Western Authors & Readers discussion

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Novel Length

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message 1: by Duane (new)

Duane Boehm (duaneboehm) | 36 comments I thought it would be interesting to know the number of words in other author's novels. My first one was 71,760, the second 71,242, and the third 79,514. I'm working on my fourth now and it is coming in around 55,000 as it now stands. It feels like a complete story, but it bothers me that it's shorter and I wanted to see what other people feel about length.
Thanks,
Duane


message 2: by Robert (new)

Robert Jackson | 148 comments I have a 5 volume historical Western series that moves out of the West somewhat, and I have a modern dystopian novel. Two or three are in the 70,000 category (including the stand alone modern one). The others are from about 50,000 into the 60,000 range. I'll be more specific when I have my little writing notebook computer open. Volume I of the series is the shortest and may be in the high 40s.


message 3: by Kent (new)

Kent S. (kentsbrown) | 78 comments There are a couple of jokes here about length, but, let's talk about word count. My philosophy professor told me to remember, "Beginning - Middle - End." If a story has definite a beginning and middle and end, that is the complete story. Westerns are shorter than some other genres, but there are exceptions. I have four eBooks out there that range from 45,500 to 63,000 word count. The biggest complement I had on any of them was from my editor on the one with the least amount of words. Make your readers love the story, love the characters, cry or laugh at the end and you've probably done a good job.


message 4: by Robert (last edited Dec 09, 2015 03:16PM) (new)

Robert Jackson | 148 comments The 5 vol. series is just that because I never intended to go beyond vol. 1. But the characters would not let me alone. It further is what it is because each was a completed chapter in their lives. I guess I have the best of both worlds as a result: 5 easy to read stand alone novels and (combined) a Western Gone With the Wind at about 325,000 words. The stories connect well.


message 5: by John (new)

John Legg (jackwriter) | 3 comments Duane wrote: "I thought it would be interesting to know the number of words in other author's novels. My first one was 71,760, the second 71,242, and the third 79,514. I'm working on my fourth now and it is comi..."

If the book is complete, it's complete. Doesn't matter how many words it is. Granted, if you have 35,000 words and it's complete it's a novella not a novel, but that doesn't matter either. I've done anywhere from a shade under 48,000 (I think, though I counted it as a novella) to 100k. The books should be as long as it needs to be. (In other words, if the story is done, it's long enough whatever the number of words.) If it's finished at 55,000, don't try to make it 75,000 because you think all of your books should be that long. Sometimes it just takes longer or shorter to tell the story.


message 6: by Robert (last edited Dec 09, 2015 07:31PM) (new)

Robert Jackson | 148 comments John wrote: "Duane wrote: "I thought it would be interesting to know the number of words in other author's novels. My first one was 71,760, the second 71,242, and the third 79,514. I'm working on my fourth now ..."

Agreed, John. I never even thought about word length on any of them other than wanting any book to be thick enough to comfortably hold and obviously be a book rather than a pamphlet. I'm only listing approximate sizes here to answer Duane's question.


message 7: by Duane (new)

Duane Boehm (duaneboehm) | 36 comments Thanks, guys. You've summed up what I was feeling. I guess I just needed to hear it from someone else. That little old writer's lair gets lonesome and another voice is welcome.
Take Care,
Duane


message 8: by Robert (new)

Robert Jackson | 148 comments I started out writing poetry and like folk ballads, plays, and short stories; so my novel writing style has always been based on brevity of prose filled with meaning and symbolism. At first, I had to go back and add to my too thin descriptive passages, which was odd because I'm a sketch artist and painter. Visual description was my business.


message 9: by Wesley (new)

Wesley Redfield | 48 comments I am writing a series of historical novels set in New Mexico. The first one in print, SANGRE DE CRISTO: THE BLOOD OF CHRIST, is 94,000 words. I am finishing the last two chapters of the sequel, SANTA FE: HOLY FAITH, and it will be about 97,000 words. Both are set in the 1820s. The third one will jump to the 1830s.


message 10: by Robert (last edited Dec 10, 2015 11:08AM) (new)

Robert Jackson | 148 comments Wes, I think I'm going to want to read those. It sounds as if you touch on the Spanish Catholicism of that era and place, or at least Christianity; and we are strong believers in this household. I'm also aware of the abuses to the natives by the Spanish and missionaries. It really sounds like a series I want to read. Send me more information.

