The ancient nursery rhyme is recorded as ‘If wishes were horses, beggars would ride,” but as my mother always said it to me in childhood, “If wishes were horses, we’d all ride.” This would be my mother’s response when I would be day-dreaming or plaguing her for something I wanted.
“Mama, can I have a pony?” “If wishes were horses, we’d all ride, CurtissAnn.” She says my name all together in her genteel North Carolinian drawl.
Fall has come now to South Alabama. Along with the crisp, cool air come blue jeans and boots and fresh energy. My steps are lively. A longing for my old mare and the times of riding her in the cool morning, on the trail or in the arena with cattle flicker across my mind. What fun I had! I remember burying my nose in the mare’s shoulder, absorbing the scent of her that was so precious to me.
Now that I can look back through the years, I see the truth that what is long held in the mind will eventually manifest in life. It’s the ‘as a man thinketh’ rule. As girl, a tomboy through and through, I desperately wanted a horse. I drew horses, read of horses– Did any of you read Misty of Chincoteague? Wild Stallion?–had stick horses that I would ride all over our rural area when living in Alaska, of all places. When older, my bicycle was my trusty steed. Then I grew up, and realized my dream. We went to an auction, and I bought two mares. Do you believe it? Crazy. I don’t recommend it–we didn’t even have fencing! But I learned by experience, and I smile now with the memory.
I learned to ride when in my thirties from two horse trainers: Gordy Whitman and Mark Whitman. The first time I got on my mare in the Whitman round pen, and she began to run, I began to scream. Gordy didn’t let the mare stop, and my screaming took time to stop, too. But over the years I learned to ride. I did not fully learn to stop screaming when startled; my horses learned not to pay attention. So did the men.
My novel, If Wishes Were Horses came out of all that, of course. I recently began reading the book again, and I boldly say that I’m as happy with it as a dog with two tails.
My character, Etta Rivers (isn’t that a great name?) loves horses, too, and she can ride. Etta is a strong woman, and even stronger is her friend, Latrice. Looking at the story now, I see it interesting that Etta is struggling to hold on to her home, the only home she had ever known. I’ve written that theme a number of times. As a child my family moved often. I wanted a permanent home–and I found it, too. Then there is the hero, Johnny Bellah, the rugged drifter cowboy. I like Johnny, even with flaws. He is kind, and he knows horses.
Also on the pages of the story is a funeral. Oh, all Southerners love a good funeral. I have written them a number of times. And a ghost. Strong minded women, men who love them, horses and a brand new baby. One can hardly get a better story. You might want to give it a try.
I leave you with a quote from the front of the book, which I’m sorry did not make it into the e-book edition:
Never, ever give up. A little money helps, but what really gets you through is to never, under any circumstances, face the facts. ~ Ruth Gordon, actress and writer.