefer the adrenaline rush of galloping over fences cross-country, or having a quiet walk together, there are a multitude of option. You don’t even have to ride to be involved and find great joy in them.
4. There are many ways to participate as an athlete, and you don’t have to own a horse to do it. You can take lessons and book extra practice rides, lease a horse owned by someone else, or even find an arrangement to trade stable work for riding time.
5. Horses may seem like a thing of the past, but there are millions in North America, and there’s undoubtedly a community of horse people near you. If it’s not the discipline you like, they can probably refer you to the right people in the area.
6. The financial costs of being involved in horses are scalable to many levels of income. The glittery photos from the top levels of the sport may look intimidating, but there are many ways to contain the costs – and having to count our pennies is more common than you may think.
7. Horse people can be a little eccentric, often preferring animals to humans. If you find someone who’s unfriendly or bad at business, don’t let it spoil your whole experience of the sport. There are many people who are trying to make the sport more welcoming, so pay the crusty ones no mind and find someone who cares about new riders.
8. Equestrian sport is something that a person of any age or ability can do. Riders can be eighty years old, have a physical disability, be two years old, or anywhere in-between. Not every horse or stable can help every rider, but once you find the right match, it is a wonder. The horse equalizes and unites us.
9. Horses are livestock, not house pets. They have physical and mental needs that are very different from dogs and cats, and these must be respected. When people ignore those needs, the animals struggle.
10. Horses will captivate you. You can spend a lifetime learning about them. They will delight you and break your heart, but the effort is worth it.
What happens when your entire identity revolves around a way of life that is becoming obsolete?
In the 1920s, as Canada progresses through the Industrial Revolution, horses are still the rural engines of survival. As a child Adam lives this reality on his family’s farm in the Ottawa Valley, planning to take over one day and have a family of his own. When his parents die during the Great Depression, nineteen-year-old Adam is disinherited in favour of his brother and is forced to move to the city to find work. Without a formal education his choices are few, yet he finds a place to use his horsemanship skills in the dwindling forces of the Canadian cavalry based near Montreal. There he finds pride in being a mounted soldier, and friendship with his fellow dragoons. But the cavalry units are mechanized by the beginning of World War Two, and when Adam is sent to Europe, he must abandon his equine partners for trucks and tanks. In the catastrophic experience of war, he will lose everything once again.
Broken in body and spirit, he returns to Canada where he must confront the question of survival in a world that doesn’t seem to have a place for an injured soldier. Full of poetic reflections on what it means to work with horses, horse/man is a powerful story about a man searching for dignity and connection in the face of a rapidly shifting world.
Adam got onto his knees for a better view, holding on to the side of the wagon.
The car revealed itself to be a shiny Model T. Perhaps the driver, like the horses, could not resist the lure of moving in the sunshine. Adam watched the car bump slowly over the ruts, advancing towards them. Grey smoke wisped behind it.
Ciaran slowed the team to a walk, and they could hear the engine, a hum that grew to a rumble. Pete and Jack jerked their heads as it got close, banging into each other.
“Go on, get up,” Ciaran growled. The horses’ ears twisted sideways and forwards, trying to decide between the driver or the instinct to flee. The wagon’s tongue rattled as their legs jostled.
The car driver slowed and lifted his hand as he passed the wagon. Ciaran raised his hand in response, the other clenched on the lines attached to Jack and Pete’s gaping mouths. When the car had gone safely by, he reached over, picked the buggy whip out of its holder, and smacked each rump with the corded lash.
“Go on, trot!” he commanded, loosening the lines. The team straightened out and carried on with their jobs. Adam stared at the receding vehicle, wrinkling his nose at the stench of the fumes.
Author Bio and Links
Julia Merritt has been captivated by horses ever since she could see out of the car window. Then she grew up and became a public library CEO and certified animal bodyworker. She lives in Ontario, Canada, with her thoroughbred horses and smooth collie dogs. This is her first novel.
Connect with Julia Merritt:
We’re giving away 100 e-copies of horse/man, the new historical fiction novel by Julia Merritt. Don’t miss your chance to win! Click to enter here.
Julia Merritt will be awarding a $15 Amazon/Barnes & Noble gift card to a randomly drawn winner via Rafflecopter during the tour. Find out more here.