Genres: Animals, nature, Writing Skills
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How far can a horse travel in a day? What does a horse eat? When is a brown horse really a sorrel (or a bay, or a dun)? What do tack and withers and canter mean?
In this long-awaited and much-requested book based on her "Horseblog" at Book View Café, author and horse breeder Judith Tarr answers these questions and many more. She looks at horses from the perspective of the writer whose book or story needs them as anything from basic transport to major plot device, and provides definitions, explanations, and links and references for further research--leavened with insight into the world of the horse and the humans who both use and serve him.
How fast can a horse run? What happens when a foal is born? How have humans and horses evolved together over the millennia? And above all, what mistakes do writers most often make when writing about horses, and how can the educated writer avoid them?
Here is a guide to the fine art of getting it right.
I fancy myself a writer of sorts (cough) and my chosen genre is heroic fantasy. Occasionally I have to mention the use of horses. Horses are cool. They’re beautiful and powerful … and I know almost next to nothing about them. Enter Judith Tarr’s book, “Writing Horses: The Fine Art of Getting It Right”.
Holy furball! What fascinating, complicated creatures! Powerful, yes, yet fragile too. Ms. Tarr lays it all out. Do you simply want to know about the breeds and colors available? It’s in her book. Do you need something more in depth, like what horses can travel what distance and at what speed? She’s got you covered. Are you going for something even more involved and require knowledge about their care, what makes them sick and what to expect from a foaling? Again, that information is available in the pages of this book.
If you’re a horse person, this isn’t the book for you (most likely). You know all this stuff and probably more. But for someone like me who knows little more than they’re herd animals who eat hay, then this book is perfect. It’s written in an easy conversational tone, and Ms. Tarr’s love and respect for horses (and those who care and train them) is apparent throughout the text. She includes numerous photos, many of which are of her own horses. Every night when I sat down at dinner, I had a new, fascinating bit of information to share about horses.
I also learned, that no matter how amazing I think horses are, I will never ever own one or learn to ride one. They take immense amounts of work to care for, and are subject to any number of problems, like colic. I couldn’t devote myself to that degree. And I don’t have the patience to learn how to ride one properly. My hat goes off to those who possess such qualities. They’re very special people.
I dropped one star from the rating because a great number of the embedded links I tried to bring up didn’t work. Ms. Tarr would reference an item for further study, but when I attempted to use the link, I’d find the page no longer existed or different information now resided on the page.
If you write about worlds where horses are used and will show up as more than a brief mention, I highly recommend this book to help you through the complexities of utilizing horses as companions and transport. It’s hard enough writing a story that captures the imagination, don’t let something as basic as using the wrong color for a specific breed trip you up.