Leann Harris – Equine Therapy

I want to thank Tracy for inviting me to blog.  My latest book, Second Chance Ranch, is about equine therapy and how it changed the lives of both the hero and heroine.  I read in our local paper a human interest story about an Iraqi veteran who lost his leg in a road side bomb and how equine therapy is used to help veterans.  The instant I read that article, it called to me.  I knew I had to do a story about it and thus was born my book.

I normally write suspense (12 books), but this time the story turned into a romance.  Well, I didn’t that stop me, so I started on my journey.  I read everything I could get my hands on concerning veterans and equine therapy. I ran across several articles in NARAH Strides about how horses are used to help people who’ve lost their limbs regain their balance and rebuild the muscles used in walking.  http://narha.org/resources-education/resources/narha-horses-for-heroes  I discovered a new world of the benefits of horses and what wonders they work.  Children with physical problems can use this therapy, emotionally troubled youths benefit from the responsibility of caring for a horse.  I went out to my local equine therapy ranch and spent the day with them, seeing how the therapist works with smaller children.

I also went down to Shiner’s hospital and talked to the head of the prosthetics department.   We spent time going through the department and he explained how to fit an artificial limb and the process the patient goes through.

Now, I have the background, but who are my hero and heroine?  That’s the exciting part of writing.  Finding your hero and heroine and discovering who they are.  I am a westerner and any story I do is set in the mountain west—Colorado, New Mexico, Wyoming, Texas and Louisiana (it sneaked in).  My hero, Zach, was raised on a ranch in New Mexico and rodeo all his life.  When he loses his right leg below the knee, he doesn’t know how to deal with his life.  And my heroine is an army medic, but also a horse person and ridden all of her life.

As I was researching this story, I talked to a friend who grew up in West Texas and always had horses.  She tells me of her mare who when she sees my friend trots across the pasture and follows my friend around like a big puppy.  Who knew?   When I got to know my horses, Prince Charming, a big black gelding, and Brownie, a little mare who the children ride, they were full blown characters.  I could say that Charming is a wonderful counselor and helped both my hero and heroine work out some thorny problems.  My characters blogged this last month and will probably continue to blog for probably another month.  Kind of the story behind the story.  It’s the characters view of what happened.  I’m tempted to do the horses’ view. I hope if you’re interested you visit my websites, www.leannharris.com and www.barbharrison.com

I also just got good news.  Zach McClure has a brother and sister.  I’m going to get to do those stories, too.  Thanks for having me.

Readers, in honor of her visit, Leann is giving away one copy of SECOND CHANCE RANCH. Just join the conversation with Leann to be entered in the drawing–and be sure we have your email address with your comment.