A Virtual Ride

by Laura Crum

I probably never would have started writing were it not for my passion for horses. It was my desire to portray the western horse world that I loved so much, along with my admiration for the horse-themed mystery novels of Dick Francis, that set me on the path to writing mysteries about an equine veterinarian. Horses are still an enduring love of mine, and the other blog I write for, equestrianink blogspot, is all about people who own horses and write about horses. So all of my posts there are horse-themed.

Today, as I sat here facing the computer, considering what I should write for this blog, I wondered if I couldn’t write about horses. Writing about horses and the landscape is what I do best. But then I wondered if even one other person who reads this blog is interested in horses. Surely plenty of you are interested in beautiful landscapes, though? Maybe some of you would enjoy riding a horse through the lovely scenery of the Monterey Bay area, especially if you could do it “virtually?”

So today I thought I’d post a few photos showing my life with horses, and the landscapes I ride through (and write about). Take you on a little tour, as it were. What you see below is my inspiration to write, and without the love I’ve always had for horses and the natural world, I doubt I’d ever have become an author.

Lets embark on our virtual ride, shall we? Below you see our mount, Sunny. Doesn’t he look like every little girl’s dream pony come to life? And yes, this is really my horse, not a photo I stole off the internet. Sunny features in my two most recent books, and I think its easy to see what fun he’d be to write about—for someone who loves horses.


Sunny happens to be not just cute, but a very reliable, steady trail horse (this is actually the reason I bought him—the cuteness was an extra bonus). In the photo below “you” are on Sunny’s back, headed down the trail that leads from my front gate to my favorite view of the bay. The photo was taken in June, so things are green and leafy.


In the photo below my son and I have reached the place we call the “Lookout”, about a one hour ride from our home, and are gazing out at the Monterey Bay. Palomino Sunny and sorrel Henry are enjoying the view as well.

            And now, here we are riding on the beach, going towards Monterey. You can see Sunny’s fuzzy yellow ears in the foreground (this photo was taken in December, and the horses have their winter coats on), and my son on Henry and our friend Wally on his gray horse, Twister.

Here “you” are riding Sunny towards Santa Cruz through the sand dunes. Monterey Bay is on your left.

And now, for a change of scenery, we are riding through the redwood forest. Off to your left you see a canyon with Aptos Creek at the bottom. My son is on Henry ahead of us, following a friend on a black horse (hard to see in the shade). This photo was taken on the midwinter solstice—our weather this year has been really mild. It was all of sixty degrees that day.

Here we drop down to the bottom of the canyon and cross the creek. Sunny’s ears are in the foreground.

OK, now we’re home again and have turned Sunny loose to graze. I hope you enjoyed your virtual ride—and a little peek into the world I write about.


14 Responses

  1. What a beautiful horse! I wish I had a mane like that. And gorgeous photos. I’m briefly mentioning your horses in my next blog. Thanks for the trail ride! I’d have loved to ride along…

    • Thanks, Nancy. I guess we have at least one horse fan on this blog. And yeah, I wish I had a mane like that, too. Mine is much shorter (and thinner), unfortunately.

  2. I just composed a long response about my ambivalent relationship w/ horses, and somehow my computer or WordPress gobbled it up. Just to say that I loved the virtual ride more than some real life ones, and am glad that Sunny and the other book characters are alive and well and enjoying Monterey Bay.

    • Merry–Yes, I did think that it might be fun for some to go on a virtual ride. All the pretty sights and none of the potential downside. Which is definitely always a possibility with horses. Though Sunny and Henry are very good–in real life as well as in the books.

  3. Laura– your “I wondered if I couldn’t write about horses.”
    brought me back to high school where I challenged myself to turn EVERY writing assignment into something that had at least one horse in it! In my opinion, everything is better if there a horse in it! To that end, this year we have formed the “Equine Authors & Aritsts of CT.” The 8 of us support one another in our art, fiction and true stories and together we go to (and support) charity fundraising events for anything “equine.” Like us on FB “equineauthorsartists.”

  4. I enjoyed the virtual ride immensely! It was the only horseback ride in the last few decades where I wasn’t bucked off or run away with! 😉 I’ve always had a problematic relationship w/ horses; I think they sense my acrophobia (it’s a long way from atop a horse to the ground!)
    Your blog photos could serve as illustrations to your forthcoming book (April). I hope it’ll be available then–maybe post it on your other blog then, or here again?
    It’s great to know that some of the important characters in your books (Sunny, Henry, et al) are alive and well and enjoying the Monterey Bay area.

  5. Sorry to reply twice, or thrice. I found where the response was lurking!

  6. I’m jealous. They say little girls are either horse-lovers or balletomanes. I was a most unwilling ballet dancer (five miserable years). What I wanted was a horse, but I lived in town and my parents allowed as how they wouldn’t support a horse in addition to six kids.

    Lovely horses. Sigh.

    • Sheila–I was one of those horse crazy little girls, too. My parents were not at all interested, we lived in the suburbs, and I was not allowed to have a horse until I was sixteen and had saved up my money to buy one (and could drive to where he was kept). I promised myself I’d never be without a horse after that–and I never have been. Of course, its one of those “be careful what you ask for” deals, because most of my life has been dictated by the needs of horse keeping. However, I can truthfully say that I still never want to be without a horse. The joy is more than worth the bother.

  7. Laura, I am frankly envious of the little girl who achieved what so many of us longed for. In my ‘tweens I spent most of my free time walking the six blocks to the Iowa State Fairgrounds to visit the 11 horsebarns there. Even got a few rides–or at least sit-upons–at the livery stables. But mostly I just spent my allowance on apples and carrots, and fed any head that reached out of a stall. Since then, I’ve mostly concentrated on dogs for animal-friend happiness.

  8. Janet–Its never too late to start with horses (!) That said, I love my dogs and cats, too. Any sort of animal can bring plenty of joy–as I think most of us know.

  9. Laura, wonderful post! Your words appeal to the horse lover in all of us, especially me! I’m still writing fiction about horses and recently joined up with the Equine Authors and Artists of Connecticut on Facebook. We believe in promoting the horse in all ways possible!

  10. Laura, I too enjoyed your virtual ride since although I love horses and own 4, I’m a terrible coward when it comes to riding on the trail. Theoretically, I’d love to trail ride but every time I have, it’s been an exercise in terror. I’ve had a passion for horses my whole life, but had to wait until my 40th birthday to start riding–and collecting these wonderful animals. Since I think we can all embrace new careers and develop new interests at any age, I also started my writing career late in life. My first novel, Midnight Magic – Be Careful What You Wish For! is a spooky thriller about a haunted painting, a mysterious Morgan stallion and the girl who loves him. The inspiration for my book? My own adorable Morgan, Trinity. I also write a kid’s column, “Tales from the NEIGH-borhood” about the exploits of my little herd of five. I was lucky enough to join Equine Authors and Artists of Connecticut, a fabulous, talented group of authors and artists who all share a deep love and respect for horses.

  11. Patti, Toni and Nancy–Congrats to all you equine authors. Sounds like you’re having fun writing about horses. Happy trails!

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