Okay, I’m embarrassed to admit this, but I find myself, at the very tail end of my thirties, going through my horse phase. I realize this is probably something I should have done when I was nine, but I can’t help it. For the past few years I’ve been besotted with everything equine.
I love the reassuring solidity of horse muscles, and the way they blink their eyes. I love the huffing noises they make and even the honest way they smell. I adore well-oiled saddles (especially the fancy-pants Western ones, with scrolls and embellishments), the way riding breeches hug a woman’s thighs, and horse shoes hung above doorways. I even like naughty ponies, with their spastic tempers and nasty, little plots. The only problem is, I’m not a rider.
This is when writing fiction comes in handy. I can have all the horses I want with no expense. In The Little Giant of Aberdeen County, in fact, one of my favorite characters is a most tragic horse named Hitching Post, and in the novel I’m working on now there’s another, beautiful gelding by the name of Salt Lick.
Horse names are the most fun of all. They’re even more fun to come up with than human characters’ names, and they tell you so much. For instance, you know you’re in good hands seated on a Monty, or a Buttercup, but any horse named Lightening is going to be trouble (again, read The Little Giant of Aberdeen County), and I’d stay also stay away from horses with names like Snowflake, Diamond, or Jingles. Trust me, those are the horses that look sleepy and innocent until they get a rider on their backs and instantly go tearing off into low-lying scrub, bucking.
There’s a stable where I live, near the beach, and it’s fun to go ogle the horses. Gradually, I’m getting closer and closer to the fence. One of these days, I just may throw a leg over the posts and take a ride for myself.