Sunday, May 31, 2015

Mustangs, Friesians, and Cossacks #Western #horses @JacquieRogers

Mustangs, Friesians, and Cossacks
by Jacquie Rogers
Website | Pickle Barrel Gazette

Much Ado About Mustangs (Hearts of Owyhee #5), my June 1 release, is an interesting mix of elements that you might not associate with the Old West, but they were there. I’ve just spent about 20 hours working on the final draft and getting the book on Amazon, which didn’t leave much time for a carefully researched blog article, so here’s an overview.

British Aristocracy
Today, the American media is filled with the day to day trivia of the British royal family, and folks of the Old West—all right, some folks—were fascinated with British aristocracy. Many second sons were sent to America. Some did well and some made fools of themselves just like the rest of those who immigrated. Some tried to establish versions of their homeland, some went native.  

My heroine, Pearl Jane Evans of Kentucky, tours as Lady Pearl Montford and is famous all over the nation. This wouldn’t be much of a stretch, as people have always looked for an angle. This angle worked for her very well.

If you go to a rodeo of any size today, you’ll probably see some trick riding. When I was little, I loved, loved, loved to watch trick riding.  Still do.  It seems like such a Western thing. Turns out, it’s a Cossack thing. Who knew?

It always amazed me what the riders could do on a horse—vaulting, Roman riding, and such. And of course the most exhilarating trick to watch was the Cossack Death Drag. That’s where the rider hangs by one foot, her backside against the horse’s ribs, and her hair drags the dirt, all while the horse is at a full gallop. Pretty incredible! It’s one of those “don’t try this at home, kids” kind of things, but of course we did. The results weren’t pretty.

Cossack Death Drag
In the late 1800s, equestrian shows were wildly popular. Hence, the fictional Great Dmitri and the Royal Cossack Equestrians were born. Trick riding came from the Cossack tradition and these maneuvers were designed for cavalry use in wartime, not for show. Pearl does a couple tricks, but expedient to the situation at hand, not in exhibition.

And here’s a secret—I had a hard time keeping my mind on the writing the story during those parts because YouTube’s Cossack riding was just too alluring.

Friesian horses are beautiful animals—sleek black, lush manes and tails, and they’re downright showy since they’re high-steppers. Search for ‘Friesian horses’ on YouTube and you can see them in action. This breed was originally developed to carry knights in shining armor, but then were later bred to be draft horses after armor became obsolete. They’re still used today for carriage horses, saddle horses, and dressage. They’re often used in the entertainment business because of their elegance.

Actually there are more references in my book to Friesians than mustangs, but wild horses do cause a bit of havoc for Josh and Pearl. Owyhee County is home to a lot of mustangs—both my dad and my grandpa rode them. Dad’s mustang was named Rocky and Grandpa’s was Maverick. Neither were tame enough for inexperienced riders, but both could negotiate just about any trail in the hills. Mustangs make wonderful trail horses—they’re smart (very smart!), agile, and surefooted.

Much Ado About Mustangs
Hearts of Owyhee #5
by Jacquie Rogers

Secret lives, hidden dreams, and forbidden sex in the Old West—what’s a woman of nobility to do when a handsome rancher tears through her world like an Owyhee dust devil?

A British Aristocrat
Or is she? Lady Pearl Montford has performed in theatres all over the West for crowds of all sizes, but what would the world say if her secret was found out—that she's really plain old Pearl Jane Evans from Kentucky. To make matters worse, Pearl's past life as a professional trick rider is floating to the surface thanks to an unsavory suitor from her past who wants either her—or $10,000.

A Frustrated Rancher
Rugged Josh McKinnon has a ranch to build and blooded horses due in any day, but there's one problem standing between him and his dream—Lady Montford, a high-falutin' diva actress. Wrangled into playing opposite the snooty Brit in Shakespeare's ‘Much Ado about Nothing,’ Josh has to put his ranch on hold and put up with her nonsense for two weeks. Only thing is—how can he focus on his ranch when all he can think about is the way Pearl sits a horse?

Much Ado About ... Love?
With a slew of critters causing stirs left and right, meddling family members and townsfolk playing cupid, and horse rustlers causing a ruckus, Pearl and Josh have a heck of a time keeping their minds on the play and their hands off each other. When the dust settles and the curtain falls, will Pearl and Josh be able to overcome the odds working against them and find love in the wild Idaho countryside?


  1. There is a lot there I didn't know. Thanks.

    1. Hi, Frank! I have more info but ran out of time with all that last minute editing. Spent a lot of time watching YouTube videos while "writing." LOL. Research, you know. What I found interesting is that today, mostly women do the trick riding, but it was created for warriors.

  2. Educational as usual, and does this story sound like so much fun. June 1 is right around the corner. Yeah!

    I knew of the British and other Europeans who came west. We had more than a few here in Colorado, especially down around Silvercliff and of course Colorado Springs (Little London). But horses, now that's another story. So much history. So many stories to be told. Doris McCraw/Angela Raines

    1. Thanks for stopping by, Doris! Yes, some of those settlements were doomed from the start. And Manitou Springs really attracted British aristocrats.