Jessie Haas

award-winning children's horse books

BOOKS

The Horse Lover's Encyclopedia
Bramble and Maggie books
Four early readers about a horse and her girl
Early Readers
Help beginners onto that tall horse called Reading. Easy chapter books including Bramble and Maggie
Picture Book
A picture book about the sweet science of maple sugar. Illustrations by Jos. A. Smith
History for children and adults
history for children and adults
Nonfiction horse books
Nonfiction horse books for children and adults
Poetry
Horses from prehistory to today, our ecstatic and tangled relationship with them, and their powerful effect on history, explored in many kinds of poems. YA and As of all ages who love horses and histlry.
Middle-grade and YA novels
Saige, American Girl of the Year Chico's Challenge, Chase
My Stable
e-books and out-of-print editions

The Horse Lover's Blog

Chinning A Horse

April 2, 2017

Tags: Jessie Haas, the horse lover, the horse lover's blog, the horse-lover's encyclopedia, measuring horses, chinning a horse

I could fill a pretty good-sized horse-lover's encyclopedia annex with the things I had to leave out of the book, and the things I learned after it was done. Some of them are new scientific discoveries, and some are old-timey things I hadn't yet run across by my deadline.
Today's discovery is an oldterm--cited on the Internet in a book from 1911, for example--called 'chinning' a horse. It's a quick and dirty way to estimate a horse's height. You first need to measure how tall you are at the chin when standing upright, and then you go stand upright next to the horse's whithers and see where your chin hits.
I first got on the track of this in a Draft Horse Journal article. The author, a draft horse judge, was asked, "Why do you smell every horse in the ring?' In fact he was chinning them. I would imagine it's an easy way to fool yourself, if you don't stand exactly the same way measuring to your own chin as you do measuring a horse, or if you shrink with age. But it was useful in the past, and probably you get better at it with practice.
Now I need to go measure my chin height, and go up and see the horses. I believe Robin is around 14.2, Martha is around 15.00, and Zeke--who knows? Maybe I will soon.

Sidestepping Spring Laminitis--It's All About The Micro-Biome

March 28, 2017

Tags: Jessie Haas, the horse lover, the horse lover's blog, the horse-lover's encyclopedia 2nd edition, pasture management, spring laminitis, founder, micro-biome

The pastures are still mostly white and any bare ground is brown, so file this under wishful thinking--but what's the best way to avoid foundering a horse in spring?
I have been doing a bit of research on that, and find that I was laboring under a couple of misconceptions.
One is the assumptionthat by not fertilizing my pasture I was keeping it 'leaner' and safer for the horses. Not so. The sugar is concentrated near the ground in over-grazed pasture, which is why they keep gnawing it down, and how they manage to fatten so handily in the autumn, when it looks like there's no grass left. If I fertilized, the grass would use that sugar for growth, which would also create more fiber. Less of the bad stuff, more of the good.
I don't want to use chemical fertilizer, as it kills soil bacteria which build tilth and carbon in the soil. So I'll be looking into alternatives.
Good things I've been doing forever? Carefully controlling spring grazing, starting with an hour at a time in the morning, and slowly increasing the amount of hours they get to graze. I knew that was important, but did not understand that it was mostly about the bacteria in the hindgut. The ones that digest fructans apparently die out during a winter of eating hay, and need time to repopulate. Gradual adjustment is important. One year I had a brain-fart and let the horses out for four hours their first time out. We all got lucky and there were no bad consequences, but that was not the way to do it.
Grazing in the morning is helpful in spring and fall, when the nights are cold. Sugar production in the grasses peaks in the afternoon and evening during that time. Luckily it's much easier to bring horses in and out during daylight hours. Later in the year, the bugs help me manage grazing time. Horses go out early, and come back to the barn when the flies start to bother them.
Spring grass is low in magnesium. I've been supplementing with magnesium in the spring for a couple of years and will keep that up. But it's time to step up my game on pasture management. I thought the lazy way was the right way, but apparently not. Now to investigate the best organic way to improve pasture.

Expanding My Mind With The Draft Horse Journal

March 21, 2017

Tags: Jessie Haas, the horse lover, the horse lover's blog, the horse-lover's encyclopedia, The Draft Horse Journal, draft horses, logging in the Ardennes

