Tag Archives: Author: Trish Jackson

The Story Behind the Story Trish Jackson

 

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Every story starts with an idea—that one little spark of information that triggers a blaze of creativity.

A little while ago I was walking on the beach early in the morning and as I passed a man who was in conversation with two women I heard him say, “It all started at Melanie’s slumber party in 1978.” I immediately thought what a great first line for a story.

I’m still working on that one, but ‘Scorpio’s Sting’, my next romantic suspense thriller in the Zodiac Series is in the final editing process, and will be released by my publisher soon.

Here’s the story behind Scorpio’s Sting:

Several years ago when I lived in Young, Arizona, I was sitting at my desk in the real estate office, when my friend and co-worker received a phone call. I could tell immediately that this was something serious, and as soon as she hung up, she turned to me and said that her brother in Phoenix employed an illegal immigrant from Mexico. No biggy there. Lots of people in southern border states do that. This Mexican guy, let’s call him Juan, had paid a lot of money to have his wife safely escorted over the border (illegally) so she could join him and live with him in the United States.

The men whose ‘profession’ it is to get people across our southern borders without detection by Border Patrol are known as ‘coyotes’ and they are tough, ruthless people, often affiliated with the major drug cartels who also move drugs across our borders.

In this instance, the coyote had called Juan and demanded more money. He had Juan’s wife in a remote part of the Arizona desert and threatened to abandon her there without food or water unless he was paid another three thousand dollars.

As far as I remember, my friend and her brother were able to scrape up the money and help Juan out, but I wondered how many people can’t meet the coyote’s demands. I cannot start to imagine the terror of the victims and the helplessness of their family members.

In Scorpio’s Sting, Drew McBain has developed a system he calls a Virtual Mine Field, which will be installed along our borders, and will help to stop illegal border crossings as an alternative to building a wall. The major Mexican drug cartel in the area, La Serpiente Coral Cartel stands to lose millions of dollars in human trafficking and drug revenues. They mount a ruthless campaign to stop Drew from manufacturing the product, leaving him saddened, sickened, and driven by a desperate need for revenge.

ICE (Immigration and Customs Enforcement) officer Neelie Nelson has a history with the Cartel. Her Border Patrol husband was tortured and gruesomely murdered by its leader, Jose Marie Iglesias. Now cartel members are following her home every night, and she is terrified they may hurt her child.

In a strange twist of circumstances, Drew and Neelie end up having to work together with a group of undocumented (illegal) immigrants living in the sewers under the city of Los Angeles to take Iglesias and his cartel down.

I write romantic suspense, so you know they’re gonna fall in love sooner or later. Here’s the opening paragraph:

Drew McBain’s eyes opened wide, and before he could do anything to stop her, a smoking hot blonde filled his arms. “Watch it!” he said.

“Oh no, I’m so sorry,” she yelped.

“You should look where you’re going.” He held onto her. She smelled good, and he had just groped a delectable, firm breast. “I didn’t mean to—”

She ran her tongue over her lower lip, and for a moment their eyes met. “I’m sorry, again.” She held up the cell phone she had been checking. “My bad.  I’m late for work.”

He released his hold on her, and watched her ass until she disappeared into the darkness.

~*~

I’d love to hear where your ideas come from.

Trish Jackson writes romantic suspense thrillers and romantic comedy, and loves to

include fictional animals that are not limited to dogs in her stories.  http://www.trishjackson.com

 

The Big, Not so Bad Wolf By Trish Jackson

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I recently saw a post on Facebook bemoaning the fact that more gray wolves are being re-introduced to the federal forest lands in Arizona and New Mexico. The article went on to say that the Boy Scout groups would now have to re-think their camping operations in those areas for fear of wolves attacking the children. Really? They don’t mind the mountain lions (known to attack humans) or bears (known to attack humans), but are afraid of wolves. While wolves have attacked humans in the US, they are definitely not the only danger, and I can only think the fears are because humans are conditioned from the time they are very young to be afraid of the big bad wolf.

If anyone took the time to educate themselves about wolves, they would be surprised to find out what structured, intelligent and fascinating creatures they are. A pack is usually made up of 10 or fewer members. Every member within the pack has a specific title and rank, and somehow they all know their designated tasks and how the hierarchy is supposed to work.

Rank order is established and maintained through a series of ritualized fights and posturing, and by psychological means. High-ranking status is more often than not determined more on personality and attitude than on size or physical strength. At the top is the alpha female, and then her mate—collectively the alpha pair—who are usually monogamous except when they are closely related to one another, in which case the female may choose to mate with a lower ranked male instead. The alphas have the most freedom, and are the most likely to breed, but are not always the only ones.

Second in charge is a beta wolf, or wolves, whose duty is to protect the alphas, and they are often more aggressive and larger in size or stronger than the others below them. Others in the pack range in age. The females help take care of the cubs, while the males hunt. The Omega wolf is the lowest ranked, and may be designated as ‘nanny’ to the youngest cubs.

Wolves are social animals and a lone wolf is one that has most likely been exiled from a pack and is in search of a new pack.

Wolves, like dogs, communicate through a variety of specialized sounds, howls, growls, grunts, whines and barks, and body language like standing tall with the tail up or hunching down and pulling the tail between their legs. They use eye-contact and facial expressions to show emotions—baring teeth, pointing ears forward showing dominance, and closed mouths, slit eyes and pulled back ears indicating submission.

Howling is not unique to the wolf, but the wolf howl can be heard up to six miles away, and anyone who has ever heard it knows what a distinctive and haunting sound it is. Alpha wolves usually have a lower pitched howl, and it seems there is no one particular reason for howling.

Here’s the most interesting fact for me. Wolves have played an incredible part in the environment in areas where they have been re-introduced, particularly Yellowstone Park, where they were introduced in 1995 after 70 years of absence. They hunt together as a pack, and as such, are a formidable opponent and are able to take down large animals like elk. Researchers believe that wolves may help mitigate the impact of climate change, and have documented how they have actually caused the rivers in Yellowstone to stabilize and become healthier. This is partially because they keep grazing animals like elk on the move, which has allowed certain plants to recover and not be totally destroyed, thus curbing erosion. This video on youtube explains how they have changed the rivers in Yellowstone and benefited coyotes, bald eagles, golden eagles, black bears, ravens, magpies, red foxes and more than 20 other species. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ysa5OBhXz-Q

wolfNeedless to say, the wolf’s greatest enemy is man, and will continue to be until humans are educated about them. Please share this article to help spread the word.

