Book III: A Tunnel of Wind

“About the head of a truly great horse
there is an air of freedom unconquerable.
The eyes seem to look on heights beyond our gaze.
It is the look of a spirit that can soar …
It is the birthright of eagles.”

—John T. Foote (1881-1950)

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The Legend of the Great Horse trilogy is an adventure through history―on horseback. Into the Dark (Book #3) was named to the Midwest Book Review Bookwatch and listed as a Highlighted Title by the Independent Book Publishers Associate (IBPA).

In this excerpt, the year is 1920 and the Great Horse is a fleet hero of the American racetrack…

“About the head of a truly great horse
there is an air of freedom unconquerable.
The eyes seem to look on heights beyond our gaze.
It is the look of a spirit that can soar …
It is the birthright of eagles.”

—John T. Foote (1881-1950)

Her first time riding a Thoroughbred had been a little frightening. The horse stood prancing and eager as she took the reins and tried not to look at the ground so far away. She remembered hinting to the horse that she was ready and the sudden jolt forward in response.

She was riding quicksilver; such a steed demanded her utmost skill and focus. She had to balance and reassure the animal; she had to both follow and lead. She had to remind herself to breathe.

Only once did she truly gallop on a Thoroughbred. Her mount had been a claim horse on a backwater racetrack, a “prospect” being bought by her trainer. She remembered letting the reins out a notch and standing in the stirrups, feeling the horse opening his stride. The chiseled head mouthed the bit and pushed into the bridle, bounding forward in fluid strides that spilled across the soft earth.

She had opened the reins and felt the horse leap into them. The wind rose above all sounds, narrowing the world to just hooves exploding along the ground—and then the horse uncoiled and lifted, and the gallop was not a gallop anymore but a bolt and she was shooting through a tunnel of wind leaving the world outside stopped and static, a frozen background to the thunder beneath her that pounded on and on…

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“Nice teeth … for a parrot.”

Red and Blue from "Into the Dark" “There is something about riding down the street on a prancing horse that makes you feel like something … even when you ain’t a thing!”– Will Rogers (1879-1935)

 Into the dark cover image

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 1861 in this excerpt, the location is Texas (USA) … Meagan is trying to keep the Great Horse from being sold away.

“There is something about riding down the street on a prancing horse that makes you feel like something … even when you ain’t a thing!”

—Will Rogers (1879-1935)

Red and Blue from "Into the Dark"
“Can’t take less’n thirty-five dollars. He’s a real work horse and I’ll take what he’s worth.” It was Dan Beardon … he was talking quickly to two men as they exited together out the front door.

Concerned, Meagan decided to begin with cleaning the spittoon by the front window. She walked to it and casually rubbed a spot in the foggy saloon glass to see out. The dark sorrel horse, Blue, and the buckskin, Red, were standing tethered to the establishment’s hitching post. Dan and his two prospects were walking around Red, patting his backside. He was selling the Great Horse!

Dan seemed to recognize Meagan as she walked outside to join them, but he deliberately looked away and kept talking. She crossed her arms and listened.

“Thirty-five dollars, you say?” asked one of the buyers.

“Yup. And I’ll throw in the halter.”

Meagan made herself think quickly. She had to stay near Red … an idea was forming: “Excuse me, sir, is this the horse you ponied me into town on?”

The buyers glanced at her as Dan scowled. “Yes, I think I’d remember that tale of woe.”

“It can’t be … how did you get rid of his spavins?”

“Ignore her,” Dan advised. “The poor girl is touched.” He made a tapping gesture on his temple for illustration.

“Why, it is the same horse,” Meagan peered closer, sounding impressed. “Tell me, is he over that wheeze? Oh, that’s right, you said it was just heaves.”

The two buyers looked at each other.

“This horse never had spavins nor heaves,” Dan hissed. “Now get.”

Meagan stepped up to the buckskin’s head, patting him gently. “Nice teeth,” she said innocently, opening the buckskin’s lips, “for a parrot.” Smiling, she sidled up to a potential buyer and pointed at the horse’s rear portion. “You look like a horseman, so tell me … would you say the horse is sickle-hocked, or just cat-hammed? It’s hard to tell, isn’t it, on account of the goose rump?”

Dan simmered, turning crimson. “Lady, I’ll tell you this just once—if you don’t get back inside, I’m contacting the establishment. This is pure harassment of the clientele.”

“If you come back here,” Meagan led the two prospects to stand a distance behind the horse, “you can see a rare thing. A horse pigeon-toed in front and cow-hocked behind!”

“That’s it! I’m getting Geez!”

“What’s the matter, Beardon?” asked one of the buyers. “Can’t answer the young lady’s questions?”

“That’s no lady, if you catch my meaning.”

“Oh?” Now Meagan reddened too. “At least I’m not trying to pawn off a slab-sided, ewe-necked wasp-belly with no wind and asking thirty-five good dollars for it.” Meagan smiled at Dan’s murderous expression as the two ex-buyers mumbled something and went back inside.

