A Look Behind the Books, Christian inspirational Fiction, Horse Healing, New Book Launch

A Farewell to Harpers’ Reunion


Writing this third novel of the Laura Harper Trilogy has been a bitter-sweet experience, as it is also the final book of the Riding Out series. These three trilogies began in 2016 with Jack Harper’s journey back to the Catholic faith in “Riding Out the Devil,” and a lot has happened to him since then!

The Reason Behind the Series

A lot has also happened to my son, who was the inspiration behind Jack Harper.

He was fighting a superhuman battle against ulcerative colitis, and creating a hero with the same issues was a means of honoring his determination not to give up the daily struggle to become healthier and live a more normal life.

And now, six years after the publication of “Riding Out the Devil,” he has just returned to the States from three weeks of driving around Britain with his dog.  While over there, he continued working remotely, scaled Mount Snowdon in Wales, camping overnight in the rain halfway up; he climbed Helvellyn in the Lake District and walked with his dog along Hadrian’s Wall, which was built across the north of England in AD 122 to ‘separate the Romans from the barbarians.’ That is a small selection of his activities!

All this was possible because he met a wonderful lady, who practices holistic medicine and suggested he take specific enzymes to break down his food. As a result, his diet is much more varied. Previously, he could only eat turkey. Period. But now, he no longer has to run to the bathroom multiple times a day, or worry about being caught short. He is much healthier and, for all intents and purposes, lives a normal life.

He has come a long way since those awful days when he was first diagnosed. It makes me smile to see him so happy and I never cease to thank God for helping my son beat his disease.

And because of him, I’ve now written nine books in the Riding Out series!

Cruz Bay Provides Useful Horse Incidents

First Incident

While I was working on the first draft of “Riding Out the Race,” a great deal was going on in my horse’s life and there was no shortage of material for my fictitious equines.

The first major disaster was one night in November of 2021, when the temperatures dropped twenty degrees – from the 70s to the 50s. Cruz already had his thick winter coat, but he is twenty-two years old, and I didn’t know that an older horse can contract infectious colitis when the thermometer plummets that far, that fast.

He had non-stop diarrhea, was listless and in terrible pain, uninterested in eating, and going downhill fast. He nearly died, and I’m eternally grateful to my vet, Dr. Dessie Carter, for saving his life.  It was a full week before we could be sure he would pull through, but thanks be to God, he did.

When one of the horses contracts it in the novel, you’ll discover all the details pertaining to the symptoms and treatment.  But I sincerely hope no horse owners among you ever have to deal with this life-threatening condition.

Second Incident

The horse Loco, who comes to Jack’s farm with a check ligament injury, is modeled on Cruz, who tore a hole in his check ligament (twice) two years ago, thus already supplying plenty of real-life details to include in the book.

But I couldn’t foresee that Cruz would injure his deep digital flexor tendon when I was half-way through the novel. Not only that, but while on stall rest, he managed to re-re-injure his check ligament! Those of you who subscribe to my newsletter (at https://HilaryWalkerBooks.com) will be familiar with my bay’s long journey to – hopefully – a complete recovery and return to full work.


He has gone to a wonderful mother and daughter team, Lauren and Danielle Gruber at Primarily Hooves. They live in the Smoky Mountains, up in Tennessee, six hours from my South Carolina home.

The heels of his front hooves were crushed, pulling on, and straining his tendons and ligaments and making them prone to injury. No one had ever before explained to me that shoeing could result in this for a horse, nor what it would mean for Cruz down the road. I guess I’m lucky he lasted nineteen years in shoes before disaster struck.

Lauren and Danielle have taken off his shoes. With correct trimming, they are retraining him to go barefoot, encouraging his heels to grow back properly and develop a natural cushion for his weight. The process will take the best part of twelve months. But by this time next year, who knows: maybe we’ll be out competing again? It’s in God’s hands.

Lauren and Danielle are also turning a friend’s horse from a totally lame navicular case into a sound and rideable horse again. He is the same age as Cruz and they know each other from their years in South Carolina. They were thrilled to be reunited and are turned out in the same paddock. The two of them make a cute picture when they lie down next to each other, especially with the mountains in the background!