In revising The Horse-Lover's Encyclopedia, (and earlier, writing Horse Crazy!), one of my goals was to expand awareness of the draft horse scene. How do I know it's a scene? Largely due to my mother's subscription to The Draft Horse Journal.
Founded in 1964 by Maury and Jeannine Telleen, DHJ is published quarterly. A subscription is $35, and it's a bargain. Articles are both in-depth and wide-ranging, covering both the North American draft horse and draft horses around the globe. There are regular columns by a veterinarian and a lawyer, and jokes scattered around on the bottoms of the pages for extra smiles.
The Winter 2017 issue features articles on leading Clydesdale sires, a working field-day for Brabant horses, the equine artist Shannon Lawlor, horse-powered haying and Christmas tree operations, and "Testosterone and the Breeding Stallion." Production values are high and the photography is often beautiful. If you had the impression that draft horses were a thing of the past, DHJ will change your mind. Horse prices are high at the many annual sales, horse pulling and big hitches are going strong, and many people enthusiastically use horses on the farm. DHJ sponsors and reports on Horse Progress Days, an annual field day at which innovative horse-drawn farm equipment makes its debut. Yes, innovation is still happening in the field of horse-drawn farm equipment!
I particularly love the way DHJ articles take me beyond what I already know. In a recent article about logging in the Ardennes forest, I was startled, even concerned, to see a single horse being driven up onto a pile of logs. Turns out these large horses (the Ardennes breed looks similar to the Brabant) are taught to step onto the logs to help settle and organize them into a compact pile. I wouldn't have thought a horse could be taught to do that, calmly and matter-of-factly, as part of the normal course of work.
The horse is driven using a jerk-line. Two reins made of rope combine into a single line that comes back to the driver's hand. Gentle tugs and voice commands allow for sophisticated communication. The command "un pas" (one step) is especially important.
To see a horse who looks like an intelligent boulder, thoughtfully trampling a pile of logs, expands my mind to the possibilities between human and horse. It's reason enough to subscribe to this great magazine--or in my case, freeload off my mom! Thanks, Mom. Thanks, Draft Horse Journal.

Tombstone Hay Feeders? Is That a Thing?

March 20, 2017

Tags: Jessie Haas, the horse lover, the horse lover's blog, the horse-lover's encyclopedia, economical hay feeders

You live and learn. Sometimes you don't learn soon enough to put it in your big new encyclopedia. That's why you won't find tombstone hay feeders in The Horse-Lover's Encyclopedia. The phrase was new to me when I spotted it in an equipment ad. Sounded grim and dramatic.
So I looked it up. Turns out "tombstone" refers to the shape of the metal gizmos that form the slots. They look like a circle of old-time tombstones. Tombstone feeders with their rounded shoulders are better for horses because the smooth shape doesn't catch and pull out mane hair. Horses slip their heads through and eat--though I would worry that my dominant mare would come around and chase the other two, and they could get hurt if they were caught with their heads through the slot.
My guess is that they would worry too, and would adopt a snatch, pull out, and munch outside the feeder style of eating. That's why a basket-style feeder would be better for a herd with bossy horses in it. Horses don't put their head into the basket at all. They pull hay through, as they do from a manger or hay net.
Right now though, my horses are eating hay from piles on the snow, and getting lots of exercise walking (or being chased) from pile to pile. It's the most natural way, and they sure look pretty out there.

Horsemanship In the Digital Age

March 13, 2017

Tags: horses, horse lover's encyclopedia, the horse lover, the horse lover's blog, Jessie Haas, Thom Friedman, THANKYOU FOR BEING LATE, mounted archery, clicker training, natural horsemanship, equine agility

THANK YOU FOR BEING LATE, the new book by Thom Friedman, has me thinking about the pace of change in modern life. Shocking to think that the i-phone came out in 2007! Facebook, Twitter, just getting off the ground. They feel like they've been around forever--but forever is briefer these days, apparently.
One seismic changein the horse world since 2000, when The Horse-Lover's Encyclopedia edition 1 came out is the rise of Natural Horsemanship (NH). Back then it wasn't even an entry, and 'round pen' wasn't a verb. Today NH is huge, with popular clinicians like Pat Parelli having enormous followings, and almost everybody has some idea of how to do 'round penning.'
NH has its critics, too, many of them among what may be the next tidal wave poised to sweep the horse community. It's difficult to put a name to this group. In fact, many of those I conceptually place in a single bucket would resist being included with some of the others, possibly with good reason. I'm open to hearing arguments about that, but here's how I see it at the moment.
There's a movement toward softer forms of training, and in some cases, keeping riding completely voluntary on the horse's part. Clicker training; groups like Empowered Equestrians, who use and understand terms like +R, and aspire to train horses using only +R methods. People who will not ride a horse unless he clearly signals his desire to be ridden.
There are research groups like ISES (International Society for Equitation Science) and universities studying equine cognition and behavior, and who have brought us fascinating new info like the blanket study, and new insight into how horses see us. (Hint: wipe that frown off your face before you walk into the barn!).
There are people who love horses, but have no interest in riding, who are coming out of the shadows and claiming their right to be horse-owners on their own terms. Some of them 'just' feed and love on their horses. Others play with them (careful!) and some take part in sports like Equine Agility. This dovetails with another group who would like to compete in a mild sort of way, but don't want to truck horses anywhere. Some of them participate in contests where you set up and video, or score, a test, then email it in. (Agility, Mounted Archery.)
Then there are the myriad of sports that expand our idea of what a good horse can do. Far beyond the categories of my youth--English, Western, trail, racing--these extend into Iberian riding traditions with doma vaquera and Working Equitation, expand ranch horse concepts with Extreme Cowboy competitions, and move way past the old trail classes.
It all feels like its moving a lot faster than it used to. It's much easier to start a new sport, spread the word about it, get in touch with like minded folks, and even compete remotely. Our idea of horsemanship is getting gentler, more nuanced, more scientifically informed, and more multi-cultural.
I tried to touch on as many elements of this as I could in the new HORSE-LOVER'S ENCYCLOPEDIA. But we had to be brief, for reasons of space, and we still ended up with a three-pound book! Still, it makes a good jumping-off point. Mounted archery? Who even knew that was a thing? Except the Mongols, the Scythians, and our remote Indo-European-speaking horse-riding ancestors--and now, the practitioners of this multi-cultural new sport. Korean, Hungarian, and other forms exist, there's a serious degree of costume involved, and the process of teaching horses to tolerate having arrows fired from their backs leads to calm and a high degree of control. It's all really exciting. Can't wait to see where horsemanship goes in the next fifteen years.