Trish Jackson writes romantic suspense thrillers and romantic comedy, and loves to include fictional animals that are not limited to dogs in her stories. http://www.trishjackson.com

Sometimes, Karma Can be a Dog Trish Jackson

 

 Karmas a Dog

Romney Richlieu cursed. Bad luck was following her as usual.

Her whole life had been one giant screw up, and now this.

She mimicked Mrs. Breiton’s words. “We’re so sorry. It’s nothing to do with your leg, Romney. The company is in financial difficulty and we have to let a few people go.”

Sorry, my ass. I don’t know why they hired me in the first place. I didn’t hide my leg. It’s all skinny and ugly and it’s totally obvious my shoe is built-up. They could see that from the time  I  went for the first interview. I suppose it’s because of that silly woman with the Chihuahua in her purse. How was I supposed to know it was there? I like animals. I wouldn’t have put the file on top of the purse if she had told me it was there. And anyhow, the dog is fine.

She dragged her personal items from her drawer and tossed them all in the trash can. Like her life, nothing in there was worth saving.

She walked out of that place with her head held high. It wasn’t totally a normal walk, but she didn’t limp so much these days with the new orthotic shoe. So now what? She couldn’t even claim on unemployment because she hadn’t been there long enough. Maybe next time she should wear long pants to the interview and they wouldn’t see her leg. But these days with the recession, it seemed that the only way she could get a job was because of the sympathy factor. The poor crippled girl. We should be nice to her.

She stopped in the park and flopped onto a bench. She hadn’t allowed herself to think about her circumstances, but now fear clutched at her stomach. How will I pay the rent? Will they kick me out? Oh God. I wish I could just die.” She held her head in her hands and cried quietly.

“What the . . .?” She looked up sharply when something wet made contact with her arm. A dog—and he was licking her.

“What are you doing?” She pushed him away. He stood there and wagged his tail—and his whole butt wagged with it. He showed her his teeth. But he wasn’t snarling. He was smiling. The mutt was smiling at her. She tried to keep the stern look on her face, but he looked so funny with his butt wiggling like that and the goofy grin, she laughed out loud. Then she noticed his leg. One of his back legs was all shriveled up, the muscles useless and wasted like hers, and he held it up off the ground.

It didn’t seem to bother him. He wasn’t pissed off with life. In fact, he looked epically happy to see her. He had matted, dirty white fur, and he wasn’t wearing a collar. When she looked closer she could see he was all skin and bone. She reached out and patted him on his head and his butt wagged harder than before. He made a whining kind of noise.

“I do believe you’re talking to me,” she said. “You must be a stray, and yet you look so frikkin’ happy despite your bad leg, and you probably haven’t had a square meal for a while.”

She jerked when she noticed an old lady sitting at the other end of the bench. Where had she come from? She was smiling at Romney and petting the dog. “This is Andy,” she said. “He was mine, but I passed, and he was left to fend for himself. He’s yours now.” Before Romney could even open her mouth to reply, she was gone.

Was she really ever there?

Romney shrugged and smiled down at him. Smiling did something to her. It made her feel hopeful. “Well, Andy, let’s go see what we can do to get back on our feet. The first thing I’m gonna do is get you a square meal. I feel like our luck has just changed.”

Andy barked twice, and they limped out of the park together.

Trish Jackson grew up on a farm in Zimbabwe, Africa, and lived through some crazy adventures that sparked her imagination; including having to keep a loaded UZI by her side every night in case of an attack by armed insurgents. She loves all animals and often includes them in her stories. She’s happiest with her wonderful family members, or in her country home in Florida tapping out a new novel on her computer. Find out more at http://www.trishjackson.com .

 

Life in a Geological Camp in Africa by Trish Jackson

 

My husband worked as a geophysicist for a large international mining group in Rhodesia (now Zimbabwe). He used scientific instruments to probe the ground and identify masses that were denser than the surrounding dirt, which often indicated large mineral deposits.

Our first child was six months old when we locked the doors of our house on the mine compound, settled the dog in the back of the truck, and headed out, towing our travel trailer. A caravan of trucks followed, loaded with the laborers plus all the equipment and camping gear. Rhoda, our nanny, traveled with us.

Empress Nickel Mine couldn’t produce enough nickel, and they needed to find more ore reserves.

This was our second geological camp since getting married. We set it up outside the mine compound on a low rise beside a picturesque dam. Our compound was made up of the travel trailer (our bedroom), the attached tent (patio), bolt-together metal hut (our dining room), kitchen (a pole structure with hessian sides nailed to it and a metal roof), the bathroom (with a tub like you see in cowboy movies), and the long-drop toilet. The hessian was painted with cement slurry which hardened into a thick crust to make it rain-proof.

The laborers set up their own encampment a few hundred feet away from ours, and David’s assistant, Arnold joined us with his travel trailer.

The horse stables on the mine offered free stabling for our horses, and accommodation for our groom, and we rode almost every day, and sometimes at night when the moon was full we would go for a moonlight ride around the lake.

Sam, our camp cook baked delicious fresh bread every day using an upturned metal bucket with hot coals heaped around and on top of it as a makeshift oven. Geologists and other mining personnel from all over the world visited us, and we got to meet some wonderful people.

David and Arnold built a raft out of empty oil drums. It tipped over most times they tried to get onto it. It was only later that we saw the enormous crocodiles that inhabited the lake. Ha ha.

Some evenings we would sing, and Sam and Rhoda would join in and harmonize with us as only Africans can do. It was awesome.

One of the laborers had a portable record player and only two records—My Sweet Lord by George Harrison and Joy to the World by Three Dog Night. He played them repeatedly as loudly as possible every evening. Whenever I hear either song, I’m transported back to that camp. I can smell the wood smoke, the mouth-watering scent of bread baking and the clean air. I can see the scrubby brush and thorn trees, and feel the vibrant essence of Africa.

To write about everything that happened would take way too long and would probably be boring, but here are a few memorable moments worth sharing.

Our first geological camp was on a farm. Bill Mills, the farmer, wasn’t too happy about it until we found a mutual interest in horses. After that, he and his two nieces often rode over in the evenings to enjoy a beer with us. We were invited to a farewell dinner at the farmhouse when our stay was almost up. The food was delicious, but I can honestly say it was the only time I’ve eaten a meal with horses standing in the dining room begging for scraps. Having a horse thrust its head between you and the next person while seated at the dining room table is a little disconcerting even if you love horses, but it will always be a unique and treasured memory.

