I was born and raised in Maine--Stephen King country, no less; my aunt was one of his high school English teachers. I first sat on a horse, courtesy of my grandfather, at age six months. At age seven years, I started taking riding lessons. When I went to the library--which was as often as I could--I raided the horse books, especially the Marguerite Henry books. They scarred me for life.
My grandfather bought me my first horse when I was a freshman in high school. I chose my undergraduate college, Mount Holyoke, because it had a stable on campus and a riding program that fulfilled the phys ed requirement. When I went on to live in England for two years and then came back to alternate between graduate school in Connecticut and teaching high school in Maine, I kept on with the horses, and started pursuing something called classical dressage--which is basically the thing the Lipizzaners do at the Spanish Riding School in Vienna.
I always had a dream that someday, just once before I died, I would ride a Lipizzaner. I first met these dancing white horses in Marguerite Henry's book, White Stallion of Lipizza, and I saw the Disney movie, Miracle of the White Stallions, and later I read Mary Stewart's wonderful Airs Above the Ground. And, of course, I read all the Alois Podhajsky books I could get my hands on, especially My Horses, My Teachers. In 1983 I had a ringside seat at Madison Square Garden where I saw the Spanish Riding School on tour--and it was pure magic.
What I never knew was that private citizens could own these magical animals. Or that I could own one--until a riding instructor who had ridden and trained them said I should buy one, because "you'll get along with them." That was in 1992, just as I was moving from Connecticut to Arizona. A month after I arrived in Tucson, I bought my first Lipizzan. My trainer had been right on--we did get along. Now I ride Lipizzaners every day, and I have a stallion whom I ride and train (and at the moment five mares and fillies and a wonderfully evil half Arabian, half Lipizzan gelding), and best of all, I get to write books about magical white horses who are almost exactly like the ones in my backyard.