Writing Horse Fictional Stories
There are 2 camps of opinion on the issue of fiction writing. One camp says that an author can’t write well unless he writes about a subject he is absolutely at home in. The other camp ridicules this idea, as it propounds that a writer delivers most when he’s learning as he’s writing. I’m convinced that both camps have it right, because I think an author can at the same time write about what he already knows and learn more as he writes.
I do have one exception, though. I don’t think writing about horses is something that may be done satisfactorily by an author who is on a learning process. Only an author who has lived horses for a long period of time can do justice to the subject. The writer should have been around horses so long and so deep they are capable of telepathy with them. And that kind of depth doesn’t come with race course or show experience watching from the stands with a pair of binoculars.
One way you can make out an inexperienced author is their tendency to use terminology that’s not really a part of day-to-day life in horse circles, regardless of if they’re correct in terms of dictionary definitions. Every human field of enterprise has its own lingo, and so does the arena of horses. When a beginner writer incorporates terms in their writing that will appear sensible, but are just not utilised by the genuine experts, that writer is watering down the impact of his or her writing. Take as an example the word corral. It is a correct word that can be used in the proper horse context. It is just not a word used by what I will refer to as horse folks. Pony people use the word paddock. To the novice writer, horses are turned out into corrals, to the real horse person; they’re turned out into paddocks.
Or take the word blinkers and blinders. To the amateur author, they’re mutually changeable. But the horse person knows that blinkers are used on race horses and blinders are used on horses drawing carts or other vehicles.
Authors slip up in so many descriptions. The arena of horses has its characters, both equine and human, but no true rider would ever lead their pony from the right or mount it from the right side, unless in some kind of dire emergency. In my years as a horse person, I haven’t ever been able to work out the importance of mounting your horse and riding off into the sunset. The only reason you would really do that is if you are trying to catch up with the sun, and a pony is not really the ideal transport for that purpose. I can just think that the riding-into-the-sunset eventuality makes for good visuals in westerns.
I also feel like laughing my head off when I read about or see in a production or a TV series folk sneaking into a barn full or horses and slinking off with 1 or 2 of them with nary a whisper. Try it, and you will be astounded by the din the other horses can raise. Each other pony in that barn would be yelling at somebody to dial 911, sorry, that was just made up. In reality, every other pony in that barn would presume that you entered the barn to give them an early breakfast, and would nicker and harumph in anticipation. One or two horses doing that in unison would sound like the charge of the Light Brigade.
When speaking, a novice would reveal herself or himself with their tendency to use 10 words rather than two. The true pony person will be in a position to get their message across with the least amount of words. The hopeful horse person will tend to be long-winded and descriptive.