How exciting to meet so many young horse enthusiasts from the Tuscawilla Pony Club and Williston Middle High School this past week during two book presentations. I was thrilled to learn that Williston Middle High School is purchasing 30 copies of The Idylwild Cowgirls book for class reading projects for the 6th through 8th-grade classes.
Thank you, Marlin Day, librarian at the Newberry Public Library, for inviting the cowgirls and me to share our story of The Idylwild Cowgirls. Perhaps the highlight was the two young girls who attended the talk, with their book in hand, and eager to hear more about the cowgirls’ stories. Calli Munden, 10 years old and a 4th grader at Newberry Elementary School, created this horse statute and shared it with her class when she presented her book report. Her grandmother, Becky Munden (and the cowgirl, Tessa, in the book), is so proud of her young cowgirl granddaughter. Since the book is a young adult novel and written for an older age group, I am thrilled to see these young gals inspired to read. The next book event is scheduled for Wednesday, April 18th at 5 pm at the Williston Middle High School Auditorium. This event will be jointly sponsored by the Friends of the Williston Library and the school 4H and FFA groups.
Thanksgiving is a time to reflect on the past and the present and all that we are thankful for. The Idylwild Cowgirls will be forever grateful to our parents for giving us the gift of a horse and the freedom to explore during our adolescent years.
Can you imagine cantering your pony along a dirt road and having your prankster friends gallop up from behind, grab your arms, and lift you up from your mount? The Idylwild Cowgirls were wild, adventurous, unpredictable, and yes, they pulled pranks like that on each other.
It’s hard to believe we galloped our horses across the front lawn of the North Florida Regional Hospital in Gainesville back in the 1970s when the hospital consisted of only one building. Crossing Newberry Road on horses was no big deal back then. There was no Oaks Mall, only an expansive pasture with scattered live oak trees. Chapters 21 – 24 in The Idylwild Cowgirls find the cowgirls swimming with their horses in Terwilliger Pond – the slough that lies just south of Terwilliger School. As the afternoon heats up, they rein their horses north in search of a store where they can buy a cold drink. But they get trapped and separated in a blinding rainstorm.
Many of you probably treasure those horse riding memories from several decades past when you explored places with your equine partner that have long since been developed. I too cherish those memories of a quieter and less developed town when we navigated our horses along the roads of Gainesville, tied our horses to a tree next to a store while we bought a cold drink, and swam with our horses at the nearby pond. Those memories inspired me to write my first young adult novel, The Idylwild Cowgirls, a horse riding adventure story that is set in south Gainesville in 1973. Visit my Facebook page to learn more! @IdylwildCowgirls.
Thanks to my long-time riding friends from the ‘Just for Kicks’ horse eventing club for inviting me to present my new book, The Idylwild Cowgirls at their October meeting. It was these gals who taught me the basics of horse jumping two decades ago. I can still remember their instructions as I focused on the fast-approaching jumps. “Look up, use more leg, soften your hands, and grab mane!” I reminisced about those gutsy jumping days with my ‘Just for Kicks’ friends when I wrote the horse jumping scene in Chapter 16. Thanks to Lori Rice, Carol Ogden, Lisa Koch, Ty McClung, and Wendy Lowe for teaching me how to sail safely over those unforgiving cross-country jumps.