More Horse Happenings

Jack’s incident with Loco in “Riding Out the Race” is based on a previous horse of mine, who did exactly the same thing to me, with the same outcome. I am not making it up! But you’ll need to read the book to find out what he did. 😊

Despite suffering a dislocated shoulder, my friend Dana was determined to keep riding. She figured out a way to mount and dismount one-handed, a technique which one of my characters uses.

The accident in the barn happened to a friend of mine when I lived in Germany. It has served as a warning to me ever since to be careful always to shut the stable door – whether I’m inside or outside the stall!

Another horse in the novel, Nimble, has issues identical to those of a friend’s new horse, and the way he was cured in the book exactly follows my friend’s protocol.

I also include an animal communicator. Some readers may be skeptical about their value, but I have used them with great success on Cruz Bay. They give me valuable insights that I couldn’t otherwise discover, and I often think I should try to become one: it would save much aggravation on the part of my horse, and a great deal of mystification on mine!

The End

I have grown very fond of the Riding Out characters, and it will be hard to say goodbye to them.

Father Michael is a special favorite of mine: he is a truly humble man whose only concern is to get the souls in his care to Heaven. His gentleness and wonderful sense of humor have endeared him to me over the series and he is my idea of the perfect Catholic priest. I shall miss his repartee with Jack: those scenes were such fun to write!

But by the close of this book, all the characters are in a good place. Father Michael is learning to take things a little easier, although he’ll never stop working to save souls. Jack’s priorities are shifting more towards his human family, while Laura now ‘gets’ the horse thing. Joe will soon be off to college and have a break from baby duties. Newly born Catherine has a loving family to take care of her, and I envy her growing up with all those horses!

As Agneta says, “Alles soll recht kommen.”  If you want to know what that means, you’ll need to grab yourself a copy of “Riding Out the Race”!

Amazon US   

Amazon UK   



Universal link for other retailers 

Check Ligament Injury, Horse Healing, Horse Injury

Time Out: A Day in the Life of an Injured Horse’s Owner

On Monday, 20th July, I asked my gelding, Cruz Bay to trot, after fifteen minutes warming him up in walk.

He immediately took two horrible missteps and I jumped off him. The front left shoe had twisted underneath his hoof, and the clinch (the flat metal edge that’s supposed to prevent slippage) was sticking into his sole. He’d only been shod four days ago!

There was no way he could take another stride like that. With great effort I managed to pull off the shoe, thinking, “This is going to be bad. He’s for sure pulled a tendon.”

For the next week I bound up his foot, while waiting for the farrier’s next visit. Cruz was turned out as usual with his chestnut BFF, Chance and when no swelling showed during that time, I congratulated myself on having dodged a bullet.

Two weeks after the incident, although Cruz wasn’t lame, the leg swelled halfway up from the fetlock joint so it wasn’t accumulated fluid: it was inflammation of the soft tissue.

On palpitating the leg, the vet thought he felt a pulled tendon. When the ultrasound showed otherwise, he told me I’d lucked out: Cruz’s check ligament was torn, and this injury was much better than the alternatives of suspensory or tendon damage.

However, it required eight weeks’ stall rest, a situation that I’d always dreaded for this horse. As my vet in Maryland recognized, “Cruz is not a candidate for stall rest.”

Coping with Stall Rest

I explained this to the vet, who nevertheless insisted on it. To help my horse handle his imprisonment, he was given two more calming supplements in addition to his regular one. This was an emergency: my enormously fit horse was never going to chill out in his stall 24/7 for two months!

One advantage he did have over the two other horses that were diagnosed with tendon injuries at the same time. He could be hand-grazed for 45 minutes twice a day.

At first, he seemed so relaxed in his stall that I figured he didn’t need to get out. Then I thought ahead to when I’d have to hand-walk him. If I didn’t accustom him to the limited exercise from eating grass now, with me on the other end of his lead rope, I was going to have a demon on my hands when I did finally take him out of his stall.

On day four, I bit the bullet and led him out, with my heart beating wildly and feeling very sick, as I waited for the fireworks to begin.

But they didn’t. He was so glad to escape from the confines of his (very spacious) stall that he dropped his head down to eat immediately his feet touched the green stuff.

