I write romantic suspense and warm, family relationship type novels, often with a touch of humor. Many of my books have featured animals as key players--dogs, cats, llamas, cockatiels, horses...even our son's pet albino corn snake, Sssssid, who appeared in my first Superromance back in 1999.

Animals have been a big part of my life since I was a child. How about you? I hope you'll become a "blog follower" here (see the right-hand column for a place to click) and will come back often. So...let's talk about our pets!

Thursday, January 28, 2010

The Old Horse Trader #8--And A Mustang at Madison Square Garden

In his youth, horse trader Verne Upmier built up a thriving livery business by working hard to please his customers and being particular about the horses he used.

He remembers one week when he bought ten supposedly well-broke horses through three different sales barns, and only two of the animals proved dependable enough for rental.

One of these was a paint mare, who was unusually versatile.  She was gentle enough for children to ride throughout the week, but on Sunday afternoons, Verne would put a flank strap on her so would-be cowboys could learn to ride a bucking horse. She would buck like holy terror with that flank strap, but on Monday mornings, saddled up for livery duties, she would again be quiet enough for the littlest cowpokes.

Not all of Verne's acquisitions were that docile, however.  Back in the 40's, large numbers of untouched mustangs were shipped from the million-acre CBC ranch to be sold in the Midwest.  Most mustangs can become wonderful, gentle riding horses with proper training, but the local horsemen soon learned to interpret the CBC brand as "Cowboy Be Careful!" Some of these horses from that ranch were just plain rank.

One, a big gray, took considerable exception to even the most gentle handling.  "I saddled him and put him in a stall, figuring he needed time to adjust," Verne says. "but when I returned a short time later, he was gone."

The horse must have viewed the stall as his personal Stalag 17, and he was no slouch at escapes.  He jumped his manger, ran down the aisle, jumped into another stall, kicked open a door at the back of that stall, and raced out into the pasture.

Verne eventually caught up with him, but the horse was too wild to catch, so Verne began driving the animal towards home.  The horse, who still had the saddle on him, bucked all the way to the barn.
Selling him as bucking stock was an easy decision after such a display of determination, and that choice proved to be wise.

During the next two years, the horse never failed to unseat his riders before the eight-second buzzer, and he even "performed" in Madison Square Garden!

Monday, January 25, 2010

Frosty horses and snowy barns

Is it just me...or is anyone else gettiing just a little  tired of winter!?  Brrr!  Tonight, with light snow but significant wind, the resulting ground blizzard made the trip home from work sooo much longer.

So how is winter going where you live?!

Sunday, January 24, 2010

The Paint Horse Congress, a Trailer, & A Trip to Remember!

In the late 1970's, when my husband and I were first married, we bought a good paint mare--producer of three Minnesota state champions, bred her to an AQHA Champion, and confidently expected that this would be the beginning of a nice, profitable side venture out of quarter horses and into a breed with lots of pizazz. Well...

In due time we had a nice, wild colored colt,  did quite well with him at our state futurity, and then consigned him to the Paint Futurity sale down in Wichita, Kansas, with expectations that he would finance the purchase of more good mares.

 The trip to Kansas went smoothly until we were half- way through what must be the most desolate part of that state. As we drove down a long hill, we were startled to see a large, dark shape fly past the truck window and arc gracefully out into space over a deep, brush-filled ravine.

There was little time for reflection over this phenomenon, for in a split second, we felt a tremendous lurch and heard the squeal of rubber on asphalt. We pulled over to the shoulder of the highway with difficulty, and with great trepidation went back to survey the damage.

The trailer wheels had ben greased and repacked just  prior to the trip, but now one was completely gone, and the other one on that side was off its axle and jammed at an angle under the wheel well. The axles both showed considerable damage.

We stood there in shock, for there hadn't been a sizable town behind us in the last hour, there was no traffic to flag down, and the Congress sale was less than 24 hours away. It was hopeless! We stood there, staring at the damage, trying to imagine how this could all be resolved, when over the next horizon our Lone Ranger appeared in the form of Officer Pekin, a highway patrolman.

The three of us warily searched the top of the ravine from the edge of the highway, keeping an eye out for rattlesnakes--very common in the area and especially in rocky, brush filled places like that, but the airborne tire had departed with such velocity that it was nowhere to be found.

Office Pekin, undaunted by our dismal situation, confidently assured us that we would make it to sale on time.  He made a quick call on his car radio  and located a local rancher with the improbable name of "Grasshopper." Well, Grasshopper soon appeared with the stock trailer for our colt and a wrecker was summoned for our trailer.  Grasshopper, a lanky, charming and generous cowboy from the top of his cowboy hat to the tips of his dusty boots, loaned us the trailer for the rest of our trip,  and by late evening we were again on our way.

By now, it was raining heavily and night had fallen. We were inching along in the dark, in the pouring rain on a very narrow highway, praying we wouldn't drive off the road. The rest of the trip seemed to take an eternity, but we finally arrived at the Paint Horse Congress grounds late at night. As we led that colt out of the darkness and into the safe, warm, brightly lit barn at the fairgrounds, the feeling of relief was immeasurable.

