I have loved horses for as long as I can remember. I grew up watching the westerns of the 1960s with my Dad, and my affection for horses and cowboys has never wavered. When I was young, I read every horse book I could get my hands on, from Misty of Chincoteague to all of the thick books in the Black Stallion series. Here’s a tidbit that might make you smile. I grew up in a Christian home, so when I read Son of the Black Stallion and discovered the horse’s name was Satan, I changed it to Satin. I didn’t want to keep reading the other word over and over.
When I was 10, my cousin decided to sell a pinto yearling colt she owned. I begged and pleaded and talked my dad into buying him for $50. My lofty dreams of training Patches remained only dreams. He had lived in a pasture his whole life and was wild—and mean—and I was a ten-year-old greenhorn who grew up in the city. We didn’t keep him long and sold him after he bit me several times. I guess my dad felt bad about that experience, because he turned around and bought me a bay gelding named Buddy Boy. He was ¾ quarter horse and ¼ thoroughbred. I loved Buddy and rode him all over my side of town. I raced cars down Riverside Dr. and rode through soybean fields that now house a high school. We lived right on the city limits, so I was able to keep Buddy just two blocks from home. I’d walked over every day to feed and brush him.
I had a friend named Carl who attended the same school as me, and he raised Palominos. I took Buddy over to his house, and he trained Buddy to jump. Bad mistake. Buddy turned out to be a fabulous jumper, and before we knew it, he was jumping the four-foot fences where we kept him and getting out. After he escaped several times, Dad said he’d have to go. L
It wasn’t long afterwards, Dad—did I mention he was a softy?—bought me a roan mare named Dolly. I honestly can’t remember how long I had her, but it was a year or two. As I got older, my interests moved from horses to motorcycles. Sad but true. I knew I couldn’t drive a car until I was 16, but I could get a motorcycle license at 14, so I saved up my babysitting money and bought one.
I never owned another horse after Dolly. I do know that the knowledge I gained from reading so many books about horses and from owning several helped me to be a better writer of western fiction. I certainly don’t know everything about horses, but God has blessed me with writer friends who have greater knowledge and more recent experience to help me when I need it. I never once dreamed as a kid that I’d grow up to become a writer. My dream was to grow up and marry a rancher, but instead, I married a sweet computer geek who’s scared spit-less of horses. My love for horses continues still, and it’s evident in the type of stories that I write—mainly western romances set in Texas. God knew way back then that owning horses would help me to become a better writer, even if I didn’t know it.
Vickie McDonoughAward-winning author of 25 books and novellas