Also, by coincidence, you and I have the same title for our first books in our series, though mine does not include the subtitle. Mine refers to the mountains by that name and the events for my characters that occur while they are hiding there.

My focus is on a few mixed (native/white) relationships (Navajo) and how their lives unfold between 1866 and 1902. One of the Navajo is a man and three are women. The title character of the series is a Navajo woman, the sister of the male. I have more of the story set in Texas than the far Southwest and the last book is set mostly in the Philippines.

Here is a link to the website for the 4th. book, just published. The 5th. (and last volume) was published before #4. This site links to the others and the series. http://robertjacksonsreadings.weebly....


message 11: by Wesley (new)

Wesley Redfield | 48 comments Your books sound very interesting. I will order them.

My first focuses on the enslavement of Indians by the Spanish and later by Mexicans using the justification that the slaves will be baptized and their souls will be saved. Naturally other stuff goes on in 1821: the Mexican rebellion against Spain, Spain's withdrawal of priests, the start of the Santa Fe Trail, and a torrid love story.

The second is about debt peonage, Crypto-Jews, Penitentes, and more Santa Fe Trail and love story.

The third will feature scalp hunters paid by Mexico, a little known civil war between Hispanics, and an invasion by the Republic of Texas.


message 12: by Wesley (new)

Wesley Redfield | 48 comments A brutal section of my published novel is a slave raid against Navajos. I don't sugar coat it. Parents are killed and girls are raped. That's the way it was. That is how genizaros came about, which sounds like the characters in you books. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gen%C3%... The story also compares slavery in the American South with slavery in the Spanish Southwest.


message 13: by Robert (new)

Robert Jackson | 148 comments I have similar references to the treatment of native and white women by Comancheros and similar whites and by the Comanche, who sat the negative standard among the natives. My setting is past your colonial period. Luckily my characters have come in contact with some positive people from the Mexican era.

It is amazing that few novelists have used the 'Sangre...' title. Now you and I have rectified that literary emptiness.


message 14: by Wesley (new)

Wesley Redfield | 48 comments It is a title that was begging to be used. It is rich with history and symbolism. Have you been to Chimayo? http://www.elsantuariodechimayo.us/Sa...


message 15: by Wesley (new)

Wesley Redfield | 48 comments I have a friend whose grandparents, all four of them, were Crypto-Jews.


message 16: by Robert (new)

Robert Jackson | 148 comments My academic fields were history and literature, but you may focus on the history more when writing than I do. I tell people that I try to put ordinary people, with some extraordinary qualities, into historical settings. My focus is on them within the context of what people then had to deal with, but I fully appreciate full blown historical fiction.

One reader commented once that my Navajo heroine seemed too intelligent. I think she meant "too well educated" which is less derogatory. The reader had either not paid attention to or accepted the effect of the fact that the young woman was described as very smart, able to read, spent hours on end in an old mission library where her refugee band ends up eventually, and acquires educated friends there with whom she bonds.


message 17: by Robert (new)

Robert Jackson | 148 comments Wes wrote: "It is a title that was begging to be used. It is rich with history and symbolism. Have you been to Chimayo? http://www.elsantuariodechimayo.us/Sa..."

No. We are back East now, but plan to go there on our next trip West. We lived in two Western states in the past. Friends have been and of course we read about it. My wife is Filipino and will love to see it.

Usually when I google book sites, all of those with the Sangre de Cristo title are religious nonfiction or travel type books. As you said, it was begging to be used.


message 18: by Robert (new)

Robert Jackson | 148 comments Wes wrote: "I have a friend whose grandparents, all four of them, were Crypto-Jews."

