Thursday, June 25, 2015

Foxes, Horses, and a Runaway Girl by Mikki Sadil

(Young Adult author Mikki Sadil brings her Civil War historical to Books We Love, and joins us on the Insider Blog)

Hello, I’m Mikki Sadil, a relatively new author with Books We Love. Jude told me to write something about myself, to allow all of you to get to know me. So here goes.I was born on a ranch in Texas, raised with Quarter Horses and Long Horn cattle, dogs, cats, and many unspecified animals, mostly wild. I was on the back of a horse…in front of my mom or dad or a ranch hand…from the time I was 6 months old, and was given my own Quarter Pony on my second birthday. On my fifth birthday, I was give a small .22 rifle and taught to shoot. As you may have guessed by now, horses and animals of all kinds have been a mainstay of my life…uh, .22’s, not so much.
My dad was in the service, and when I was 8 years old, he was deployed overseas and my mother and I went with him. That lasted about 2 years, then he was sent back to the US and we traveled all over this country.
When I was 10 years old, he was stationed in Washington, D.C, and we lived in a boarding house in Rock Creek, Maryland. One of his officers had a Civil War-type home ( read that as mansion) in another part of Maryland, with acres and acres of land. He also had horses…the Thoroughbreds that were used in Fox Hunts. Oh yes, Fox Hunts were real! This officer invited my father and me to take part in a Fox Hunt on a Sunday, and I was thrilled. I was not an English rider, but had had a few lessons in an English saddle so I could sit it pretty well.
That morning, there were about 40 people at this man’s home, all with their Thoroughbreds, and all of the adults dressed to the hilt in “fox hunting” clothing. Me? Well, I had on Western riding boots, jeans, and a long-sleeved shirt…not exactly dressed to the teeth for this event. My dad was far more presentable, as he had been in the Cavalry all his life ( before they turned the horses into tanks and military jeeps), so he had the proper boots and jodhpurs. I wouldn’t be caught dead riding a horse in such “sissified” attire, especially in a saddle that barely sat on the back of the horse.
Needless to say, the other adults were not exactly pleased to have a “child” riding with them, but as time went on, and I jumped the fences and went over the downed tree logs and splashed through the brooks as well as any of them, I was temporarily accepted. Temporarily being the key word.
The Fox Hunt was exactly as you’ve seen in movies or read about in books. We had a Hunt Master with a horn; we had a pack of beautiful hunt dogs, barking and straining at their leashes, eager to be let loose. There were broken fences and upright fences to jump over. There were the tree logs we had to guide our horse over or around, and there were the many brooks and streams to be splashed through. We started out, and rode for a while. It was a beautiful day, sun streaming down, gentle breeze blowing. The horses were gorgeous, coats shining in the sun, ears pricked forward, and the dogs were just being dogs.
Then…the Hunt Master let out a blast on his horn, the dogs were turned loose, and pandemonium began. Horses, horses everywhere. No longer was there any rhyme or reason for where one was riding, who you were riding beside. From a gentle canter it was now a full-out gallop, following the dogs. The dogs: yapping, barking, chasing each other, running as fast as they could. The scent of FOX was in the air. It was all I could do to stay in the saddle and handle this huge monster of a horse who was at least twice as big as my Quarter Horse, and twice as hard-headed. He was after the dogs, after the fox, and totally unresponsive to my pull on the reins.
Then, another different blast from the Hunt Master. Horses were reined in, slowed down. I looked ahead, and saw twenty dogs barking and trying unsuccessfully to climb up a tree. On a lower branch, a bit of orangy-red hung down: the FOX had been treed.
The woman next to me leaned closer, and asked if I’d ever seen how they killed the FOX? WHAT? KILL the FOX? My dad didn’t tell me that part of what a Fox Hunt was all about. I just looked at her, speechless. Suddenly, I realized all the horses were quiet. They were pacing forward at a walk. Only the dogs were still making a racket.
Oh NO! Kill the FOX? Not today! I gathered myself in the saddle, swung my crop against my horse’s side, and dug my spurs in. He jumped forward like he’d been stung by a swarm of bees. Yelling at the top of my voice, I headed straight for the dogs, the tree, and the FOX! The dogs quieted down for just a moment. They saw this huge horse and screaming “something” headed straight for them , and they scattered to the wind. The fox jumped down, and disappeared in an instant.
This Fox Hunt was so over.
My father and I were never invited to a Fox Hunt again.

You can find my books at Books We Love.