Dan went to Red and tossed his lead rope over the buckskin’s neck. “All right, that one’s going to cost you. See I felt sorry and didn’t press charges before, but I had witnesses. I think I’m going to poke into the sheriff’s station and see what’s what…”

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Book II: Horse Ahoy!

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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 1519 and the Conquistadors are bringing horses to shore … from where they have been absent for many thousands of years.

“Once more upon the water,
yet once more!
And the waves bound beneath me as a steed that knows his rider!”

—Lord Byron (1788-1824)

WITH A GIANT splash, the water closed over the horse’s head and sprayed against the side of the ship. Meagan gritted her teeth: it was not getting any easier to watch. Each time she had finally convinced herself the horse had drowned in the ocean, the animal’s head popped up, mane and forelock plastered back like a mythological beast rising from the sea. Giving a spraying blast to clear its nostrils, the horse would whinny and turn to shore. A cheer went up from the men and the horse was away.

For two days the Spaniards had held the town. Native emissaries visited, alternating with scouting parties in full war paint. Dark, slinking figures moved everywhere. And now came the call for the horses.

A splash signaled another horse departing for New Spain. Meagan walked down the line of stalls to El Morzillo. She patted the black horse, pushing him away as he nudged for treats. His ears had been stopped with cotton and his tail braided to reduce the drag of the water.

Meagan moved slowly to avoid startling the skittish stallion. It seemed strange to take a finely bred horse out of a lavish stall and unceremoniously toss him into the ocean, but the Spaniards did exactly that, and each horse had survived the trip and was now bucking and running across the beach.

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

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Eclipsed by Shadow - Book #1 of The Legend of the Great Horse trilogy - Bookcover (straight-on, drop shadow) 142px by 203 px
The Golden Spark - Book #2 of The Legend of the Great Horse trilogy - Bookcover
Into the Dark - Book #3 of The Legend of the Great Horse trilogy - Bookcover (straight-on, drop shadow) 142px by 203 px

The Captain’s Orders

“I am a priest, child. What are they going to do? They have gotten themselves into a corner here on this beach, and chances are they will need me to get out, so to speak.” …

Image of parchment-like background with the words: "A modern teen sails on the expedition of Spanish Conquistador Cortés that conquered Mexico with 13 horses..."“After God, we owe it to the horses.”

—Diego Duran (1495-1579), conquistador led by Hernán Cortés in conquest of the Aztec empire

“My Brother has not heard the Captain’s orders. That can be the only explanation.” An uncomfortable moment passed as the men contemplated each other. “Unless his wine has made him forgetful.”

“The flesh is weak, Padre Giaollo. I meant nothing.”

“The English-speaking woman is to be left alone by strict order of the Captain. You are a brave man.”

“No! No, Padre Giaollo. Allow me to repent.”

“Oh, is it now understood?”

“Yes, yes! And I will watch carefully for signs of disobedience in the others. I will be vigilant, Padre Giaollo.”

“Then I will say nothing of it. Perhaps, Brother, this time could be used in prayer?”

“Yes, of course.” Bowing his head, the priest turned to go.

“Wait there, my Brother! Spirits only dull the mind.” Macario held out his hand, and the first priest reluctantly placed the bottle into it. “To temperance, amigo!” Macario toasted him, and upended the bottle in a swig.

“God be with you, Padre Giaollo.”

“And also with you. Good night.” Macario offered the bottle to Meagan.

“Thank you, but no,” Meagan refused politely.

“The ‘thank you’ is accepted, the ‘no’ is not. It is a sin to drink alone, señorita, and I am a man of God. Now hold up your glass.”

Meagan consented and sipped the fiery liquid. “You speak English well, Padre Giaollo.”

“Macario! Please, call me Macario! Why would I not speak English, por Dios? It has all the good words and twice the bad! By my lights, I cannot understand why anyone speaks anything else.”

“But the ship and the soldiers, aren’t they Spanish?”

“As the days are hot, hang their mothers … but not I. I am Italian by birth, schooled in Oxford before I joined the seminary.” He spit onto the beach. “Rot all Spaniards!” he shouted, waiting for the chorus of returned insults. “Foul devils,” he said, turning back to Meagan with a grimace. “They will rule the world, of course.”

“Why are you here?”

“The Church likes Her lofty hand in others’ affairs, and She can be a persuasive wench. And you? From England, have you said?”

“No, not really.”

“France, then? You could be French. Ah, sweet Avignon, those blasphemers … begging your pardon if it offends, of course.” Macario took a swig and shouted, “God hates all Spanish and the dogs they lie with!” Catcalls were flung back. “They are all going to Hell,” he said offhand, listening to the returning curses.

“Excuse me, but they do not seem the kind of men one provokes.”

“I am a priest, child. What are they going to do? They have gotten themselves into a corner here on this beach, and chances are they will need me to get out…”

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The Legend of the Great Horse trilogy is an adventure through history … the above excerpt is from the chapter “Dragons” set in 1519 AD during the invasion of Mexico. Meagan is an unwilling passenger aboard a Conquistador’s ship …

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

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