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  • Writer's pictureCarolyne Aarsen

Helping hooves...

We have many, many horses. The fun part of many of them is that they were born on our farm. We've had a chance to imprint on them and they are comfortable with us. My husband loves working with them because they are so responsive and personable. Sometimes a little too personable.

My husband is building a tack shed for all the tack that comes with having this many horses. The saddles, bridles, blankets, halters, brushes, horse trimming tools and many other accoutrements that any horse lover collects. He asked me to come out the other night to help him shoot some levels.

Now I've been the wife of a carpenter for awhile. My husband has built so many barns, shops, garages, sheds and houses, including the one we live in now. And I've had to pitch in to help when said buildings are on our property. So I know what 'shooting levels' entails.

Not much.

But somehow, our horses, who were allowed to roam free on a part of the yard to eat the grass down, decided they needed to stick their nose in. Literally.

Horses are actually quite fascinating. It's always interesting to see their different personalities. We have one very old horse on our farm. He's been around for ages. He was my husband's first horse and we keep our eye on his health and how he's doing. One of these days we will have to call the vet to put him down. I just hate the thought of him dying all alone one day and we won't know until we go and check.

It makes me sad to think about. Because, well, you get attached to these critters. They depend on you to take care of them and if you treat them well, they will reward you with loyalty.

The heroine of my upcoming book, Wrangling the Cowboy's Heart, comes back to her childhood ranch after a number of years away. She is determined to sell it. But when she sees her old horses, now gone wild, she knows what will happen if she sells them on auction. She needs to hire a horse trainer but the only person available is her old boyfriend.

Here's an excerpt from the book about that situation:

"So, Jodie, you figured out what you want done with your horses?” Vic asked, slapping his dusty hat against his equally dusty blue jeans as he joined them.

Jodie shrugged, looking past Finn to the corrals, where the horses were finally settling down. “I’m not sure. I was hoping I could ride one or two of them.”

“Today?” Finn couldn’t believe she was serious.

“No. Oh, no. I’m not that optimistic,” she said with a nervous laugh, obviously still shaken up by her close encounter. “You did say they were wild, and I saw that first-hand,” Jodie said.

“So, when were you hoping to ride them?” Finn asked.

“I thought in a week or so?” She gave him a tight smile.

“You’re here that long?” Her sister was gone, and he’d assumed Jodie would be leaving soon, as well.

“Unfortunately, I’m here for a couple of months.”

“If you spend some time with them, you might be able to catch one or two eventually,” Vic jumped in before Finn could quiz her more about this new development. “Your dad let them run wild.”

“Even if you catch a few, I wouldn’t recommend riding them until you’ve done some groundwork and round-pen work with them,” Finn added. “Settle them down.”

“I thought they were trained?”

“So did Finn when we tried to round them up,” Vic said with a laugh. “Guess it didn’t take.”

“It’s been a few years since I worked with them,” he retorted.

“You trained some of my dad’s horses?” Jodie’s eyes went wide, and her eyebrows hit her hairline. “But you’re a deputy.”

“He multitasks,” Vic said, slapping his hat again, grinning. “Catching crooks by day, horses by night.”

“I didn’t know you were a trainer,” Jodie said to Finn.

“It’s something I do on the side.”

She nodded, as if storing that information away.

“Tell me what you want done with these cayuses, Jodie,” Vic stated, plopping his battered, worn hat on his head. “I’m sorting mine out and loading them up on my trailer. Do you want to move these to the pasture just off the corrals, or do you want me to let them go again?”

She caught her lip between her teeth, as if thinking. “I’m not sure what to do. Dad’s will said we could offload the moveable assets whenever we wanted. Just not—” She stopped abruptly, waving her hand as if erasing what she’d said.

“Offload as in sell them?” Finn asked in dismay. They were top-notch horses and had some superb bloodlines, though they were a bit wild. It would be a crime to sell them at an auction.

“I can’t keep them if I’m not staying, so I guess I’ll have to. I should get a decent price. They’re good horses. Dad always needed to own the best.”

“If you try to sell them right now, you’ll only get meat prices for them,” Finn said. “The only place you could sell them is at the auction mart.”

“So, they would get sold for slaughter?” Jodie sounded as concerned as he was. The horses now stood quietly, a sharp contrast to their behavior a few moments ago. The pinto hung her head over the fence, looking almost apologetic.

“Hey, Spotty,” she said, walking over, her hand held up. To Finn’s surprise, the mare stayed where she was and allowed her to come closer. Jodie rubbed her nose, an expression of such yearning on her face that it caught Finn off guard. The horse nickered softly, as if responding to her.

Jodie stroked her neck and then another mare, the roan, joined them. Spotty stepped to the side, her head down in submission. Obviously the other mare was higher up in the pecking order.

“Do you remember me, Roany?” Jodie murmured, rubbing her nose, as well.

“Some really original names for those horses,” Finn teased. “Roany for a roan, Spotty for a pinto.”

“We were city kids. What did we know about proper horse names?”

“You could have done an internet search,” Finn joked.

Jodie shot him a wry look. “Internet? That complete waste of time? Besides, back then it would have been slow dial-up service.”

“That’s right,” Finn mused. “We just got the wireless towers in the past few years. Now I can waste time even faster.”

Jodie’s light chuckle made him feel better than it should.

“So, when you two are done...” Vic waved as if trying to catch Finn’s attention.

“Sorry, Vic,” he said, feeling foolish as he turned away from Jodie. “What do you need?”

“I’ll get my horses sorted out, and we can load them up and be out of Jodie’s hair,” his friend said. “You stay here with the riding horses. I want to put them on the trailer last, and these two will get all antsy if I leave them alone.”

Finn wasn’t keen on the idea. He knew he should get going. Jodie had held a dangerous fascination for him once. But she was too much like his mother, not enough like his beloved Denise.

Before he could object, however, Vic was gone, leaving the two of them alone again.

“So, if you behave, I can take you out in the back pasture,” she was saying, still rubbing Roany’s nose. “Just like old times.”

“You enjoyed riding, didn’t you?” Finn asked.

“It was one of the few things I liked about being on the ranch,” she countered, stroking Roany. The horse closed her eyes, as if reveling in the attention. “Lia and I rode more than Lauren did. I missed it when...” Her voice trailed off again, as if she had other things to say but either didn’t want to or didn’t dare.

Which immediately made him curious as to what she’d been planning to say.

“Anyhow, I wouldn’t mind going riding again,” Jodie was saying. “I’ll have nothing but time the next two months.”

Leonard's Lines

Carolyne has been pretty busy the past few days working on the third book in this Big Sky Cowboy Series. I really want to know what the big deal is about these. I mean, it's just a book. So I thought I would check it out myself.

Let me tell you, I laughed, I cried, I barked and I whined (that's because I wanted to go outside to bark at coyotes and check out the horses) Even though there are zero dogs in this book (which has affected the rating, not going to lie) I think I can still give it 4 1/2 paws. I would give it 5 but, like I said, no dogs.

I wouldn't say it's my favourite book of hers. What about you? Which one of Carolyne's books is your favourite? Which one would you give 5 paws?

And I hope you notice something different about me! It's summer and it's been raining and I've been dunking myself in mud puddles on our walks so Carolyne took me to the groomer and told her to give me the Summer Special. A crop. A really close crop. I look like half of the dog I used to. The Boss laughed at me when I came home. As long as he still gives me my cheese in the morning, I'll put up with that.

And that's a wrap. I wish you a blessed week and will be back with more reader information, news from our place and when he feels like it, Lines from Leonard.

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