by Shannon Kennedy, writing as Josie Malone
Copyright © 2010 Shannon Kennedy/Josie Malone
CW: I’d like to take this opportunity to introduce my dear friend and fellow author, Shannon Kennedy, writing as Josie Malone. She’s here to tell us about her summer at horse camp and her newest book, A Man’s World, which just came out as an e-book in September. Welcome, Shannon!
SK/JM: Thanks, Chassily! As I do every summer, I went to horse camp – for the 40th year in a row at our family riding stable in the Cascade foothills. Okay, so it was horse day camp and I taught kids from 5 to 14 all about horses. These were kids who hadn’t seen horses before except on television. Now, we expected them to groom, saddle and ride by themselves. They had to lead their own horses from the stall to the various arenas, mount up, start, stop and turn on their own.
A new session of camp started each Monday and wound up with the horse show on Friday. During the week, the campers had lessons, trail rides and games on horseback. The kids learned to control their own horses and ride in games at a walk and sometimes a trot. And I rode with them a great deal of the time.
Often, I felt like the little girl in the commercial on TV, who wears a different color each day. I had a different horse for each task. My old Quarterhorse mare, Lucky Lady is my favorite – we’ve been together for 21 years and she can do it all. She could probably teach horse camp without me. She stepped on a nail in June, so she recuperated all summer after it abscessed under the frog.
Whenever I had a break from teaching camp, I soaked Lady’s right rear hoof in a mixture of iodine and Epsom salts. Then I poulticed it. Iodine wetted down the Epsom salts in a white mans’ sock – she wears extra-large ones from Walmart. Once I had on the sock, I went over it with vet-wrap and finished it off with duck tape. The next day, it started all over again, bring her out, cut off the day-old bandage, soak her foot, put on a new poultice. The shoe-er visited her every week and the regular vet consulted on the phone.
With Lady unable to work most of the summer, I rode Luckenbach – yes, she’s named after the town in the song. A Belgian/Quarterhorse cross, Luke felt like a tank, and often forgot that she can neck-rein and open gates. She’s big, broad and brave, unless a rabbit hops out of a brush pile. For fun, I occasionally managed to get an hour on SummerTime – he’s an Arab/Quarterhorse cross and the youngest of my trio. A retired show-horse, he can make even a novice look awesome and the biggest challenge I have is getting the teen students off him so I can ride him too.
August became a blur when my revisions arrived for my first book in 20 years. I did day-camp all day long and at 6 PM when the teens left, I headed for the computer. On September 1st, I finally finished the last correction. I said goodbye to Trace Burdette, my heroine who knew that 1887 Washington Territory was A Man’s World so she passed as one. She packs the guns to prove it and forks her own broncs and then she runs headlong into Zeb Prescott.
It was a fun book to write and I did model a few of the horses after ones that I’ve known, loved and lost – like my vet says, “We choose to love those who have a shorter life span than we do,” and that’s the hardest life lesson I’ve ever had to learn. But, those horses live on in my memories and now they shine in my book.
I write as Josie Malone, but my horse articles have appeared in Equus, Country Extra, Horse & Rider, Western Horseman, and Canadian Horsepower under my “real” name of Shannon Kennedy. Willowisp Press published two of my young adult books 20+ years ago and thrill of thrills, BookStrand just contracted for another of my mainstream western romances. The Daddy Spell will be out as an ebook in January 2011 under my pen name of Josie Malone.
Thank you, Josie/Shannon, for coming by and posting on the blog, it was great to see you over here!