Read an Excerpt
Excerpt from Midnight Lady
". . . Copper Bottom and Steel Dust; that's where it all began," Hadley Crane said as he backed the trailer out of the parking lot at San Luis Sale Barn.
" Yeah, like, I know exactly what you're talking about!" Lisa Goodman raised her eyebrows at Kirstie Scott. The reversing trailer raised a cloud of dust, which blew grit into the girls' eyes. It was late afternoon and the baking sun was sinking low in a clear blue sky.
"Two sires," Hadley went on. The head wrangler at Half Moon Ranch positioned the trailer to wait in line at the wide exit onto Route 27. "Copper Bottom and Steel Dust started a specialist breed of horse way back in the 1930s."
"What was special about them?" Kirstie could hear the three young horses they'd just bought stamping impatiently inside the metal trailer. She fanned her face with the sale program, then pulled down the peak of her baseball cap to shade her eyes.
"Easy to keep. Good feet. Small. Fast." Tersely, Hadley listed the strong points of the breed of horse used by the ranchers in the West. "Mighty fast, as a matter of fact. You put a postage-stampsized saddle on one of those guys, set him on a sprint track around the outside of a rodeo arena, and he'd blast out of that starting gate like a bullet out of a gun."
Kirstie grinned at Lisa. Get Hadley talking about his favorite subject, and there was no stopping him. The normally silent old ranch hand could ramble on for ages. "Isn't that why they're called quarter horses?" she asked, as their tall vehicle eased out onto the road.
"Sure." He signaled left and followed the sign that read: Minesville 8 miles, Renegade 3 miles. "Those races were no more than a quarter of a mile long. The horse never drew breath the whole time he was sprinting. He slowed up over the finish line and realized he might be kinda short of breath out there. But there was nothing to beat him for a short burst of speed. Short horse, or quarter horse. And it's all because of Copper Bottom and Steel Dust."
"Hmm." Lisa was impressed. She settled back in the passenger seat for the drive down the narrow, straight road to Renegade. "So the three horses we bought for Donna Rose back there, Skeeter, Moonpie, and Midnight Lady, they're all quarter horses?"
Skeeter, the three-year-old black-and-white paint. Strangely named Moonpie, the flea-bitten gray with a rash of brownish markings. Long-limbed, dapple gray Midnight Lady. Kirstie held a picture of them in her mind, their nervousness in the sale barn arena, heads up, ears flicking this way and that in reaction to the unaccustomed noise and bustle.
She recalled the paint's high-pitched whinny as Hadley led him up the ramp into the trailer, Moonpie following reluctantly where his more spirited leader had already gone. And the trouble they'd had loading Midnight Lady, who'd objected to the dark steel box and the echo of her hooves as they struck the metal ramp. She'd pulled and strained at the halter rope, until Hadley had switched tactics and offered her a handful of sweet alfalfa hay to tempt the hungry horse inside.