“Hay-loween” Fun


Today is free day here at Petticoats and Pistols, and it’s my turn. Yay! It’s also Halloween. Now, it’s been a long time since my kids were young enough to dress up in costumes and walk around the neighborhood, and I don’t yet have any grandchildren or other youngins’ to dote on and enjoy. We neighbor gals get together, set up a table in front of someone’s house, have hot chocolate or apple cider and pass out candy while chit-chatting. It’s great fun and a way for me to really enjoy the holiday more than just dispensing candy at the door.

Back in the day, both when I was a kid and when I had kids, we not only dressed up in costumes, we dressed up our horses – and had a grand time. Well, you here at Petticoat & Pistols know that I love pictures. So, after searching the internet for a while, I came up with these adorable kids and their horses or ponies in costumes. I absolutely love people’s imagination and talent.



Batman and Robin                                         Pirate and their parrot



Super Mario                                                                 McDonalds



A knight and their horse                                                               Alice and the Mad Hatter


A farmer riding his John Deer tractor                                        Buzz Lightyear


Darth Vader and Storm Trooper


This is one of my favorites. A barista and Starbucks coffee.



And, okay, while this technically isn’t a horse costume, it is pretty cute. You have to admit it 🙂


So, what are your plans for tonight? Whatever they may be, stay safe and have fun!

A “Snip” About Horse Markings

I was watching an old movie the other night – okay, it was Hang “Em High with Clint Eastwood – and I noticed the truly handsome horse he was riding (bet you thought I was going to say handsome leading man). This particular sorrel horse had a nice white blaze and four matching white stockings. I once knew a cowboy who referred to horses with this particular set of markings as “having a lot of chrome.”

There are entire books on horse markings, and I could go on and on. But I thought it would be fun to just take a look at some common white markings, which can occur with many breeds and color variations, but are often found on sorrels.

On the face and head:

Blaze – stripe down the center of the face (can be narrow to wide).

Bald face – very wide blaze extending past the eyes.

Star – star or circular-shaped marking between or above the eyes.

Diamond – diamond-shaped marking between or above the eyes.

Heart – heart-shaped marking between or above the eyes.

Snip – marking on the muzzle between the nostrils.

Combinations – a mix of the above




On the legs and feet:

Stockings -white that extends to bottom of the knee or hock or higher. Can have one, two, three or four.

Socks – white that doesn’t extend as high as a stocking.

Pastern – white that extends above the hoof but stops below the fetlock.

Coronet – white just above the hoof.

Combinations – a mix of any of the above.



I love that many horses are named after their markings – like Blaze (there’s a well-known children’s book series about Billy and his horse Blaze), Socks, Star, and Baldy. I once owned a sorrel horse with a nice blaze and three matching stockings and named him Tiger because the blaze resembled a tiger’s arm and paw – well, if you used your imagination.

So, what might you name a horse with a unique white marking?

Eye of the Beholder


Over the years, I’ve snapped many photos of eyeballs – horse eyes, to clarify.

I don’t know what is about their eyes, something soulful and deep that just draws me to them and makes me want to capture that moment with my camera.

This horse, Steve, was one my niece was training at the time. It was getting close to sunset when I snapped the photo. When I got home and blew it up on the computer, I could see the silhouette of the skyline in his eye. Thanks to Photoshop, I was able to enhance it. This remains my favorite, favorite eye.

This is our neighbor’s horse. He used to hang his head over our fence all the time. It was just starting to snow when I took this photo. You can see a few white specks clinging to his dirty face.

This was one I took when we were on vacation in Central Oregon. There’s a resort there that keeps several horses and we went out to see them one morning. The deer were wandering around at the time too.

This old fella was also at the resort. I didn’t get any fun reflections in his eye, but he was such a sweetheart.

This is a horse my niece was working with a few months ago. He was such a laid-back guy.

What about you?

Do you ever snap photos of animals? Landscapes? Flowers?

Just post your answer for a chance to win

an art print of Steve’s eye and some other goodies!


