Published on 8th May 2015
Fitting into a new school in a new city isn’t easy, but dreams come true for Sera with a gift from her parents: a gorgeous and spirited American Paint horse. Sera’s bubble bursts when a mean girl, Brittany, tells her that neither she nor her less than well-trained horse belong with the rest of the “reiners” in their riding class. As Sera sets out to prove Brittany wrong, she risks losing her passion for training and the friendship of Dev, another girl who truly understands her.
An earlier version of this story was originally published by Stabenfeldt (Stavanger, Norway) in 2011 as Wager the Wonder Horse and distributed in six languages: Norwegian, Hungarian, Czech, German, Finnish and Swedish.
Today we welcome Anita Daher to the blog as part of the Wonder Horse blog tour hosted by Chapter by Chapter.
It’s quite common for young girls to be ‘horse mad’ – I know I was one myself! In today’s post, Anita is going to tell us why she never fell out of love with horses.
Hello! Thank you for inviting me to guest-post, and thank you to readers stopping by.
Like many other young girls, I was absolutely crazy for horses. I always suspected, however, that my obsession ran a little deeper than that of my pony mad peers. My parents smile as they remind me that a family vacation just didn’t count for me unless it included a trail ride, whether through mountains, or around in circles in a prairie park. At age twelve, while living in a remote Arctic community, when not reading, or chasing ptarmigan over the tundra with my friend, Sally, she and I made hundreds of paper cut-outs of horses, and moved them through a paper ranch we planned to one day build. A year later I was living in southern Manitoba, still dreaming, riding when I could—I was allowed to ride a quarter horse at a nearby farm, as long as I could catch her, though I had to ride bareback, and didn’t know how to put on a bridle. While my friends wrote love letters to heart-throbs in Tiger Beat magazine, I ordered a free sample of rubber stable flooring offered in a horse magazine. I suppose I thought I might one day use it in my own stable. I kept it for many years in a jewellery box atop my dresser.
At age fifteen, I was given an amazing opportunity to participate in a weekend horseback-riding trip through Riding Mountain National Park so that the stable owners could decide on if they would hire me for the summer job of stable hand. It was to be my first real job. But…back home after the ride, while awaiting the stable-owner’s decision, another opportunity arose—one closer to home, and nothing to do with horses. A few of my friends were getting jobs at the brand new Zellers store opening nearby. And so my first job became that of waitress at the Zeller’s Skillet Family Restaurant.
Slowly, my interests expanded, changed, took me away from horses. A day came when the horse girl I was seemed very far away.
Life is a journey, yes?
As an adult, I had a career first in aviation, then in radio and writing books. I raised my children. One day, my youngest daughter, Sara, expressed an interest in attending a summer riding camp. She was smitten! And my long ago, far away, horse love began to reawaken. Camp led to lessons, which eventually led to a horse of her own—a beautiful black and white American Paint named Wager.
At my Wonder Horse launch, I was honoured to have Sara, now 22 and following her own dreams, introduce me. She reminded me that when going off to that first camp, she joked, “Mom, here I go to live your dream!” I suppose it was true, but what was even better for me was sharing the adventure with her. I loved spending time with her, content to be chauffeur and sometimes groomer. Eventually, she grew older, started working, and found herself spending less and less time at the barn. We were faced with a choice. It wasn’t fair to Wager, this beautiful horse with a strong, busy mind, to not spend time with him. We had to either sell him, or I would become more involved.
It felt selfish to me at first, the idea of keeping him just for me. After all, I was a mother now, with time and financial responsibilities to my daughters and husband. But…they seemed supportive of the idea. And of course, I had stories brewing—horse stories. Becoming more deeply involved would strengthen my writing.
It was a beautiful time. Our five years with Wager the Wonder Horse taught me more not only about horses, but also about my daughter, and myself—about effort, and stamina and discipline and subtle communication and so much more. When my writing life began taking me out of town more often than I thought fair to Wager, we found him a perfect forever home with friends. He’s now living on a gorgeous property not too far away, with two mares to boss around—when they let him.
It was a joy to write Wonder Horse, to see our beautiful Wager come to life again in print. Though I’ve used some names similar to folks in real life out of tribute and respect, the story is made up, as are the characters. All except Wager. As he is in print, he is in real life.
Dreams change, as we do, and that is okay. I will always love horses—their beauty, they way they react to the world, the “zen” of caring for them. Some say first loves last forever. And now, through this story, Wager will always be much closer than a memory.
Thanks so much to Anita for sharing her wonderful journey with us!
ABOUT ANITA DAHER:
Anita Daher has been entrenched in the publishing industry since 1995, and is (thus far) author of fourteen books for children and teens. Aside from short stints as grave-plot seller, tour guide, and children’s party clown, she’s worked in aviation, publishing and broadcasting. When not word wrangling, she enjoys inhabiting characters on stage and screen.
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