Well... we put the colt through the sale, and based on all the people who had stopped by his stall expressing interest, we had visions  of a good price, ala the current AQHA market.  Of course now paints and pintos are a hot commodity, but at least  for that era, we were quite a surprised to find ourselves no-saling  him when the bidding ended at $900 !!   And now, we needed to find a ride back to our home state for the colt...and  also had to return Grasshopper's  trailer.

Luckily, we found somebody with an empty spot in their trailer who was headed the right direction...but then, a few weeks later, we also had to take a second trip to Kansas to pick up our own trailer, which had been repaired sufficiently for travel.  We did receive compensation from the gas station that had been negligent when  working on our trailer in the first place.

Well....we fed that colt for the next year.  I started him under saddle and he was the easiest pleasure horse I ever started,  he was just so talented.  The first time he loped off, he was slow, quiet, with his head down--an absolute dream through his own personality rather than any talent of my own.  And then we again took him to a paint sale, figuring he would easily bring our extra year of expenses and much more.

This time he brought $1,000 ....a grand total of a hundred dollars more...but THIS time, we let him go!

Saturday, January 23, 2010

An interview with Rachel Hauck & Sara Evans!

Pop on over to my blog at www.shoutlife.com/roxannerustand for an interview with Rachel Hauck and Sara Evans.  They have collaborated on a book that is being released this month, and you can check out the information on the book there, too.  Very, very cool!

Multi-platinum recording artist Sara Evans has garnered such honors as ACM's Female Vocalist of the Year, CMA's Video of the Year, named one of People Magazine's "50 Most Beautiful People," and she was the first country star to compete in ABC's Dancing with the Stars.   And of course, Rachel is a multi-published, multi-award winning author!


Tuesday, January 19, 2010

A Lena Nelson Dooley interview!

Visit  http://lenanelsondooley.blogspot.com/ for an interview and a sneak peak of my February romantic suspense novel, FATAL BURN....which will be available starting approximately February 5th in bookstores, Walmart, KMart, Target, and other stores that carry the Steeple Hill line.

And while you are at Lena's blog, check out the rest of her site.  She is one of the most active fiction bloggers anywhere--with loads of information about authors, and she also  has a great website.  She's also an author herself!

Saturday, January 16, 2010

When your Dog is a MOOSE!! by Ane Mulligan

When your dog is a moose... you buy a motorhome.

I love dogs. I really do, but I wanted a break after our last one went to doggie heaven, because I wanted to travel without worrying about who would take care of the dog. Besides, he'd been the best one we ever owned, the only one that truly wanted to please. What ever we told him, he'd do in a heartbeat.

Unfortunately, the hubs missed him so much that within two months, he had me at a kennel in Alabama, looking at a mastiff puppy. My dreams of travel trotted out the door with a set of gigantic puppy toes. I mean, those babies were bigger than any adult dog's I've ever seen!

That should have been my first clue.

I'd never even seen a mastiff before. But a friend of our son Greg owned two. Said son fell in love and of course, told his dad about them. It must be a gender thing. Women tend to like little dogs that we can cuddle and hold in our laps.

Guys want one they can ride.

Father and son spent hours on the Internet, searching for just the right place to get one. Me? I was in my office working on my latest manuscript, blissfully unaware of their activities. They would have made a great spy team for the CIA. They carried out clandestine investigations right under my nose, and I never knew it.

The hubs used psychology. At the kennel, he told me to pick out the one I liked best from the litter. What did I know? I picked a cute face. Silly me. That should have been my second clue.

All puppies are cute.

The Hound of Baskervilles was cute when it was a puppy. Wolves are cute when they're puppies, but that doesn't mean I should own one. But somehow, this puppy we named Shadrach found its way into our car and came home with us. We left Meshach and Abednego back at the kennel.

Son Greg was delighted with Shadrach.

As he grew, one trait became apparent quickly. Shadrach was a chicken and he wanted to remain very close. He even laid on the back of the sofa like a cat. He's terrified of the dark, of shadows he can't explain, rustling leaves, hats, oddly placed trash cans on the sidewalk, thunder, and fireworks. One muffled bang and he is in someone's lap.

He was even afraid of his new dog bed. The hubs laid down on it to show that silly dog what it was for. What did Shadrach do? Sat down on the hubs lap.

I still want to do some traveling. After all, I have five newly found sisters in Seattle that I have visited only once. But what do we do with the moose? Hubs did what only a man would do. He bought a motor home large enough to carry Shadrach.

Oh, joy.

Author Ane Mulligan has lived a varied life: from Christian lobbyist to business manager, from playwright and drama director to novelist. Her lifetime of experience provides a plethora of fodder for fiction. An adoptee who found her birth sisters, she started a blog for sharing adoption stories. Ane has published over two dozen scripts and numerous articles. She's a humor columnist for the e-zine Afictionado and editor of the popular literary blog, Novel Journey. Whether its novels oer plays, writing is her passion, but using her talent to serve the Lord is her grand passion. She lives in Atlanta with her husband and a dog large enough to qualify as two.