Of course there are Messianic Jews who I suppose maintain some Jewish traditions. We have mixed marriage friends who are Catholic/Jewish and attend each other's worship services.


message 19: by Robert (new)

Robert Jackson | 148 comments Wes wrote: "A brutal section of my published novel is a slave raid against Navajos. I don't sugar coat it. Parents are killed and girls are raped. That's the way it was. That is how genizaros came about, which..."

My characters are a woman and her brother and father who flee during the roundup and incarceration at the hands of Kit Carson in '64. The father is the headman of his extended clan, which he has led into the Sangre de Cristos when we meet him. So they are not genizaros, bit those people are fertile ground for some good fiction. An archeologist or anthropologist has written a novel about a genizaro girl who escapes, set in your time period, RETURN TO BEAUTY by Ernest L. Schusky. I have it but held off reading it until my series was done. I did not want to accidently borrow from his work.


message 20: by Wesley (new)

Wesley Redfield | 48 comments You have some interesting posts here. Regarding your reader who thought the Navajo girl was too intelligent, I believe some readers see a story as a Rorschach test in that the story tells more about the reader than what author intended to tell. Thanks for the heads-up on RETURN TO BEAUTY. I'll check it out.

Your characters are very believable. I'm sure you know that there is a very small Navajo reservation southwest of Albuquerque which resulted from a small band of Navajos escaping capture. As far as I know they have no affiliation with the Big Rez in the Four Corners area. Although I haven't studied them.

I haven't marketed my novels yet (well, only one is in print), but I'll kick off a campaign in January. We will see how it goes. I'm sure I'll get a lot of blow-back, because most New Mexicans don't know the history of the state. My stories will present some inconvenient truths.


message 21: by Robert (new)

Robert Jackson | 148 comments Thanks for the nice comments. The author of RETURN TO BEAUTY is or was an anthropologist (not archeologist) and wrote several novels about Native Americans. They're on Amazon. I remembered, with you nudge, that there was at least one smaller reservation. According to some figures a large minority of Navajo escaped the roundup and incarceration at Bosque Redondo.

Concerning readers comments, everyone has their agenda these days. Some Navajo, who are advocates of the old ways, are warmly friendly online about my series. Others, from that same point of view, feel that only Navajo dare write about Navajo (a bit narrow). Even my online Navajo acquaintances, who are into the traditional ways, are also very modern as well.

Concerning blowback, my books advocate for understanding of what Native Americans went through, but the Comanche may not be happy about my truthful portrayal of what they did to captives, especially women. Even my Navajo character calls them 'savages', as her people had feared them long before the whites came.


message 22: by Wesley (new)

Wesley Redfield | 48 comments Yes, it was a brutal time. All the tribes and ethnic Europeans had slaves, particularly sex slaves. I believe Coronado should be tried as a war criminal, yet when one visits the Coronado State Monument, the first state monument built by NM, no mention is made of his destroying two pueblos.


When I was a prof at UNM I worked with Tony Hillerman. As you know he wrote a charming series about Navajo detectives. He established a bond with Navajos, although not all. A few years ago I wanted to do a re-enactment of a U.S. Army expedition in 1848 that tried to stop the slave trade. I wanted to ride my horse the length of the 600 mile journey and write a narrative non-fiction book about it. I met with officials from the Navajo tribal government and got their support, but some of the chapter houses (similar to county governments) would not let me cross their land, so I abandoned the project. Too bad, because I could have told a story very favorable to the Navajos. Last year I was invited on a ride to re-enact the Old Spanish Trail from Santa Fe to L.A., 1,200 miles. I had to decline due to back surgery. The group is about halfway thru their trip.


message 23: by Robert (new)

Robert Jackson | 148 comments An impressive project, Wes. Too bad it did not get those local approvals. I would like to have read that book. Unfortunately the side effect of advocacy groups is narrow vision. I believe many of those Navajo who restricted you did not want the U.S. Government to get any good press from your project. Even back then, our nation sometimes attempted the right thing. It is interesting (and I suppose noble) that they would have attempted to stop the slave trade.

