Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Heroes on Horseback: My Lifelong Love Affair

I'm very happy to host the fabulous Kathleen Eagle today. She's talking about the wonderful world of horses, cowboys and the American West. Take it away, Kathleen.

Hello, Bandits!

I have a new book for you. And if you bear with me for a bit of book talk, maybe bare your soul a bit in a comment, we’ll enter you in a drawing for a chance to win one of the earlier books in my current series.

ONE BRAVE COWBOY (on sale 9/20 from Harlequin Silhouette) introduces another competitor for Mustang Sally’s Wild Horse Training Competition, a thread I’ve carried through four of the six books connected with my fictitious Double D Wild Horse Sanctuary in South Dakota.

His name is Cougar, and he served in the Army with Mary Tutan (ONCE A FATHER). He’s a wounded warrior, but his worst scars are not visible. Newly released from a VA hospital, this Indian cowboy desperately needs to come to terms with his losses at home and on the battlefield. He came home from his first tour in the Middle East to find his girlfriend—the woman he’d planned to marry—with another man. During his second tour he was involved in an incident in which his best friend and several civilians were killed, and he blames himself. His hope for saving his sanity--the horses his brother was keeping for him--were sold during his absence. His entry into Mustang Sally’s Wild Horse Training Competition is the means he’s using to find his way among the living after pulling himself back from the brink of suicide.

Then he meets Celia Banyon and her young son, who was injured in an accident and whose worst scars are also not visible.

I’ve written lots of stories featuring Indian cowboys. To begin with, I’m married to one. We met during the summer I took off from working in the college library and headed west in search of adventure. I was a summer volunteer on a Dakota (North and South) reservation. I’d always been interested in American Indian culture, always loved Western movies, and always always loved horses. I’m not a natural athlete by any means, but I used part of my summer earnings to pay for riding lessons when I was in college. Horses are majestic and magical, sensitive and strong. From the moment I met the man who was to become my husband—a man whose world was quite different from mine—we had two key things in common. We loved books and horses. And I just love the smell of horse on a man.

My husband has a way with horses, and he’s tamed his share of them over the years. He speaks their language. Because horses are prey animals, they are extremely sensitive. They seem to connect with people who are wounded or hurting. I’ve known many people—particularly women—who find solace in the act of grooming a horse. Horse therapy has come into its own in recent years. Prisoners, troubled teens, abused women, special needs children—so many people turn to horses for renewal and healing. This is a theme that arises time after time in my Double D Wild Horse Sanctuary series. It’s a theme that complements the love story beautifully.

Let’s talk books, writing, or whatever else comes to mind. Have you ever had a moment when you connected in some mystical way with an animal, some kind of communication that surpasses human expectations?

One commenter will win her/his choice of one of these four books from Kathleen's backlist.

56 comments:

Sonali said...

GR is coming to Fiji!! Yay!

Sonali said...

Kathleen's 'Double D Wild Horse Sanctuary series' sounds really interesting. I can't say that i have personally had a mystical connection with an animal but i have heard alot of people saying that when they are sad or feeling some sort of intense emotion, their pets can sense it.

Sheree said...

Congrats on the GR, Sonali!

I used to ride horses when I was young although the glamor wore off sometime after I fell off, landed on my head, had a seizure, and ended up in the emergency room of the local hospital. My poor brain, and I needed it so much for college, too.

I'm really good with dogs but as I used to tell people, I was raised by two dogs (and my parents, of course). Since the dogs in question lived in the apartment with us, they were really good at observing us and doing some behavior modification on us kids. We learned how dogs see the world and the pack/family. Also, the dogs were stricter than our parents; dogs really believe in the "play nice" concept and you'd better play nicely or else (and no child wants to experience "or else" from a dog).

Anna Campbell said...

Sonali, looks like he's having a day in the tropics! I don't think he'd be a very good therapy bird!

Kathleen, welcome to the Bandits. I've been really looking forward to your visit.

The new story sounds amazing. Love the idea of the horses as the link between all the books.

My dog when I was growing up was cleverer than most people I know. Seriously. He didn't need to talk! He was a collie like Lassie and they're bred for intelligence and for protectiveness. Can't tell you how many times he was there before trouble struck just because he had this sense. It's a minor case but when my brother fell of a bolting horse, Astro was under him to break the fall at the precise moment. Still miss that dog. Sadly my horse and I had no connection at all!

Anna Campbell said...

Sheree, isn't that amazing about your dogs? I know just what you mean!

Loucinda McGary aka Aunty Cindy said...

Welcome to the Lair, Kathleen!

