What one event in your childhood had the greatest affect on your writing career

Pat Davids here.

This is the topic for December. First and foremost, I had a great childhood. I lived on a farm. I was the only girl with four brothers. Okay, that part wasn't so great but I learned not to throw a softball like girl. We had chickens, as you can see, but best of all, I had my own horses. Three of them, Tammy, Trixie and Shawnee. I had great friends in school and I learned that books could take me anywhere.

I think the single event that had the most influence in all of my life, not just my writing, had nothing to do with books. It had to do with horses. My father had agreed to bring the neighbor's stud to our farm to breed to my first mare, Trixie. Since we didn't have a horse trailer and it was only a few miles away, we just drove over. I had learned to ride without a saddle and by that time I thought I was skilled at staying on the back of any horse. My big failure was being unable to stand on the back of a galloping horse. I was twelve and it was heartbreaking.

When we arrived at our neighbors to collect the stallion, I stood beside my dad holding a bridle while he did the talking. The neighbor frowned as he looked down at me. He asked my dad, "Who is going to ride this horse to your place?"

Dad pointed at me. "She is."

The man leaned close. "Clarence, I wouldn't let a little girl like her on this stallion. He's wild and he has a bad temper."

My dad's eyebrows shot up. "If she can't ride him, I'm sure as hell not going to get on him!"

Oh, I was so proud. My father thought I could handle a horse that he couldn't. From that moment on, I knew that I could accomplish anything I set my mind to because Dad believed in me. (Okay, I never learned to ride standing up, but it wasn't for lack of trying.)

Our neighbor didn't have the same confidence in me. His eighteen-year-old son rode the horse to our place while we followed him. As soon as we got home, Dad looked at me and said, "You are not to ride this horse. He is dangerous."

Yeah, right. I could do anything I set my mind to, remember? No way was I going to pass up the chance to ride a flashy stallion like him. The first time my parents left together, I caught the big pinto, climbed on his back and discovered that some horses have a terrible and uncomfortable gait. Riding him was like sitting on a jackhammer, plus, he seemed intent on biting me. No fun at all. I never rode him again. His colt, however, was an adorable brown and white pinto filly who grew up to have a much smoother gait than her papa.

So, that is the event that shaped my writing life. I learned to believe I could do anything I set my mind to accomplish. And, I learned that sometimes, what I thought I wanted wasn't the best, after all. That made me flexible. If it doesn't work, don't beat a dead horse, just find another horse to ride.

Riding stories anyone? What is your favorite or least favorite horse story, real or fiction?

By the way, I want to wish my grandson a happy 18th birthday.


Melissa Robbins said...

I didn't own a horse, but grew up riding them. In college, the rec department took a group of students to a stable. Near the end of the trail ride, the leader said, "Go as fast as you want down this stretch." My horse, Big Red (we had matching hair) was a former race horse. We took off and passed everyone else. It was exhilarating.

My favorite summer job was when I taught horse back riding at a summer camp. It warmed my heart to see kids ride for the first time.

Oddly enough, I don't recall reading horse stories.

Joan Vincent said...

I think farm girls grew up believing they could do anything because we had to do just about everything at one time or another! I was horse crazy in my early teens. I had a collection of porcelain horses and read every book like Black Stallion that I could find. Then my uncle offered to let me have a horse for the summer. My first foray into riding turned out rather ludicrous. I didn't tighten the cinch enough and as I rode the saddle slowly slipped to the side taking me with it. It was a very good thing the horse was an older very gentle mare since I wasn't smart enough to jump off. Ah well, my siblings loved it.

Reese Mobley said...

Thanks for sharing your memory with us. Do your parents still have horses and do you still ride them? How many of your books have you incorporated horses in?

Pat Davids said...

I know just how it feels to race as fast as you can on a powerful horse.
What a perfect summer job that must have been.

Joan, you're right. Farm girls had to take of anything and everything that popped up from runaway cattle to snake in the hen house.
It doesn't surprise me that you were horse crazy. I've read some of your historical works.

Pat Davids said...

My folks don't have horses, but my brother Bob does. He's a working cowboy. My granddaughter gets to ride when they visit him.

How many books have I written with horses in them? Gee. Most of them. All my Amish books have a horse or two, so that's eight plus add the mounted color guard books that's three more, one rancher story, no two, plus an unpublished western.

I'd have to say I've actually written two books without a mention of horses in them.

Rox Delaney said...

I always wanted a horse, but even when we moved from the city to just outside a small town, I didn't get one. One of my best friends in junior high and high school had one, and my fondest memory of Claude Hopper was when he bucked me off into a muddy ditch.

Pat Davids said...

Claude Hopper, what a great name for a horse. My friend Susan had a horse named Seymore. He was a slow poke. Her father used to say, see less of the world on Seymore.

Starla Kaye said...

What a nice tribute to your father and his encouraging ways. I really enjoyed this tidbit.