Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Nature's Art

Fleet of foot

And bright of eyes
Silver mane
And Golden heart
Across the sky
As fleet as flame
My horse is nature's
Work of art

-- Bonnie Lewis
(aka Elizabeth A Reeves)

Friday, July 20, 2012



It is the nature of animals to break our hearts.

They just don't live long enough.They can be tough, but also incredibly fragile. One tiny thing can take them away from you.

Just ask any girl who has walked their colicky horse for hours, waiting for the vet to arrive. Or the girl who is forced to put down her horse, who survived a horrible accident, only to be severely injured tripping over a stick.

It is almost guaranteed that the one time you let someone else ride your horse they will come back lame.

I don't think I'll ever truly recover from the losses of some of these near and dear animals. Sonora, whose jumping talent went awry the moment she took herself off for a gallop, only to be struck and killed by a hit and run driver. (Who hits and runs a horse?) Or Strider, who made it through years of neglect and abuse, only to die a month after being adopted by a wonderful family, of a stroke that left him paralyzed.

Sometimes I dream I am with them. I beg their forgiveness, that I didn't do more, that I couldn't prevent what happened to them. All the 'if onlys' fill my mind. If Only the fence had been higher. If Only we had rescued Strider sooner. If only it hadn't been so hot that day. I feel the weight of their loss on my conscious, on my heart. Was there something I could have done to make their lives better? Longer?

Owning a horse, any animal, is such a dire responsibility. We have such power and control over their fates. We are the ones that, much of the time, have to decide at that last moment whether we will let them suffer on as we try to save them, or if we will let them go, with bleeding hearts.

"It's not fair," we shriek. "Why does this always happen to me?"

It's just the way it is. It is the nature of life. Animals will always break your heart.

Thursday, July 19, 2012

An Interview With Peg Lewis

Peg Lewis is author of such coming of age stories as Triple Divide and Haymarket:A Sharley Adventure.

Where did the inspiration for Triple Divide come from?

Interesting settings always start the juices flowing. I discovered the unique nature of Triple Divide Peak while camping and hiking at Glacier National Park. Here’s a single not very spectacular mountain where rain that falls on it may end up in one of 3 different oceans. Of all the peaks in Glacier Park, it’s this one single one that has that attribute! And then one thing led to another….

Is the story biographical?

No more so than any other story. Naturally we pull from our personality and experience, probably unconsciously much of the time. That’s true about this story. Other than the very basics, this is not my story.

Sharlie is a very independent child for her age. Why did you write her that way?

Sharlie responds to a complex tragedy in her family structure in her own way. At first she just had to be independent: no one was there for her to lean on. But I understood later, while writing/reading “Haymarket: A Sharlie Adventure”, that she had always been somewhat that way. I think it must come from her being a first child, a creature halfway between a child and a parent. Sometimes she’s one, sometimes she’s the other. And on that tipping point the whole story evolves.

The setting is very important in this story. Have you been to Triple Divide?

I have been to the environs of Triple Divide but not on the hike itself. Of course I have read about it, including the hike descriptions of people who have been up there. But it was too hard a hike for me to attempt. I’d like to go back and do it now, that is now that I know Sharlie has attempted it.

What role do parents play in your books?

Parents are complex creatures with roles and interests other than those related to their kids. And when tragedy strikes, they react as people and not necessarily as parents. I have cast Sharlie’s parents as people responding to their circumstances as the complex people they are, which in the early days (see “Haymarket”) means as parents, and then after the tragedy, as their own needy selves. How this impacts their kids is a good part of what this story is about: how they actually impact them, and how the kids respond, and then how the parents react to that response.

But these responses are painted with a broad brush. They remain complex characters, all of them. By their nature they are not predictable, either to themselves or to each other.

Are you going to revisit the characters from Triple Divide in the future?

Is it too corny to say that these characters are alive and will probably continue getting themselves into challenging situations that we might want to visit? I know for a fact that Sharlie at age 6 is quite eager for a bicycle (a real two-wheeler). Where is that going to lead her? And her dad is keen on boats…. I doubt we’ll be able to stay away from young Sharlie. As for Sharlie and Sissy as they grow up, we know that such passionate (or opinionated) girls are going to be ready for relationships that take them beyond the family circle. I want to be there when that happens.

Why children’s/YA novels?