Horse Pasture Weeds and Soil Carbon

March 6, 2017

Tags: horses, horse lover's encyclopedia, the horse lover, the horse lover's blog, Jessie Haas, pasture management, soil carbon, climate change, founder, laminitis

My newest passion is soil carbon. Soil is where much of the atmospheric carbon that is causing so many headaches came from in the first place, and the good news is that we can put it back, quickly, using a very old technology called plants.
Plants build humus in soil through a process of feeding the bacteria and fungi that support plant growth, in a mutually beneficial cycle. Grazing can help or hurt that cycle. The good news is that permanent pasture accomplishes one main goal of soil-builders--not plowing. Opening the soil up to wind, rain, and sun leaches carbon out rapidly. So our hay fields and horse pasture are doing that much right.
And I feel pretty good about the hay fields with regard to carbon. Half of the field gets only manure, no chemical fertilizer. Fertilizer damages the carbon cycle--basically, the plants stop feeding their micro-organism buddies because they are getting fuel elsewhere, but as fertilizer is applied as a top-dressing, it encourages shallow roots.
The hay fields get lightly grazed in the spring. Pulses of grazing stress the plants in a good way, allowing even more carbon to build in the soils.
My concern is with my pasture, and whether I can afford to do what I would like to do--build carbon--and still keep my horses in good health. The problem with Morgans and Belgians is that they can't stand too much prosperity. Both breeds are prone to laminitis on rich pasture. Ideally I would be dividing my pasture into paddock and rotationally grazing them. But I don't have quite enough pasture during midsummer for that to work. If I bring up the fertility so the grass grows better, will I create a health problem?
This is something I'm committed to studying. The horses' health must come first, but I'd love a way that the soil could also be improved. The good news, for the horses and the soil, may be the weeds. With their deeper taproots, they access more minerals. If I clip them before they seed, they open up the soil as the roots die, reducing compaction. And horses do graze a number of these weeds, sometimes seasonally, which I believe is beneficial to their health. I just read an account from an English breeder of successful race horses, who never fertilized pasture, and believed that a healthy pasture for horses should support 50 weed species. I'll be out there counting this summer, and meanwhile, I'll go on researching. If you have experience in this area, I'd love to hear about it.

Naturally Curious, Day By Day

February 28, 2017

Tags: Jessie Haas, the horse lover, the horse lover's blog, trail riding, nature, Naturally Curious, Naturally Curious Day By Day, Mary Holland

It's muddy, icy, snowy, wet, and miserable out on the woodland trails right now, here in Vermont. But in a few months it will be trail riding weather.
In the meantime, we can dream and get prepared. One of the nicest ways is to pick up a copy of Naturally Curious, Day By Day, by Mary Holland. This gorgeous book takes you on a day by day tour of the Northeastern woods, fields, and marshes. Holland is a gifted photographer, and lucky. This book is like having your most fortunate day ever out in nature, and then having 351 more of them all in a row. From snow fleas so bobcats, ferns to foxes, Holland reveals the life going on all around us, and the tiny signs of events that are so easy to overlook. I found the book completely absorbing. I have given two copies away to elderly people who can't get out in the woods anymore, and they, too, found it fascinating.
So if that's you, if trail riding is just not happening for you anymore, Naturally Curious makes a very pleasurable substitute. And if you have lived in the woods for 35 years, as I have, I guarantee you'll be saying, about every other page, "I didn't know that."
I understand that was the reaction of the launch committee down at Storey Publishing, when they saw the first copy of The Horse Lover's Encyclopedia. I hope so. I would love to think that my book could also bring readers as much pleasure and education as Naturally Curious, Day By Day, has brought me.