We're very excited to have you here! I've been a fan of your books for a very long time. :-)

I've always had special "connections" with my dogs. The two I currently have are definitely in the "special" category! It will be 8 years next month that I rescued my pug-wa-wa from the city pound. When I looked into her eyes, she clearly communicated to me: Please GET ME OUT OF HERE! Of course, I did. ;-)

My Yorkie is also very sensitive to my moods and crawls into my lap when she knows I'm upset. Most of the time she is Daddy's girl, but she has an uncanny sense of when I most need a cuddle.

Looking forward to reading your newest Double D Wild Horse Sanctuary book!

AC

Kaelee said...

Cats live at our house and they do a lot of things that you cannot explain.

Our very first cat who was about 6 at the time brought home a friend one day. This friend lived in the apartment next to us. Tiger and Fluffy were good buddies for about four months. Then Fluffy's owner went to jail and Fluffy came to live with us. We moved into a condo and the two cats roamed the neighborhood. Fluffy got feline leukemia and didn't survive. Tiger literally went searching for his buddy. We adopted another cat so Tiger would give up his search.

Over the years we have had 7 cats live with us and each one has been a unique personality. I'm sure it's that way with a lot of animals.

marybelle said...

I have not had such a connection. I could do with a mystical connection in my life right about now.

hrdwrkdmom aka Dianna said...

I have had several cats and dogs that I had a connection with, it seems like when I was younger it was more so, perhaps I was more open as a child. I have cats now and they seem standoffish as a rule but when I am ready to blow I make a lap and one of them is in it, rubbing their head under my chin and trying to make it better.

I love to watch horses, nothing is more beautiful on the move.

Anna Sugden said...

Oh wow! Awesome to have you here, Kathleen! Been reading your books for years - from back when you used to write for SIM! The current series sound great.

I obviously didn't have a connection with the shrew I rescued this morning (courtesy of my cat, CC!) - the little bugger bit me as I took it to safety! That's gratitude for you! LOL

There is definitely something about cats sensing when you're upset or you're not well. Mine always seem to know when a cuddle is needed.

Helen said...

Have fun with him Sonali

Kathleen I have to say as well this book and the series sounds wonderful.

I have always had dogs and cats and I agree they know your moods and know when you need cheering up and when they need to make you laugh I was always bringing stray dogs and cats home my parents got used to it LOL my Mum always said I had a thing for animals they all loved me so much so that when I was 6 an elephant followed me home from school and yes I live in a suburb not a jungle there was a circus in town and it got away from there LOL never forget it and I do love elephants.

Have Fun
Helen

Caren Crane said...

Sonali, I'm sure the GR will never want to come back from Fiji. Try not to spoil him too much! ;)

Kathleen, welcome! I love this topic, both for the native Americans and the horses. My oldest sister had a horse when she was a teenager. Though her teen years were far from smooth and painless, Sandman brought her a great deal of comfort. I know the hours she spent with him were ones she still treasures.

Personally, I never spent the time around horses she did, but find them incredibly restful creatures. They seem to see into your soul and sense the pain there. I think the surge in popularity of horse therapy is wonderful. What a wonderful gift to give a wounded soul!

Thank you for the fabulous books and a big sigh that you have such a great full-time hero on hand. I'm sure this series will be one readers return to again and again for many decades to come!

Virginia said...

I can't say I have ever connected with an animal or anything but who knows it could happen in the future.

Congrats on the GR Sonali

Kathleen Eagle said...

I'm lapping up all these wonderful stories about critter connections this morning, but I have to say, Marybelle's comment truly touches the writer in me. "I could do with a mystical connection in my life right about now." What is unsaid is even more powerful than what is said, and if it's possible to receive good vibes from a distance, you should be feeling mine right about now. Take care, Marybelle.

Kathleen Eagle said...

Okay, I'm dying of curiosity. Who is GR?

Kathleen Eagle said...

The dog is the picture was my buddy, but he was my daughter's salvation at a time when pain threatened to get the best of her. Elizabeth has suffered from migraines sincew she was about 13, the worst period being teens and early 20's. Cisco spent many hours lending his considerable strength by being with her in the dark silence she required.

Janga said...

I loved One Brave Cowboy, Kathleen. Congratulations on another terrific, moving story.

The fourth-year vet students at the university where I taught for 20+ years provide services for the animals at a horse therapy farm where all the horses and other animals are named for literary characters. It's a wonderful place. Children as young as two have been helped there.

Kathleen Eagle said...

One thing that amazes me about dogs is that they know when their person is coming before any of the 5 senses we humans rely on could possible explain that awareness. You know what I mean--when the dog suddenly gets up, goes to the window or the door and anticipates an arrival minutes before the car appears. Do you think they hear the sound with those amazing ears, or is it a 6th sense?

Kathleen Eagle said...

Janga, what university? That sounds fascinating. I'd like to know more.

Trish Milburn (Tricia Mills) said...

Congrats, Sonali. Wow, that bird is quite the world traveler.