One day in the second camp, a free-thinking goat broke away from the others in its flock, charged into our camp and jumped onto the kitchen table, sending pots, pans and crockery flying. An angry Sam chased it out, and not be outdone, it ran into our travel trailer and jumped onto the bed, where it stood with its horns ready to butt anyone who dared come near it. It took a while before someone was able to grab one of the horns and lead it out.

There had been a drought, and the Freedom from Hunger Campaign trucks delivered corn and sorghum to the villages scattered around in the trust land surrounding the mine compound. The recipients couldn’t eat it all, so they did what anyone would do with all that grain—made beer. Horses like the taste of brewers’ grains and it gives them extra pep and makes their coats shine, so we traveled from village to village collecting the masese as they called it to feed to our horses. Most times, the villagers were lying around on the ground too drunk to stand up, and brought new understanding to the term ‘paralytic drunk’.

The drought broke, and it started raining, and didn’t stop. The job was completed and we were supposed to go home. We packed everything up, but decided to wait one more day and spend New Year’s Eve 1971/72 at the mine, as they had organized a big party with a great band. The Umsweswe River flooded and rose so high it covered the bridge and made it impassable. No problem. The band was ferried across with all their equipment in a grader or a front-end loader. They played all night, because they had no place to go.

At six the next morning, tired and somewhat inebriated, we wound our way back to camp. The plan was to get a couple of hours’ sleep and then head out. When we arrived, we discovered that the dam had risen overnight and our camp was now across a large body of water on an island. We had no choice but to drive through the water. The waves lapped at the doors but we made it, hooked up the trailer to our little Daihatsu pickup and managed to slip and slide through the water and along the flooded, muddy tracks until we reached the paved road. Thankfully, the river had gone down a little and we were able to negotiate the bridge.

Soon after that, the bush war hotted up and the company instigated a policy whereby no women or children were permitted to accompany their spouses into remote areas.  It was fun while it lasted and those unique memories will always stay with me and make me smile.

Trish Jackson grew up on a farm in Zimbabwe, Africa, and lived through some crazy adventures that sparked her imagination; including having to keep a loaded UZI by her side every night in case of an attack by armed insurgents. She loves all animals and often includes them in her stories. She’s happiest with her wonderful family members, or in her country home in Florida tapping out a new novel on her computer. Find out more at http://www.trishjackson.com .

 

About Music …

Music moves us. Whether it be to make us happy, sad, or (in some rare cases) violent, music affects our emotions. The authors of the Write Room have shared their thoughts and feelings about music and how it shapes our lives. (Dellani Oakes)

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Daddy’s Music by Linda Palmer

I didn’t realize how cool my daddy was until after my mother died and we had him to ourselves for five years. He was very quiet; Mother was the go-between. Yet without me realizing it, he made me who I am today. A huge influence was his love for music. Daddy, who played alto sax in high school, loved the sounds of Lawrence Welk, Paul Mauriat, James Last, Leroy Anderson, and Mantovani. He was also into Broadway musicals, so my sisters and I still know every word of Camelot, My Fair Lady, Oklahoma, South Pacific and a slew of others. Daddy went from vinyls, to eight-tracks, to tapes, to CDs, with quadraphonic in there somewhere. He had great sound systems in his cars, and I loved long Sunday afternoon rides listening to whatever musical score was his favorite at the time. (Can anyone else out there recognize every song from Midnight Cowboy?)

I’m eternally grateful for his eclectic tastes, which ultimately impacted mine. There aren’t many music genres I don’t like, and I’m always up for listening to something new. So thanks, Daddy. You get full credit for the chills I get when music truly moves me. I just wish you hadn’t pawned your saxophone to pay down on a house all those years ago. I’d love to hear you play it.

 

Let the music play on by by Jon Magee

“If music be the food of love, play on”, wrote William Shakespeare (Twelfth Night Act 1, scene 1, 1–3)

Music has the ability to move us—our memories and our imaginations. So many times, I’ve heard a song on the radio, on a commercial, or during a movie, and found myself transported to another place and time. The lyrics and the melody remind me of a moment I’ve experienced, a memory I haven’t recalled for ages, and I’ll feel everything that I felt back then.

I am not musical in terms of having the ability to play any musical instrument, but I do have an appreciation of music and have enjoyed the listening to it from an early age. I have no doubt that music has been a great means of communicating to the world in many ways. When I am writing, I have often used the memory of music and singing as a means of setting the scene for an era, or to bring out the expressions of emotions set in the heart of the characters whether it is the expression of love or the feelings of sadness.

Even the Philosopher of the 1960’s, Mr Michael Jagger, used the medium of song as he shared his philosophy of life with those who supported him. Along with a group called “The Rolling Stones” he sang “You can’t always get what you want, You can’t always get what you want , You can’t always get what you want, but if you try sometime you find you get what you need”. Clearly that would be true in many other walks of life. Looking back through the ages it was the singing of particular songs that became the heart of the peace movements and many political campaigns too, as well as the religious revivals through the ages. When people recall the Wesleyan revivals they would often equate it with the music of the Wesley brother and Toplady. Likewise the same vein may be applied to the Welsh Revival, and not forgetting how Moody is a name that is still linked to Sankey.

Music is also the great leveller of life too. Our singing abilities may not be as good as others, but the needs expressed will be something that can touch us all in one form or another as we sing or listen. We all identify with the words “all you need is love” as the Beatles put it. Perhaps we can identify with Buddy Holly as he sang of his personal unrequited love experience with Peggy Sue. (Peggy Sue was not a made up name, it was a real person who he knew in his life.) Can we not also sense the heartbreak of the New York mining tragedy as the Bee Gees sang “Have you seen my wife Mr Jones? Do you know what it’s like on the outside?” Music will bring out the cheer and also the tears. In our music will come our humanity and the road many of us take in human life. But above everything, may music be the food of love in our lives!

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Mood Music by Patricia Dusenbury

I listen to music while writing. Jeff Buckley’s audible exhale at the beginning of Hallelujah stops me cold. I hold my breath, waiting for him to begin singing. The line “…all I’ve ever learned from love is how to shoot somebody who outdrew you,” evokes thoughts of love as a power struggle, the things vulnerable humans do to each other. I’m reminded that some things, once broken, cannot be fixed. I’m ready to write about grief and the pain of love lost or, worse, thrown away.

Cole Porter said that Night and Day was about obsession, not love. Frank Sinatra, Ella Fitzgerald et al. sang it as a love song, but not U2. Their version captures passion that defies reason. In the video, Bono slides a razor blade across his thumb. I listen and write about physical attraction that overwhelms common sense, love as a form of insanity.

