The Horses

Most of the horses in RAJA borrow personalities from, and share names with, horses I’ve known and loved. While they may not have had the same “jobs” as their namesakes in the book, they’re all very special horses.

Shaddy (Strike d’Ore) wasn’t really a steeplechase champion. He had talent but not a lot of desire to race. Shaddy was my first steeplechase horse and a legendary hunter for over twenty years. A sweetheart with a huge fan club, here’s “Shad Shad the Wonder Horse” at the Howard County Point-to-Point in 1994.

(photo credit: Cappy Jackson)


Rather Be ImageRather Be (RB) was never a stakes winning racehorse but he DID race at Saratoga (steeplechase). An injury ended his racing career and now he events and does jumpers. Another sweetheart, here he is in an equitation class with 12-year old Grace Dayton in 2011.



Sanchez really is grey and really was rescued — but not from the New Holland Auction. Grand Prix dressage rider Ellen Miller rescued him from an abusive owner and gave him a new career as a dressage horse.

Holzmann wasn’t an Olympic silver medalist or even a big time show jumper. But I have no doubt that he could have been. Phenomenally athletic, super smart with an appreciation for an audience (“my people!”) and a little bit of attitude, “The Holz” is still capable of bucking me off at the advanced age of 20. Holzmann won fourteen steeplechase races with me and inspired the writing of RAJA more than any of my retired racehorses.

(photo credit: Beth Harpham)




Prism (Rainbeau Prism) IS a Fancy Welsh pony hunter. But she’s not really a Farnley pony. I borrowed that detail from her grandsire, Farnley Lustre. Prism has been teaching kids to ride and show for nearly 20 years. And if they pay attention and ride right, they’ll win lots of blue ribbons and championships! (photo credit: Twitchell Hill Farm)


Luna (Alba Luna). In RAJA and in real life, the legendary show jumper, Abdullah, was Luna’s sire. While Luna didn’t follow in her sire’s hoof prints as an Olympic gold and silver medalist, she did compete at the top levels of eventing. Now in her later years, Sue Perna and the students of Twitchell Hill Farm in New Haven, VT, show Luna on the Vermont hunter/jumper circuit.

(photo credit: Twitchell Hill Farm)






Oliver (Oliver’s Cave) IS a Morgan from Vermont. Bred and trained by Laurie Hudson of Hitching Post Farm in South Royalton,VT, he’s an event horse. But I have no doubt he would have been a great police horse.


Another Look (Al). With a pedigree as royal as Raja’s, Al raced on the flat before being purchased as a steeplechase prospect. But this handsome son of Seeking The Gold didn’t really want to race and was retired to the hunt field. Here he is winning the 2010 North American Field Hunter Championship with Emily Day aboard.

(photo credit Betsy Burke Parker)

Notable Contender, a big Irish-born lad, is 17.2 and makes me look like a midget. But he’s fun to ride into a big fence! After racing on the flat and over hurdles he turned to eventing. Here he is at the Green Mountain Horse Association event in 2011.
(photo credit: Flatlands Photo)



Squire (Silver Squire). At just 15 hands, Squire could jump with the best of them. He wasn’t a steeplechase horse, but I’d bet he could have made it around the Maryland Hunt Cup! We completed a bunch of long format three day events at places like Essex, Bromont,and Radnor in the early 1980s. Here he is at UNH Horse Trials in 1982.


Abracadabra, the “good jumping mare,” really is a good jumper. But she isn’t a steeplechase horse. She prefers eventing. Not surprising considering her sire is Aberjack, the 2011 leading eventing sire in the United States. “Abra” is owned,trained and ridden by professional event rider Karen McCollom.