I've heard that about pets, too. And I think it goes both ways. When my husband's great uncle died, his poor little dog literally grieved itself to death. It would wait by the back door every day, waiting for him to come home. So sad.

Trish Milburn (Tricia Mills) said...

Sheree, I fell off a horse on my head too once, though thankfully I didn't have a seizure. Just a ginormous knot. I've only been on a horse twice, and I ended up on the ground both times. I really wish I could ride though. It looks like such a freeing experience.

Trish Milburn (Tricia Mills) said...

Anna, love the story about Astro. By the way, wasn't that the name of the dog on The Jetsons? :)

Trish Milburn (Tricia Mills) said...

Cindy, good for you for rescuing the doggie from the pound. And while I'm a fan of the bigger breeds of dogs, I do like Yorkies. They're so cute.

Kaelee, my sister just took in a new cat that was left behind when some of her neighbors were evicted. I can't imagine just leaving an animal like that.

Trish Milburn (Tricia Mills) said...

Dianna, I agree -- horses, especially in herds, are beautiful to watch. I'd love to see some of the wild herds out west.

Janga said...

Kathleen, here's a link to a feature story about the farm.

http://ocm.auburn.edu/featured_story/storybook_farm.html

Trish Milburn (Tricia Mills) said...

Anna, ugh on the bite. Hope you're okay.

Helen, that is the most awesome image, you walking home from school with an elephant following. :)

Caren, I think it's something about horses' eyes. They're so big and soulful.

Trish Milburn (Tricia Mills) said...

Kathleen, the GR is the Golden Rooster. He's our "prize" to the first commenter of the day. So he travels the world being his rascally self.

Janga, that vet school program sounds wonderful.

Donna MacMeans said...

Kathleen - Your books sounds awesome. Good thing it's a romance because I'll know going in that it'll have a happy ending. Your hero sounds like he desperately needs a happy ending.

Animals are such soulful creatures. I currently have a kitten that had a troubled past. You can just see it in her actions and caution. She's coming around but it's taken a bit. I've had dogs as well and have loved them like children. In many ways they were better behaved than my children LOL. I've never had a horse but I imagine that is magical.

Jeanne (AKA The Duchesse) said...

Hi Trish! Hi Kathleen! Love the picture of you with your Aussie pup.

This book sounds great, Kathleen! I'll be picking it up.

Jeanne (AKA The Duchesse) said...

Sonali! You got the Golden Rooster!

And ooooh, Fiji. This would be one of those days that I envy the chook's ability to jet off to exotic locales.

I've always wanted to visit Fiji. :>

Jeanne (AKA The Duchesse) said...

Sheree, I had to LOL about the "or else" from the dog.

I love both cats and dogs, and although my boys don't have the cat experience of "or else" (allergies) - they've gotten the doggy glare. Grins.

Both my kids have superb balance and agility - which I also credit to the dogs. Why? Well, when they were learning to walk, they were constantly bumped and brushed and so on. Never lost their balance. Grins.

*fond mama talking*

Jeanne (AKA The Duchesse) said...

Anna said; There is definitely something about cats sensing when you're upset or you're not well. Mine always seem to know when a cuddle is needed.

Mine always did too, Anna. The dogs as well. :>

Jeanne (AKA The Duchesse) said...

Caren said: They seem to see into your soul and sense the pain there. I think the surge in popularity of horse therapy is wonderful. What a wonderful gift to give a wounded soul!

Oh, what a lovely way to put it, Caren! And so true...

Jeanne (AKA The Duchesse) said...

Trish said: Helen, that is the most awesome image, you walking home from school with an elephant following. :)

That is totally COOL, Helen!!

catslady said...

I've had two dogs and many, many cats and I too have to say I've had special connections with all of them but maybe some more than others. I know I've told the story of the kitten I bottle fed but the fact that the feral/stray mother left him for me to care for after they were covered in motor oil, makes me think that somehow she knew I would take care of her baby. They definitely sense our moods and they always know who to trust.

Trish Milburn (Tricia Mills) said...

catslady, what a wonderful story about the kitten you saved. Poor baby.

Anna Campbell said...

Trish, it WAS the name of the dog on the Jetsons but he was actually named after Astro Boy (the Jetsons were a bit later down here). When I was a wee sprog, I had a real thing for Astro Boy!

Cathy P said...

My husband and I have always had a connection with dogs. I remember one dog in particular that we got. It was our 2nd dog we got together. There was a pet store we always visited on Friday nights after eating at a nearby restaurant. One night we went in and my DH saw a male Boxeer puppy. He petted the dog and we went on. A horrendous howl started up right after we walked away and continued until we went back to his cage. A lot of other people had tried to touch him, but he went to the back of his cage and kept jumping up trying to see my husband. The owner and we had never heard of anything like that happening before. Needless to say, we left the pet shop with him. My husband named him King. He wouldn't let me touch him for over a week, and then we became friends.

