By Delores Kuhlwein
She breathed softly, and the shavings rustled as she blew breath. I dropped to my knees as I approached her. Reaching her neck, I placed my hand on her shoulder and combed the fingers of my other hand through her soft white mane. Her neck made a perfect U around my body, and I heard her sigh at my touch. I turned toward her, folded my legs inside the bow of her body, picked up her soft velvet muzzle, and lifted her head into my lap. Faith didn’t resist. She nestled into my crossed legs, and I stroked her white blaze, combed through her forelock, ran my palms over the triangular tip of her lovely brown ears, and wished I could stay in this moment forever. ~ Devon Brooke, In the Reins.
Perhaps the most rewarding aspect of our infatuation with horses is the universal emotion of everything fading away as you lose yourself in your horse, a feeling that sends Carly Kade, Arizona-based author of the wildly popular romantic Western novel In the Reins, scurrying to capture her words inspired by time spent with horses.
Often Carly’s notes are taken on the insides of her mare’s feedbags after a ride.
“I scribble down my thoughts while perched on hay bales, listening to the sounds of the horses rustling in their stalls,” she confessed. Many scenes in her books, and even the horse character “Faith,” were inspired by “Sissy,” Carly’s own Paint mare, Im Gonna Kiss You.
You don’t have to meet Carly Kade to get know her; as a fellow horse lover, you really already do.
“I will own horses until I take my last breath; I love them that much,” she said. “There is nothing more peaceful to me than the quiet bond between a woman and her horse, and I am happiest when I am in the saddle.”
Carly showed competitively when she was youngers; now an adult, she’s an APHA member and still shows in showmanship, horsemanship and Western pleasure. Time at the barn with Sissy, however, has become her respite from the daily grind of adulthood.
“A friend once said something that really resonated with me: ‘What about just being a horse owner and enjoying that?’ Now, it’s the simple pleasures of horse ownership that I have come to enjoy most—long grooming sessions, the meditative rhythm of barn chores or a lazy Sunday ride,” Carly said.
Putting pen to paper or fingers to keyboard gives Carly the same sense of peacefulness. Her romantic, horse-laden story of leading lady Devon Brooke and cowboy/horse trainer McKennon Kelly came to fruition through Carly’s desire to give readers an escape with which they could identify.
“I was inspired to write a story that all horse lovers could appreciate, no matter their discipline of choice,” she said. “I have found that my readers are just like me: horse crazy, book crazy and crazy for handsome hunks who know a thing or two about horses, so it naturally became a romance novel where the horse characters are just as important as the leading human characters.”
This story, however, offers more than the average romance novel. It also addresses Carly’s favorite question: “What do you plan to do with your ONE wild and precious life?”
In her experience, Carly says that when something seems scary it’s usually the path she needs to take, and Devon, the protagonist in her novel, reflects her personal understanding of fear. Devon, an inexperienced horse lover who falls for a horse trainer, experiences apprehension when she leaves one life for another that revolves around her courage of accepting change and herself.
The tips of my ears were on fire, and my heartbeat drummed in my chest, in my throat, behind my eyeballs as cowboys passed by, observing the train wreck we had become. A few hesitated at the edge of the pen, considering whether to step in, but then decided otherwise, acknowledging me with a tentative tip of their hats. ~ Devon Brooke
“In the Reins captures the struggle between letting life move forward and shying away from taking the reins,” Carly explained. “I think one reason this book resonates so much with readers is because it’s a romantic drama about life and the struggles we all go through to overcome life’s challenges.”
It might come as no surprise that In the Reins earned a Top 5 spot on Amazon’s Equestrian Fiction Best- Seller list, went on to earn an EQUUS Film Festival Literary Award for Best Western Fiction and then received two Feathered Quill Book awards in the Romance and Adult Book featuring Animals categories. The booming success happened, in part, because Carly lets her heart do the writing.
This is an excerpt from the full article—get the whole story in the Winter 2017 Chrome magazine, which is sent to all current APHA members. Not a member? Join or renew at apha.com/join.