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GM: Of all the Westerns and horse operas, which is your favorite? GW: I’m old school so I have to go with She Wore a Yellow Ribbon, starring The Duke, directed by John Ford. There is nothing harder than telling a cowboy his time in the saddle is up and Captain Nathan Brittles has to decide it is time to retire but he must first stop and Indian rebellion.

GM: You must have a favorite author. Who is your favorite it? GW: The first book I remember reading was Bomba the Jungle Boy. But shortly thereafter my father weaned me on Louie Lamoure. Pappy was born in East Tennessee so it was just a natural progression, but I must admit he is not my favorite. That would fall to Steven King. The first one I read was Salem’s Lot and was hooked. His mind is so creative it is almost scary to think what goes on in there. He paints a picture that will haunt the reader for days.

GM: Do you have advice for novice riders? GW: Get back on. They need to know you ain’t a cowboy ‘til you fell off a dozen times. Pick yourself up, dust our self-off and get back on. There is a great meme I have seen on the web. Goes something like this. We see a picture of a kid on a fat horse. The kid is wearing jodhpurs, helmet, back straight, snaffle etc. You get the picture. There is a trainer standing there saying, “hands low, feet out, back straight, head up. Etc. the next photo shows a young kid of about 7 on a wild horse in a western saddle. There is dirt blowing all up around him and the horse has a hump in his back and wild eyes. The trainer is really the kids mother and says to him, “If you fall off, you are walking home.” The caption reads “The difference between the rest of the world and cowboys.” Love it.

GM: I love that meme, too! And advice for novice writers? GW: Don’t give up. I have over 200 rejections on my first book. Also avoid rewriting, yes a lot of work needs to be redone, but once a publisher picks it up, as painful as it maybe they know what sells, so leave the editing to them.

GM: What does horsemanship mean to you? GW: I would say that being a cowboy one must always be respectful of others. A good horseman/woman takes care of his animal first and last. That horse has a special relation- ship with nature and you. Respect it and it will respect you. Be good to fellow riders, treat them like you want to be treated. Understand that others have opinions that may not reflect yours, as long as no one is in danger a simple forced smile and a nod is all you really need to do. Then ride on. So to all your loyal readers out there, I hope you like my work, all profits go to the Alzheimer’s Association as they were so wonderful to me during my wife’s six-year struggle with it. I lost her on February 12 and you can bet we gave her one hell of a cowgirl send off. Cowboy/girl Up. I am off into the sunset.

Gina McKnight is an author, freelance writer, and equestrian from Ohio, USA.

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