Monday, October 26, 2015

Hats Off to Susan Hutchison

Susan Hutchison, a petite, powerhouse, was recently inducted in the Hunter Jumper Hall of Fame.
In the Ribbons
Her show jumping career has been highlighted by more than three dozen Grand Prix wins. She represented the United States at six World Cup Finals and the World Equestrian Games in Holland. I interviewed her legendary mentor, Jimmy Williams, in 1993.
Jimmy Williams and Susan  Hutchison
At that time she was his most promising protégé vying for the World Cup. Susie was the rider I had in my mind while I was writing TheCowgirl Jumped Over the Moon that takes you from the Grand Prix circuit, to the high Sierra’s, and back again. I felt honored to sit down with her beneath a shady tree at Susan Hutchison Stables in Temecula. She has about twelve prize mounts stabled there and a
 fistful of students she trains in between competing in International events.
Her life has been like an arrow shot from a bow destined to hit the bull's eye. Groomed to become a riding champion from the age of 5, she has had no desire to become anything else in this lifetime. She is totally focused on the riding world, loves what she does, and aims to win. She often competes against her own students, decades her junior. She says horse jumping is one sport that you can actually get better at with age. She has had the litany of broken bones that come with the territory, but has no intention to slow down.  Her motto given to her by Jimmy “No Guts, No Glory” is tattooed on her arm.
Susie with one of fine horses


Linda meets Susie
My hat is off to Susan Hutchison. More to come about her incredible career and unshakable spirit in future articles.

Adventure-travel writer, Linda Ballou, shares Great Outdoor days in L.A, as well as a host of travel articles on her site, along with information about her travel memoir, Lost Angel Walkabout-One Traveler’s Tales, her historical novel Wai-nani, A Voice from Old Hawai’i and her latest action-adventure novel The Cowgirl Jumped over the Moon at-www.LindaBallouAuthor.com.  



Sunday, October 18, 2015

Sharing the Love with the Big Heart Ranch

I wrote the first draft of Cowgirl Jumped Over the Moon standing up at my breakfast bar twenty years ago.With the publication of the now polished version of the story, I am finding myself re-connecting with the horse world that I loved. 
At the Bank of Books in Malibu I shared the podium with Bobby Kane who is a volunteer worker at the Big Heart Ranch in Malibu.
Bobby Kane and Bella
The ranch is home to an array of farm animals; an alpaca; a rescued deer, and a couple of mini, as well as life-sized horses that are used to help people sort things out. Children from the Braille institute are regular visitors, veterans suffering from PTSD become grounded working with the animals, and those with substance abuse problems find a connection in the real world. It felt good to be a part of the healing work being done at the Big Heart Ranch every day.
Kristen and Billy the Kid

Bella  the mini-horse was the scene stealer, but Kristen and her baby goat also helped make the day special for all who stopped by to say hello. I fought back tears during my brief reading.  In the first chapter my protagonist has a riding accident that turns her world upside down and forces her on a journey of self-discovery that takes her to a place she never dreamed she would be. My own life has taken some wonderful turns since my injury forced me to change my ways. But, as I read the lines it felt like twenty years ago was just yesterday.
Linda and Ginger Back in the Day

Images of the day courtesy of Suzy Demeter


Adventure-travel writer, Linda Ballou, shares Great Outdoor days in L.A, as well as a host of travel articles on her site, along with information about her travel memoir, Lost Angel Walkabout-One Traveler’s Tales, her historical novel Wai-nani, A Voice from Old Hawai’i and her latest action-adventure novel The Cowgirl Jumped over the Moon at-  www.LindaBallouAuthor.com