A Little Bit About Some Big Horses


I recently finished writing a book that will be out April of 2023. In it, there are a pair of elderly Haflinger draft horse brothers who are mostly pets but used occasionally for pulling a carriage. One of my critique partners, when she first read about the horses in my book, named Elvis and Otis, told me she had no idea what a “draft” horse was and had to look it up. Actually, I was kind of surprised as the Budweiser Clydesdales are probably some pretty recognizable draft horses.

While draft horses can be ridden, large breeds like the Clydesdales are better suited, and specifically bred, for pulling heavy loads. Some of the lighter and smaller breeds, like the Haflingers in my book or the Norwegian Fjord, can be ridden, but they aren’t typically fast or agile. They are, however, like most draft horses, very gentle natured — which is why, in my book, my hero often leads his three-year-old twins around on the old horses’ backs.

Another common draft horse is the Shire, which is among the tallest at around 17.2 hands. Like the Clydesdales, they have these great shaggy feet that look fantastic when they walk out.

I fell in love with the Friesian many, many years ago as a teenager when I first saw them perform in a circus. With their long flowing manes and tails and high-stepping legs, they’re a breathtaking sight. Which is why you’ll often see them used in other equine performance events, as well as parades and even trick riding.

The Percheron is a draft horse I’m more familiar with as we once owned one. Originally from France, they started out as a war horse and then, after the war, were used as a work horse. They are usually grey or black, though I personally have only ever seen grey Percherons. They have incredible docile personalities and, this is pretty cool, can be used as jumpers. Maybe that comes from them being first bred as war horses.

The Belgian is one of the four main breeds of draft horse used in Europe, the others being the Shire, the Clydesdale, and the Percheron. These are the draft horses I’ve seen the most. Especially at pulling competitions. They are big, sturdy, and reliable. Like all drafties, they have that great docile temperament (comes from being a cold-blooded horse rather than a hot-blooded horse like an Arabian or a Thoroughbred).

Which makes them an excellent choice to use in cross breeds. Those of you who’ve read my posts here know that I’ve owned a lot of mules in my life. Some of those mules were Belgian draft mules. They inherit the best qualities from both parents. From the donkey (or Jack) father, they get surefootedness, cleverness, and incredible endurance, not to mention those great ears! From their Belgian mother they get their size, coloring, strength, and easy temperament.

There are many more less common breeds of draft horses. But I can’t end this post without talking about miniature draft horses. Basically, a draft pony is a smaller version of one of the established draft horse breeds and must show the same conformation character of a draft horse. They also can’t be taller than 58 inches. Full disclosure, I’ve never seen a draft pony in person, but they look pretty adorable, and I think I want one.

Guest London James – Monkeying Around

So, this post isn’t book-related, but I couldn’t help myself. And although it happened years ago, I still think about this day often.

Before I get into my little tale, let me start by telling you that I don’t like monkeys. Yes, you read that right, monkeys.

I know people think monkeys are cute and, oh by golly, we send them to the moon and teach them sign language because they are so intelligent. Oh, my stars, how can I not love monkeys? I don’t know how. The point is, though, I don’t like them. They freak me out.

So, with this new-found knowledge of my weirdness, you can imagine how blatantly ironic it is that out of all the homes in this country, I live in one that is one-tenth of a mile away from a monkey rescue reserve.

Oh yeah. It’s true. I can see it from my house.

Don’t get me wrong; I think what this woman is doing is a very commendable thing. She’s giving these animals a good life, taking them in when no one else will. I applaud her for her work, as I am a big animal lover and believe in helping animals. Not to mention, I bought my home knowing about the reserve, so with that, all I can do is accept and respect that it’s there. And that’s what I’ve done. For the most part, I’ve even forgotten about it…well, not entirely forgotten, I mean, they freak me out, remember?

Not to mention, it’s kind of hard to ignore when every now and then I hear a bunch of monkeys screaming, cages start rattling like thunder, men and women start shouting, and then I hear pops of what I assume are tranquilizer guns. And all I can think is ‘OMGoodness, they’ve killed the older woman and are running free, and you know they are going to come straight to my house, because . . . well because I’m crazy!’