It’s not all noir. I also use music to evoke time and place. My mysteries are set in New Orleans and the bayou country. Jazz, blues, Dixieland or zydeco – it depends upon what I’m trying to write. I put on the music, listen, and I’m back there. Ditto the songs popular when I was in high school and college.

There’s one vivid musical memory I’ve not used – not yet. Years ago, I walked into an ice cream parlor in Palm Springs. Three middle-aged women (younger than I am now) sat at the counter, eating overpriced ice cream. They licked it off their spoons with evident pleasure, while Tom Jones’ What’s New Pussycat played on the jukebox. Whenever I hear that song, I see those women, and I smile. One day, they’ll be in a book.

 

As a child, Patricia Dusenbury read under the covers into the wee hours. Despite sleep deprivation, she managed to get through college and a career as an economist. Now retired, she hopes to atone for all those dry reports by writing novels that people read for pleasure. 

Her first book, A Perfect Victim, won the 2015 EPIC (Electronic Publishing Industry Coalition) award for best mystery. The sequel, Secrets, Lies & Homicide, was a top ten finisher in the Preditors and Editors Readers Poll. A House of Her Own, which will be released October 16, completes the trilogy. http://patriciadusenbury.com/

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Timpani by Kenneth Weene

My Junior High School Music teacher pulled me aside and offered a simple solution to our dilemma. “Kenneth, don’t sing, just mouth the words and I’ll give you a passing grade.”

Thankful to end the embarrassment of all heads turning towards me whenever I hit a “note” that had never been heard before, I agreed to acoustic exile.

In boarding school I tried out for the chorus, which shared concerts and dances with girls’ schools. The chorus director assured me if ever he found a piece of music that included my one note repertoire he’d add me to the roster.

Not being able to sing didn’t dampen my love of music. I think I know when somebody else is on tune. I love the sense of tempo, especially when timpani lead the way, which immediately suggests classical music. Not surprisingly, my favorite composers are from Eastern Europe. Dvořák, Bartok, Scriabin, Shostakovich, and Mahler are my big five. Say Slavic music and I’m ready not just to listen but viscerally take part—feet tapping, hands waving, and head bobbing. Drawing on my Junior High lesson, I sit at the rear of a section where my gyrations won’t disturb others.

Driving is one of the better times to listen to music although I do have to be careful not to take my hands of the wheel and conduct or tap the rhythm on the gas pedal.

Driving through the Rocky Mountain National Park my musical selection was Mahler. Perhaps Dvořák would have been a better choice, The New World Symphony, but I love the sweeping grandeur of Mahler and it went perfectly with the majesty of the mountains. We rounded a bend. Grazing in a small meadow was a herd of elk. The music, the mountains, and the elk came together in the moment.

Without thought or care, I began to sing along. The inhibitions learned in adolescence dropped away and for the moment I was one with the music.

Which brings us to the most important part of that sacred moment. My wife did not cover her ears. She did not stare at me and shake her head. No, she smiled sweetly and said nothing.

Finally, when we had passed the elk and the last notes of that symphony had faded from the CD player, she commented. “That’s a relief. The way you were singing I thought one of those bulls was going to get in the car and try to mate with you.”

 

Writer, poet, and social commentator Kenneth Weene is generally an easygoing fellow, but arm him with an imaginary baton and chaos can ensue. You can find Ken’s books at http://www.amazon.com/Kenneth-Weene/e/B002M3EMWU

 

Transported by Music by Trish Jackson

Music truly is the language of the soul. I can’t imagine anyone in the world not being moved to tears at least few times in their lives by a musical score or a song. Music brings back memories; music calms us; music ignites a flame in us. To quote Wordsworth. ‘Music is the universal language of mankind.’

Music also has a way of transporting us to another place and time. Every now and then you may hear a song you haven’t heard for years, and immediately be taken back to the time when the song meant something to you. You can clearly picture the scene and even smell the scent of it.

I grew up in Rhodesia (now Zimbabwe) Africa, where every young person in the entire country—or so it seemed—listened to the LM Hit Parade on Sunday nights, broadcast from Lourenco Marques (now Maputo) in Mozambique.

I was a boarder at high school because our farm was too far away from any town for commuting. Like any boarding school, we had to obey some strict rules. Radios were not allowed to be on after lights out, and in those days they didn’t come with earphones. Armed with a flashlight and a sharp tongue, the duty matron patrolled the dorms in the dark, and if a radio was on, it was confiscated for the rest of the semester.

Only the seniors were allowed to have the radio on after lights out expressly to hear the LM Hit Parade on a Sunday night. It took a while, but I finally made it to my senior year. At the time in 1969, songs like Soldier Boy by the Shirelles, Crystal Blue Persuasion and Crimson and Clover by Tommy James and the Shondells, and Touch Me by the Doors were somewhere near the top, and whenever I hear any of those songs, I am back to our dorm in the darkness. I can still feel the excitement as the countdown progressed.

In 1974, the radio station was closed down during the Portuguese revolution, and the facilities were nationalized. I thought that was the end of it, but surprisingly, with the advent of the Internet and Internet radio stations, it has since been revived, and they play all the old songs from their former era. http://www.lmradio.net/streaming.html

 

Trish Jackson writes rural romantic suspense and romantic comedy, which always includes pets. www.trishjackson.com

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Inappropriate Musical Tastes by Dellani Oakes

I have inappropriate musical tastes for a woman my age. There, I’ve said it. It’s out in the open…. Apparently, I should be a fan of Michael Bublé and Harry Connick, Jr. While I like some of their music, it certainly isn’t my favorite, or even in my top five. Okay, let’s be honest, not even in my top twenty. However, women of a certain age, are expected to like certain things, but I don’t fall into that category.

That sort of misconception started in my late thirties. I had to go for an extended MRI, nearly three hours of thudding and clanking, because I’d developed tinnitus in my left ear. When I got there, the young men running the test asked me what I wanted to listen to.

“What do you have?”

They listed off a few albums and I wrinkled my nose.

“Got anything good?”

“We’ve got some Steely Dan,” one remarked, somewhat hesitantly.

“Which album?”

“Um… Aja and Greatest Hits.”

“That sounds good. Anything else?”

They had some Jethro Tull, but that was as exotic as the choices were. Good enough, far better than the other things they offered. They were pleased, because they mostly had to listen to Big Band and Buddy Holly all day.

“It’s good to have someone in here who appreciates good music,” the other told me as he set up the CD player.

