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Monday, February 3, 2014

Horses Gallop Through my Books by Paty Jager

Having grown up on a farm and still living on a farm, animals have always been an integral part of my life. The animals that I've been around the most are dogs and horses. With sheep, hogs, cattle, goats, and donkeys thrown in the mix. And we had barn cats.

My gelding, Bud and George the burro.
I think the reason I like to write westerns is the fact it allows me to have one of my favorite animals, the horse, in nearly every book. While I don't name them all or treat them like pets in the books, I like how a character can be "shown" by how he/she deals with an animal.

My new mare Lily.
Above you probably noticed I said horses in my westerns aren't treated like pets. There's a reason. In the time my books are set, most horses were used like we use tractors and automobiles. They were necessary to life and not kept to ride now and then and pamper.

Before the automobile, how many and what kind of horses a family had determined their livelihood and how much money they had. Farmers needed draft horses for planting and harvesting their crops. Cowboys needed horses to take care of the herds of cattle. Horses were needed to pull buggies, wagons, and stage coaches to move people and freight before the trains made their way across the country.

Because the animals were considered for their work and not for pleasure, most weren't named from affection but more as a way to distinguish one from another when talking about them. The animals were treated well, but not pampered like today's horses that wear blankets in the cold and fly masks in the summer.

They received ample feed, were brushed and rubbed down after use, and put out to pasture when they were no longer strong enough to do their jobs. Or they became the babysitter for young children in the family beginning to learn to ride.


All my westerns, historical and contemporary, have horses in them. Some also have dogs and cattle. The heroine in my action adventure series has a pet cockatoo. I tried having a bird for a pet at one time, but couldn't stand the mess they made.


What is your favorite pet? Is there an animal from a book that has stuck with you? Or a character who was fond of animals?

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7 comments:

Diana McCollum said...

Hi, Paty,
Enjoyed the snippet of history on horses. I think now days people will make a pet of just about any animal. Even dangerous ones. I've read about sanctuaries that take lions, tigers, chimps etc that started out as someone's pet. In Nora Roberts book "Search" the heroine trains dogs and is one the search and rescue team. The hero gets a puppy and brings him to the heroine for training. Nora nailed the antics of both the dogs and the puppies.

Paty Jager said...

HI Diana, That's true. People need to remember there are some animals that don't make good pets. "Search" sounds like a good book. Thanks for commenting!

Judith Ashley said...

My favorite pet is a dog. I've had dogs in the past that were integral members of the family (both growing up and as an adult). In high school, I was known as "Rocky's sister" by the younger kids on the street. You can probably guess who "Rocky" was.

I came to the realization this weekend that I may never have another pet again and there is some sadness associated with that thought. So glad you have a happy group of four-leggeds in your life!

Sarah Raplee said...

Interesting post, Paty. I used to believe I was a 'cat person,' but dogs have made their way into most of my stories. After owning a series of loyal canines, I guess I've been converted into a dog/cat person, LOL.

Hmm, animals from books...Jack London's dogs and wolves, the ugly nervous little dog in Jennifer Cruisies' FAKING IT, the cats in THE CAT WHO...MYSTERIES by Lillian Braun, the bad-tempered Basset Hound in Susan Elizabeth Phillips' AIN'T SHE SWEET - the list is long, too long to include here, LOL.

Paty Jager said...

Judith, Being "Rocky's sister" is kind of how I feel when the grandkids come to the house and all rush toward Tink with their arms wide. LOL I'm sorry to hear you won't have a four-legged in your life. They are wonderful for stress and having someone to talk to when what you want to say shouldn't be said to the person you're living with. ;)

Hi Sarah! Dogs make great secondary characters in books. I have to admit and probably lose fans, but I've never been a cat person, but I loved the cats in the Cat Who mysteries.

Genene Valleau, writing as Genie Gabriel said...

Dogs, of course! With my herd of canines, there's no question of my favorite. LOL! Though I still love the smell of horses and do allow the squirrels to live in the dormers of my house--with certain rules. :)

I love that you include critters in your stories!

Paty Jager said...

Hi Genene, I kind of figured your favorite would be dogs. ;)