I might be looking at surgery myself for spinal stenosis, and I'm weighing the options. We had to cancel a trip to Italy last spring when the symptoms were diagnosed.

I've not read Hillerman yet, but a dear friend in Texas (a long time educator very knowledgeable about the West) told me about him. I'm friends on social media with Hillerman's daughter, who is writing now. Interestingly and refreshingly funny: a friend, who I introduced to Hillerman's detective novel's, had been begging for the recent volume of my series. But when I took it to him the other day, he said, "I'll start this just as soon as I finish the Tony Hillerman I'm reading." He is a fan of my series and is my historical firearms resource guy.

Perhaps it is something about the Long Walk experience that has been passed down, but the Navajo seem to be sensitive or more reserved about some issues than other Native Americans. I can only speak from correspondence mostly. Some have been quite warm, but some have an attitude. A Special Forces major, combat medic expressed the same view to me about his experience with them in the military. I've found some quite friendly, but protective of their history and tradition (for them only).


message 24: by Robert (new)

Robert Jackson | 148 comments I'm going to order your Sangre de Cristo. I need to read now and take a break from writing.

Older readers are loving my series, while some younger readers struggle at the beginning. I've gotten compliments for the conversation and action, but the younger readers (under 50) have to adjust to my 'old school' narrative. It's probably bad technique, but it's the storyteller in me.


message 25: by D.B. (last edited Dec 11, 2015 10:59PM) (new)

D.B. Woodling | 10 comments Duane wrote: "I thought it would be interesting to know the number of words in other author's novels. My first one was 71,760, the second 71,242, and the third 79,514. I'm working on my fourth now and it is comi..."

Hi, Duane. I agree with John. With my 37,000-word debut novel (a psychological thriller), I was told I had to add 20,000 words or not bother to submit it. I chose to go another route because I felt the story had been adequately told and refused to add irrelevant fillers. Trust your instincts above all else.


message 26: by D.B. (new)

D.B. Woodling | 10 comments Wes wrote: "A brutal section of my published novel is a slave raid against Navajos. I don't sugar coat it. Parents are killed and girls are raped. That's the way it was. That is how genizaros came about, which..."

Wes, I don't censor my material either. I'm always amazed when a reader complains about violence and selects a novel set in the Wild West or a book based on a serial killer.


message 27: by Robert (new)

Robert Jackson | 148 comments True that, D.B. In some ways, Hollywood exaggerated the violence (or more correctly details about it)*, but it was a brutal time and place. How could readers expect realistic fiction that is politically correct?

*A documentary about Wyatt Earp claims there were only 1.5 gun deaths per year in rowdy Kansas during the Earp era.


message 28: by Robert (new)

Robert Jackson | 148 comments D.B. wrote: "Duane wrote: "I thought it would be interesting to know the number of words in other author's novels. My first one was 71,760, the second 71,242, and the third 79,514. I'm working on my fourth now ..."

I agree with your decision, D.B. Some of the greatest works of fiction were brief. There are some great short story writers: Flannery O'Conner, E. Hemingway, and many of the greats names in literature. Your 35,000 is longer than a short story. If the tale is finished, simply stop. To make those decisions is one reason I self publish.


message 29: by Robert (new)

Robert Jackson | 148 comments Wes wrote: "You have some interesting posts here. Regarding your reader who thought the Navajo girl was too intelligent, I believe some readers see a story as a Rorschach test in that the story tells more abou..."

The people you are publishing with (as am I) offer a lot of tools for marketing the paperbacks and e-books. I'm just getting my feet wet there as well.


message 30: by Wesley (new)

Wesley Redfield | 48 comments Robert wrote: "An impressive project, Wes. Too bad it did not get those local approvals. I would like to have read that book. Unfortunately the side effect of advocacy groups is narrow vision. I believe many of t..."

Good luck with your spinal stenosis. That is one of the reasons I had back surgery this year and missed the ride on The Old Spanish Trail.