All the promise is built into children and only a bit is lost in the young adults they become. Each minute in a young life is a crossroads. In a YA novel we get to watch the decision process that takes our characters down a path that we know is full of uncertainties. We know that they’ll face obstacles and challenges and dangers and joys that they will have to grow to deal with. I want to be part of that process as my characters go through the growth spurts of their being. I want to watch their emerging courage and character develop. I’m not so sure I want to be there for the scary parts, but if I’m on this journey with them I have little choice. And I do want to be on this journey with them. After all, they become us, one or another of us.

What next?
I have other series in the works, some ready for dusting off, some only in development. Most of these are YA novels or series of novels, or like the Sharlie Adventure series, a combination of stories and novellas and novels. But there’s one book I’ve worked on for several years that is about a tiny girl who grows within the story to late middle-age. Not a word has been put on paper but all but the but the parts that will yet surprise me are worked out in my head. It will have a great deal of love in it, some passion, some sorrow, and a lot of character.
Beyond these, I have some collaborations that I may do with my husband John S Lewis. The complex epics we’ve worked out together will require a great deal of research, and to tell you the truth, I’d rather be writing.

Monday, July 16, 2012

Adventures With Ponies

I started riding when I was twelve.

My trainer had me jumping within a half hour, before I knew how to canter a horse and right after learning how to post. Don't get me wrong, it was wonderful. I loved every minute of it.

At twelve, I believe I was pretty short. Like, looks right on and 11hh pony short. My trainer had given up riding, and her daughter, who did ride, was six feet tall, so they were pretty excited to see tiny little me.

Immediately began the parade of ponies who hadn't been ridden in a while. First, Pacman, who was lazy as could be until he saw a jump, then he would get super excited, stop acting his age (21) and act like a five year old. He was a welsh pony cross, gray, and only 11hh tall. There was no way anyone could get hurt on him... well, unless they looked down while jumping.

I did... once.

Then there was Elsie. She hadn't been ridden in three years. Elsie was the name I called her. My trainer called her something else entirely. A word I wasn't supposed to say.

She was a cute little saddlebred/shetland cross, which meant she was hot, willful, intelligent, stubborn... She was quite a character.

We actually really hit it off. She liked me, because I adored her. (It's a mare thing.) I had a bunch of mishaps with her, which included crushing my leg between her, the fence, and another horse. Then, there was the time she smashed through the arena gate with me, shattering the heavy wood in half, because she was late for dinner.


Then there was Cricket. It was a disaster from the start. She was a four year old green pony. I was a new rider. It had been raining. Puddles were scattered here and there in the arena. Most of the footing was fine, but there were random spots where the sand gave way to clay.

Right before one jump was one of those spots. Cricket tripped, stumbled over the jump, and bolted.

We flew around the arena, until I lost my seat. I landed, hard, on my elbow, slid eight feet (trainer measure it later), broke the bill of of my helmet, and skinned myself up pretty badly.

My arm really hurt, but I did what riders have to do, I got back on, jumped the course again, ended on a good note, and then went to Urgent Care with my parents.

It wasn't a bad break. Actually, the bone bruise was probably worse than the actual hairline fracture. I had a sling, though, and happily used it to skip PE for six weeks.

The worst part was not riding for six weeks.

I have always gotten along great with ponies. We short folks have to make up for stature with personality. Perhaps this is also why stallions absolutely adore me.

Mares don't, but that's another story.

Haymarket by Peg Lewis: My Review

I read a new book yesterday, around the time it was published, luckily, and I had to share. It's currently free on Smashwords and it will be free on Amazon, too, just as soon as they catch up with the fact that it is free elsewhere.

One of the things that makes this story so special (other than the fact that it's free, and always will be) is that it was written by a grandmother with a remarkable gift of seeing the world through the eyes of a child, not just any child, but a real, believable, independent five year old. Where does she get such insight to children? Perhaps it was while raising her own six children and subsequent thirty-odd grandchildren.

Haymarket is a short story prequel to Peg Lewis' Triple Divide. In it, we get to meet Sharley's father and their very special relationship, after the birth of her baby sister, Sissy.

Only 3450 words, this book is still packed with adventure, tension, and the reader cannot help but get attached to this independent and strong little person, who is the main character, Sharley.

Written for children and all the way up, this is a must-read for families. If you read it, please let me know. Or you can go to the author's blog.

My five year old and seven year old both read and enjoyed this book. So did I. I highly suggest reading it.

