Wednesday, December 16, 2015

If Horses Could Thank Us

by Lisa Wysocky

Every day I am thankful for horses, but as this year comes to an end, I know our horses are thankful for us. If they could, they would thank us for the food and shelter that we provide, because the reality is that unless a horse is born in the wild, they cannot provide this for themselves.

Our horses would thank us for the companionship of other horses. Since horses are herd animals, the safety and friendship that other horses provide is of utmost importance. They would also thank us for the veterinarian and farrier care that we give through our trusted equine medical professionals, as this is another thing that a horse cannot do for him- or herself.

I am sure our horses would also thank us for the many groomings we give them throughout the year, the care we take to be sure their saddles and other tack fit correctly, and the trail rides we take them on.

If a horse could thank us. This is not a bizarre thought, as the realty is that they thank us every day. Equine body language is subtle and complex, and their vocal tones offer distinctions that most human ears cannot detect, but from the blink of an eye, to a low whicker, to the flick of a tail, yes, they thank us.

 This "laughing horse" is actually relieving stress and tension.

It our job as equine authors to relay these complexities of horse language, thought, and behavior to the reader in an educational, engaging, and entertaining way. It is our job to also do this in a manner that drives the story (whether fiction or nonfiction) forward in words that makes sense to the reader. All of the authors here at Horse Crossings write about horses because we love them. We want our readers to care, too.

I had an editor who once questioned my use of the term “round pen.” “What is that?” she asked. When I explained how a sixty-foot round pen was used to develop leadership in the human side of the horse/human partnership she asked, “Why is it sixty feet?” I then explained that thirty feet was the average outside boundary of a horse’s personal space, so a person standing in the center of the round pen would be roughly thirty feet away from the horse. “That,” she said. “Is fascinating. You need to let your readers know.”

So I did, and with my equestrian mysteries I get just as many positive comments about the details of the equine mind as I do about the story line, or my characters. Subtly, equine authors must educate readers about the horse. If our horses knew, I am sure they would thank us because all of us, horse or human, just want to be understood.


Lisa Wysocky is the author of the award-winning Cat Enright equestrian mystery series, which has been optioned for film and television. Find Lisa online at Lisa,,

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