Yes, it is too bad some of the chapter houses on The Big Rez wouldn't let me cross their territory, but it is their land. Some Navajos told me that even they could not get permission to cross those lands. A huge amount of information survives from the expedition in 1848. Many early expeditions took artists, and 600 sketches and paintings are preserved in museums and two journals were published. The journals are of course from an Anglo POV, but they are illuminating. One of the really funny events (at least to me it was funny) was that the Army was hanging around Canyon de Chelly making a nuisance of itself, and the Navajos told them that Apaches were attacking Zuni Pueblo. So the Army hot-footed it 100 miles south to Zuni and said "We're here to protect you from the Apaches." To which the Zunis said "What Apaches?"


message 31: by Wesley (new)

Wesley Redfield | 48 comments I agree that Hollywood has exaggerated violence, but it came in spurts and was huge at times. One of the reasons the Mormons moved to Utah was that Governor Boggs of Missouri issued an "extermination order" to kill Mormons. If I write a third novel it will involve scalp hunters paid by the Mexican government which is the subject of Cormac McCarthy's BLOOD MERIDIAN. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Missour... There were real range wars, and Tom Horn was real, not simply a character Steve McQueen played in a film. When General Lew Wallace was sent to NM to settle the Lincoln County Range War involving Billy the Kid, we got a delightful byproduct. While in NM Lew Wallace wrote BEN HUR.


message 32: by Robert (new)

Robert Jackson | 148 comments All true, Wes, and interesting. There may be no more bizarrely interesting subject then the American West. Almost anything could happen there, with players from all over the world. You're right about the violence intense but often sporadic.


message 33: by Robert (new)

Robert Jackson | 148 comments Wes wrote: "Robert wrote: "An impressive project, Wes. Too bad it did not get those local approvals. I would like to have read that book. Unfortunately the side effect of advocacy groups is narrow vision. I be..."

That is funny, Wes. The locals anywhere in the world seem to know how to 'play' the foreigners. I believe some say that anthropologist Margaret Mead was a victim of the Samoans in that way.


message 34: by Richard (new)

Richard Lutman (goodreadscomrichard_lutman) | 69 comments Duane wrote: "Thanks, guys. You've summed up what I was feeling. I guess I just needed to hear it from someone else. That little old writer's lair gets lonesome and another voice is welcome.
Take Care,
Duane"


Duane wrote: "Thanks, guys. You've summed up what I was feeling. I guess I just needed to hear it from someone else. That little old writer's lair gets lonesome and another voice is welcome.
Take Care,
Duane"



message 35: by Robert (new)

Robert Jackson | 148 comments Wes, when does your second Rio Grande series novel come out?


message 36: by Neil (new)

Neil A. | 64 comments Robert wrote: "Wes, when does your second Rio Grande series novel come out?"

I just went back and read through this thread - good stuff. Saw that you were English/History. Also my background, I taught both for 42 years. I have a book about ready for edit with quite a lot of Arapaho history and culture - will be interesting to see how it is accepted by Natives.


message 37: by Robert (new)

Robert Jackson | 148 comments I will look forward to it. Some natives, especially activists can be defensive to put it mildly. One told me only a native should write about natives.


message 38: by Wesley (new)

Wesley Redfield | 48 comments Robert wrote: "Wes, when does your second Rio Grande series novel come out?"

Not for a couple of months yet. I finished the first draft this week. it's 94,000 words. I still need to make revisions. My editor has me slated for mid January, so it probably won't go to print until mid February. I'm eager to learn people's reaction to it, because I take on topics not normally covered about New Mexico such as debt peonage, Crypto-Jews, and a favorable treatment of Penitentes, unlike how Willa Cather treated them in her classic DEATH COMES FOR THE ARCHIBISHOP. I was going to include the civil war between Hispanics that occurred in the 1830s, but I pushed that to book three, which will also include scalp hunters funded by the Mexican government which is the subject of Cormac McCarthy's BLOOD MERIDIAN.


message 39: by Wesley (new)

Wesley Redfield | 48 comments Robert wrote: "Wes, when does your second Rio Grande series novel come out?"