However, when I had to go back a few years later, for an MRI on my neck, the girl didn’t even ask. She put the radio on easy listening. Radio in the first place, not my choice. Too many commercials. And easy listening? Do I look like I want easy listening? Where is the Hendrix, the Zeppelin? Bring on the Floyd! A pox on easy listening! It puts me into a pop induced coma in which I shall surely languish until someone plays metal.

I’ve decidedly surprised people with my eclectic musical tastes. On one such occasion, I had to go get my tires rotated. I’d been listening to a Rammstein CD in the car, and had left it cued up to the song I wanted to hear on my way home. I didn’t think about the fact that someone would turn on the car and have it blast from the speakers when they moved it to the service area. I was in the waiting room, reading my book, when the young mechanic walked in, looking expectant.

“Black Kia Optima?”

I stood up and he took a step back, clutching his chest.

“Wow, not what I expected,” he said with a grin.

“Why?” I wasn’t sure if I should be offended or not.

“Well, based on the CD in the car, I thought it would be some guy my age.” He laughed loudly. “You don’t really look the type.”

“Oh, what type do I look?” The challenging tone was unmistakable.

He chuckled, taking another step back. “Not the type to like heavy metal. What band is that?”

“A German group called Rammstein.”

“It’s really good. I hope you don’t mind that I listened to it while I worked on the car.”

“Not at all! I’m glad you liked it.”

“I’m gonna look for more of their music. That’s some good stuff.” He smiled, shaking his head. “Really wouldn’t peg you for listening to that kind of music.”

I took a step toward him, talking quietly. “I also like Jimi Hendrix, Rob Zombie, Metallica, Nine Inch Nails and Iron Maiden.”

“No shit?” I didn’t think I could have shocked him more if I’d put 50,000 volts through him.

 

I wrote this while listening (inappropriately) to Rammstein, Nine Inch Nails, Kenny Wayne Shepherd, Tool, The Diamond Light, Pink Floyd, Noah Gundersen, X Ambassadors with Jamie N. Commons, and Marilyn Manson. Would you like a play list?

Dellani Oakes is a (mostly) appropriate author who thinks inappropriate thoughts as she listens to music she shouldn’t like. How do you know when Dellani is awake and working? There’s music playing, (inappropriately loudly).

Those Scary Moments By Trish Jackson

 

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It has often been documented that one’s life passes before one in a near death situation, and then a bright light appears. But what about experiences that are not quite that close to death, but are pretty scary anyhow? We all have them. Here are some of mine.

My husband’s position as the group geophysicist for a large international mining group in Rhodesia (now Zimbabwe) often took him to remote and isolated regions. The ongoing war with communist-trained terrorists who crossed our borders, and raped, tortured and murdered the innocent had caused the company to implement a policy disallowing women and children from traveling with their husbands to out-of-the-way areas. We all know rules are made to be broken, and when David invited me to accompany him to Sengwa coal field, I conned a friend into taking care of our children for a few days.

Most of the company Land Rovers were landmine-protected—reinforced with thick steel plate underneath, but David chose to use the fancy Land Rover with the leather bucket seats and softer suspension—the one that wasn’t mine-protected. He wanted me to be more comfortable. I wasn’t. I sat as lightly as I could—if it’s possible to sit lightly—the entire journey of over 100 miles of dirt road.

Needless to say, I was more than a little relieved when we arrived at the Sengwa mine compound in one piece. The relief was short-lived. A military unit had commandeered the complex, and were digging trenches and laying sandbags. We were told they were expecting to be mortared that night. Turning around and going home on those roads at night was not an option.

My respect for soldiers everywhere grew exponentially. I was issued with a military rifle, and as I took a couple of practice shots, I thought, ‘Is this really happening? Am I going to have to spend the night in those trenches with mortars being fired at us tonight? What happens if they score a direct hit on the trench?’

As it turned out, the attack didn’t come. We spent a restless night inside the building listening to the radio communications, but come morning the danger had passed. The only incident reported was that the local chief had been killed by a land mine overnight, but thankfully, the villagers had not been attacked.

I was thrilled when our Land Rover wouldn’t start and we had to take one of the mine-protected vehicles for the return journey, which was uneventful until we rounded a bend and almost ran into a herd of elephants. The elephants in that area were known to be aggressive, and had picked up a few vehicles and thrown them around and trampled them. We moved way back, and waited for them to head off into the bush.

Back at home on a later date, I was riding my horse, Calypso, alone in a remote corner of a sizeable cattle ranch. I stopped to let him drink at a water trough, and as I glanced up into the thick brush facing me, I caught movement. The shadowy silhouette of someone lifting something to their shoulders, like they were aiming a rifle—at me. Terrorists were known to pass through our area, but they didn’t generally attack anyone there because the country’s borders were too far away for a quick retreat. I forced myself to act calm, although my heart hammered as I turned Calypso around and walked away. Knowing that someone is aiming a rifle at your back is terrifying, and it took all my will-power not to spur Calypso into a gallop. To this day I often wonder who it was in those bushes, and if I really was in danger.

I think we all find ourselves in a perilous situation at least once in our lives, and each and every one of us has a story to tell. The awesome thing about people is that everyone’s story is totally different, and I love hearing them. Maybe you could tell us yours in the comments section.

Editor’s Note: Comments are always appreciated. We like to know what interests our readers. You don’t have to be a member of the blog or even a writer, and you don’t need a website.

 

Trish Jackson believes that her real life adventures growing up in Africa sparked a love for adventure, and being a romantic at heart, she writes romantic suspense. Her latest novel, Virgo’s Vice is set to be released before the end of 2015. http://www.trishjackson.com

Why Dogs Rock

The Dog/Human Connection

I was on Facebook the other day when I got one of those postings pointing out that ‘dog’ spelled backwards is ‘god’. As always, I smiled and wondered where people come up with that kind of stuff, but it got me thinking.

Most dog owners love their dogs, think of them as family members, and mourn them when they die. I did some research, found some interesting info, and decided to use it for my post on the Write Room Blog.

