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Bringing Your Horse on an Epic Quest: A Beginner’s Guide

On my list of favorite things, fantasy books rank right up there with dark chocolate ice cream smothered in hot fudge. Part of the reason I like fantasy books is because, as one of my critique partners pointed out, many of them take place in a Vaguely Medieval Land Where Everyone Rides Horses Always,* and I love horses. Unfortunately, a lot of fantasy writers aren’t necessarily knowledgeable about horses, which can result in cringe-worthy errors.

Not every writer has to be a horse expert (we can’t all be experts on everything, after all), but the reason getting horse facts right is important is because this is a real life example of what happens when people who know nothing about horses decide to go on an Epic Quest: (WARNING, GRAPHIC PHOTOS). The men responsible have since been charged with multiple counts of animal cruelty. Here are a few useful facts to help avoid common horse-related pitfalls in writing:

The moral of this story is that if horses play a significant role in your book, try to keep things at a broad, high level, and fact-check carefully. The best solution is to find a beta reader who is an experienced horse person and can let you know where you may have gone astray. If you’re more the do-it-yourself type, consider taking a few lessons at a reputable stable near you. That said, there’s only so much you can learn in a short period of time. I’ve been riding and training horses for over twenty years and there is no limit to what I still have to learn. That’s what makes horses so magical.

Have a horse question? Drop me a note and I’ll write about it for a future post!


*The lack of diversity among fantasy book settings is a problem in and of itself that deserves another post.

One Response to “Bringing Your Horse on an Epic Quest: A Beginner’s Guide”

  1. saraannon says:

    “a Vaguely Medieval Land Where Everyone Rides Horses Always” Love it! Although if your characters are going to ride geldings, you have to have enough technology to castrate horses without killing them. Otherwise everybody learns to ride a stallion, because if the boys are all off prancing around the battle field there is peace back in the broodmare herds. What you DO NOT do is have a mare in heat in the midst of war…unless you want chaos as that is how Jericho fell. Seriously, they turned loose a mare in heat and the invading army suddenly had a very different sort of business on their minds.

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