I’m happy to have the talented Linda Nightingale here to share memories of her beautiful beloved horse, and her contemporary western romance, Gambler’s Choice, a stellar story.
Linda: In 1980, the year my first son was born, I discovered the Andalusian horse. Like a poster on my wall says, ‘this horse will change your life’. We were breeding the Arabian at the time had garnered some success in the showring. But when I saw the magnificent Andalusian horses, I fell in love and immediately started liquidating my Arab breeding stock to purchase an Andy stallion.
As usual, I like to start off at the top and work my way up there. I looked all over the country for a THE horse I wanted. I planned for him to be high-schooled (the Andalusian is gifted for the baroque moves—passage, piaffe, lateral work and pirouette) and the airs-above the ground). I received a call from a breeder in Virginia saying that I needed to come see a young stallion named Bonito. I didn’t want him because he was young and unfinished, but he did have a lot of the moves on him at 4 (a mistake I later learned).
But I went to beautiful Middleburg, Virginia to look at Bonito. In the indoor arena, I fell in love white fairytale stallion named Afamado, but he wasn’t for sale. Then they showed me Bonito. He put his head over the Dutch door, taking my heart with one glance. He was a rose-gray with a black mane and tail, both thick and long. His neck was a majestic crest like a carousel horse. I bought Bonito and never looked back. (Linda and Bonito pictured above).
Bonito had been imported from Costa Rica. My hubby and I later went to the National shows in CR and were treated like queens and kings. I also began to broker horses for Bonito’s breeder in this country.
We bred Bonito to mares of various breeds, and consistently he produced offspring of his quality. The Andalusian is gentle enough to breed the stallions in the morning and put him in the show ring that afternoon, without requiring a professional trainer to behave with other horses. He was mischievous and a bit of a handful but always kind. We entered the showring with a vengeance.
At the time, the Andalusian was a rare breed in this country and we wowed the crowd everywhere we went. I did exhibitions in the long lines, parades in the long lines (you have a line each side of the horse and walk very close behind him). His beauty and agility won him many admirers as well as his sweet temperament. I could put a child on him and he was a plow horse, but let me put a foot in the stirrup and he was all fire and show. He knew he had a fan club.
Bonito and Holly
I showed him to 2 National Championships in Halter and many championships in various classes. I then began to show dressage and perform musical freestyles, but our best luck was in performing exhibitions at horse shows. We had a routine to Phantom of the Opera, and I wish I had that on tape, but sadly I can’t find the old VHS to transfer it to disk. When I was going through my divorce, I’d go to the barn and cry on his neck. He’d fold that lovely neck around me and hug me while I cried. I daresay he was my soul mate. Bonito changed my life.
If you’d like to know more about the Andalusian or the high school movements, leave a comment with a way to contact you, and I’ll be glad to send you an article I wrote for a breed magazine and info on the upper level movements.
Everyone who met Bonito loved him. Even today, twenty years later people remember him.
I have written only one book about horses, but all of my books in one way or another mention the fairytale Andalusian. Gambler’s Choice was just released in audio. For an audio sample, please visit my web site at http://www.LindaNightingale.com
Becca McQuaid came to England to find the perfect horse but instead met a darkly mysterious challenge in Austen Heath, Baron of Hampton. She’s determined to buy Austen’s stallion Gambler’s Choice. He’s determined not to sell, but the rivals are thrown together by an accident that leaves Austen with a broken leg and the threat he’ll never ride again.
Austen Heath has the title, heritage and manor house…but not the fortune. Becca is wealthy. Her charms are irresistible, but he believes she’s shopping for a Ladyship to go with her money. He has another reason to hold the sexy blonde at arms’ length—the unexplained disappearance of an old friend everyone thinks was his lover. When her body is discovered on his property, he becomes a suspect in her murder.
Size was important. Becca was a tall girl. Money was of no consequence whatsoever. Becca was a wealthy girl. Heart mattered most. He must have the heart to go the distance. She dreamed of a partnership that would last a lifetime. But looks did rank quite high on her list of priorities.
“I simply can’t ride an ugly horse. That would be like dating an ugly man.” Tossing her long blonde hair over her shoulder, she laughed and winked at her friend.
Meg shot her a frown, her tone accusing Becca of being an uncivilized colonist. “Rebecca McQuaid, you say the damnedest things.”
An appreciative chuckle turned her around to squint into the sun. A tall, elegant, dark figure of a man on a magnificent horse caught her imagination mid-stride. She couldn’t see the rider’s face, but she knew he’d overheard the exchange with her friend. He saluted her with a tap of his whip to the brim of his hat as he rode past. Excitement capered over her, and she smiled. The horse’s muscled, blood bay rump glistened. The stallion was sixteen-two hands, fit and impeccably groomed.
“Nice buns. That one’s good-looking enough for me.” She elbowed her friend. “Who is it?”
Meg shaded her eyes. “Gambler’s Choice and Austen Heath. Both horse and rider satisfy your criteria, my dear girl.”
“The horse is handsome.” She wished she had gotten a better look at the bay, but he was a mahogany blaze in the morning sun. “Are you telling me the rider is?”
“That’s the general consensus, but Austen hides in that rambling, dark mansion of his.” Meg studied the pair picking up a trot along the arena. “Fierce competitors. Hard to beat at Intermediate. We’ll see how they handle Advanced.”
“An Advanced horse?” Becca wriggled her shoulders. “I’m in the market.”
“Look elsewhere.” Meg’s finger jutted at Becca’s nose. “Austen won’t sell Gambler for love or money. Guaranteed. Not even for the kind of money you’re willing to spend.”
“Meggie.” She linked arms with her friend. “Everything has a price.”
Meg balked like a donkey. “You’re in a different world, princess.”
“Well, not everything. Love doesn’t have a price.” Pain wrenched her heart as a memory of the breakup with Daniel flashed through her mind. The hurt was too fresh to even think of another man. “But I’m not in the market for love.”
Becca had found that the best way to protect her heart was to play spoiled little rich girl. She had that part down pat, and, as Winston Churchill had said, There is something about the outside of a horse that is good for the inside of a man. She was looking for a horse to fall in love with and help mend her broken heart.
About Linda: Born in South Carolina, Linda has lived in England, Canada, Miami, Ft. Lauderdale, Atlanta, Houston and now she is back in the red dirt hills of SC. She’s seen a lot of this country from the windshield of a truck pulling a horse trailer, having bred, trained and showed Andalusian horses for many years.
Linda has won several writing awards, including the Georgia Romance Writers Magnolia Award and the SARA Merritt. She is the mother of two wonderful sons, a retired legal assistant, a member of a National Sports Car Club,and enjoys events with her car. Among her favorite things is her snazzy gray convertible. She loves to dress up and host formal dinner parties.
Web Site: http://www.lindanightingale.com – Visit and look around. There’s a free continuing vampire story.
Blog: https://lindanightingale.wordpress.com/ – Lots of interesting guests & prizes
Book Video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=03972_A_5-Y
Thanks for stopping by! Please leave Linda a comment.