Dogs and Protection

A dog’s mantra is to protect and serve, and some dogs will risk death to save their owners from danger, even little pet dogs. This inherent desire has been put to good use for law enforcement purposes. German Shepherds, Belgian Malinois, Dobermann Pischers and other breeds that exhibit fearless and potentially aggressive natures are used as canine police officers, trained to attack and apprehend criminals and back up their handlers. Military dogs perform a wealth of different functions including scouting, detecting land mines, detecting explosives, and more, and dog handlers develop a very special bond with their charges. The US military has its own breeding program, and the Department of Defense Military Working Dog School asks regular civilians to foster puppies aged from 6 weeks to 7 months for five months to socialize them. Here’s a link to a program in Texas.  http://www.37trw.af.mil/shared/media/document/AFD-120611-022.pdf

 

Dogs and Rescue Operations

Dogs are far superior to humans when it comes to search and rescue, and it has been said that one dog can do the job of 30 humans in search and rescue operations. When we think tracking, Bloodhounds are the breed that automatically come to mind, because they are equipped to do the job more effectively.  Their long ears and the folds around their faces are designed to trap and hold onto scents. Specialized tracker dogs are not limited to Bloodhounds, though. All breeds of dogs, including mongrels or mutts have a superior sense of smell when compared with humans, and are often employed to sniff for people who may be trapped under rubble, snow or mud after natural disasters and terror attacks. Cadaver dogs are used to find dead bodies, thereby helping their loved ones to find closure.

Specialized breeds like Newfoundlands are often used for water rescues because of their strength and swimming skills, aided by webbed feet. We’ve probably all heard of St. Bernards and how they were used for centuries by monks in the Alps to find people lost in the snow. The work was hazardous and so many of these dogs died that the breed came close to extinction. Thankfully a breeding program saved them, but they are no longer used for rescues.

 

Dogs can be trained to sniff just about anything, and they may be used to detect drugs, bombs, stolen money, or murder weapons.

This post would not be complete if I didn’t mention the wonderful canines who assisted in finding people after the 9/11 attack in New York. Said to be more than 900 in total numbers, and made up of different breeds, they came from all over the country and worked for anything from 12 to 16 hours at a time in chaotic, dusty, smoky and acrid conditions for around 10 days. Sadly, most of them have passed away now, but they will always be remembered as true heroes.

 

Dogs and Human Health

Humans with physical disabilities rely on dogs to help them with their everyday tasks. Guide dogs empower the blind and hearing-impaired, and dogs can be trained to check if their owners are going into a diabetic coma or an epileptic seizure, sometimes waking them up every hour through the night. If the dog detects a problem, it is trained to press a button that calls for help.

Therapy dogs have been called ‘professional comforters with fur.’ They are taken to hospitals to visit and interact with sick adults and children, who often show marked improvement in their health just from cuddling a dog and feeling their warm, wriggly bodies and their slobbery doggie ‘kisses.’

Autistic children and mentally challenged children and adults, and soldiers with PTSD gain comfort and healing from interacting with dogs. Dogs are used in prisons as therapy and rehabilitation for prisoners, who take care of them and train them, thus learning responsibility and self-esteem.

This is a link to a true story about an autistic boy and his shelter dog—a case of the rescued dog rescues the human, which happens more often than you might imagine. http://www.today.com/pets/shelter-dog-helps-boy-autism-hug-his-mom-first-time-t17686

Some exceptional dogs have displayed an ability to sniff out cancer. This is now being expounded upon, and dogs are being trained in the early detection of cancer using samples of peoples’ breath saved in a test tube, and displaying an unprecedented  98% success rate. This research has exciting and far reaching possibilities. Dogs are being used to aid in mammograms that are hard to read because of dense breast tissue, and to provide a simple (not to mention painless) screening method of cancer detection. (Ref: InSitu Foundation www.dogsdetectcancer.org )

 

Dogs and Herding

Collies and shepherd dogs of all kinds have an instinctual herding instinct and have been used by shepherds for hundreds of years. Herding dogs can also be quite fierce and protect the animals in their charge against predators. The Great Pyrenees are big, strong dogs that fit into that category. Corgis, Queen Elizabeth’s favorite breed, may look cute, but they were originally bred to herd cattle and other animals.

 

Dogs and Sport

Dogs have been used for man’s recreational purposes for thousands of years, from beagles, fox-terriers and foxhounds, bred to hunt foxes (tally-ho), to Rhodesian Ridgebacks (where I come from) that were bred to hunt lions, and Karelean Bear Dogs. Modern hunting dogs in the US, mainly hounds, wear tracking collars so their owners can easily follow or locate them in the dense eastern and northern forests.

Pointers find where the quarry is hiding and ‘point’ it out to their owner, Retrievers fetch birds their owners have shot, often having to swim to complete their mission. Sight hounds—Saluki, Whippets and others were bred for their superior speed and vision.

Apart from hunting, dogs show amazing agility when they compete in sports like Frisbee-catching events, canine agility competitions, dock-diving, herding contests, and more, and  Greyhound and lure racing, which has been taking place for literally hundreds of years.

The Iditarod is one of the most grueling races in the world. Teams of dogs compete to pull sleds some 1,100 miles through snow, ice, and sub-zero temperatures. Only northern breeds of dogs, primarily Siberian huskies and Alaskan Malamutes are permitted to be used because other breeds have proven to be unable to withstand the harsh weather conditions. The race can take anything between 9 – 15 days, and is one of the toughest of all competitions in the world. When the race starts, a red lantern is lit, and is awarded to the last team to cross the finish line in recognition that the race is not over until everyone is off the trail.

 

Dogs in History

It would be an impossible task to choose one most famous dog, but there are a few who deserve a special mention.

While dogs belonging to presidents and world leaders may have been given their share of airtime, Lassie, although fictional, must be one of the most recognizable dogs worldwide. Her part was first played in the movie ‘Lassie Come Home’ by a male Rough Collie named Pal in 1943. Pal was not the first choice because he was a male—he was originally hired to do the stunts. He performed so well in one particular scene that it was decided he would replace the original highly-pedigreed female star.

Rin-Tin-Tin, on the other hand, was a real dog (not fictional), and starred as himself in movies, and has been credited with bringing Warner Brothers out of bankruptcy in the 1920’s.

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Laika, the first dog in space, was one of three strays picked up on the streets of Moscow.  She had the misfortune to be chosen from the three to orbit the earth in Sputnik 2 in 1957. Technology at that time was limited, and it was not possible to bring the spacecraft back to earth in one piece. It was reported that Laika would eventually run out of oxygen and die an easy death after a few orbits, but sadly, it is speculated that she died soon after takeoff due to overheating. A statue of her stands as a reminder of her sad mission.

Sinbad, a dog of indeterminate breeding, signed his enlistment papers for the US Coast Guard with a paw print, and received his own identification number. He must be one of the most decorated dogs in history, having been awarded the American Defense Service Medal, American Campaign Medal, European-African-Middle Eastern Campaign Medal, Asiatic-Pacific Campaign Medal, World War II Victory Medal, and the Navy Occupation Service Medal.

