Wonder Horse Books

Victoria Hardesty

Nancy Perez

WHAT IS MY LIFE LIKE?

I live on a 7.5-acre horse ranch in the Mojave Desert, about 70 miles northeast of Los Angeles. Our property is in a community where the minimum lot size to build a home on is 2.5 acres so my neighbors really can’t see in our windows. We live at 4,200 ft. above sea level, so we do get some snow in the winters. It generally doesn’t begin snowing until early morning and it stops by 8:00 a.m. and the snow is generally gone from our arena by 10:00 a.m. That being said, we did have one year in 2008 when we got snow all day long and it left us with 32” of snow that we were unprepared for. We were stuck for 3 days until we found a neighbor to plow our driveway so we could get to the market. We were running out of milk and wine! Perish the thought!!  Summers are hot and generally dry. The natural flora here is native juniper trees, Joshua trees, native sages and wild yucca. Everything else is dirt or rocks. I live in the dirt!  Not too bad except for the 5 dogs who love bringing it in on feet and fur. There was not one speck of green on the property when we bought it. That has now changed a little. We have a few trees and a cactus garden.

Our horses get their breakfasts between 7 and 7:15 every day. Tuesdays through Saturdays, they are turned out in the arenas for breakfast and to stretch their legs. They get turned back in for dinner at 4 p.m., either in their outdoor stalls during the Spring and Summer or their winter box stalls when the weather cools off to freezing nights.

For me, I’m generally having my first cup of coffee while checking my email before 7:00 a.m. I have a routine where I check my social media sites, answer emails, make a few comments and get my heart started in the morning. Most of the time I’m still in my PJ’s. Like I said earlier, none of my neighbors can see in my windows and my computer screen doesn’t care. I have one giant white dog (Great Pyrenees) that I must step over to refill my coffee in the morning, my water tumbler later in the day and my wine glass in the evening.  She follows me around the house but seems happiest when she can lay beside my desk and let me step over her for quick errands.

Generally, the house is quiet and I can work undisturbed for several hours each day which I love to take advantage of. My husband takes the early morning hours to water his plantings and his cactus garden. That is where we had a lawn years ago. With the draught, we can’t afford the cost of the water to keep a lawn, and we’d probably be jailed for being so politically incorrect for doing it anyway. We don’t live in an urban community where pools and golf courses abound, where lawns are deep green and lush and flowering plants grow like crazy. We live in dirt. We live in a desert. We’ve adjusted. Fortunately, we have Arabian horses which were bred in the deserts of Arabia for thousands of years. They don’t much care as long as they get fed and watered and their needs are met.

I try to get some writing in every day, if possible.  When our first book was published, we had no website, no social media presence, no anything that would tell anyone we write sweet novels about Arabian horses and the young people who love them. We had to work pretty hard to get that done.  Now, it is just a matter of adding to our Author’s Platform, not completely constructing it from scratch! Heck, we didn’t know what we didn’t know! We knew nothing about the tools we’d need to build a platform, much less what it should look like. And here I am, blogging away today.  Not too bad for a little ol’ lady, huh?

I am married to my second husband, Michael, for the past 18 years. I was a widow and he was a widower when we married. I had the ranch and he had a horse-crazy 16-year-old daughter so they moved in with me and sold his house.  These days we have 5 dogs ( two Great Pyrenees, one Lab mix, one Queensland Heeler that is attached at the hip to Michael, and one Australian Shepherd that was headed for the pound the day we said no and took him home. They are all girls except for the Aussie, Jack).  We also have a twenty-two toed cat named Tiger who is presently asleep on my desk, moving my paperwork around to suit himself. Right now he is laying half on the newest Arabian Life magazine and half on my hand-held calculator butted up against my closed laptop.

Life in our household is generally pretty tranquil until one of the relatives show up with the crisis-du-jour. That would be my family. Mostly drama queens each and every one. I’ve had very few health problems since my original bout with colon cancer. I’ve passed my yearly screenings with flying colors so far. I see my primary doctor once a year for the annual thump and bump and my oncologist once a year for a look over and blood check. I’m just slowing down because……I’m not 21 these days!  Gosh, when did that happen? I look in the mirror and see my own mother. That is scary. But, not bad for someone who gained their high school diploma at the same time as her mother – January 1968 to be precise. Mom went to night school to get hers and I finished mine 6 months early and got a job.

We’ve done Boarding, Breeding, and training at our ranch in the past, but we’re retired these days. That was too much heavy lifting and manual labor. And we never did find Manual. Where is he?

This year we had a pair of Cooper’s Hawks set up housekeeping in the top of the 30 foot Chinese Elm tree beside our gate. They had to fight off the California Ravens on the property for territory even though they are about half their size. Those little buggers are fierce. They managed to hatch four chicks. We’ve lost two of them but the remaining chicks look great and are doing well. Woe be unto the poor mice on the property! They are also fierce hunters and we’ve seen the babies tearing mice apart they caught for dinner. We have enough rodents for all here so we welcome them. I got to watch their first flight attempts and was fearful they’d get taken down by our dogs or their own lack of skill. Now, not so much. Their flights are more purposeful. They are more skilled and growing well.

I watched a pair of California Ravens with their brood the past couple of years. The babies first flights were fun to watch. I saw one adult (you can’t tell mom from dad because they look exactly alike) take three babies up for their first soaring lesson. One of the babies accidentally flipped upside down and was headed straight for the ground but was able to put the brakes on and flip over just in the nick of time. He turned it around and hustled his little butt off to catch up with his parent and siblings. There is such joy is watching them soar for the first time. And they are joyful about it. You can see it and you can feel it and you can hear it. It is a natural wonder city folks never see. We have hummingbirds and quail and small sparrow-like birds that all raise their broods here on the ranch. It’s always a great way to spend a few minutes in the morning watching.  While I’ve been typing this I can hear the Cooper’s Hawk babies. They sound like something between a squeak and a whistle. I wish them well. Megan, a young woman who helps us in the mornings with the chores here, took some pictures of the babies over the weekend. I posted them on my personal Facebook page. Take a look if you get the chance (Mid July 2018).

If you have any questions, please let us know. We’re happy to answer.

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Victoria Hardesty

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