Upstaged in the Backstretch

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Contessa Racing sign
On the backstretch of Saratoga’s Oklahoma Training Track is Gary Contessa’s training stable.

On Tuesdays in August 2016, thoroughbred racehorse trainer Gary Contessa presented clinics on different aspects of horse racing.

I attended his recent talk at his barn on the Oklahoma Training Track backstretch on Horse Psychology. A rapt audience soaked up his stories about figuring out what makes a particular racehorse tick, let alone how to deal with what ticks off the horse.

Although Gary is an animated storyteller with many experiences to share, Someone Else stole the show. I don’t think Gary minded being upstaged.

Contessa Stable Clinic

A new two-year-old in Contessa’s barn meets fans. Photo by Rhonda Lane

Four In Hand: Author Kay Kendall

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Kay Kendall Four In Hand
Author Kay Kendall with the only type of horse that doesn’t make her sneeze.

Our Four In Hand driver is mystery author Kay Kendall, who takes us back to the late 1960s with Austin Starr, a Texas girl who follows her draft resistor husband to college in Toronto.

Kay grew up in the bucolic Flint Hills of Kansas but dreamed of returning to her father’s ancestral home of Texas and of becoming a latter-day Nancy Drew or John le Carré. Instead, higher education and circumstance led her down a long and winding road to graduate studies in history at Harvard, to Canada, international corporate communications, work in Russia, and finally, finally, her beloved Texas.

Today Kay is an international award-winning PR executive who lives in Texas with her husband, three house rabbits, and spaniel Wills. Now she writes historical murder mysteries.

Growing up during the Cold War, she recalls the drama of an ICBM (intercontinental ballistic missile) installed near her hometown in Kansas. A fan of historical mysteries and spy novels, she sets her own stories in the U.S. and Canada during the Vietnam War.


Plus, you can almost hear the ’60s music as you read her books. I bet you already did when you read her bio.

Take it away, Kay!

18 Tips for Adult Beginner Horse Riders

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Daisy of Seven J's Farm with instructor Christine Lentz
My instructor Christine helps me get Daisy ready for our lesson. Photo by Rod Lane

Monty Roberts answers reader questions in his weekly “Ask Monty” column. Early in summer 2015, a reader asked the question “Are We Too Old To Ride?”

To sum up, Monty at 80 is still riding and offers suggestions, especially, to emphasize safety. He recommends a lot of the steps I will, such as picking a good instructor who can help a new rider avoid trouble.

That said, as a late-in-life rider taking beginner lessons, I can offer additional pointers and give you ideas how to prepare.

Four In Hand: Author Connie Johnson Hambley

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Connie and Imp
Connie and her late beloved friend Imp.

Our Four In Hand “driver” today is thriller author Connie Johnson Hambley. The author of THE CHARITY and the recently released sequel THE TROUBLES, Connie has a lot to tell us about her past and present life with horses. Her experience adds depth and drama to the equestrian scenes in her yarns. So, grab a cup of tea or joe, and get comfy.

Take it away, Connie.