New Ancient Horse Discovered

February 25, 2017

Tags: horses, horse lover's encyclopedia, the horse lover, the horse lover's blog, Jessie Haas, ancient horses, paleontology, Western Digs, ancient humans

A 700,000 year old horse fossil discovered in the Yukon Territory has yielded the oldest DNA ever decoded, according to Western Dig, a website devoted to the Ancient West. (Who knew there was such a site? I'm almost as excited about that as I am about the horse bones!)
The findings allowed scientists to date the shared ancestor or all equines (horses, donkeys and zebras) back 4 million years. Previously this ancestor had thought to date to 2 million years ago. Comparison between modern horse DNA, the Przewalski Horse, and a previous fossil, allowed them to establish a "molecular clock"--no, I don't understand this, but I appreciate it.
The article contains a link to another, which finds that humans in Oregon lived in the at the same time as a "stocky-legged" horse. Remains of both were found in caves. The paleontologist who examined the bones, Brianna McHorse (really!) believes that further analysis may help us understand if there were many types of horse in North America fourteen thousand years ago, or just a couple.
I'm curious about that, but also about the cave itself, and the Paleo-Indians who may have lived in it. I have always wondered about the meaning of the legend, which I think is widespread among American Indians, that their ancestors came out of a hole in the ground. Is this an ancestral memory of cave-dwelling? Or did the so-called "ice-free corridor" feel like living in a hole? Or what?
Somebody, build a time machine. Please!

Mysteries of Type and Blood

February 21, 2017

Tags: Jessie Haas, the horse lover, the horse lover's blog, Morgan horses, River Echo Red Robin, Green Mountain Maid, Brenda Tippin, Woodgate Martha V.

Looking at my two classically bred Morgan mares out eating their hay this morning, I admired for the umpteenth time Robin's beautiful long legs. She is a fourteen-two hand mare with a round barrel--I won't reveal what the weight tape said about her poundage. Let's just say she has well-sprung ribs!
Her elbow isabout level with my waist. The elbow of her companion, the fifteen-hand Woodgate Martha V, comes only up to my hip.
This evening I got out the weight tape to confirm this measurement. Indeed, there is a four inch difference. Robin is 36 inches at the elbow. Martha is 32 inches. Martha declared that in her former life she was only measured with an oak measuring stick with brass ferrule, the hundred-dollar or so kind, not a free grain store weight tape. So I was unable to compare their weights, and we have a little training project for tomorrow.
Both these mares have a lot of Flyhawk and old Government breeding. Martha V is by the tall, athletic stallion, UVM Springfield. Robin is by the small, athletic stallion River Echo Hamilton. At pasture running together, they often look startlingly alike, making the same head motions and flagging their tails in a similar way. Yet standing still, they are very different in type and conformation. It would take a wiser person than me to run through their bloodlines and see just where Martha gets her extreme depth of body, and the characteristic of being rather heavy on the forehand, and where Robin gets her race-horse balance.

Robin bears a startling resemblance to a classic trotting horse broodmare of the 19th century, Green Mountain Maid. She doesn't descend from the Maid, but shares crosses to Henry Clay and Iron's Cadmus, horses in the classic mare's pedigree. Green Mountain Maid has a statue in her honor out in California, and $10,000 was offered for her when she was 20 years old. The offer was turned down. (Thanks to the excellent research of Brenda Tippin for this info, and the photo of Green Mountain Maid which you can see by following the link. Same lovely long legs, same butt, same belly, same white hind feet, and very similar head. They could easily be mistaken for the same horse. I wouldn't take $10,000 for Robin, either.

Book Review: Lead With Your Heart

February 19, 2017

Tags: horses, horse lover's encyclopedia, the horse lover, the horse lover's blog, Jessie Haas, Storey Publishing, Lead with Your Heart, Allan J. Hamilton, MD, Allan Hamilton

In Vermont in winter, my horse activities boil down to careful feeding, watering and shoveling, greetings and once-overs, and a lot of reading by the wood stove. I hope some of this reading will stay with me into spring and summer, when it's possible to work horses again.

A book I'm reading this winter is Lead With Your Heart; Lessons From A Life With Horses, by Allan J. Hamilton.

This beautiful small book is not a training manual, not a book of theory, not a story. Instead, 112 short meditations, each titled with a short aphorism, consider categories like Teaching and Learning, Energy and Emotion, and Breaking Through. Hamilton believes in good observation, in becoming still within, in taking the time it takes but not drilling the horse into a state of boredom. But my summaries don't give you the poetry of his writing; this is one to look at for yourself, to enjoy for the design as well as the words, to savor slowly, put down periodically while reading to think about your own horse, and situations you've been in with him.

