Welcome to the Wednesday Weekly Blogging Challenge, a year-long challenge set by the good folk at Long and Short Reviews that anyone can participate in. Want to see who else is playing along? Visit here and click on the Miscellaneous Musings link near the top of the page.
Oh yikes. This week’s topic is personal.
Characters Who Remind Me of Myself and Why
Well. *taps pencil against chin* I can certainly think of plenty I’d like to be, but remind me of myself? Tricky.
Okay. Here’s one, and I feel like I should apologise for choosing a character from one of my own books but I’m not going to because the bottom line is that Sophie from The Horseman’s Promise fits the brief.
And I do try to do as I’m told.
I should also probably apologise for sharing another horsey story (last week’s post was about the day I got my first horse) but… nah. Because HORSES!!
The Horseman’s Promise was my debut novel, although back then it was simply titled Promises. Sophie is a once-troubled young lady who’s finding her strength, and who makes a deal with a neighbouring racehorse trainer to buy a steeplechaser of his that she’s seen jump and now has her heart set on.
Before I start, I want to make clear that despite some similarities, I’m not Sophie. She is, I hope, her own unique person. However, there is a scene in The Horseman’s Promise that I don’t mind claiming as ALL me.
I was quite young when I finished year twelve – only sixteen, which meant I’d be heading off to uni 400 kms away, having barely turned seventeen. No one was thrilled with that idea and it was decided I’d be better off taking a gap year. That was fine by me. I was more than happy to spend the year concentrating on my horses and growing up a bit. But a girl can’t flop about being a gap year lazy-Daisy all the time, she must work. At least, that’s what my parents insisted.
So I took a couple of jobs riding racehorses for local trainers. On my very first day at a yard not far from where I lived, I was plonked on the back of an old campaigner who was being brought back into work after a long paddock spell.
It should have been an easy ride and it was for most of the workout, but the circuit included a long uphill stretch before the home turn, where the horses were usually given free rein to enjoy an easy canter. Fine and dandy, you’d think. Except my horse didn’t feel like an easy canter. He wanted to go fast. Race fast. I was a skinny, just out of school seventeen-year-old and no match for a horse of this determination and though I tried, in this battle of strength I came out the loser.
We whipped around the tight turn toward home at a terrifying gallop and proceeded down the hill toward the yard at an out of control sprint, me clinging on for dear life and cursing that this just had to happen on my first day.
As we thundered toward the driveway, I could feel the wily old bugger lining it up. At the speed we were travelling there was no way we could safely make that turn. It would mean going from sandy loam to slippery compacted crushed limestone and I might have been young, with a teenager’s bulletproof mentality, but that didn’t mean I felt like taking a skid on half a tonne of horseflesh.
What to do though?
At some point during this mad dash I remembered my dad – an ex-jockey – telling me what he used to do when a racehorse bolted. He used to kick them on and on until they wore out. Admittedly it wasn’t much of a plan, but it was all I had.
And with that driveway seconds away, I was running out of time to do anything else.
So I pulled on the right rein with all my might to keep the horse’s head straight and kicked liked crazy, and drove him flat-out past the property entrance. There was a wobbly moment when we hit the crushed limestone but we crossed it without mishap and continued up the grass track until the horse worked out that unless he wanted to do another lap of the block, he’d have to slow down and turn around.
We arrived back in the yard panting and sweating as hard as each other to a welcome of teases about knocking the poor old horse about, and probably quite a bit of relief from the trainer. As for my biceps the next day… Ouch!
I was never put on that horse again. Which was a shame, because I would have liked another go. But maybe the trainer decided he didn’t need the heartburn.
I didn’t either, to be honest, but I’m bloody glad of the experience. Without it, my debut novel wouldn’t have had this memorable scene..
Okay, spill. What character reminds you of yourself?