I am currently working on a series of six books for Love Inspired and I wanted the main connection to be a rodeo that the community puts on each year. Not every story is about the rodeo per se, but I wanted characters who were, in some way, connected to it. So I have an organizer of the rodeo in the first book, a vet and horse trainer in the second book, an engineer who comes to inspect the arena where the rodeo will be held in the third book. But I was a bit stuck for occupations and work for my fourth, fifth and sixth book.
For the past three years my husband and I have attended The Mane Event, a horse show and trade show and expo. Four days of clinicians and information.
What a perfect opportunity to research and to see if I could come up with some more ideas! I signed us up and we went.
I sat in on numerous horse training sessions. The best ones were the ongoing Trainer’s Challenge. Four well-known professional horse trainers compete throughout the four day event. Each of them start with a completely green horse and by the end of the fourth day they have to be able to ride the horse through a series of challenges and onto a horse trailer.
It’s fascinating to watch how each of them have their own technique. Some of them had easier horses than others but each found a way to work with their animal. It was so interesting and I was scribbling notes like a banshee!
The horse that the above trainer is working with has never been saddled or handled. So the fact that he is on it is pretty amazing.
Another couple of clinics I sat in on were with Molly Powell a well-known barrel racer and Pat Parelli who is the Elvis of Horse Training.
My head was overwhelmed by all the information I learned and while I had some of the basics of horse training down before we went, I learned so much more about getting a horse to soften, pressure and release, tricks to get horses to listen, working with kids and horses, barrel racing techniques, bits to use…..
I also learned what I don’t know and hopefully will be able to do more research as I go along.
But the best part of research is so often I end up getting ideas for scenes and situations, conflicts and problems I could never have found out on my own. I learned the ‘lingo’. Some of this research might never end up in the book but knowing that I have them available always helps me right a scene and a character with more authenticity.
I walked through the trade show and chatted with some of the people there about nutrition, saddles, chaps, bridles, and cowboy hats.
I saw amazing artisans, and craftmanship. This horse made of horseshoes was one example.
It was a wonderful weekend. Best of all I connected with a cousin who does drill team riding, something the heroine in my sixth book is involved in. So I have someone on the ‘inside’ who can help me out when it comes to researching that book.
I love research trips and when I can go with my husband who is even more interested than I am, well, that’s even better.
Until this series of books come out I have a book out in July. Another cowboy! I like this guy. He’s a straight forward guy who just wants to take care of his brother. But the heroine is going to create a huge problem for him in many ways. But he’s very strong. I mean, look at him packing around that straw bale!
Check out Trusting the Cowboy, out this July. Perfect summer reading.