We aren't all lucky enough to have a wise mentor in our lives, especially atthose crucial training moments. But if you read Lead With Your Heart slowly and thoughtfully, it may be that one of these aphorisms will come to mind at one of those moments. Like, "A windy day can make a horse stupid." Or, "More than four is a bore." (In other words, don't drill a new behavior to death. Three or four repeats, then do something else.) "Find the curve of compromise." That is, approach a horse's shoulder, on a curving line, greet, then turn away.

This paragraph stood out for me. "When the problem starts to seem too complex or stubborn, we need to stop. It means we are close to a new revelation. That is where the turmoil is coming from. There must be a moment of torque before there is traction . . . "

The book is illustrated with beautiful photo-collages by Robert Farkas, and is handsomely designed. Published by Storey in 2016.

Your volunteer fire department

February 16, 2017

Tags: horses, horse lover's encyclopedia, the horse lover, the horse lover's blog, Jessie Haas, Storey Publishing, rescuing stuck horses, local fire departments, rescue

The fire department rescues Gale from a snowy ditch. Her legs weren't even touching bottom.
This is a cow story, but it applies to horse lovers and horse owners as well. Sometime in the wee hours, my parents wee cows, very short-legged, barrel-shaped Irish Dexters, went walkabout. They explored the hay barn and the shed where the grain is stored--safely in an old chest freezer. They ate all the bird seed out of the feeder.

Then they trudged a quarter of a mile up the road to the neighbors' house to check on their bird feeder. When my husband and I arrived to help, one cow was being escorted back down the road, one was waiting at home and mooing very loudly, and one was still at the neighbors, thinking about taking a shortcut through my horse fence.

I lured her away from that and we got her headed down the road, but when she came to our parked car she veered off into the ditch, which is especially deep in that spot and full of fresh snow. She floundered, sank, and gave up, apparently ready to wait there till spring. Clearly my husband and I and my 87-year-old dad were not going to shift her.

Enter the Westminster Fire Department. About twelve guys arrived with a Rescue truck and a winch, the sheriff parked at the top of the hill, my large animal vet and next door neighbor appeared on the scene, and after a lot of digging and thinking, they put soft shackles on her hind legs and dragged her out backward. Once they had her on the road they let her lie up on her breast for a few minutes while they spread kitty litter all around her. Then Stephen (the vet) bumped her in the shoulder with his knees while somebody else tailed her up. She got to her feet and headed for home, none the worse for her ordeal.

My takeaway--the volunteer fire department is the best, when you need a lot of muscle in a hurry. I appreciated how thoughtful and quiet they were, and knew they had the cow's health and safety in mind. If you own large animals in a rural area, get to know those guys. Donate, bake for them when they're on a rough call, or volunteer yourself if you are that kind of person. Sometimes large animal veterinarians give classes on rescuing animals. Maybe you could underwrite one for the education of your fire department.
Also, keep kitty litter on hand. I would not have thought of it, but I think a bucket rides around in every fire truck in Vermont, and that's as it should be. Thank you, guys!

Bare Foot Police Horses

February 15, 2017

Tags: horses, horse lover's encyclopedia, the horse lover, the horse lover's blog, Jessie Haas, Storey Publishing, bare foot horses

My beautiful barefoot boy. Still miss him!
I've kept my horses bare foot for most of my life. Not that I'm against shoes. I know they can be essential in certain situations, and they were invented for a reason, to solve the problems of a horseback, horse-drawn society. We are not that society anymore, and my horses are lightly ridden, mostly on grass. Atherton went 18 years never wearing shoes. Robin has never worn them. I've never bought boots for them, either.
I save a lot of money that way, and all other things being equal, I do believe it's best for horses to live as naturally as possible.

That said, it's interesting to see that Houston switched all its police horses over to bare foot several years ago, and has found that the horses' health has greatly improved. They have even seen a reduction in colic cases. It looks to me like there are other variables, like a new facility with turnout continuously available--probably the most important thing you can offer a horse. The switch was done thoughtfully, on an individual basis, and lo and behold, the hoof that evolved for plains and tundra is pretty decent on pavement too. Good to know!