Anyway, with that said, I don’t think about it much . . . at least I didn’t until this now infamous one night.

After walking around my entire property looking for my daughter’s miniature horse, I discovered he was missing. While I know the concept of having a horse go missing is quite odd, it’s the summertime, and my horses are out on seven acres of pasture, so some days, unless I catch them heading into the barn to sleep or heading to the water for a drink, I don’t see them all day. After running to tell the neighbor, her husband informs me that he saw a sign propped up at the end of the driveway of the monkey reserve that read “Pony Found”.

At what point do you have to laugh at how karma can mess with you?

So, armed with a rope, we head up to the reserve. At this point, I’m thinking. “I’m okay. She’ll bring Thomas out, and I’ll walk him home. It’s no big deal. I’m okay. I’m okay. I’m okay. All of the enclosures are behind the large wall anyways to detour prying eyes, so I’m sure she’s not going to take me back there. I’ll be totally fine.”


After she greets me at the gate, she motions me to follow her . . . behind the wall . . . into the deepest part of her property . . . THROUGH THE MONKEY ENCLOSURES!!!!

Just before she leads me in through the security gate, she turns to me and says. “Keep your arms down at your sides, okay. And try to keep your distance.” I’m sorry, but I think I just hallucinated. Come again? While I told her. “Okay.” In my head, I’m screaming. “Are you insert a lot of unmentionable words kidding me?” But what can I do? I have to get my pony. My ridiculously stupid pony who will spend all the days of his life on this earth locked up with the goats after this.

She started walking through the enclosures, leading me between several cages that were feet apart. Feet apart, people!!! Some of the monkeys didn’t do anything other than watch me walk by them, but of course, wouldn’t you know some were not happy with my presence. They screamed, hissed, showed their teeth, and worse of all, they reached through the chain-link fencing and TRIED TO GRAB AT MY ARMS AND CLOTHES!!

I think my pony has a death wish . . . it’s the only logical explanation.

So finally, after walking me through more enclosures than I can count, she points me in the direction of a small pasture area, and of course, there is my pony in the far corner…next to another enclosure.

Now granted, I have to give this lady props. The property is quite lovely. The lawn is kept up with; the enclosures are clean, trees are planted everywhere, giving the place a relaxed, lush feeling. It was tranquil…without the screeching from the monkeys, of course.

But back to my story, so as I’m kneeling in front of Thomas, securing the halter on him, about five or six monkeys are mere inches from me, screaming, jumping all over their fence, and reaching through the chain links trying to touch him and me. Of course, he’s not phased. I mean, why would he be? Obviously, he doesn’t mind being around monkeys at all.

Finally, I get the halter on and start leading him out. Well then, of course, all heck breaks loose. Apparently, the monkeys are attached to the little horse, and I’m taking him away . . . I clearly must die . . .

While I made it out safely (albeit left in the emotional state of desiring nothing more than a corner, a blanket, and my thumb to suck on), I suppose all I can do is shake my head and laugh off what will go down as the experience of a lifetime even though I’m still having nightmares.

Now that I’ve shared mine, are there any types of animals that freak you out for one reason or another? Each comment is an entry into a drawing to win ONE of THREE eBook copies of Her Mail Order Mix-up (Brides of Lone Hollow #1). You’re also welcome to join my reader group on Facebook. We have lots of fun there, daily! https://www.facebook.com/groups/4009277229199536

Her Mail Order Mix-Up (Brides of Lone Hollow #1)

Cullen McCray has no desire for marriage and love after the death of his first wife. A self-proclaimed lone wolf, he only wishes to spend his life in his cabin in the mountains, far away from his family’s ranch and his brother. But when Clint dies in an accident, he leaves behind a young daughter and it’s up to Cullen to pick up the pieces to help the girl. The question is can he also pick up the pieces for the woman, whom he knows nothing about, coming to marry his dead brother?