Able Seaman Just Nuisance

Then there was Able Seaman Just Nuisance, a Great Dane who was the only dog to be enlisted in the British Royal Navy. He got into trouble for constantly boarding the trains to Cape Town from the naval base near the southern tip of Africa, without a ticket. Sailors were allowed to travel free, so he was enlisted to alleviate the problem. His name was given as ‘Just’, last name ‘Nuisance’, and his trade ‘bone crusher’, while his religious denomination was listed as ‘Scrounger.’ His statue can be seen in Simonstown, South Africa, and a movie about his life is currently in production.

On a final note, consider this. Simply stroking any pet can decrease levels of stress hormones, regulate breathing, and lower blood pressure, but dogs are the only ones that watch and wait every time we go out, and greet us with a happy dance and a wagging tail when we return. We are currently ‘between dogs’ in our household—not for long, I hope. It’s the first time in my life I haven’t had a dog, and I love our cats, but that special welcome is what I miss the most.

Trish Jackson writes romantic suspense and romantic comedy, and loves to include fictional animals that are not limited to dogs in her stories.  http://www.trishjackson.com

 

Sundowners with Baboons by Trish Jackson

 

Where do fiction authors get their ideas?  This is a question I am often asked. Usually I respond by saying the ideas come from our subconscious minds. Very often, for me, the story line for a complete novel is there and once I sit down and start writing it all just flows onto the computer screen without me consciously having to decide what to write.

Other writers have the same experience.

So where do our subconscious minds get their material? It can only be from our life’s experiences. Things we’ve seen, things we’ve done, things that have happened to us or others, things we’ve read about or seen in a movie. Some might say we draw on experiences from past lives.

When I first started writing, I knew I wanted to write romance, and I ended up writing a romance thriller or romantic suspense. Growing up in a country called Rhodesia, (now Zimbabwe) in Africa I have experienced some unique adventures, so I wasn’t surprised. It did come as a surprise, though, when I found myself moving on to write a romantic comedy.

My redneck detective series is all set in the U.S.  and friends and family often ask why I’ve only written one book about Africa. I don’t have a definitive answer, except that I have lived in the U.S. almost half my life now.

I’ve decided I probably should go back to my roots and draw on some of my experiences of life in Africa for my next book.

Here’s one such story that could only have taken place in Africa …

In the tropics, the sun goes down sometime between five thirty and six thirty in the evening, winter or summer. If you are ever lucky enough to go on a photographic safari in Africa, the chances are you will go for an evening drive or boat ride and stop somewhere to watch the game take their last drink at sundown. Your host will open an ice chest and offer you a ‘sundowner’, traditionally a ‘pink gin’ or gin and tonic with a dash of Angostura Bitters, but any adult beverage taken at sundown qualifies as a sundowner.

My husband, David worked as the group geophysicist for a large mining corporation. One of his duties was to travel to remote areas to investigate private mines being offered for sale. One such trip took him way into the middle of nowhere, where a farmer named Bob had a gold mine for sale.

Rhodesians were known for their hospitality, so it didn’t come as a surprise when Bob invited David to sundowners and dinner at his home that night.

When he arrived at the farmhouse, he was a little hesitant about getting out of the Land Rover. Two full grown baboons wearing skirts were riding tricycles around the lawn. Bob came out to meet him and they stood and watched while Bob explained that he and his wife were childless, and to fill the void in their lives, they had ‘adopted’ three baby baboons several years ago.

Bob led David into the house to the bar adjacent to the living room and offered him a beer. The baboons ditched their trikes and followed. Bob introduced his wife and their baboon ‘daughters’, whose names were Anabel and Mary-Lou.

“Anabel is old enough to drink,” Bob explained while handing her a beer, and David watched her put the bottle to her lips and glug the beer down without pausing for breath.

“We have to chain Mary-Lou to the couch when she watches TV,” Bob’s wife said. “She gets a little over excited during fight scenes and attacks the TV.”

While they enjoyed their sundowners, the hosts showed David the photograph albums of their ‘children’ growing up. They had alas, lost their ‘son’ Peter, the third baboon they adopted. When David found out the baboons slept in beds in the bedrooms and used the toilets just as any children would do, he was very thankful he had declined their offer of accommodation.

At dinner time, Bob and his wife sat at either end of the table, and sure enough, the baboons were seated across from David. The cook served everyone with their food including the baboons, who had a special diet. They had better table manners than some human children. However, they were uneasy at having a stranger at the table. Although they had had their canine teeth removed, they were still big, ugly, and scary, and every time David looked up as he lifted a forkful of food to his mouth, the baboons ducked their heads at him and barked, which made it difficult for him to stop his hand from jerking.

After dinner they all retired to the bar again. Suddenly they heard a commotion in the kitchen. A huge 300 lb bush pig charged into the room and dove onto the couch. The cook had left the door open—big mistake! Bob tried to call the bush pig off but to no avail. Eventually he had to get something sweet to entice him off the couch and back outside. It turned out he had been bottle fed on the couch as a baby and had never lost the desire to lie on it. Not surprisingly, they had had to replace several broken couches over the years.

This story is all true, and needless to say—David declined the next offer to have sundowners with strangers who lived in the middle of nowhere.

Trish Jackson writes emotive romantic suspense focusing on small towns, country folk and their animals. www.trishjax.com

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Turbulence

An excerpt from Trish Jackson’s upcoming unpredictable, eccentric, politically incorrect romantic comedy, Backwoods Boogie, the third in the Twila Taunton, Redneck P.I. Series.

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“If someone had told me just a few months ago that soon I’d be sitting in a jumbo jet heading for England, I would have laughed. I mean, me, born and bred in the South and proud to be a redneck. And now here I am. The flight is not completely full and there’s an empty place between me and the weird looking woman on the aisle seat. I stare at her for a while until she gives me a look and I suddenly get interested in finding a movie on the viewer in front of me.

They don’t serve bourbon on this airline, so I drink a couple of beers instead and pour the contents of the miniature bag of pretzels into my mouth. The flight attendant must have noticed, because she brings me another two bags, which don’t stop me from being starved when dinner is served. The aircraft food is okay, but there isn’t enough of it. The dessert is in this little miniature bowl which I finish in one mouthful.

I consider asking if we can get seconds, but I figure we probably can’t, since just about everyone has started watching movies.

I stare at a few of the other passengers, who open out those little miniature blankets and place the tiny pillows under their heads. Do they actually think they’re gonna sleep?

I’ve watched two movies before I decide I’m gonna have to pee. I’ve been hoping I would be able to last the entire flight without going, but the beers probably did it. And when you gotta go, you gotta go.

