I’ll admit it: I have been horse crazy since my first Steiff pony and Billy and Blaze picture book by C.W. Anderson. Decades later, my passion is still with me: I ride my Quarter Horse, Relish, read horse books (try Chosen by a Horse a memoir by Susan Richardson), and write about horses.
Horses have been used (and exploited) by humans in all parts of the world. In
, horses became extinct about 10,000 years ago and were then reintroduced by 16th century Spanish Explorers. That gives me centuries of history to write about. My Racing to Freedom trilogy (Gabriel’s Horses, Gabriel’s Triumph and Gabriel’s Journey) focus on the 1800’s when horses were necessary for transportation, farming, commerce—and war. America
During the Civil War, both the Confederate and Union armies depended heavily upon horses. The animals were needed to pull wagons, cannons, and ambulances to and from battlegrounds. The horses also carried cavalry soldiers and officers into battle. About 1.5 million horses and mules died during the Civil War.
From “The History behind Gabriel’s Journey” by Alison Hart.
I lead Sassy and Hero up onto the road. In front of us, a bulky mound lies in the center of the lane. The horse that was shot is dead. Blood oozes from its neck and shoulder. Already someone has stripped it of bridle, saddle, and gear. Soldiers lead their mounts around it or step over it. No one but me pays it any mind.
’s words when we first visited Jackson and saw the broken-down remounts: Horses don’t choose to fight, and they sure don’t get no enlistment fee. Camp Nelson
And no glory neither, I see now. The body will be left for vultures and varmints.
My eyes blur. I lead Sassy and Hero around the fallen horse and say a silent prayer.
Whether it’s a pony on the prairie during the Blizzard of 1888 (Anna’s Blizzard) or a Morgan horse helping a runaway slave in 1850 (Bell’s Star), each novel I write must be filled with vivid scenes that not only convey our history, but bring it to life for readers.
Contributor: Alison Hart
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