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Jennifer Trethewey | Tall Scots and Big Horses

October 26, 2018

Horses. I love them. The bigger the better. Horses are featured prominently in my Highlanders of Balforss series. They frequently reflect and compliment the character of their owners and they are used symbolically to represent physical strength, power, loyalty, friendship, and love.

In TYING THE SCOT, Alex’s horse, Goliath, is described as “the tallest thoroughbred anyone had ever seen. Seventeen hands high and a deep chestnut brown. Just seeing the spirited warmblood made Alex’s heart rate slow.” It is Goliath’s speed and endurance that help Alex save Lucy’s life.

In BETTING THE SCOT, Declan’s horse, Gullfaxi is described as a “muscular dark gray gelding with a white main and tail.” Declan is influenced by his Viking heritage and holds great stock in Norse mythology. When Caya asks Declan why he named his horse Gullfaxi, he says, “Gullfaxi is the horse the Norse god, Thor, gave to his son. I ken the name means something like one with the golden mane.”

In my latest novel, FORGETTING THE SCOT, horses play an even bigger role. Magnus’s horse Finbar has a personality of his own. Like Magnus, he is giant. Finbar is a Brabant, a Belgian breed of draft horse that would have been available in Scotland in 1817. Clydesdales may have been present but the first recorded use of the breed’s name wasn’t until 1826. Brabants are often thought to be the most powerful breed of workhorse.

Magnus loves his cousins Alex, Ian, and Declan. But Finbar is his best friend. He is the one Magnus can talk to, the one to whom he can confess his fears and regrets. And Finbar never lets Magnus down. Magnus refers to him as “old man.” The horse is advanced in age, but is still in high demand for breeding purposes. Here’s a tiny snippet from a scene in which Magnus oversees the match between Finbar and Joe Simpson’s mare, Sable.

Just then, the huge warhorse tromped out from behind the stable. Finbar’s chestnut coat gleamed in the sunlight. His massive shoulder muscles rippled, his flanks shivered, and the feathering around his hooves danced with each step. He seemed to hold his head higher today. Ears forward. Strutting. He was making a bold show for the filly.

It’s Magnus’s dream to breed the finest draft horses in Scotland by crossing Percherons, a breed of warhorse from France, with hearty Scottish garron ponies. He manages to accomplish that goal by the end of the book. He calls the new breed Pride of Scotland and proves their worth by winning a horse pull with his team of prides.

When I was twelve, my uncle took me to a country fair in Minnesota. I saw a contest featuring draft horses that was forever etched in my memory. I know everyone watching that day probably still remembers the event fifty years later. It was an amazing sight to behold. And it was probably then, that I first fell in love with great big draft horses. When writing the horse pull in FORGETTING THE SCOT, I recreated the event I saw at the county fair. Here’s a wee snippet.

The number of spectators had doubled since Campbell took the field. Word had spread and people were curious to see if Magnus’s Prides could beat Campbell’s team of Brabants. The crowd hushed, and the boys stopped their fidgeting. Magnus finished hitching the team to the sled, while Grant and Declan held the Prides steady. Her husband climbed onto the sled or stoneboat, as some called it. Unlike all the other competitors, Magnus never carried a whip. He said if a team wouldn’t respond to their handler’s voice, they hadn’t been trained right.

Virginia’s lungs filled with love and hope as she watched her husband standing tall behind his team holding the reins like some ancient Roman warrior driving a chariot.

When the Prides were calm and perfectly ready, he whispered one word to his team. They leaned forward, and for that half second before the sled moved, Virginia’s heart beat a dozen times. Then the sled released its grip on the turf, and the Prides began their journey down the field, Declan and Grant walking alongside. The Pride of Scotland dragged that loaded sled the entire length of the field without stopping once.

Pick up a copy of FORGETTING THE SCOT and fall in love with all the Sinclair men and their horses.

FORGETTING THE SCOT by Jennifer Trethewey

Highlanders of Balforss #3

Forgetting the Scot

Virginia Whitebridge is trapped in a loveless, abusive marriage. The law says her husband can have whatever he wants from her—so he’s
taken her inheritance. And he tried to kill her. After a close
escape, Virginia feels protected for the first time in forever, thanks to the Scottish Highlands and the Highlander Magnus Sinclair. But she must go back to England, regardless of the danger, to reclaim what’s hers.Even if it means leaving her heart in Scotland.

It’s just Magnus’s luck that he’s fallen for a woman he can’t have.
Virginia is rich and titled… and English. To keep her safe, he must
follow her to the one place he loathes—England. Where the
bowing, preening London Society has a secret language of manners
unknown to him. Where he is too large, too uncivilized, too everything.

Despite omens that death awaits him there, Magnus vows to help Virginia go to London and restore her fortune. Get in. Get out. Or die trying.

Each book in The Highlanders of Balforss series is STANDALONE:
*Tying the Scot
*Betting the Scot
*Forgetting the Scot

Romance Historical [Entangled, On Sale: October 22, 2018, e-Book, ISBN: 9781640636750 / ]

About Jennifer Trethewey

Jennifer Trethewey

Jennifer Trethewey is an actor-turned-writer who has moved her performances from the stage to the page. When she traveled to Scotland for the first time, she instantly fell for the language, humor, intense sense of pride, and breathtaking landscape. Her love for Scotland is translated into her series of historical romance novels, the Highlanders of Balforss.

Highlanders of Balforss


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