It’s not that easy to get to the bathrooms. First, if you have a window seat like me, you have to wake the woman in the aisle seat. I tap her on the shoulder. She is snoring pretty well, so the people around us must be thankful even if she isn’t. “Gotta go pee,” I tell her.

“Wha…? Oh. Oh,” she says and pulls the blanket off her legs and slides out into the aisle. I squeeze past her just as the aircraft hits a bump. I don’t understand how air can be bumpy, but I fall face-first onto the dude in the next aisle seat along. I mean, my mouth is right over his privates and he’s just lucky I don’t bite down. When I come up for air he has both his hands up above his head, as if to show people he ain’t doing anything wrong. Just getting an impromptu blow job.

The PA system crackles and the captain’s voice comes over it.

“We’re experiencing a bit of turbulence. Please take your seats and put your seat belts on.”

I hold onto the back of the dude’s chair and haul myself off him. We hit another bump and I crash into a woman on my side of the aisle. She throws me a dirty look. I’m not making much progress and wonder if I’ll ever get to the restroom. It seems to be very far away all of a sudden.

“Sorry Ma’am,” a flight attendant bars my way. “Please take your seat and fasten your seat belt.”

The airplane is really bucking now, and it reminds me of the new mechanical bull Ricci and Tina put in the Hogs Waller. “I have to pee,” I say and crash into her, knocking her off her feet. I land on top of her in the aisle. It takes a while for me to untangle myself and scramble to my feet. Another flight attendant glares at me and helps her co-worker up. I try to push past them, but now there are two of them blocking me.

“Okay,” I say. “I’ll just pee right here then, if that’s the way you want it.” I unbutton my pants. That gets them moving and I walk-crash to the restroom, waking up anyone who wasn’t already awake on my way.

When I finally get there, I heave a sigh of relief that it isn’t occupied. There isn’t a lot of space in it and it takes me a while to figure out how to lock the door. The toilet smells bad. The blue water inside it is slopping around quite a lot and I wait until a bump throws me toward the seat and I manage to land sitting on it. I find myself hoping the water isn’t gonna slop up and wet my ass.

I don’t have much time to savor that feeling of relief though. I’m beginning to get a little worried about whether we’re gonna make it out of this storm or whatever it is.

The captain wasn’t kidding when he told us it was gonna get turbulent.

I flush and make my way back to my seat, getting quite personal with a number of passengers, and reminding myself never to sit in an aisle seat. I heave a big sigh of relief when I finally manage to get back into my own seat and buckle up. Rain is pelting the outside of the window.

The turbulence sticks around for a while, but finally things get smooth again and the fasten seat belt lights go off.

Phew.”

Backwoods Boogie is scheduled to be released on November 14th, 2014. Apart from the comedy aspect, it also has a serious message about animal abuse and puppy mills in the US, and 20% of all the author’s proceeds will be donated to the ASPCA to help them in their fight to save dogs that live their entire lives in squalor in small cages and without veterinary attention.

Trish Jackson also writes serious and emotive romantic suspense, focusing on small towns, country folk and their animals. www.trishjax.com

The Magical Healing Properties of Horses   By   Trish Jackson

child on horse

Whether you are a horse lover or not, you cannot help being in awe of the amazing healing power of horses. From the time of the ancient Greeks, people have recognized the magical curative capabilities of equine therapy, not only for physical disabilities, but also emotional, social, cognitive, and behavioral difficulties, and even to improve speech and educational skills for both adults and children.

Hippotherapy—from the Greek ‘hippo’ meaning horse, is based on the premise of a horse’s rhythmic, repetitive movements, which can help improve muscle tone, balance, posture, coordination, strength, flexibility and cognitive skills. On top of this, the movements also generate responses in the patient that are similar to, and essential for walking.

Therapeutic Horseback Riding, or Therapeutic Riding (TR), Equine Assisted Psychotherapy (EAP), and Equine Facilitated Psychotherapy (EFP) are other recognized types of horse therapy. In addition to horseback riding, participants groom and care for the horses and learn about trust and relationships, and responsibility. This is particularly beneficial for troubled youths, with problems like attention deficit disorder, substance abuse, eating disorders, abuse issues, depression, anxiety, and relationship and communication problems. Their interaction with the horses helps reduce stress levels and anxiety, and encourages increased feelings of self-esteem and patience. Grooming and caring for horses can also help military personnel with post-traumatic stress disorder or other emotional challenges.

You might think this in itself is mind-boggling, but there are more benefits. Adjusting to and accommodating for the horse’s movements stimulates the inner ear, which controls all voluntary movement of the body, including speech, and also increases sensorimotor integration—the nervous system’s ability to create involuntary or automatic movement.

As just one example, autistic children prefer to turn left because they can use their most developed brain hemisphere, the right hemisphere. Right turns on the horse can actually help restart the development of the left brain.

Physical and developmental conditions most often treated are:

  • Cerebral palsy
  • Multiple sclerosis
  • Down’s syndrome
  • Developmental delay
  • Autism
  • Stroke
  • Traumatic brain injury
  • Spinal cord injury
  • Spina bifida
  • Convulsive disorders
  • Amputation
  • Muscular dystrophy

Equine therapists must undergo special training and pass stringent exams. They address various therapeutic goals by having patients turn in circles, change direction repeatedly, or ride in different positions: sitting or lying forwards, backwards or sideways; standing in the stirrups; and riding without holding. In addition, patients may be asked to stretch, reach or play games — such as catch — while on the horse.

The horses used are hand-picked for their gentle nature, and are safe and well-trained.

I have personally witnessed a child who stopped speaking for two years after his father was murdered, who learned to speak again when he was taken for regular visits to a horse stable. It wasn’t a recognized therapy center and he didn’t even ride the horses. The simple pleasure of stroking and being around them was all he needed.

I am also about to follow the journey of my friend Anita’s autistic son, Kevin. He is 10 years old and although his parents have spent thousands of dollars on therapy, he has shown no improvement and remains locked inside his private world, a prisoner of his own mind. In desperation, Kevin’s parents are going to start him on equine therapy, even though as a family, they have never owned pets or animals, and Kevin has never touched a horse. I’ll be monitoring Kevin’s progress on my own blog, and I encourage anyone who has an autistic child or relative to join me.

I want to believe equine therapy will unlock Kevin’s mind, but only time will tell.

Equine therapy is still in its infancy in the US, and it seems to have no boundaries. I look forward to the discovery of more of the healing power of horses.

Trish Jackson writes emotive romantic suspense focusing on small towns, country folk and their animals. www.trishjax.com

Soul-stirring, passionate, thrilling – and fun.