When Maggie Colton steps off the stagecoach in the small town of Lone Hollow, she’s unaware of her intended husband-to-be’s accident. She also doesn’t know about his brother or the condition of the cattle ranch she believed was something other than what it is. Clint hadn’t exactly been honest about everything, leaving Maggie to rough it in an older ranch house, an even older guest house, and a barn that has seen better days. Not to mention hundreds of cattle, dozens of chickens, pigs, horses, and what she is sure is the fattest cat she’s ever seen.

Will Cullen send her back before her bags are unpacked? And if she stays, will Maggie be able to not only win his heart but survive this new life she’s found herself in?


Buy Link


Grab the series HERE

The Wild Horses of Arizona’s Salt River Valley

So, this happened a couple weeks ago. I was working on a new book idea for my publisher and wound up researching the the wild horses of the Salt River Valley. In my story, the heroine and heroine are part of a small group of people being chased by the bad guys through the Superstition Mountains (here in Arizona) during a horrendous downpour. FYI, the Superstition Mountains are where the fabled Lost Dutchman’s Mine is supposedly located. Several times during my characters’ dangerous trek through the mountains (am I doing a good job building suspense?) they encounter a small herd of free roaming horses. The horses are former ranching stock that were set free years earlier during a fire in an attempt to save them. The ranch horses then joined a herd of wild horses and were never recaptured. Still with me?

Where am I going with all this, you may ask. Well, I wound up reading quite a bit about the wild horse of the Salt River Valley, which I’ve been fortunate enough to see myself several times over the years. The Salt River runs from east to west through central Arizona, first junctioning with the Verde River and then the Gila River. It’s also very near where I’m setting my story, and there are lots of ranches in the area — which is good because this all makes sense for my book.


According to local history, horses have been living wild in the Salt River Valley since at least the early 1900s, but probably for much, much longer than that. In 1687, Missionary Father Eusebio Keno (or Kino, I’ve found both spellings) traveled the southern part of Arizona and is supposed to have left hundreds of horses and cattle at the many missions founded by the Spaniards. Horses aren’t native to American, so every single one living here now, or has ever lived here, was either brought to this country or descended from a horse brought to this country. According to some DNA studies being done on the Salt River Valley wild horses, they are approximately three-percent Spanish colonial descent. Not bad. According to Embark, my dog is two-percent wolf 🙂

Like in a lot of states, there’s controversy surrounding the wild horses if the Salt River Valley. The value of preserving wildlife versus impact on the land is hotly debated. Currently, the Salt River Wild Horse Management Group, and others, are working diligently to protect Arizona’s “mustangs” and, as of now, their efforts are paying off. If you kayak or tube down the Salt River, like I have (okay, I was younger and a little fitter), you have a good chance of spotting wild horses. This sight is pretty inspiring and makes for a great plot element in a western romance book!

Decorating With Horseshoes for Craft Day!

After I sold my first two books to Harlequin, I started seeing cool horseshoe stuff on Pinterest. Crosses, Christmas trees, reindeer, wine racks, even tables, benches, and chandeliers! I couldn’t do those things because they required welding. ? But there were other items that I thought, heck, I’m crafty. I can do that. Like the cross here that hangs on my patio. For my I “free choice” day, I’m going to walk you through how to decorate a horseshoe like the first simple one I made for my office.


The cool thing about this craft is you can make it simple like my first one or as elaborate as you want. It’s all up to you and your imagination. The other great thing is you can use those single beads you don’t know what to do with.

What you’ll need:

  • Horseshoe (old or new depending on your preference) nails removed
  • Miscellaneous beads
  • Wire
  • Feathers, pendants, charms or anything else you’d like to add
  • Ribbon (if you want a bow)

If I’m adding a bigger item in the center, like the cross and other dangle above, I select beads that coordinate with those. I found these at a local craft store for three or four dollars. I usually prefer a copper or dull gold wire that doesn’t stand out unless my embellishments are silver. I 20-gauge wire, but use whatever fits through your beads or what you have on hand.


Slip the wire through a nail hole and bend it to secure as in the above picture. Then just start playing  with the wire and beads. To get the curls I wrap the wire around a regular pencil. (See below) For smaller curls, I’ve used those tiny screwdrivers. Keep adding bead, wrapping, and twisting until you get what you like. Add charms or feathers, and twine or wire in the center. Whatever you envision. It’s easy to undo something if you decide you don’t like the look.