Here’s Cruz at his previous barn, looking alert: you can see he has hardly any forelock of his own, which is why I add an extension for our grazing sessions.

The Daily Routine

Currently, this is what my day looks like.

6 a.m. Get up, shower and dress: write for an hour, go to 8:30 Mass then leave for the barn.

9:30 a.m. Arrive at the barn.

  • Unwrap the bandages around Cruz’s front legs, apply ice-wrap to the injured left leg and the BEMER to the right leg for 15 minutes. The BEMER sends electro-magnetic waves to the site of injury, increasing circulation and promoting healing. I use it on both front legs to keep things equal.
  • Switch BEMER to injured leg for 15 minutes.
This BEMER cuff is wrapped around the injury and emits a low-level electro-magnetic pulse for 5, 10 or 15 minutes
  • Groom Cruz in the mean time to make him comfortable.
  • Bandage all four legs. His back legs became ‘stocked up’ – filled with fluid from standing around, especially on hot days – and bandaging them prevents this from happening.
  • Apply fly repellent and attach forelock extension to his puny front hairs to give his eyes more protection against the bugs.
  • Put on gloves, (so I don’t get rope burn if he goes nuts), place halter on Cruz and lead him out of his stall onto a large grass area by the paddocks.
  • Hold onto the lead rope, while allowing him to meander around munching, making sure his legs don’t get tangled up in it.
  • 45 minutes later, return to stall, apply thrush remedy to all four frogs and soles.
  • Clean out his stall.
  • Kiss him on the nose, say good-bye and drive home. (It’s now 11:30 a.m.)

5:30 p.m. Drive back to the barn

6 p.m. Rinse and repeat.

This makes a total of 2 hours a day spent driving to and from the barn, and 4 hours tending directly to Cruz for a total of 6 hours.

Filling in the Time Profitably

With an hour and a half spent standing next to my horse, every day I needed to find a useful occupation that could be done at the same time. Since I have my heart in my throat every time I take Cruz out, worrying that he’ll spook, get loose and run around doing more damage to that ligament, I was naturally praying he’d stay calm.

That led to my decision to say the Rosary a few times while I’m out there, and not care who sees my white beads dangling as I juggle them and the moving horse.

I’ve also taken to reciting the Seven Sorrows of Mary, which any Catholics reading this might want to consider. It’s an opportunity to contemplate the occasions of grief she suffered as Christ’s mother, both before and during His Passion. Otherwise, it’s tempting to think that her life with Our Savior was a bed of roses sans the thorns.

If I’ve finished my prayers and the time isn’t yet up, I try to solve the daily crossword on my phone. But a horse in motion is not conducive to accurate typing in of letters!

My Blessings

As annoying as this state of affairs is, I have many blessings to count. Especially when I see some of the other horses’ injuries. One of them has foundered and has to be in her stall for 30 days straight. She has to stand with each leg in little rubber tubs of ice twice a day, to bring down the inflammation and reduce her pain level.

Blessings Enumerated:

  1. It’s only a check ligament: it could be much worse.
  2. Cruz can be hand-grazed: other horses are stuck in their stalls for the duration.
  3. He’s at a barn where his stall is twice the size of his previous one and makes his life much more bearable – with two windows looking over the polo field!
  4. I have three friends offering me their horses to ride (four equines in total) – now I just need to find the time to ride them!
  5. Cruz has been a really good boy so far – contrary to my expectations.
  6. I’ve learned how to wrap stall bandages, after several tutorials!
  7. I’m getting to know the other boarders, since I’m in the barn, not on my horse.
  8. Cruz is getting three months’ rest from being ridden.
  9. He’s enjoying the extra attention from me.
  10. I’m able to say my prayers while I let him graze.

God is good!

Until these past two years in South Carolina, Cruz always had several months off work in the winter because the weather was so bad. As one friend put it, he’s younger than his twenty years because he’s not been ridden non-stop.

Which is why I’m happy for him that he’s getting a break. When I’m allowed to get on him again, we’ll both have a fresh start.

But hopefully not too fresh!

P.S. In addition to my using the BEMER, Cruz is also getting three shock wave treatments, which are powerful boosts to his circulatory system and encourage healing.