I was born with a love for horses. Although I grew up in town, I always managed to find a friend with a pony. So much so, my step-dad teased, "Are you only willing to make friends with someone if they have a horse?" This step-dad of mine grew up in Idaho, and he took our family out west to visit his cowboy brothers every summer. These experiences continued to drive my horse obsession.
Photo on left: Thomas Nye ( age 3 and wearing my favorite hat)
The photo below was taken on my step-uncle's ranch in Idaho.
(little Tommy age 7)
The first time I saw an Amish person was in my nineteenth year of life. I moved to Iowa near an Amish community and was instantly infatuated by that lifestyle. Maybe it had something to do with my love of history and interest in other cultures. More likely, it had to do with the fact that horses are the foundation of Amish life.
This habit of choosing friends who have horses is still an issue with me. LOL
My first friends in Iowa happen to be an Amish family. They took me along to Amish church, Singings, volleyball games and other social events. When they made hay, I offered to help.
Thirty-six years have gone by, and I'm still fascinated by the Amish lifestyle.Within months of my transplant into Iowa, I had my first horse. The photo on left: yours truly ( age 19 and seated on Gulfawn.)
The fist 10 or 15 horses I owned were riding horses. However, I kept watching my Amish friends doing fieldwork with draft horses and a growing urge to get my own team finally got the best of me.
One day, I randomly stopped at my Amish neighbor's place and asked, "Do you know anyone with a team of horses they might be willing to sell?" He sent me down the road a few miles to another Amish farm. I'll never forget the first day I walked into that huge barn, filled with draft horses. For a complete description of what I experienced there, check out my novel, Under the Heavens.
Here I am with my first team. (Lucy and Sally) My Amish friend predicted these older mares would teach me a lot about working with horses in harness, and he was right.
This kind Amish man seemed amused that I wanted to learn his trade. He patiently taught me how to harness and hitch a team of horses, filling me in on many safety issues. We hitched to a wagon, and he handed the lines over. That did it, I was hooked! My heart never returned to the modern world, entirely.
The team I bought were mares and had colts the next spring. When I took the mamas back to my Amish friend's farm to visit his stallion, he kept my mares for several weeks and used them in six-horse hitches with his horses. Every time I stop in to visit with my Amish friends it is as if I slip back in time a hundred years. My Amish friends continue sharing valuable advice and I pass on their wisdom in my novels. Amish daily life is glorious.
Over the past 25 years, I've owned a number of draft horses which I bought from several Amish families in our community. Each family taught me a little more about horses and these experiences warmed my heart more than I can say. There is nothing quite like being on an Amish farm.
I took this picture of Karma and Karla last evening. I'm still driving horses and writing novels about my wonderful experiences with Amish friends.Whispering to Horses
If you love to read Amish novels, you will get a slightly different view through my books. They are rugged enough to hold a man's interest and sweet enough to make a woman smile. I promise I'll take you on a tour of an Amish barn with rough-hewn timbers, wooden stalls. and rich aromas of alfalfa hay. Then, we'll head out through the gate into lush green pastures. Climb on the buggy seat, and we'll head down a country road listening to a steady clip-clopping of horse hooves under a twinkling, star-filled sky, or through an early morning mist. Experience the peace and tranquility of Amish life. A simple life Under the Heavens.