This letter is from Kameryn's grandmother. I'm moved to share these from time to time because, as a writer, they represent my dream of impacting the lives of my readers. There's no greater gift.
I just finished reading The Outside of a Horse. The book was passed on to me by my 12 y/o granddaughter, Kameryn. My heart is so filled, I felt I had to write to you.
I was raised in a very small town. We could have horses in our backyards when I was kid, so my sister (who is 8 years older) was blessed to be raised with her own horses at home. By the time I was 13 ordinances had changed and my parents had to pay to board my pony. That didn't last long and all the horses were gone from our family by the time I was 14. Becasue I had to give up my horse dreams at an early age, it has been a blessing for both Kameryn and me to connect with horses in the past few years.
For one year, Onyx, who had been rescued from euthanization, taught Kam about love and patience and the basics of how ride. . . We began our search for a horse that could help Kameryn develop her riding skills as well as be her friend.
After weeks of looking and 'tryin out' horses, Kam's heart was set on Quinn, a 22 y/o, flea-bitten gray QH. We visited Quinn three times and Kam had lessons on her twice to determine compatibility. The final decision was made when Quinn walked over (on her own) and put her head in Kam's lap. (The moment when Quinn chose Kam caught by Debbie.)
We didn't know we were actually being "interviewed" by Quinn's owners. Then that happened, the decision was made. She is truly a Godsend for all of us--kind, intelligent and just spunky enough to give Kameryn the challenge she needed. They won nearly every blue ribbon (in her age group) at their very first show.
Quinn can get pretty moody at times (as can Kameryn) and when she is mad she won't pay any attention to Kameryn. It's incredible. And if Kameryn wants one of her friends to ride Quinn, she will sometimes refuse, act tired and lazy. Then when Kam gets on her, they're cantering away in a heartbeat! She's a one-person horse for certain!
Knowing Quinn wasn't able to advance into jumping, we began looking for a younger horse. I connected with a woman who runs a small rescue about 3 hours from our home. We decided to take a day trip to meet 'Smarty Arty,' a rescued Standard bred harness racer. Underweight and absolutely expressionless, Arty stole our hearts with his sweet, yet 'mechanical' disposition. He did all that was asked of him when being groomed and saddled, but he did it all like a robot. He was well trained, but so unloved. He broke our hearts. Five y/o Smarty Arty joined our family in July 2009.
Because he was a pacer, he had much to learn. However, after about six weeks of training, Kameryn asked if she could take Arty to a show. Off we went (and Quinn, too, of course). He did remarkably well, acted like a kid--alert, funny mischievous--but still very loving and willing to do whatever was asked.
By September, he was huge, and absolutely gorgeous, attracting the attention of many who had see him previously.
They have worked incredibly hard. Kam has fallen off a few times, and each time, Arty stopped right at her side and waited. He follows her all over the ring and stands for long periods of time without being tied.
We currently board out horses, but we are just beginning to clear some land to put up a barn at home. We want our horses to be given all the love and care they rightly deserve. We visit them nearly daily, and they both know that we are their family. And from helping to heal their broken, tired hearts, we have seen healing in our own broken, tired hearts.
When Kameryn grows up she says she wants to be therapeutic riding instructor. She knows, but is not fully aware as I am, of the transformation that took place in her during these years with her horses. After reading your book, she was reawakened to how much she has learned from them and how much she depends on them when things are tough. Hurting people need a purpose and when the purpose involves the care and nurturing of another hurting life, the focus is shifted to the needs of the 'other' life. For Kameryn, this has meant helping Onyx become involved with people again; with Quinn it has meant showering her with the love and care she earned after a very hard and fast life; and for Arty, it has meant saving him from probable slaughter and showing him what it means to be loved and honored.
And even now, as I've taken over the care of a broken down elderly barrel horse, we are learning that love can heal a lot of pain and that the changes that take place while waiting for healing might require shedding everything this is dead (like hair) before true health is revealed.
Thank you for you willingness to search for the truths and for being 'real' as you tell a story that, although fictional, is true to many.