How Can a Horse be Like a Novel?
You may ask, How can a horse be like a novel? The answer is one word–relationship. Every good horseman knows the relationship you develop with your horse is critical to your success as a rider. Every good writer knows that the relationship you build with the reader through your story is the key. Have you ever been sad when a story ended? Have you found yourself wishing for more? That’s one reason book series are so successful. So, if we agree that relationship is the common ground, let’s explore further.
Don’t Judge a Book By Its Cover
Everyone knows this old adage by when it comes to books, even though we don’t pay any attention to it. I’m always drawn by a beautiful or compelling cover. The beauty of a horse is similarly magnetic. But books, like horses, don’t always deliver despite a pretty outside package. This obvious advice is too often overlooked in the heat of the moment — for example, you’re looking to buy/lease a horse in the classifieds and a stunning image of your dream equine flits across the screen. Said horse is out of your price range, beyond your experience level, or has other “red flags” warning you to keep scrolling… Instead you stop, you call to ask about him, you just want to meet him… A gorgeous outside is no guarantee the “story” inside. Rider and reader beware.
What’s the Horse’s Genre?
When we pick up a book in a certain genre, we have certain expectations. If it’s a romance, generally we expect boy meets girl, a big attraction, and usually a stumbling block keeping them apart before we get to the happily every after. If that romance novel opens with the discovery of a dead body, or terrorists plotting a complex weapons heist, or colonization of a far galaxy, well, it’s like walking in on the wrong movie. Okay, how is this like horses? We as riders come into our relationship with a horse with hopes and expectations of what we want them to be–a jumper, a roper, a hunter, a trail horse–but the horse may have other ideas. Have you ever gone against a horses will, training him in a particular discipline, only to discover his heart wasn’t’ in it? Just because you want to event, doesn’t necessarily mean you can make a good eventer out of your horse. You’ve got to pick one in the right “genre.”
The Classics Still Have Something to Offer
Most buy a young horse hoping to have more years together and perhaps with a desire to start the horse off right without any “baggage.” Unfortunately, young horses are not for everyone. If looking for a horse, don’t discount the schoolmaster. A horse that has been around the block has a lot to offer as far by giving you a safe ride and having the knowledge so he can teach you. Sure, the schoolmaster may need some extra TLC by way of injections or other support to keep him comfortable, but it is a worthwhile investment in exchange for what he can give you. There’s a good reason why books become classics–they still have something important to say no matter how old the story gets. Pick up a “classic” and give it a read. Ride a schoolmaster and learn something new.
Just Because You Don’t Like It, Doesn’t Make It Bad
You may pick up a book find even though the characters are drawn well, the plot is expertly crafted, and the writing professional, it is just not your cup of tea. Books that have received glowing reviews and awards I sometimes have trouble slogging through. A book can not appeal to everyone. As a member of a bookclub, I’ve been “forced” to read many books I never would have picked out for myself. Some turned out to be a delightful surprise, others not so much. BUT it did not mean the book was bad just because I didn’t like it. The same goes for horses. You may have a ride on a horse that you do not click with and chalk it up to him being bad about going forward, bad about lifting his knees over the jump, bad about rushing, bad about spooking at everything…you get the idea. Then someone else gets on the same horse and he goes great. That person loves him. They click. It’s relationship and just because that horse is not your type of individual, does not mean he’s a bad horse.
Give It Time to Develop
Writers are told they have to hook a reader in the first five pages! I’m sure I’ve enjoyed books that started slow but turned out to be favorites. Sometimes a story takes time to develop. Sure, there should be something compelling from the start, but how much sweeter it is to find a story that gets better and better the more you get into it. It may also depend on the type of background you bring to the story. Have you ever read a book you did not like, then later, after you learned something new or perhaps experienced something that helped you relate, you re-read it and find you really liked it this time around. Horses also take time to develop. Our relationship with a horse develops based on trust, mutual respect, and what type of knowledge we bring to it. A horse will also change over time, same as we do. It special when you can grow together. I wouldn’t judge a book based on five pages just as I wouldn’t judge a horse after only a handful of rides.
What’s your opinion? I’d love to hear what you think!