Beth Andrews said...

Welcome to the lair, Kathleen! I love the sound of this series and I really adore the cover of One Brave Cowboy *g*

Unfortunately, I'm allergic to cats (very, very allergic) and dogs (not as much) so we don't have any pets now. But when I was growing up, we had a beloved lab mix named Daisy who was just the sweetest thing ever :-)

Trish Milburn (Tricia Mills) said...

Cathy, what a sweet story about your boxer.

Minna said...

Well, I certainly know every time my brother's dog gets it in her head to rush to my cousins' summer cottage. I can actually see from her face the moment she makes the decision.

Desere said...

Kathleen your series sounds really great I love the coveres and the titles are especially intersting I would really love to read them.

Where do they find those stunning men on the front do you pick them out yourself lol !

Thanks for the chance to win and a great post !

Desere

desere_steenberg@yahoo.com

Kathleen Eagle said...

We have a cat allergy in our family, too. Our older son. And wouldn't you know, he's always preferred cats? His allergy has gotten worse over time, and it's been a couple of years since our last cat. Thank heaven the Eagles aren't allergic to dogs or horses!

Kathleen Eagle said...

We rescued for the first time two years ago, and I'm sold on pet adoption now. Our Beauty is just that--a treasure. Mostly black Lab with maybe a touch of Dobie, she was a year old when we got her. She'd been abandoned or lost and was apparently half starved when she was picked up, but she'd had all the basic training, and she listens to me better than anyone else in the house. I swear, she understands every word. And she adores children.

Cindy Sample said...

What a wonderful post, Kathleen, and I loved reading about some of these touching stories. I seem to be attracted to anything shaggy (and that could include men) but my first pet was a feral farm cat. I spent 6 weeks wooing him and he became my best friend on the farm. Good old Socrates.

Thanks for providing us with an opportunity to share our fond memories.

Leni said...

On some kind of level I have felt that type of connection with animals. Never really thought about looking into it, though.

chey said...

I can't wait to read this book!
I never had a connection with an animal.

Nancy said...

Sonali, congrats on the GR!

Kathleen, welcome! This sounds like a fabulous book.

I can't say I've ever had a _particular_ moment of mystical connection with an animal, but I've always felt a connection to our dogs. I grew up with dogs, as did the dh, and we've had dogs throughout our marriage. They are part of our family. We can't wait to see how this one reacts when our son, a freshman, comes home for Fall break.

megganconnors said...

I can't say I have a "mystical" connection with my pets, but I do have this story to share.

Four years ago, when my son was almost three months old and I was still at home with him, he got this really nasty cold. You know the ones--the kind where you pick up your child and come away covered in... well, you get the drift.

Anyway, I put him down for a nap, and thanked my lucky stars he was sleeping. I put the dogs outside and laid down myself. About an hour later, the dog (a German Shepherd) starting howling. A long, single, really weird howl. I haven't ever heard anything like it.

I stayed there for a second, and then I bolted out of bed and into my son's room. I don't know why. When I got there, he was perfectly still in his crib, and he was blue. And I mean BLUE. Worst few seconds of my life.

Anyway, long story short, I picked him up, flipped him upside down, and thwacked him on the back. The junk in his throat came up, and he cried. I don't remember crying, but I'm sure I did, since I was bawling when we got to the doctor's office.

I haven't heard that howl since.

Suzanne Ferrell said...

Hey Kathleen!

Welcome to the Lair.

I love how you describe the sensitivity of horses. Since I'm writing western historicals, I've been learning more and more about these animals. A friend of mine in North Texas raises racing horses. It's fun to watch them train.

Have you any plans for a wounded race horse to come to the Double D Wild Horse Sancutary?

Loucinda McGary aka Aunty Cindy said...

Meggan, WOW! What a story! Thanx so much for sharing it with us. Dogs really are superheroes on so many levels, as your German Shepherd proved. ;-)

AC

Loucinda McGary aka Aunty Cindy said...

Hi Cindy!

(Aunty waves to her lovely chapter mate with the terrific name) How cute that you named your kitty-friend Socrates. When I was in high school, I had a goldfish named Aristotle. ;-)

AC

Anna Campbell said...

Wow, Meggan, that's an amazing story!

Kathleen Eagle said...

Megan, wow. Just wow. Thank God for that incredible dog. I don't doubt his sensitivity to your son's plight. Shepherds are amazingly protective. What a story!

Kathleen Eagle said...

Suzanne, I've actually thought about putting an injured race horse in a story. Thanks for reminding me! When I was in college we had one in our stable. Back then they did terrible things to some of the race horses.

Kathleen Eagle said...

Oh, you beautiful Bandits, this has been such a great visit for me! What stories we've gathered today. Thanks so much for letting me hang out here in the Lair.