Author writes from a love of horses
Julie White remembers what it was like to be a little girl growing up in the city and longing for a pony.
“I can’t remember not ever wanting a horse, even though I hadn’t been around horses. I read everything I could find about horses,” she said.
Her dream came true when the family moved from Vancouver to the Vernon area when she was 12 and she got her first horse, a chestnut with four white socks named Roger.
“It was a dream come true. We lived in Coldstream and I got to know other kids who had horses and learned to ride,” said White.
“It was a year before I could afford a saddle so I rode bareback. We had a tremendous amount of freedom and rode all over Coldstream Ranch and on the mountain trails. We made up our own horse shows and ribbons.”
She has fond memories of the Vernon and District Riding Club and everything she learned from longtime members like Maida Rendell, June Osborn and George Beaton.
White, who has been writing since she was a child, has just had her third and fourth books for youth published.
Riding through Fire is a companion novel to her earlier books, Secret Pony and High Fences, while Under the Wire follows a young man determined to build a career in thoroughbred horse racing. The book calls on the experience of White’s husband, Robert, a former jockey.
Riding Through Fire was inspired by the evacuation of the animals in the Silver Creek fires in 1998 and 2003.
White and her husband own Long Road Farm near Armstrong where they breed, foal out, train, break, condition and race horses with daughters Sorrel and Alix Schoenberger, who also compete internationally.
When she finished school, White worked in broadcast and print journalism. She always kept a horse and along the way she got back with horse people.
“All along, I was writing horse books and got more rejection than acceptance. At that time, horse books were not popular and it was difficult to get feedback,” said White.
She met Robert at a horse show and they started the farm together. She kept writing.
“I was at a Spruce Meadows trade fair and I met a horse book author who encouraged me, so I kept writing,” she said.
Her first book, The Secret Pony, was published by Sono Nis Press in 2003.
“One of the greatest parts was working with editors who could help me improve what I was dong. I think a book is like a promising young horse who can learn skills and get better.”
The Secret Pony was about a girl who yearned for a pony and made it happen. That was followed by High Fences, about competing on a budget.
“Nothing can replace desire, in riding, in writing, in life,” she said.
Now her days start at 5 a.m. with farm chores, then writing. On some days, she works at the Silver Creek Library.
“Some people come to the library on horseback. I really like that.”
She finds a lot to like about combining her love of horses and writing.
“I love doing the school and library tours and talking to the young people who are reading my books. My first book was nominated for a Chocolate Lily Award, where the nominations are made by children and they vote and choose the winner. To be selected by the readership is the highest honour,” she said. “I’m always happy to get letters from readers. What I would say to writers, is to stay true to your dream. Practise like an athlete. Get feedback and think about if it applies. Constantly work on your skills and don’t take rejection personally.”
White rides whenever she can and is working on a sequel to Under the Wire.
Her books are available at The Paddock in Vernon, at independent bookstores, and at www.sononis.com or Amazon.com.