Friday, August 7, 2009

A Man and His Horse

This morning in the Frederick News Post ~ 100 years ago on August 7, 1909.
The well known and familiar horse, “Dave,” belonging to Mr. Marshall L. Etchison, and used by him in his furniture and undertaking business, died yesterday afternoon. For twenty-five years “Dave” did his work faithfully and well, and in all that period, he never showed a single ugly trait.

He wasn't given a grand name like Spitfire or Thunder. Just plain ole 'Dave'. Sounds fitting to his demeanor, don't you think? The people of old Fredericktown must have really liked 'Dave' so much that they made an announcement in the Post about his passing into equine eternity. I imagine him harnessed to a wagon, or to Mr. Etchinson's hearse, parked along Market Street on a hot summer afternoon, the children stroking his nose, a matron giving him an apple, and Mr. Etchinson beaming with pride over his faithful and gentle beast of burden.

One hundred years later, if you take a stroll downtown in the historical district, you will find a shaggy dog made of cast iron called Charity. But where is ole Dave's memorial? On the corner of West Patrick Street is The Red Horse Inn. On the edge of the parking lot, in the grass in front of the restaurant, is a small coral and a red stallion standing within it. A top the motel, is another red horse. I think whenever I drive past the Red Horse Inn, I will refer to that red horse as 'Dave'.

Writer: In your stories do you have animals? I do and they are usually horses and dogs, and the occassional orange tabby. Animals are an integrial part of our lives, and adding them into your manuscript, subtley, enhances not so much the storyline but the development of your characters.

Let's say you have a gentle workhorse in your novel, loved by all in town, owned by one of your characters. Think of the ways the character of a horse like ole Dave could add realism to your story and help develop your characters.

In Surrender the Wind, my hero Seth Braxton owns a steed called Saber. In the opening of the book, Saber has brought Seth through the Revolution. He means a great deal to Seth, one reason being he was a gift from his father when he was 16. Not to give away the scene, but Saber is caught in the crossfire. Hungry British soldiers would not let him go to waste, and it devastates and angers Seth profoundly. Having Saber as a character, brought out Seth's personality. For when a man is compassionate and kind to his beast, he will be compassionate and kind to man.

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Rachel said...

I almost always have horses, cats or dogs in my stories. Sometimes all three. I've never outgrown my little girl obsession with equines and that shows up in my fiction.

Glynis said...

No animals in my stories, maybe I will oneday.

Susan J. Reinhardt said...

Hi Rita -

I have a dog in my WIP, a playful Golden Retriever named, "Lucy."

Susan :)

Jessica said...

I completely agree. Using animals to show the mc's character is an awesome idea. Esp. if the mc maybe has issues dealing with humans, perhaps is misunderstood or aloof.

I have a cat in one of my books. Miss Priss.
She's ... prissy. LOL

Jessica said...

Started your book! I love your sensory details, and historical so far! Wonderful. :-)

Rita Gerlach said...

You are so sweet.
I am praying that very soon I will be reading your book and telling you how good it is!