The love affair began when she was four.
Nettie’s sisters snatched her stuffed bear away and teased her, holding it just beyond her reach. Tears and shrieks did no good. They laughed and ran outside.
Papa picked her up, put her on the broad back of their plow horse, and led them in a slow walk around the corral. Toby’s warmth and the strength of his muscles spread through her body and the rocking motion soothed her baby grief.
Instantly she knew. This was home.
There’s something special about a woman and a horse and the healing, comforting bond they forge. So many western women have found special friendship with their horses. My grandmother in the 1920s was no exception.
My “Cowgirl Dreams” trilogy was inspired by Grandma’s life. She was more at home on the back of a horse than behind a dust mop and wrote of her horses as her “pals.”
Rescuing Samantha continues that theme of healing hearts and horses. Samantha Moser leases the Montana ranch that once belonged to her great grandparents. Like her great-grandmother, she has always felt a close kinship with horses, and city life is a track to failure.
Because she has a rescued Thoroughbred, she dreams of raising a herd of her own, but soon discovers not only financial obstacles, but also harsh, frigid winters and too many miles between the remote ranch and towns of any size. After working with her fiancé to fix up the dilapidated ranch, a disastrous, life-threatening blizzard experience sends him packing and leaves her to struggle on her own.
Samantha discovers, almost by accident, how troubled kids can come out of their shells and begin the road to healing by bonding with a horse.
Reading and watching documentaries about how horses can work miracles for children, veterans, and the disabled, I have incorporated some of these ideas into this new “Rescuing” series. As many of us have learned, never give up on your dreams, but be open to the dream changing. Like her great-grandmother before, Samantha also learns this lesson.
Excerpt from Chapter One of Rescuing Samantha:
FOR SALE OR LEASE:
360 acres prime pastureland. Ingomar, MT. Great starter ranch.
Samantha Moser’s heartbeat echoed every bump in the dusty country road. She was coming home.
Even though she’d never seen this ranch, its history was as much a part of her as the blood pulsing through her veins. Her great-grandparents had once owned this piece of Montana. Made a new beginning here. Realized a dream here. Sam could hardly breathe, and it wasn’t just the dust swirling through the open windows of the car. This might be her chance for her own new beginning.
Scrapbook pictures from the 1940s and ’50s, when Great-Grandma Nettie and Grandpa Jake lived here, conjured images. A white two-story house with a wrap-around porch. A leafy cottonwood tree in front where a hammock swung. And a tall, classic red barn with white trim, horses in the corral. Sam rubbed her sweaty palms on her jeans. I can’t wait to see it. The Realtor said it was a “fixer-upper,” but surely a few repairs and a coat of paint would spruce the place up.
The spring-fresh prairie spread around them like an endless sea, broken only by undulating hills until it reached the low horizon, seemingly the end of the earth. This is how Sam remembered her childhood in Montana, before her family moved to Arizona. This is what had been calling to her since she was ten: Come home, come home.
Do you have a dream you’ve pursued, or want to follow?
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Heidi M. Thomas grew up on a working ranch in eastern Montana. She had parents who taught her a love of books and a grandmother who rode bucking stock in rodeos. Describing herself as “born with ink in my veins,” Heidi followed her dream of writing with a journalism degree from the University of Montana and later turned to her first love, fiction, to write her grandmother’s story.
Heidi is a member of Women Writing the West, Professional Writers of Prescott, and Arizona Authors Association, is also a manuscript editor, and teaches local memoir and fiction writing classes.
She is an avid reader of all kinds of books, enjoys the sunshine and hiking in north-central Arizona, where she writes, edits, and teaches memoir and fiction writing classes.
Heidi is also the “human” for a finicky feline, and describes herself primarily as a “cat herder.”
Her website is: https://www.heidimthomas.com