Horses Are Not Human: Or, Why I Don't Blanket

February 14, 2017

Tags: horses, horse lover's encyclopedia, the horse lover, the horse lover's blog, Jessie Haas, Storey Publishing, blanketing horses, anthropomorphism

Horses are not human.
Obvious, right? I don't mean they aren't persons, or individuals, or that they don't have feelings, or that I don't love them. I mean that they do not have human bodies, or human needs. They have horse needs, for horse bodies and minds that evolved in different circumstances than ours did.
I keep my horses beside a well-traveled road. That means the general public can see how they live and form opinions, and I'm sure many people would feel much happier to see my three wrapped up in cozy blankets.
But here's the deal. That's not what they evolved for. It's not what they need.
In a fascinating article on the Soul of a Horse blog, Natalja Aleksandrova discusses how horses' winter coats, and the fat they accumulate in the autumn, insulate them from cold. The ability of the hair to fluff up and stand out from the body, and the oil that prevents water from penetrating from the skin, can all be compromised by the tender loving care we give them. Blankets can flatten the coat. Grooming can remove the oils. A cozy winter stable can raise levels of ammonia (from urine, manure, and bedding) and cause lung problems.
So my horses stay unblanketed, with access to turnout 24/7. They generally go ungroomed from November until the hair starts to fly. I'll admit that I didn't know why these were good practices until today. They worked well for my horses for some 50 years, though, and now I know more about why.

The Horse Lover's Blog

February 13, 2017

Tags: horses, horse lover's encyclopedia, the horse lover, the horse lover's blog, Jessie Haas, Storey Publishing

Coming in March
Another change in name for this far-too-occasional blog. But only yesterday did I realize what it should be called, and what it should focus on. (What can I say? Sometimes I'm a slow learner!)
My new book, coming in March, is the revised and updated Horse Lover's Encyclopedia, published by Storey. I spent months thinking about horses every single day. It was my job. Recently I wrote an article for Muse, the children's science magazine, about the horse blanket study--more on that later. In both cases I had a ball.
And yesterday I was thinking about difficult-to-trailer-alone horses, and found a study showing that horses with a mirror in the trailer travel much more calmly. I love that stuff! And that's what I'm going to do on this blog from now on.
Think of it as an extension to the encyclopedia, because we couldn't make that a bazillion pages long, and because new scitorence and new training methods are popping up every day. I'll try to keep up with it, and I'll try to help you do the same. Let me know if you like it.

The Chestry Oak--Don't Read It If You Hate To Cry

August 4, 2015

Tags: The Chestry Oak, Kate Seredy, children's horse books, Jessie Haas

The gorgeous original cover--and it's back in print!
Yesterday I dipped into The Chestry Oak, by Kate Seredy. This is a book I read as a teen and loved, and had not looked at in many years. I was looking for gorgeous prose about horses, to snip out some quotations for Workman's Horse Gallery 2017 calender, and I found some.
But I also found myself unable to keep from crying, at the story of Hungarian Prince Michael, who lives with his father in Chestry castle in the midst of the Nazis. Michael loves Chestry Valley, his father, their beautiful horses, and his peasant nurse, and loses them all in one terrifying night of bombing.
But the part that made me cry was when he begins to get things back again, in his new home. I won't spoil the plot, just suggest that you buy this book, recently re-released. Don't read it in public, or with anybody you can't cry in front of. It's a sentimental book, yes, but that really works here, and Seredy wrote so beautifully and knowingly about horses. You will fall in love with the black stallion, Midnight--but you can't have him for your own. He belongs to himself.

Jessie Haas, Horse Expert

June 17, 2015

Tags: Jessie Haas, horse expert, Horselover's Encyclopedia, horse expertise

As I finish the first round of edits for Storey's Horselover's Encylcopedia, which I'm editing and updating, I'm daring to wonder--is it time to call myself a horse expert?

I don't know everything about horses. I can ride, I've saddle-trained 3 horses, owned 4, cared for 6, but when the going gets tough this girl gets off. Hey, even the great John Lyons says that's okay!)

But I have written over 35 children's horse books, including the comprehensive nonfiction book Horse Crazy, which won the American Horse Publications book award. I've fact-checked Horse Heroes for Magic Tree House. I've written a world history of horses in poetry. I've written captions for Workman's Horse Gallery 2016 calender, and am just about to start 2017. I wrote a pioneering book on horse safety, and I'm finishing an encyclopedia, and you know what? It's time to name it and claim it. Jessie Haas, Horse Expert.

Don't stack me up against a smart 4-H kid in a Quiz Bowl. I think I'll always have to look up normal t-p-r rates. I rarely get horses in the correct order in those judge-the-horses photo contests.

But I know the smart questions, and how to avoid the ignorant mistakes. I know how to find stuff out, and how to hit a deadline. I know how to draft a sentence so it's crystal-clear. I can write a riding scene that will make a nonrider feel like she's just had her first lesson, on a real horse.

And I love horses. I've loved them passionately, all my life. I love their looks, their sounds, their smells, the feel of riding them, the sweetness of feeding them, the mystery their thoughts and feelings.

