Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Central Park Carriages

                                                              Romeo, Lisa, and Cornelius Byrne

On a recent trip to New York I had the great fortune to stumble upon the downtown Manhattan stables of Central Park Carriages. Earlier in my trip I had noticed the many carriage horses that carried tourists through the park and had wondered about their lives. I needn't have worried.

After a long day at Book Expo America my publisher and I were looking for a cab when we passed by the stable entrance. Inside, a man was shoeing a tall flea-bitten gray gelding. "Let's give him an ARC," my publisher said, referring to an advance reader copy of my horse mystery, The Opium Equation, which is due out in September. Why not, I thought? After all, how often do you run into a farrier in New York City?

Glad to get out of the afternoon sun we introduced ourselves to Cornelius Byrne and his twenty-six year old Standardbred gelding, Romeo. It turns out that Cornelius was the owner of the stable. He was very welcoming and insisted on giving us the full tour. I have to say, I was quite impressed.

On the street level were a number of well-maintained harnesses and carriages, and a few mint condition antique carriages. The horses live upstairs and to get there they climb a steep rubber ramp to the second floor. Once we had managed the climb in our "business shoes," I was pleased to find a dozen or so airy stalls. Each stall was clean, and deeply bedded with shavings. And, each horse had a big pile of clean, fresh hay.

The horses were a mix of draft, Warmbloods, and Standardbreds. Every horse I saw was curious about us and friendly and showed no sign of job burn-out. Cornelius encouraged me to go into the stalls to meet the horses and after a few "horseless" days, I was more than ready. I had expected to find some working soreness in the horses, but not one horse exhibited any such thing. They all were clean legged and friendly; immaculately clipped, shod, and groomed; and each horse was fit––even Romeo, who at twenty-six only works about one day a week.

Cornelius explained that he gets his Standardbreds off the track, horses that were not winning races and otherwise might not have anywhere to go other than the packing plant. Other horses were rescued from poor circumstances and now have a good life and a job. Is it sad that these horses rarely get to run in an open field? Yes. However, these engaging and intelligent horses might not have a life at all were if not for Cornelius, his brother Patrick, and Central Park Carriages.

Thank you Cornelius, for a wonderful tour, and for your commitment to the excellent well being of the horses in your care.

Sunday, April 24, 2011

New Book: The Opium Equation

You've probably heard the news that I have a new book being published this fall. It is called The Opium Equation and it is an equestrian mystery. While I have edited fiction before, this is my first foray into fiction as an author. I have to say, it's a little scary!

I have been living with my characters: horse trainer Cat Enright; her students Darcy Whitcomb, Carole Carson (and her hunky country music star husband, Keith), Robert Griggs and former movie star Glenda Dupree; barn manager Jon Gardner; and neighbors Bubba and Hill Henley, and Frog Berry for many years. And Sally Blue. I can't forget Sally. How can you forget a (possibly) psychic horse? I wonder if you will come to love these characters, well, most of them, as much as I do. I hope so!

There will be a lot of book readings and signings this fall and I would love to see you at one of them. If your city is not on my itinerary please let me know of a bookstore, a therapeutic riding facility, a larger stable or other venue that might be suitable for a signing. I will do all I can to make it happen.

In the meantime, hop on over to the Cat Enright Stables blog for a few sneak previews.

Take care,


Thursday, March 31, 2011

Horse and Human Friends

I have many equine friends who live all over the country. I am talking about the four-legged kind, not the two-legged. Some I see regularly, some, like my human friends, not so often. Some mornings I wake up and deeply miss a horse friend who is pastured hundreds of miles away. Or maybe just a few miles.

While I think of my dear equine friends regularly, I am not convinced they do the same about me. I do not believe one or another spends his or her time daydreaming about when they will see me next. I don't think they miss me much when I am not there, if at all.

However, I continue to be amazed every time I visit one of my special horse friends. Nine times out of ten the horse leaves his or her food, and his friends, to walk to me and greet me. This is a huge thing for a horse. Horses instinctively know they are safer in a herd than alone. Many are reluctant to step away from a big pile of hay, or the green grass. I am honored that the horse chooses to spend time with me. Honored and more than a little humbled.

I stand quietly as each of my friends stops a respectful foot or two away and waits for me to initiate contact. I am here, now, and s/he remembers me. I run my hands over my friend's body. Scratch them in their special spot. I tell them what I have been up to since we last met.

We talk for a while and eventually I turn to go, giving promises that it definitely will not be so long before we meet again. My horse friend walks me to the gate and we enjoy a final hug.

I realize that my visits with my horse friends are not so much different than visits with my human friends. We meet, greet, enjoy, catch up, and hug before we leave. Because that's what friends do and it just doesn't matter how many legs you have.

Monday, March 14, 2011

My Friend

A dear friend of mine passed away recently. He was kind and gentle and patient. Forgiving and quiet. Friendly. He hated the heat and loved sticking his face in front of a fan. He was polite and always let others go first. He was the first to compromise during a disagreement, the last to pick a fight.

Nelson loved being out in nature, but he also loved--like most of us do--for others to make him feel special. He gloried in a job well done and he enjoyed the success of others. Nelson was especially good at encouraging people to reach their goals. He was a confidence builder, a teacher, a nurturer. Nelson was the best.

My friend Nelson was older, but not elderly. When he passed, he went quickly. He would have wanted it that way. He'd had some health concerns in the past, but nothing life threatening. When it was his time, it was his time. I only wish we'd had time to say goodbye.

Nelson inspired me every day to step up and be a better person, a better teacher, a better friend. He reminded me to be thorough, and to take time to breathe every now and then. And sigh. Nelson gave the best sighs.

My friend Nelson was a 16.1 hand, solid colored Paint gelding. He was a show horse in his younger years, but I knew him as a therapy horse, a horse who taught children with disabilities not only to ride, but about fairness, teamwork, determination, hard work and success. I will miss you, Nelson, my friend. And I will never forget you, or all that you taught me. Rest well and in peace.