The Outside of a Horse

Why I Write for Young People

I've said it before, and I'll say it again, letters like this one from Megan in North Carolina, are why I write.

Megan is 13 and in the 8th grade. When I was 13, I was failing English--again. This young lady wants to be writer. I'd say she is a writer.

Thank you, Megan. Your letter inspired me to keep working. Now, if I could only write as well as you do.

Dear Ginny,

    My former best friend (who has abandoned me for a life of heavy eyeliner and break-up songs) and I were scoping through our Scholastic Bookfair a while back (when we were still in good terms). There were little to no horse books there due to the fact we were in middle school and most girls had grown out of that stereotypical pony-loving stage. But not us. While searching for that gem in the rough, we simultaneously spotted your novel, The Outside of a Horse, and bought a copy.
    Kali, my old friend, hated reading. She hated literature, she hated poetry, and to my dismay, she pretty much hated any form of art. But your book- it was different.  Though we were in the 6th grade and she was yet to finish a novel in her life, she actually finished reading before me, which was extremely odd because I was the one with the renowned reading habits. After we had both finished the book, we read it again, talked about it, read it again, cover to cover until we could both recite every chapter. I tried to provide her with similar reading, but nothing stuck as well as your book. You moved not only her, but me as well. For a reason unrelated to your book, we are no longer friends, but every time I want to merrily recollect on how she used to be, I pick up your book and I read.
    Now I am 13 and in the 8th grade. For years I have stifled my love of writing out of doubt; saying you want to be a writer when you grow up is an unanchored ambition. I still am wary of my ability to support myself financially with my writing, but was recently encouraged by one of my teachers. Do you have any advice for an aspiring writer? I know it is hard to recall effort after being relinquished from its hardships, but any word from you would mean a lot to me.

Thank you for everything you have done,


Kameryn & Quinn & Arty in the hat

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.

Dear Ginny,

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.

Debbie H

Jeremy and Geronimo

This letter is from Jeremy's mom. After reading The Outside of a Horse, she took the time to write, and was kind enough to send me this picture of Jeremy and his friend, Geronimo.

"My son, who is 12, and I have read your book. After he read it, we decided to volunteer at one of the horse rescue facilities near our home. I started riding horses when I was 13 and I owned 2 . . . because when I get a horse, I commit to it fully. Jenny, my quarter horse, was euthanized 3 years ago because her arthritis was so severe. She was 24. Because I really have a hard time saying goodbye, I haven't had any more. Your book made me cry so many times. The grief I felt each time I had to say goodbye to my beloved horses came up several times while reading. Your book inspired us to get involved. I thought I was okay with not having horses in my life but after volunteering, I realized that they are and always will be a huge part of my. Thank you for the beautiful story and for the inspiration." Penny in Colorado