Friday, February 18, 2011

Writing Horses - The Fine Art of Getting It Right - Judith Tarr

Writing Horses - The Fine Art Of Getting It Right
Judith Tarr
Book View Cafe
Copyright: November 2010

The amazon.com product description:
How far can a horse travel in a day? What does a horse eat? When is a brown horse really a sorrel (or a bay, or a dun)? What do tack and withers and canter mean?

In this long-awaited and much-requested book based on her "Horseblog" at Book View Café, author and horse breeder Judith Tarr answers these questions and many more. She looks at horses from the perspective of the writer whose book or story needs them as anything from basic transport to major plot device, and provides definitions, explanations, and links and references for further research--leavened with insight into the world of the horse and the humans who both use and serve him.

How fast can a horse run? What happens when a foal is born? How have humans and horses evolved together over the millennia? And above all, what mistakes do writers most often make when writing about horses, and how can the educated writer avoid them?

Here is a guide to the fine art of getting it right. 
 I got given a copy of this book through the LibraryThing Early Reviewer's program, and it wasn't for the Kindle, so if some of the things I mention in here do work better there, please correct me.

First off, I have to say I really liked reading Writing Horses. The chapters flowed together well and made sense - but then, Judith Tarr is a professional writer, and one who I've enjoyed reading many a time, most recently with her short story in Finding The Way and Other Tales of Valdemar.

One thing that's made very clear is that the author knows horses and has had a wide range of experiences with them, from riding to breeding and training. As I understand it, Writing Horses: The Fine Art Of Getting It Right is based on blog posts that Judith Tarr has written, which is where a lot of the informal style of the chapters seems to come from.

Although the book seems to be written mostly for those who've had little experience with horses, I found that it had plenty of tidbits for people with more experience as well (In my case several years of riding lessons years ago, and lots of reading). Much of it was basic, but, as I said, there were things in the book that a lot of the horse-care books I have didn't cover, such as some of the genetics and alternate terminology (eg, for Western riding, most of what I have is focused on English style). And then there's the bits such as on breeding and training too.

If you're interested in writing, the book is neat for another reason too - the way it's written serves to possibly spark ideas to work from as well. Possible problems to resolve - eg. horse health issues and the like.

Now, I was reading this book in e-pub format on my Kobo e-reader,and I found a couple of things that were slightly frustrating. Possibly they come from the book being formed from blog posts but perhaps it's also a limitation of the e-reader I'm using. Specifically I'm referring to the links scattered through the text. Some of them looked to be quite interesting potentially, but I couldn't get to them. There's no access to that kind of thing on the Kobo, and the urls weren't actually given anywhere for me to check them later on my computer. Same thing in the further references section. But, it's a minor thing really given the rest of the book, which is packed full of information and well illustrated with photos to boot.

Overall, I found Writing Horses: The Fine Art Of Getting It Right to be a very useful resource for anyone who likes horses and likes writing.
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