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Tuesday, March 15, 2016

6 Wrong Ways to Write About Horses

Column by Vicki L. Weevilauthor of FACSIMILE (March 8, 2016, 
Month9Books). Weavil turned her early obsession with reading into a 
career as a librarian. After obtaining a B.A. in Theatre from the University 
of Virginia, she continued her education by receiving a Masters in Library 
Science and a M.A. in Liberal Studies. She is currently the Library 
Director for a performing and visual arts university. Follow her on Twitter
I saw a promo for the film, THE REVENANT, the other day and glimpsed a scene where a horse and rider sail off a cliff. Yeah, it looks cool, but like many other ways horses are depicted in movies and books, it doesn’t ring true.  (I’ve already seen many people comment negatively on this scene in reviews, so I know I’m not the only one who doesn’t buy it).
Fortunately, many books and films display an understanding of horses and horsemanship. But occasionally a lack of knowledge or research rears its shaggy head. So, as someone with a background in this area, I’d like to mention a few common errors that make readers like me cringe.
1. Horses not being cooled down after exertion. Picture a romance novel, where a dashing hero must ride hell-for-leather to reach the church where his beloved is being married off to another. His horse is lathered in sweat. Sir Hero reaches the church, jumps off and … does nothing with the horse.
Any horse person knows this a big no-no. Hard-ridden horses must be walked until they are cool, because a hot horse given water or food can be permanently injured. Foundering, which can lame a horse, can be one result. If your character can’t take time to do this, please invent a stable urchin or someone to care for the horse!


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