Here’s how my demonstration has turned out so far. I can’t decide if it needs something else or not, but not bad for less than a thirty minutes working on it. You can either add twine, chain, or ribbon to hang your horseshoe. Or you can mount it on a board the way I did with the courage, strength, and hope one. I’ve seen horseshoes put on boards with great sayings such as “Ride…as far as your dreams will take you” or my favorite “Live like someone left the gate open.” I think that may be my next quick project. Just remember to hang your horseshoe with the open end up to keep the luck from running out and to allow it to be refilled!

To see the cool horseshoe designs and items I’ve found on Pinterest, click here.

If it’s a fortune to mail the horseshoe above for the giveaway, I’ll send the beads I wired, plus more wire and beads, the dream catcher and twine. You supply the horseshoe. Whichever, it will come with a copy of Roping the Rancher, my story set on an equestrian therapy ranch. To be entered in today’s random  giveaway, comment on what you think of items made from horseshoes or what’s your favorite? Or, ask me a question about my directions if something wasn’t clear.

Now I’m off to see who offers a welding class. A horseshoe end table would be fantastic…

Happy Crafting!

Trick Riding is Much More Than Just Tricks

Good morning!

I’m so excited to be here for my second official post. In case you didn’t know it, I’m a talker, and I love talking about writing. And, yes, anything western and cowboys 🙂

I’m sure everyone reading this post has heard the old saying: write what you know. That’s one of the reasons I love western romances. I’ve spent most of my life embracing the country and western lifestyle. And even though I mostly write contemporaries, that doesn’t mean I get out of having to research something new with every book.

I particularly like giving my heroines horse-related occupations or hobbies that are little out of the norm. In one book, my gal crafts and sells jewelry for horses (yes, it’s a thing). In my book coming out in November, the gal’s a competitive endurance rider. In yet another book, she rescues wild mustangs. I even had a heroine who ran a wildlife sanctuary.

In my most recent release, my heroine is a trick rider. And while I’ve seen trick riders perform at rodeos and horse events, I actually knew nothing about it when I started the book. I guessed that trick riders have years of training and often a gymnastic or dancing background, and I was right. But I learned a whole lot more.

Trick riding originated in the Caucasus and Central Asia cultures and was adopted by the Russian Cossacks who used it during battles. Eventually, Russian Cossacks who immigrated to America brought their trick riding skills with them and started performing as a way to earn money. Sometime around the 1940s, trick riding evolved into a rodeo event, though eventually it became strictly a specialty act for entertainment..

Not only is the rider talented, skilled, and athletic, the horse is, too, as well as needing to have a calm and reliable disposition. The two must form a true partnership in order to be successful and trust each other completely. If not, they’re both at risk of injury. As you can imagine, countless hours of training and practice are required in order to reach a professional performance level, and that training and practice never stops.

Here are just a few pictures of some common tricks. I don’t know about you, but I’m holding my breath watching them.

The hippodrome

Layout fender













One leg stand

Death drag

If you have a hankering to learn more, check out this YouTube video of sister trick riders. And if you’re anything like me, you’ll be amazed at what these gals (and their horses) can do!


Warmest wishes,

Cathy McDavid

P.S. – You can purchase my trick riding heroine story, HOW TO MARRY A COWBOY, here https://books2read.com/u/mgggaD


Saddle Up and Read! by Pam Crooks

Caitlin Gooch is no ordinary cowgirl.

Oh, sure.  She grew up on her father’s sprawling ranch.  She’s been riding horses since she was three years old.  She competes in relay race competitions.  She’s a mom, too.  Wife to a husband in the military.  And she homeschools her three children.

Not so unusual for a cowgirl, right?  But besides being a skilled horsewoman, Caitlin is an avid reader, and she grew concerned about the low literacy rate amongst Black children in her home state of North Carolina. So concerned she knew she had to do something about it.

