The new Featured Writer is Rachel Gillian North whose first novel A Horse called Ambition was recently published by Indigo Dreams. She has invented a new genre: equestrian fiction and it is currently quite a wow on Amazon. Immediately you are drawn into the story whether you are into horses or not because it is also about the characters who love and care for them. The book is about both. And what a brilliant title! Having known Rachel for some time I know how dedicated she is to her writing and to her two horses. I’d suggest getting two copies of this book as, having read it, you will want to lend your own copy to a friend to talk about and give one away to a friend or relative for a present. Because the horses in this book stand for many of the things we treasure and which are vulnerable, like nature, wildness, poetry even.
We used to keep horses too and one of my happiest memories was the birth of our foal and the process of getting to know him in the months and years afterwards. In his early days I would sit in the field and read Alice Oswald poetry to him so that he would hear the sound of my voice and he often came up behind me and pulled my hair before skipping off. One day, he came up and tweaked my nose so that tears ran from my eyes. He was like that! But mainly he seemed like a faery creature to us, a horse incarnation of a supernatural and mythical being. Gradually we could stroke him and handle him all over and later put on a head collar and lead him around. He had, you see, come to Earth and needed to know about such things. (We tend to take these things for granted in a horse but they have to be learned.) It made me realise how important that first year is in the life of any creature, even one such as he. Eventually, he grew so big I sold him (how could I?) to a kind and knowledgeable woman called Janine (I chose carefully) who later took him with her to NZ when she emigrated because she loved him so much. He has a very good life there and since then he has featured in a film about equine agility (he is part cob) and taken part in lots of different kinds of activity and he keeps in touch with us by email. We called him Elfie and that is short for Elfin King.
Here is an early poem of mine written about 2006:
Birth of a Horse
All week it rained, wind bombarding
the trees. Night after night I checked,
double-checked the mare, saw her huddled
by the hedge, backside to the storm:
days overdue by then.
I hadn’t heard the forecast, stayed up late
to sweep a torch beam round the field,
caught the glint of her eyes while she grazed,
decided sleepily it couldn’t be that night.
She sensed the pressure change, smelt warm air on the way.
Dawn shook me awake – in time
to see a glimmering pull itself free
of the elastic skin between birth and breath.
As sunrise grew horse, grass, trees
into shape and colour his skin trembled.
She whickered to him to come away
from my too-close approach
and he followed the sound of her scent,
not yet knowing what her noises looked like.
Next month is the Chinese New Year and it will be the Year of the Horse. Horses feature strongly in many world mythologies and their stories act powerfully on our psyches. In the Tarot cards horses signify transformation. Some Slavic tribes used horses as a divinatory tool called hippomancy and in the Book of Revelations death arrives on a pale horse. So horses are powerful spirit animals….
For those of you interested in horses, their psychologies and philosophy – there is a wonderful blog called The Spoken Horse written by Issy Clarke.
Don’t forget to look up and forward to Rachel’s FB site www.ahorsecalledambition.com