“Throw your heart over!”

The Legend of the Great Horse trilogy is an adventure through history. The Golden Spark (Book #2) won the 2011 Written Arts Awards for best Science Fiction/Fantasy.

The year is 1816 and Meagan has found an obstacle she can’t jump…

But I freely admit that the best of my fun I owe it to horse and hound.

—George John Whyte-Melville (1821-78)
Jumping the Gate (c. 1745) by James Seymour - Wikimedia Commons / Public Domain

“Danvers, look!” Meagan shouted. A field of horsemen streamed from behind a distant rise on the horizon.

“Thundering heavens, there they are! Going by the mill where they’ll lose the fox for sure. We’ll cut short. There’s a lane here somewhere that leads to town and goes right by the mill…” Danvers stood high in the stirrups, surveying. They tramped across tall weeds, letting the horses pick a path through. “There it is!” he called, pointing to an ancient wall buried in brambles and overgrown brush. The wall’s stones had loosened, and many of the large rocks had fallen to lie scattered on the ground. “It’s a bit sticky, I dare say, and I can’t recall it having a gate. It’s not so bad as the stile out of it, so hold your breath.”

With that, Danvers released Finnigan into a canter. Meagan urged Banjo forward, letting the leaders’ enthusiasm fire them both. Finnigan wavered, looking for a way through, and launched himself at the overgrown wall. A crashing followed, and Finnigan and Danvers vanished into the brush behind the wall. Meagan pulled Banjo off her planned line to the wall and circled away.

“It’s all right!” came Danvers’ cry from inside the brush. “Maybe come on a wee strong to get all the way in the lane!”

Meagan turned toward the wall again, asking Banjo for a faster canter. The horse opened his stride and pricked his ears, raising his head as he came toward the thick brush. He bobbled, tripping over a loose stone, and at the last moment Meagan pulled the horse away.

“What’s the matter, love?” Danvers called. “I’m back up. Come on over!”

“Where? I can’t see you!”

“I’m on the other side, where did you think? I can’t bloody well raise a flag.”

Meagan felt warmth pass from her into the cold air, leaving a hard, frozen spot in the pit of her stomach. She urged Banjo back into a canter and swung back to the wall. The brush behind it seemed impenetrable. Furious with herself, Meagan pulled out and circled again.

“I can’t, Danvers!” she called.

“Why bloody not? Just kick on … he’ll have a go!”

“No, it’s me.” The dreadful admission hung in the air.

“You’ve heard the trick, love. Throw your heart over and follow it.”

“I don’t know if I can, Danvers. I can’t even see the landing. It’s ridiculous.”

“Bother, the finest things in life are ridiculous! Leave it to the horse. He doesn’t mind a bit.”

Meagan inhaled deeply and circled again. This is going to be fine, she told herself. Banjo shook his head, thoroughly confused, but opened his stride again and pricked his ears at the wall buried in dense thicket. Banjo picked through the stones as Meagan sat tall and waited for the bounce into the air. Instead, Banjo swung violently to the left and the wall swerved away.

“What’s this?” came the voice from the other side of the wall.

He stopped that time, Danvers.” She hated the miserable moment of missing a difficult jump with a refusal and having to make another attempt. “Maybe you should go on by yourself.”

“Nonsense. He’s had a runout, that’s all. You’ve shaken his confidence, all that mucking about you’ve done. Now he thinks it’s dangerous.”

“It is dangerous!”

A loud call interrupted: “You there! I’ve told the lot of you to stay off my land!” Meagan turned in the saddle to see a man approaching on foot, waving a pitchfork and shouting.

“Sounds like Old Baker, that does. You’d try that wall again if you knew what was about.”

“He has a pitchfork, Danvers!”

“Are you coming then, love?”


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“We are not leaping…”

This excerpt is from The Golden Spark, Book #2 of The Legend of the Great Horse trilogy, an adventure through history―on horseback.

The year is 1666 and Meagan is watching a riding demonstration of her rescued horse, Nero, at the Court of Versailles.

“They say princes learn no art truly,
but the art of horsemanship.
The reason is, the brave beast is no flatterer.
He will throw a prince as soon as his groom.”

—Lord Byron (1788-1824)

Meagan was dismayed to see a thin male form hurrying through the entrance. It was Robert Cheveley, pulling on gloves as he strode across the arena. “Your Majesty!” he called out boisterously, “I apologize for my tardiness. I was in the process of losing a tournament of cards.” He went quickly to Nero and lifted his leg to mount. No one moved to assist. Meagan wished it were acceptable to boo.

"Capriole" by Marti Adrian Gregory, illustrating a horse character performing a Capriole in The Golden Spark, book 2 of The Legend of the Great Horse trilogy.Pardon, monsieur,” Pierre said diplomatically, “but the demonstration is today given by riders of the Court.”

“Oh, that. No need. I shall ride my own horse, and no one else need bother. This dressage riding is in fashion and I am ready to restart my tuition.”

“But not today, Monsieur, I beg.”

“Yes, today. I am here, am I not?”

The King cleared his throat. “Perhaps, Instructor, this could be a test of the manège art. Surely our English guest’s skills are not less than the average cavalryman’s … ?”

