Monday, September 14, 2009

Deb Sharp Rides Shotgun--Giddy-Up!

By Deborah Sharp

I've guested here once before, revealing the shameful secret that I am hobby-less. My good friend Joanna Slan invited me back to write anyway:

''You rode a horse all the way across the state of Florida,'' Joanna said. "THAT'S your hobby.''

"What? Doing age-inappropriate things for which I am insanely unprepared?''

"No,'' Joanna said patiently. "Horseback riding.''

That marathon, six-day ride I did to research MAMA RIDES SHOTGUN was a bit more of my ''hobby,'' however, than I bargained for. 120 miles.

Sleeping on the ground. At age 50-plus. What the heck was I thinking??? Two years later, the feeling is finally returning to my rear end.

But, Joanna is right --- if we can loosely define ''hobby'' as something I manage to do very occasionally, usually while my husband Kerry and I are on our annual vacation. That's not a bad thing, since we've had the chance to ride in some incredible locations, thanks to Kerry's globe-trotting inclinations. If it were up to me, I'd return yearly to the same hammock and pina colada in nearby Key West. But over our 20-year marriage, Kerry ALWAYS opts for the exotic: Native criollo ponies on a wind-swept estancia in Argentina, Tennessee walkers on Washington State's Orcas Island, ancient creatures outfitted with even-older wooden saddles (!) in Guatemala.
Still, I long for the time in my life when riding was less an infrequently indulged hobby and more an obsession.

Was anyone as consumed with horses as I was at 13? Equine tales ruled my bookshelf: BLACK BEAUTY, MY FRIEND FLICKA, and MISTY OF CHINCOTEAGUE.

I drew horses on my paper-bag book covers during school, and dreamed of them all night. When
I got Val, a beautiful quarter horse, we galloped over open pastures and through orange groves, on land planted now with south Florida strip malls.

I loved that horse so much that I slept overnight in her stall on a bed of hay more than once.

Does anybody feel like that about a hobby?

I still get a guilty twinge, all these years later, remembering how I cast my horse aside once I discovered the world of boys and dating. Of course, we found her the perfect home, with a young girl still safely in pre-adolescence. I sobbed when they loaded Val in the trailer to go.

How about you? Have you ever been emotionally attached to a hobby -- or a horse? And how did you feel when you let that hobby go?


Deborah Sharp is the author of the Mace Bauer Mysteries -which have been described as Agatha Christie meets "My Name is Earl." Check her out at She's a gem! You might also have seen Deb on the Today Show! Or you might want to listen to an excerpt. It's all there on her website.


Camille Minichino said...

ah, the teen obsession years! For me it was baseball -- in fact I guest blogged about it on Friday:

It's great to have you back, Deb. See you at Bouchercon??

Deborah Sharp said...

Thanks, Camille .. great to be back with the ''Killer'' gals. And, yes, no obsessions like teen obsessions!

Deborah Sharp said...

A friend, Leisa Colombo Williams, sent me such a nice message that she had trouble posting here, so I'm going to copy it below Thanks, Leisa:

I never realized this, but I'm your twin! I had two horses- Nellie was our family horse when I was little- and when I was eleven my Mom bought me a big gelding named Rusty (you can guess his color).
I loved those horses. They were my best friends who took me away from my dreary little world to explore the woods and fields of Western Ky. Yep- I had all the same books on my bookshelf when I was a kid and read them all many times (Black Beauty was a fave). Like you, I've also made it a point to ride on vacation- rim rides at the Grand Canyon- on the beach at Half Moon Bay in California- in the Rockie Mountains at Aspen- and my all time favorite- in Kenya on a private ranch called Lewa Downs. We rode into herds of giraffe and zebra, and because we were on horseback- they tolerated us like we were just another gang of hoof stock come to join the grazing party. Some of my best moments have been on horseback- thanks for reminding me!
One thing you've got over me Deb- I've never actually bedded down with my horse! THAT is dedication. ; ) Giddy-up girlfriend!!

Joanna Campbell Slan said...

Yes, Deb, I admit to a similar teen obsession. I even mucked out stables in college to pay for my riding time. You make me eager to get back in the saddle!

Mare F said...

Oh, yes. I too loved horses as a young girl. I never had one of my own, but the local stables and horses new on sight and friends owned them. Now I think I would just hurt myself, but I've been thinking of going riding some day soon....

Deborah Sharp said...

thanks for commenting .... so many girls loved (still love) horses. Glad I gave some of us a reason to remember.

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