2022 was eventful, and it's hard to believe the year is almost over. I finished the manuscript for Rudy 3 - Change Can be Good in April. The talented Karen Busch Holman began illustrating the book in June, and the final manuscript went to the printer the first week of August.
I counted the days until the new books shipped. November 10th, they arrived on my doorstep, and I found it equally rewarding to crack open the box and hold Rudy 3 as it was with the previous two books.
From the start, my vision for the book series was a trilogy. It feels good to accomplish the goal that took shape over six years ago. I delivered on my original idea for the books, even though there are few children's books on the market like mine. That's the beauty of self-publishing. You can create what you imagine.
My idea was to produce an entertaining, educational book series with beautiful illustrations bringing the characters and story to life. I printed the books in hardcover, with glossy, thick pages, so parents will want to pass the books down and on.
My idea was that if I shared Rudy's emotions, children would relate to him and feel less alone. I hoped that adults would use the feelings discussed in the books as an invitation to talk to kids about their emotions.
Books aside, Rudy is doing well. He's as opinionated and expressive as ever. He cracks me up and frustrates me, and I adore him.
In June, it was a year since my riding accident in Vermont. I was powerfully aware of my luck in escaping without serious injury. Any time you're laying on the ground with hooves pounding around your head, and you walk away, it's cause for reflection. The accident made me more determined to live purposefully.
Otherwise, it was the year of the horse hunt. Rudy's body can't hold up to the rigors of cantering. Meanwhile, I enjoy it and have riding goals I'd like to pursue. I started horse hunting in the spring, drove all over New England, and came up empty. The ads all sound promising, but the reality is often quite different.
The whole exercise was exhausting and an emotional roller coaster. It's exciting when you find a horse that sounds perfect and a letdown when it's not a good fit for one reason or another.
Then one of the girls at the barn showed me a pretty Thoroughbred seventeen-year-old mare named Millie who was available as a free lease from a woman she knew well. Millie was a dark bay with a streak of white on the end of her nose.
She was a "been-there-done-that" type of horse, used at a girl's summer camp and by college equestrian programs for years. Despite some signs that she wasn't right, I was eager to put the horse hunt in the rearview mirror and decided to move forward with her.
She arrived in early August. About a week later, my trainer worked with her for the first time, and she presented lame. After hock and coffin joint injections, we put her back to work, but it became clear she wasn't comfortable, particularly at the canter. I had another walk, trot horse on my hands.
As much as I liked Millie's personality, I decided to let her go. I was sad she didn't work out and worried her owner might send her someplace with a program where she would be worked daily by different people. Thankfully, she decided to retire her, and in early November, she trailered off to her new home where she will spend her days in a large pasture with other horses.
Before Millie left, Anna arrived. The owner of my barn/trainer found her and brought one of the barn girls with her to do the test driving. They loved her quiet nature, seemingly unfazed by anything in her environment. She is twelve years old (although the vet thinks she's older), an adorable bay quarterhorse with a white blaze and a white sock on a hind leg.
Poor Anna arrived with pneumonia. She required a course of antibiotics, rest, and some TLC before we could begin working with her. Anna quickly became a barn favorite. She's a smart little horse that tries her heart out and is quickly progressing.
The only thing she's opinionated about is the mare at the far end of the indoor arena. She's there every time Anna passes, and Anna does her best to show that mare who's boss. What is clear is that Anna hasn't seen mirrors before. But you can walk her down a street; she is better behaved than any dog I've ever walked.
Rudy decided he couldn't have Anna stealing his thunder, so he gave himself a correal abrasion in mid-December. It was his fourth such injury in my eight years of having him. He seems to have a knack for giving himself scratches on his eyes, but thankfully he always heals up quickly once we treat the eye with antibiotics.
I spent the last six weeks of the year marketing, selling, packaging, and invoicing Rudy books. Now that the series is complete, people are inclined to buy all three, which is exciting. My last book reading and signing was on December 17th. There is always one child at the event that is mesmerized by the story and would ask me questions all day long if their parent allowed it. These kids make my day!
In the new year, I plan to continue my partnership with Allpony by writing blogs for "Rudy's Corner." I will expand the distribution and sales of the book series. I have many leads to pursue, and I look forward to forging new relationships with stores, riding centers, schools, and more.
One thing is sure when you choose to have horses in your life; it's unpredictable, exciting, scary, entertaining, and filled with love.
Thank you to everyone who has supported me in my horse endeavors, animal, and book. I'm very grateful for all the help I've received.
Wishing everyone a happy new year - Diane, Rudy, and Anna
P.S. Don't tell Rudy I posted a picture of Anna to his website. He would not appreciate it! Lol.
*Nicole riding Anna