Thursday, June 29, 2017

Horses and the Big Sky

by Karen Rose Smith

I'm an animal lover. Besides cats and dogs, I've loved horses since I watched them on my uncle's farm and read The Black Stallion.  Even though I was around horses growing up, I was afraid of them.  But after becoming a mom, I decided to take riding lessons. My fear became appreciation for a horse's intuitiveness. 

When I wrote my first "cowboy" book, I was able to inject my love of horses into those books.  I was hooked and appreciated most writing those books set in Montana and the Southwest. Although my knowledge of hoses came from mostly farm settings, horses and the Big Sky were perfect together.

I had done a lot of research on "gentling" horses rather than "breaking" them to ride. That research led me to the bands of wild horses that still roam western land.  My husband and I took a research trip to Montana and Wyoming and I wrote a series that included wild mustangs.

Nothing, absolutely nothing, prepared me for the sight of the wild horses.  We'd been told we might not get a glimpse of them--in The Big Horns the territory they roamed was expansive.  But when we approached the mountains, three of them were standing on the cliff above us as if they were welcoming us.  We spotted them and I studied them many days we drove through the mountains. Horses socialize with each other and their behavior in bands was fascinating.

Near Cody, Wyoming, we took a tour to an area where the horses are spotted regularly.  They were used to the van appearing.  In and out of the van, we got within twenty five feet of the herd.  These wild mustangs are amazing, magnificent and beautiful.

Back in Pennsylvania I interviewed a woman who had adopted a wild mustang from the Bureau of Land Management.  I also attended an adoption event for mustangs in Pennsylvania. One of my causes is saving the mustangs in the wild.

Needless to say my favorite television series is Heartland about an Alberta, Canada ranch and a horse whisperer.

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