Saturday, August 22, 2015

Wild Horses of Wyoming and WHEN LEAVES CHANGE COLOR

The Red Roan Colt along the Powder Rim in Wyoming.
This horse was the inspiration for my new historical fiction novel
The wild horses of Wyoming inspired me to write my latest novel, WHEN LEAVES CHANGE COLOR. I cannot be sure why I originally connected with these wild mustangs. I am an animal person, but it was not like I was a horseman or horse expert or anything like that. Sure, I had a quarter horse growing up and I did the 4H horse thing for two or three years, but once I discovered horsepower under the hood of cars and got my drivers' license, my interest for the four legged kind of horse severely waned. 

My interest in wild horses and horses in general has risen dramatically in the last twenty years. Below is one of my first encounters with wild horses in the desert in southwestern Wyoming. I will never forget that day. 
The Gray Stallion in a desert basin in Wyoming.   

As I slowly drove along the meandering road that overlooked the desert basin, I spotted several dark specks in the distance that contrasted with beige-colored desert. I stopped the vehicle and took aim with my high-powered zoom lens on my camera. Through the lens, the indistinguishable specks became the profiles of several multi-colored wild horses. I was too far away to get a good photograph, so I parked the vehicle, grabbed my backpack, and slid down the steep, shaly embankment that lead into the desert basin. I wanted to see just how close I could get to these animals.

Once I reached the sandy floor of the desert basin, I pushed my way through the chest-high sagebrush and greasewood. This was definitely deer tick heaven! As I slowly moved forward through the brush, ahead, I kept one eye on the ground, searching for sleeping rattlesnakes. Thirty minutes and a mile or so later, I reached a sandy ridge where I had originally spotted the horse herd. The horses had moved on. I raised my camera to my eye and scanned the desert in front of me. I was surprised when I found a gray stallion staring at me through the viewfinder, straight ahead. I snapped a photograph of the stallion and then another. As if he had heard the near inaudible camera shudder fire, the gray stallion turned and galloped away.    

After several years watching the wild horses and praying for their safety and well-being, I decided to write a book about the ancestors of the wild horses, the first horses that came back into North America and the first encounters of horses with Native Americans. The name of that book is, well, you guessed it, WHEN LEAVES CHANGE COLOR. Give it a shot and discover the rest of the story.

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