Red Steagall Cowboy Gathering Marks Opening Weekend of Holiday Book Sales!

Why would I want to take The Smart Woman’s Guide to Midlife Horses to Red Steagall’s Cowboy Gathering? Well, for one thing, it’s a fantastically well-attended annual event held in the Fort Worth Stockyards each fall to celebrate and perpetuate a deep and genuine love of the Western lifestyle. From a cutting to a ranch rodeo, to a 4-day trail ride culminating in a legendary chuckwagon cook-off (and one for the youth), horsemanship clinics, all kinds of cowboy poetry and music, youth fiddling and poetry contests and a dazzling array of high-end western-themed products from art to jewelry to apparel to home décor and specialized tack and trail riding and horse camping accoutrements in its chi chi Traders Alley, it just made good sense to me to get out there and mingle with the cowfolk and introduce them to my book.

And cowboys, it turns out, sometimes have cowgirls on their holiday gift list. And more often than not, now that they’ve raised their kids and have a little more time on their hands, momma’s getting back into horses in a very big way — and a few of the women I talked to, after following hubby and kids to rodeos and ropings and cuttings for the past 20 years have now decided it’s their turn at the good stuff at last.

So much fun to see my friend and Spa Sister, Gail Steagall and her delightful husband, Red, at their fantastic annual Cowboy Gathering.

After a few dozen of these conversations, I realized the Red Steagall Cowboy Gathering marked my official kick off of the holiday gift season.  Now I’ve grown up knowing when opening day of dove season and quail season (and sometimes even deer season) was, but I never realized there was an opening day of gift season! What also struck me as funny is how the fellas tended to circle our book booth at first, glancing at the book and the big-ass banner, and then showing, if not complete disinterest (no one actually yawned, but it wouldn’t have surprised me), outright disdain. These are people, after all, who already know everything they think this book’s about. This discouraged me at first. And made me wonder where the beer stand was.

Then, about the third time this happened, I started to notice a pattern. They circled again. Sometimes with the little missus (or sweetie pie who probably preferred not to think of herself as middle aged) along. If she stopped to look, the fella stopped too, still looking a little bored, but maybe reading a little over her shoulder as she flips through it; he’s still generally smirky about the whole thing. Then she puts it down and they both walk away.

Then, a strange thing happened. And it happened enough times to teach me to wait for it.

One member of these circling couples usually came back and bought the book. It was always autographed to someone else, and some of them bought more than one. This book, it turns out, makes a perfect gift for someone else. You know why? It is chock full of all kinds of information that even the most seasoned and accomplished horse people from several disciplines have marveled that even they found some useful stuff in there they didn’t know or hadn’t thought of that way before.

But horse people are funny. And sometimes kind of stuck in their ways. They know what they think they need to know and they are often skeptical of what other people think they need to know. So they don’t need this book. But after giving it a look, they usually know someone who does. (I’d love to know how many of these folks read it before they give it away. If you’re one of those, let me hear from you. I promise not to rat you out. And if you’d like, I’ll even send you your very own copy in a plain brown wrapper as a thank you)

This happened to Kayla, too, except in reverse. (We had so much fun working a booth together at the Teskey’s Expo the weekend before  we decided to do it again!) This time it was the woman who picked up Kayla Starnes‘  Team Roping 101 first and showed to hubby. He rolled his eyes and informed her that he already knows all that stuff. Then she started pointing out specific chapters, pictures, topics covered. So then he gave it a closer look, feigning a slight academic interest. Then, a few minutes later,  they circled back and bought it. Kayla autographed it to their son as a Christmas gift. Bet dad reads it before he wraps it.

We can’t help it! We’re horse people. As students of the horse, we all know that there is always more to learn (our horses have a way of reminding us this). We love to read about horses and horsemanship, celebrating the things we already know (let’s face it, most of it we’ve probably learned the hard way), find inaccuracies so we can share our greater knowledge (with anyone who will listen). But every once in a while, we find something that goes a little farther than what we already know. Something that leads us to solid resources for a deeper understanding of things that have always intrigued us about dealing with horses. Or filled in the tiny gaps in our knowledge we may not have realized we had.

That, I believe is the beauty of The Smart Woman’s Guide to Midlife Horses. It doesn’t even pretend to give the answers. It looks at the questions and guides its readers to find what works for them and for their horses. It is more of a travel guide than a “how-to” (and a little self-help content to help us figure out “why-to”), with some fun and engaging stories shared by others to keep it readable (it’s fun to read about other people who share our passion), and best of all, it presents a smorgasbord of ideas and resources I’ve run across in my research that, in this age of the Internet, gives every reader, regardless of who they are or what they know, all they need to launch their own exploration.

The Smart Woman’s Guide to Midlife Horses does make a great gift for anyone you know on the midlife horse trail. (And if you read it before you wrap it, consider it your holiday bonus. Just try not to get chocolate on it; that’s a dead giveaway.) The best compliment I’ve had on this book so far, besides those circuitous sales at the Red Steagall Cowboy Gathering, of course, is when a very accomplished reiner boards her horse where I do was shocked to realize that I had written this book (we were at the barn shooting the soon to be released video trailer and promo spots and she saw it in my hand and heard me talking about it on camera). She said, “I just bought four of these online last night for Christmas gifts. I had no idea you were the author!” If there’s a better blind endorsement than that, I can’t imagine what it would be.

If you’ve read The Smart Woman’s Guide to Midlife Horses, let me hear from you! I want to know what surprised you most about this book. (Free T Shirt!) What you expected and how and whether those expectations changed as you moved through the many layers of this book. Post your comments here, as a review on Amazon (just scroll down to where it says “post a review” and follow the yellow brick road!), or join our Facebook community (and while you’re at it, give our page a “like!”) to share your own unique insights and observations.

Happy Trails!
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