And I love horse books. Horses and the written word, my sweetheart and my cats and dog, family and the farm -- and good wine, and something nice to eat with it. There you have me. Jessie Haas, horse expert. Humble horse expert, who knows she still has a ton to learn and always will, but who's willing to take on any interesing horsey project that comes my way.(

This Rider--stanza six

April 28, 2015

Tags: horse poems, Hoofprints, Jessie Haas, National Poetry Month, poems about horses



Last stanza--

And this one hopes
the judge did not see that.
If the mistake was overlooked
she'll win.

This Rider--stanza five

April 26, 2015

Tags: horse poems, Hoofprints, Jessie Haas, National Poetry Month, poems about horses

Patient as the stone around him.
Thanks to Wikipedia for the image of the British sentry.

This rider
sits
motionless
in a tall
narrow
sentry box
outside
the palace,
pretending
not to hear
what people say.

This Rider--stanza four

April 24, 2015

Tags: horse poems, Hoofprints, Jessie Haas, National Poetry Month, poems about horses

Yes, I ride her. But I keep my wits about me.
The fourth stanza of a horse poem from Hoofprints. The accompanying picture captures the spirit of spring in Vermont--muddy and explosive. Spring is here but the grass isn't greening up yet, and we all have a bit of cabin fever.

This rider stays on
--that's all--
eight seconds.
Legs fly loose,
spurs scratch fore and aft,
and then at last the whistle blows.
Let go!

This Rider--stanza three

April 22, 2015

Tags: horse poems, Hoofprints, Jessie Haas, National Poetry Month, poems about horses

This rider goes as fast as fast can go
for less than three minutes.
Ideally, she doesn't get killed.
Ideally, she'll do it again,
three or four times an afternoon,
ending as often as possible
ahead of the others.

Second stanza from the poem, This Rider

April 19, 2015

Tags: horse poems, Hoofprints, Jessie Haas, National Poetry Month, poems about horses

Here is the second stanza. They will eventually appear in inverse order in the blog, correct order on the Hoofprints page.

This rider slouches.
In each direction
he sees miles and miles
of miles and miles.
Get over the ground,
look at fences,
look at cattle,
then eat, sleep,
do it again tomorrow.
Let the horse shuffle
any old how,
as long as
it doesn't
raise a blister.

A horse poem by installments

April 17, 2015

Tags: horse poems, Hoofprints, Jessie Haas, Poetry Month horses, poems about horses, poems about riding

This horse poem, from Hoofprints, will appear in installments over the next few days. Hoofprints is available again through Open Road Integrated Media.

This rider,
in black jacket, white breeches,
is accountable for each step taken.
Each hoof touches earth
precisely to her bidding.
Cadence, elasticity,
metronomic rhythm,
even the ears,
even if the (more…)

Mud Season in Vermont

April 6, 2015

Tags: horse poems, mud season, Vermont poems, Jessie Haas

It's mud season here, and that makes me think of my grandfather, Emmannuel Trevorrow, and his good work horses, Chub and Sailor. This poem is from Hoofprints, available as an e-book from Open Road Integrated Media.

The car is
Up to the axles in mud.
It's nineteen forty-eight, most roads are paved,
But this (more…)

Saige in Albuquerque

May 17, 2013

Tags: Jessie Haas, Saige, American Girl GOTY 2013, Bramble and Maggie, horse books

Had a wonderful time in Albuquerque, Saige's hometown. Beth Larsen, the art adviser, showed me and Michael around--we saw a couple of places where the movie was shot, as well as a school that looks just like the one I imagined her attending. Best of all, I met so many girls who said, "I (more…)

Visits, visits

April 13, 2013

Tags: Saige, American Girl, GOTY 2013, Jessie Haas

Two fun school visits last week, at the Mater Christi School in Burlington, and Elm Hill Elementary in Springfield. I always use the hush-test to discover if fiction is working. If the room gets quiet, I've got them!
My best chapter ever for silencing a room is the first chapter of Fire!, which ends (more…)

Uncle Daney's Way Is Coming Back!

April 4, 2013

Tags: Jessie Haas, horse books for kids, horse books for boys, draft horse books, Vermont fiction, Uncle Daney's Way, American Girl, Girl of the Year 2013

Thanks to the Authors' Guild and iUniverse, Uncle Daney's Way will be back in print and available in a couple of weeks. This middle-grade novel, told in simple, accessible language, tells the story of Cole, a Vermont boy whose family suddenly has two new members--Mom's Uncle Daney, a crippled logger, and Nip, Daney's horse. (more…)

Ask a Pro!

