I hope you are well and having a fantastic summer. It's been a bit hit and miss here in Kent. June was lovely, but this July we've had a bit of everything - from blazing sunshine to grey and cloudy skies, drizzle to electric storms.
Once again I can't believe how quickly the year is galloping by. It's almost six months since I had to say goodbye to Prince, the horse I'd ridden every Thursday for almost three years. His owner took the reluctant decision to sell him, leaving me temporarily horse-less. I get my fix from writing about horses, of course, but it's never quite the same as the real thing. So last month I rang a local riding school and booked myself a lesson.
I turned up in clean jods and polished boots feeling ever-so-slightly nervous. But I needn't have worried. I rode Cleo, a 14.2hh bay mare who was a real sweetheart. Here she is.
The following week I rode Milo, a beautiful 14.3hh dappled grey Connemara. When I saw him I did a double take - he was exactly how I imagined Cloud to look, which was both weird and wonderful. Milo is only five, so a lot younger than Cloud, but he was an absolute angel. Needless to say I fell head over heels in love!
Then my instructor, Leeanne, decided a couple of lunge lessons would do me good, so she switched Milo for Joey, an unflappable piebald who reminded me of Beau, Poppy's nemesis in Into the Storm. I hadn't had a lunge lesson for years and years, and it was great to be able to concentrate on my posture and position in the saddle.
In fact, before too long I was trotting and cantering without stirrups! But I don't think I could have jumped a five bar gate bareback, like Poppy did when she and Beau were racing for help during the storm.
Yesterday I was back on Milo...
...for an hour-and-a-half's hack along the bridleways and lanes near the stables. It was great fun, pretending we were Poppy and Cloud as we galloped through the woods. I LOVE being around horses again, I really do. And I always come away with at least a couple of ideas for future storylines. So I justify it as essential research!
Talking of books, I had to put the seventh Riverdale story on the back burner while I wrote The Thirteenth Horse, but next week I shall begin again with a vengeance, with the hope of finishing it by the end of September.
First I had to read the seven thousand or so words of Book Seven I'd written so far. And I am glad to say they were much better than I remembered!
I just need to remember where I put the plot notes now....
If September seems like a long way away and you're getting pony book withdrawal symptoms, don't forget that The Thirteenth Horse is out now - and it's still at the special launch price of £1.99 - or $2.99 in the US.
Here are the links:
I will keep you posted on Book Seven. In the meantime, I'd love to hear about the horses you ride, so drop me a line and tell me all about them.