Becky Mushko


"He's the colour of the nutmeg and the heat of the ginger. It is a beast for Perseus: he is pure air and fire; and the  dull elements of earth and water never appear in him, but only in patient stillness while his rider mounts him: he is indeed  a horse...."

--William Shakespeare: HENRY V

I own two "easy-gaited" horses. Melody Sundance, a Tennessee Walking Horse, is of "the heat of the ginger." G's Liberated  Lady (aka Cupcake), a racking horse, is "the colour of nutmeg." Easy-gaited horses (in an earlier time called single-footers  or amblers) often appear in my writing.


 In my novel, Patches On the Same Quilt, for instance, a young boy's wish for a racking horse changes his life and the lives of several  later generations.


 I wished for a horse when I was a kid. Finally getting one was my dream come true.

When I was a kid in the 1950s, I saw a lot of Roy Rogers and Gene Autry movies. I didn't realize it at the time, but these  movies had a lot of influence on me. From them, I learned how to structure a plot: create a protagonist who is a good guy  (or gal), have him (or her) challenged by an antagonist who isn't so good, throw in a bunch of complications, have the protagonist win against heavy odds, and wrap up the loose ends. If the protagonist has a good horse, so much the better.


 In my short story, "Insult to Injury," my young protagonist Imogene wants to be Roy Rogers. (Wonder where that idea came from?)  However, a mule-riding girl in 1950s rural Bedford County, Virginia, can't do this--or can she? "Insult to Injury" won the  2001 Wytheville Chautauqua Short Story Contest and is one of the thirteen stories in The Girl Who Raced Mules & Other Stories.


 From watching these Westerns, I also acquired a desire for a horse. Little did I know that one of the Triggers was a registered  Tennessee Walker: Allen's Gold Zephyr, foaled in 1941. Next time you watch an old Roy Rogers movie, and you see Roy riding  along the trail with the Sons of the Pioneers while he plays his guitar and sings, notice how smooth Trigger is. Trigger  is racking! He's an easy-gaited horse.

The Official Roy Rogers & Dale Evans Website


From the time I was seven and saw Gene Autry and Champion perform at Roanoke's old American Legion Hall Auditorium, I  wanted a horse just like Gene Autry's Champion--a bright chestnut with a wide blaze and a long, flowing mane and tail. One  of Gene Autry's Champions was a registered TWH, Stonewall Allen. See several of the "Champions" at this site:


Gene Autry and his Many Champions




Many years later, my wish came true. Read about it and see pictures on my blog entry,  "Pistol Packing Heroes."


Pictures in the margin: Cupcake and Melody (top); five-year-old me on a pony (bottom).

beckypony2 cupcakemeolodygrazing