In my new book, Crook’s Hill, the main protagonist is Alan Boltby. A workaholic corporate lawyer, he yearns for a real life but ends up turning investigator. However, a second protagonist emerges, Sara Ramachandran. Alan and Sara are the basis for a new series.
Sara hasn’t been treated right, so she has difficulty interacting with people. But she’s always felt comfortable with horses. In Crook’s Hill, she makes friends with an Arabian gelding, Grand Master (it doesn’t end well, but anyway…). I eventually sought help to write those scenes (thanks, Anne). At first, though, I thought I could create them from my own riding experience. With Daisy.
Eons ago, when I was a teen, my godfather became interested in riding horses. For several years, he picked me up Sunday mornings and we went to the local rent-a-nag. I met Daisy on the first visit. The farmer sized up my slight frame and lack of experience, then said Daisy was the only one for me.
Daisy had a cheery chestnut coat and, unlike the horse my godfather liked, she was calm. Really, though, she was tired and old. She’d been around the paddock, as it were, a few thousand times. She accepted me hurtling myself onto the saddle. She plodded out of the paddock following my godfather’s horse without prompting. She tolerated that I flailed on top of her, avoiding a fall only by squeezing my thighs like hell and clutching her mane. (Sorry, Daisy…but she was tough.) The farmer seemed right. Daisy was the only one for me.
That is, until we’d ambled along a dirt path far enough to reach a forest. I guess no one had told the farmer what happened when Daisy spied those trees. Without warning, she sped up. I don’t mean she walked faster or even found a canter. No, I mean she went into a full-on trot, zipping us right past my godfather’s steed. She thumped the ground so hard, everything south of my waist hurt. Thank goodness Daisy didn’t have a gallop in her legs anymore. Because I’m pretty sure she had it on her mind. “Hang on,” my godfather yelled. “Whatever you do, hang on!”
And that’s what I did until Daisy ran out of juice. My godfather arrived a minute later, laughing, and guided Daisy and me back to the paddock. The next day at school, I excused myself from P.E. class. My inner thigh muscles were too sore to walk properly.
Daisy jumped into that same trot every time we approached the forest. I was prepared on our third ride. And my riding abilities improved a lot by our fifth ride. Not to the level I imagine my character Sara learned, but they did get better.
Eventually I understood. When Daisy raced for the forest, she was making a break from a pretty horrible existence. Poor Daisy. She wanted Grand Master’s life.