I give it Five Stars.

Sunday, July 8, 2012


If you enjoyed reading the Jumping Into Danger books, here's your  chance to be in one. One reader and his/her horse (or dream horse) will appear in the next book in the series: Thin Air.

Ways to Enter:
*Email me the 3rd line of the 3rd chapter of each book For 5 entries each. (issylthesthlia at gmail dot com)
*Write a Review of any of my books on Amazon for 10 entries
* Like my Facebook Page for 5 entries
*Blog a review for any of these books and link here (under comments) for 20 entries
*Write to me about you and your favorite horse and an adventure you have had together for 5 entries (put in the comments section or on my facebook page)

Be sure to let me know what you have done in the comments section! Please do not post the requested lines from the books on this blog, as it is to verify that you do, in fact, own or have read the books.

Friday, July 6, 2012

Finding My Courage

Me and Pacem, my first horse
In my books, Jessica is a bold and rather fearless rider. I, however, am not. In fact, when I was fifteen I had a riding 'accident' that resulted in me deciding that I wanted to own horses, but I would never ride again.

I did ride again, of course, but I stayed in my trotting comfort zone for years.

As a nervous rider, I actually had a huge calming effect on the horses I rode. Someone once said that I was so nervous, and spooked at everything so much, that a jumpy horse had to go bombproof in self defense.

With a series of falls an accidents in my past, it took a very special horse to help me get my nerve back.

A Clydesdale something cross of of a Navajo reservation, Atlas only topped off at about 14hh. He was stubborn, level-headed, smooth to ride, older, and he was very picky about his riders. If his rider didn't cue him impeccably he wouldn't do anything.

I didn't own Atlas, but he needed exercise and I loved him, so I got to ride him quite a bit. I would throw a bareback pad over his ultra-boney spine and we would go on little trail rides, along dirt roads and through the wash (a dry river bed). Before I knew it, he had given me wings. I was galloping around bareback on Atlas before I ever even cantered my own horse.

Atlas was that special horse that reached out and touched my heart. We bonded in a way that was unique to the pair of us. The confidence and courage he taught me, the ability to trust in my horse, carried me forward. There is something of him in every horse relationship I've had since.

Life Changers

Sonora and Mystic
When I was 21, instead of hanging out and partying like so many of my college peers were doing, my friend and I formed a horse rescue. We payed out of pocket and went to auctions, buying up horses that would have otherwise ended up going to slaughter. We often saw stock trailers packed full of horses heading for that very fate.

It was a really challenging time. Because the property we used had no running water, at least twice daily we would transport huge kegs of water down to the horses in my Cherokee. My best friend, Amanda, with the strength of a goddess, would lift two jugs out at a time and poor them into the awaiting troughs. I, made of weaker, more mortal, material, could only carry one at a time.

The whole experience sort of forced me to grow up. We had cases of colic. We had one particular incident where the love-of-my-life horse, Strider, tangled himself in part of the fence, and decided to play dead. It took us thirty minutes to convince that ham that he didn't need to lie on the ground with his eyes shut and his tongue sticking out-- he was absolutely fine! The fence had hardly touched him.

The neighbors of the property didn't want there to be horses there. They didn't want anyone there, and they quietly sabotaged us in any way possible. I distinctly remember an occasion where I caught a woman letting her dog chase the horses around and around the pasture.

Despite all the challenges, I will never regret what we were able to accomplish. We didn't make money doing it, but the riches of experience are something that can't be bought and sold.

So, here's remembering the horses that touched our lives that year:

Fun N' Fast ("Cactus")
Poco Marco Doc ("Midnight")
Missy Durango ("Shadow")

And, not to forget, Yoda, our one goat rescue.

Monday, July 2, 2012

The Story Of A Quote

Once, long ago, half my lifetime ago, in fact, before marriage and years of change, I was a girl called Bonnie Lewis. I did then as I do now, I wrote and read constantly, mostly about horses.

And I wrote a poem.

My horse's feet are as swift as rolling thunder
He carries me away from all my fears
And when the world threatens to fall asunder
His mane is there to wipe away my tears

These days, you can find that poem quoted just about everywhere. It is so unbelievable to me to see that, one little thing I did, as a young teenager, has touched so many people. I love that I have somehow reached the understanding hearts of horse-lovers, who have turned, like me, to equine companions in times of difficulty.

Thank you for sharing my words and giving them meaning.