She approached her local library and partnered with them to encourage young children to read.  The plan was that for every child who read three or more books a month, they could sign up to be entered into a drawing to visit Caitlin’s father’s horse farm.  There, the children were encouraged to read to the horses, and how cool is that?  Studies show that the animals are patient, non-judgmental, and most importantly, improve reading skills.

The plan took off, but it wasn’t long before Caitlin hit a roadblock.  Transportation to her father’s horse farm was challenging for the children and kept some of them from the coveted visit and reading sessions.

Undeterred, Caitlin decided to take her horses to the children.  Armed with donated books, she loaded up the horses and drove to elementary schools, child care centers, libraries, church youth groups, and other community events across North Carolina.

Closing the gap for illiterate children has become her passion, a goal she works on every day. She’s received praise and mentions from such super-stars as Oprah Winfrey, Kelly Clarkson and Brad Paisley.  She’s been featured in Vogue, CNN, and numerous major publications.  She’s written a coloring book illustrated and relatable to Black children, too.

While the pandemic kept her from visiting the children on her literacy quest, she used the time to concentrate on fundraising with a GoFundMe campaign to help her buy land to build an equestrian center and library.  Caitlin says “I believe building this space for them to be exposed to horses and providing books with characters who look like them will help push Saddle Up and Read to raise literacy rates in North Carolina.”

Nope. Not ordinary at all.  In fact, Caitlin is pretty darned amazing.


To learn more about Caitlin and her work for literacy – https://www.saddleupandread.org/

Who do you admire that has made a difference in someone’s life, either through history or modern day?


The Appaloosa’s Heritage (and a PAPERBACK GIVEAWAY!)

Hello! It’s so nice to return and spend the day with you here – I had such a great time the last time I visited. Thanks for having me!

One of my favorite parts of writing a historical is the research. I can easily get lost in it (which can sometimes be a problem when I’m supposed to be productive). Most recently my wandering has taken me to the workings of a western essential: the livery stable. Why, you ask? My next release, Copper, is book three in my Heart of a Miner series set in the ghost town of Silver City, Idaho, where the main character, Mac Walley, is the owner of the town livery.


Most of us probably know that a livery stable was a place where one could find horses,

University of Idaho Library: https://digital.lib.uidaho.edu/digital/collection/ott/id/1514/rec/6%5B/caption%5D

wagons, and other means of conveyance for rent, as well as board a horse short-term. Mac would be tasked with providing shelter, water, feeding twice a day, mucking stalls, and even turning a horse out for exercise. Mr. Walley, however, has his eye set on breeding a very special type of horse, one that you may have heard of or even recognize: The Appaloosa.

This unique spotted horse has a distinct heritage, as its ancestors were highly coveted, versatile intelligent, hardy, and courageous. Carefully bred by the Nez Perce tribe in Idaho’s Kamiah Valley, these horses gained the attention of attentive cowboys and breeders in 1877 during the flight of the Nez Perce. Led by Chief Joseph, the tribe gathered 2,000 of their prized horses and fled 1,500 miles northeast over rough, unfamiliar terrain without rest, the horses surviving solely on forage.

Despite the impressive feat, the herd’s numbers declined until only a few hundred remained. Efforts to save the faithful, reliable horses resulted in today’s Appaloosa, well-favored for their spotted coats and easy-going dispositions. The breed has its place in the American West even still, making excellent working ranch and cattle horses, pleasure and family mounts, and even sport and racing horses. The Appaloosa has become one of America’s best-loved breeds and has truly endured the test of time.

Mac Walley, recognizing their strength and beauty, can hardly pass up the chance to buy a pair when they turn up at his livery – but they don’t stick around for long. You’ll have to read the story to see what happens to his cherished horses, and whether his bride-of-convenience, Joan, can help him get them back!


Copper is scheduled to release later this month (March 26), and in celebration of its release, I’d like to send a paperback of the book to one winner here today  (Giveaway guidelines apply). To enter the giveaway, tell me about your favorite horse breed or a characteristic you admire.

You can pick it up on pre-order here, and it’ll also be available with the rest of the series on kindle unlimited.



Krystal’s website/newsletter sign-up: https://www.krystalmanderson.com/

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