Oui, Majesté,” Pierre said in surrender, giving a signal to his assistants. They busied themselves adjusting the tack and helping Robert to mount. Swinging his leg high, Robert sat upon Nero with a hard thump—the horse jerked his head up as if awaking to a bad dream. Robert tugged on the reins and Nero swished his tail, tucking his head behind the bit and chewing voraciously.

“He seems a bit sluggish,” Robert commented loudly. “Why? He used to be so spirited.”

“Please, monsieur.” Pierre wrung his hands. “Petit à petit the horse is become relaxed and calm.”

“Calm? But I want the horse to leap and kick. I do not want him calm.”

“The horse needs this calm to perform the leaps with élan.”

“Come now, let us not argue. You are the instructor. Instruct.”

Pierre looked at the chandeliers of the Court manège for a moment, and then spread his arms. Music commenced. “Yes, monsieur … please lower the heel. Maintain the soft contact. The heel is lower, please. Tighten your thigh, shoulders back, do not lean! Heels lower, if you please, monsieur. Head up, elbows not press, wrists out, fingers closed, hands off neck. Look up from the ground, monsieur, heels lower! Lower, if you please, monsieur, we are not dancing the ballet. Wrist strong, head up, knees back, chest open … heels, monsieur! Heels!

Robert’s face was getting redder and Nero was champing on the bit, ears pinned back. Nervous sweat was beginning to show on the gelding’s neck. Finally Robert shouted and jerked the reins. “This may be well and good, but I want to do one of those Airs!”
Pierre glanced unhappily at the King. Meagan almost stood to give her own comment, but realized her place and remained silently stewing.

“Proceed, Instructor,” the King said mildly.

“Very well, Majesté. Very well, Monsieur Cheveley. The first principle is calm, the second is balance.”

“Bother calm. We have talked of nothing else since we began. I want to leap!”

Pierre looked a final time to the King and, defeated, indicated to the attendants to stand close. Men took Nero’s bridle and Pierre took up a position near the horse’s side. Nero shook his head and yawed his mouth, prancing tensely. “Monsieur Cheveley, please attend. The leap is resulting from the horse’s obedience to the driving aids, made con brio with the aids of holding. The horse releases himself when the point of tension must become equilibrium.”

“We are not leaping…”

“In the Capriole, monsieur, the height of the leap is of second importance to the forward spring and the kick. If the kick is well finished, the landing will be light.”

Robert shrugged irritably. “This is quite tedious. Just tell me what to do!”

“Yes, monsieur, of course. Commence the Piaffe.”

Robert lifted his reins higher and spurred. Nero nearly escaped from his handlers, but they hung on grimly and the horse threw himself into an uneven fidgeting-in-place.

“Now what?” shouted Robert.

“It is not … raise the hand slightly, monsieur, slightly. Remember to be the velvet glove over the iron fist! Now, softly apply the leg.”

Robert hauled the reins high and clapped his legs on Nero with all his strength. The horse did, in fact, abandon his calm: he struck out a hind leg, tore his bridle from the attendants’ grip, planted both feet in the finely raked dirt and flung Robert off with the first hitch. The incensed gelding continued plunging across the manège … scraps of Royal tack scattered in a colorful stream behind him.

The King rose and Pierre, shaking, took the Royal chair. Meagan sat stunned in the gallery as the orchestra fell silent, though one flutist tried for a time to accompany Nero in his circuits around the arena.

Robert waved away assistance and stood, brushing himself. “I say, the horse was much better before all this training.”

“We must thank Monsieur Cheveley,” said the King gravely. “He has made our own riding seem beaucoup plus expert.

Robert picked up his hat from the dirt and shook it before bowing low to the King. “It is my pleasure, Majesté.”


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The Golden Spark – ebook release & LibraryThing giveaway

"The Golden Spark" bookcoverThe ebook edition of The Golden Spark was released Saturday, September 15, 2012 … the title is being made available to wide distribution including the Nook, Sony, Epub, Apple iStore, and (soon) Amazon Kindle .

"The Golden Spark" bookcoverThe ebook edition of The Golden Spark, Book #2 of The Legend of the Great Horse trilogy, has been released.

The Golden Spark was placed in distribution on September 15, 2012, and will be made available in a variety of formats for the Nook, Sony, Epub, Apple iStore, and (soon) Amazon Kindle .

Each of the formats (including .mobi for the Kindle) are available for direct download through the distributor: The Golden Spark on Smashwords.

LibraryThing Giveaway

30 free copies of The Golden Spark ebook are being offered as a LibraryThingMember Giveaway.
The Giveaway Signup is free (scroll down to locate) … the contest runs until September 30, 2012.

The Golden Spark (Book #2) … ebook edition coming September 15th

The Golden Spark | The Legend of the Great Horse trilogy (Book #2) is set for release in ebook edition on Saturday, September 15, 2012.

"The Golden Spark" bookcoverThe Golden Spark | The Legend of the Great Horse trilogy (Book #2) is set for release in ebook edition on Saturday, September 15, 2012.

The title will be available in wide distribution including formats for Kobo Books, Amazon’s Kindle, Barnes & Noble’s Nook, and Apple’s iBookstore.

The Golden Spark continues a young woman’s journey back in time … this 2nd book of the trilogy travels through the European Renaissance to the start of the Industrial Revolution.