February 25, 2013

Tags: Jessie Haas, American GOTY 2013, Saige, Bramble and Maggie, Chico's Challenge, Sugaring

If you want good work done, ask a pro!
I love my Authors' Guild website, because it's affordable and because I could put it together myself. But I am so not a pro. Fortunately I'm related to one, my sister Martha Haas, a wonderful artist and graphic designer. In one Sunday morning session, while (more…)

American Girl gets creativity

January 13, 2013

Tags: Saige, Jessie Haas, American Girl, Horse Crazy!, horses and art, art in the schools, clicker training

American Girl really gets creativity.
Now that I can talk about Saige and her new books, what I most want to say is how much fun it's been. I loved the process from my first phone conversation with Erin Falligant. The creative team at American Girl is such a great bunch of smart, artistic (more…)

Dirty Weather

December 4, 2012

Tags: Jessie Haas, Horse Crazy!, baling twine projects, Christmas, grooming horses

If your horse lives outdoors, this is the season when you might use a baling twine grooming mitt. (learn how to make one in HORSE CRAZY!) It's a simple project to knit, using something you're throwing away every day. Robin loves the scratchy texture, and it really knocks off the outer crust.

Riding and Writing

October 25, 2012

Tags: Jessie Haas, Robin, Morgan horses, children's horse books, writing

Riding season is about over for me. I've gone from obsessed, and starting every day with a ride, to having to push myself to squeeze one in. In part I'm transitioning by writing a story that features a horse almost identical to Robin--so I'm still obsessed, just not getting as much exercise!

Sign My Breyer's belly

September 24, 2012

Tags: Chico's Challenge, Jessie Haas, Breyer models, Golden Oaks Stable, children's horse books

A first for me--last week I went to a model horse show and signed my first model, with a Sharpie, on his belly. It was a fascinating scene that I would have loved as a kid. In my day, boys and girls, we clomped our models around on the floor and made up stories (more…)

What Happens at Pasture, Stays at Pasture.

September 7, 2012

Tags: Jessie Haas, Chico's Challenge, Bramble and Maggie, American Girl, horses

What happens out at pasture, stays out at pasture. Last week Robin came in with a big egg on her leg and a couple of nearly invisible scratches on her nose. Over the next few days the scratches morphed into an ugly infection, and the egg on her leg (hey, sounds like a title!) (more…)

Keeping Barney

August 1, 2012

Tags: Keeping Barney, Jessie Haas

I'm thinking about Keeping Barney, my first book, and suddenly the one I'm hearing about from fans--young women now, who say it was an influential book for them. It was a long time ago for me, that book. I wrote it during my junior year at Wellesley, while taking a semester off and working (more…)

Who's Confused, Me or the Horse?

July 24, 2012

Tags: clicker training, horse training, Morgan horses, Jessie Haas

Trying to teach Robin to leg yield. To the right, no problem. To the left, not possible. I read my books (Mary Wanless, Sally Swift, everyone!), worked on my position, agonized. I also, in the barn, asked her to sidestep away from my hand on both sides. Click, treat, nicker. She was definitely less (more…)

Westminster, Vermont, 1735-2000

July 13, 2012

Tags: Westminster, Vermont, 1735-2000, The History Press, Jessie Haas, Vermont history

The Big Book, as it's long been called in Westminster Historical Society circles, is finally in our hands, and it is so beautiful. I feel quite detached from it; it looks like a lot of work to me, and I'm impressed with the author. Strange! I'm very aware of its imperfections, and the number (more…)

Chico's Challenge is here at last!

July 10, 2012

Tags: Chico's Challenge, Chico's Challenge model and book set, books about Quarter Horses, books about cutting, Jessie Haas, new book by Jessie Haas

It's been a long haul, but CHICO'S CHALLENGE, my middle-grade novel about a young Quarter Horse, is finally out as a paperback and a model and book set. Chico was raised on a suburban ranchette; when he gets a new owner and moves out to the range, he's mystified and frightened by those strange (more…)

Bramble and Robin, Maggie and Jessie: Horses Meet Girls

June 29, 2012

Tags: Jessie Haas, Bramble and Maggie, children's books, easy readers, horses, Morgan horses

When I began BRAMBLE AND MAGGIE, now the first in a three-book series, I was just getting to know my new horse Robin. She most definitely had her "little ways." An unbroken three-year-old, Robin "didn't think poorly of herself," in the words of Cheryl Rivers, who bred her. I was heartbroken at losing Atherton, (more…)

So Write About Robin

June 25, 2012

Tags: writing, horses, children's books, Jessie Haas

I have finished all my projects, on time, under budget, without going nuts. Now I have no projects. NOW I'm going nuts!
So I'm thinking about a new novel, not wanting to start because I don't know enough yet. But I often used to start a novel knowing only the first sentence, and I (more…)
Hoofprints; Horse Poems; the jacket art is by Alison D. Rieder.

Keeping Barney, my first novel

Woodgate Martha V.

At the Anderson-Abruzzo International Balloon Museum in Albuquerque

Saige and I presenting at the Mater Christi School


Saige and Picasso, the Spanish Barb horse, beautifully created by Sarah Davis.

Atherton

Atherton and Zeke