Neil wrote: "Robert wrote: "Wes, when does your second Rio Grande series novel come out?"

I just went back and read through this thread - good stuff. Saw that you were English/History. Also my background, I ta..."


No, I don't have degrees in English or history. My masters and Ph.D. are in transportation, statistics, and economics. I taught at three major universities, then worked in finance, marketing, and sales. My largest sale was $51 million. However, I've read over 100 books on NM's history, many of them original accounts such as those by Don Pino who was a delegate to the Spanish Cortez in the early 1800s.


message 40: by Wesley (new)

Wesley Redfield | 48 comments Robert wrote: "I will look forward to it. Some natives, especially activists can be defensive to put it mildly. One told me only a native should write about natives."

Yes, I'm well aware that some Indians don't want Anglos writing about them. I was a professor at the University of New Mexico. And before everyone gets on me for using the term Indian, many natives call themselves Indian as can be seen from the fine Indian Pueblo Cultural Center http://www.indianpueblo.org/ Telling authors not to write about them seems anti-intellectual. No one is stopping natives from writing about themselves, but I don't see much being produced.

Three years ago I wanted to write a narrative nonfiction book about a U.S. military expedition in 1848 that traveled 600 miles thru the Southwest in an effort to stop the slave raids made by tribes and Mexicans. The expedition left treasures of two journals and 600 sketches and paintings. I wanted to ride my horse over the same route and write about the political climate of the time, perspectives, and how they had changed or not changed. I met with officials of a tribal government to get permission to cross a reservation, and I got it. However, some chapter houses (a smaller unit of government) refused me permission. I can't help but to think that was a mistake on their part because I would have exposed how the tribe was preyed upon in the slave trade.



message 41: by Robert (new)

Robert Jackson | 148 comments Wes, Good points. I have a facebook acquaintance, a Navajo woman who spends much time on her grandparents horse ranch, which I believe includes a traditional hogan. She is a good amateur photographer and wrote a little descriptive passage of a few hours at that ranch one day. I'm encouraging her to write and produce more images. She is a single mom and in college now, but I do not know the field of study.

Your degrees are useful background, together with your readings, to produce great work. I'm sure I'm going to enjoy this series. I've been starved for fiction from that place and time, written in the here and now.


message 42: by Wesley (last edited Dec 19, 2015 09:49AM) (new)

Wesley Redfield | 48 comments Robert wrote: "Wes, Good points. I have a facebook acquaintance, a Navajo woman who spends much time on her grandparents horse ranch, which I believe includes a traditional hogan. She is a good amateur photograph..."

Thank you, Robert, for your kind words. I follow a writing guru named Robert McKee. You are probably familiar with him. He has a series of videos on UTube. His motto is "Write the truth." Indians were horribly abused. The U.S. celebrates Coronado with numerous place names, but I believe he should be tried as a war criminal. He destroyed at least two pueblos, killed or drove off the men, took the food, and kept the women as sex slaves. Yet what was the first state monument New Mexico built? You guessed it, the Coronado State Monument about 30 miles north of Albuquerque. http://www.nmmonuments.org/coronado But if you go there and ask the rangers about the outrages Coronado committed, the rangers get very uncomfortable and change the subject. I have not seen anything in the visitor center that discusses the suffering of the pueblo people.


message 43: by Wesley (new)

Wesley Redfield | 48 comments Robert wrote: "Wes, Good points. I have a facebook acquaintance, a Navajo woman who spends much time on her grandparents horse ranch, which I believe includes a traditional hogan. She is a good amateur photograph..."

I wish your Navajo acquaintance the best of luck in her endeavors. Navajos and other tribes have rich cultures that should be shown to the outside world.


message 44: by Robert (new)

Robert Jackson | 148 comments Wes wrote: "Robert wrote: "Wes, Good points. I have a facebook acquaintance, a Navajo woman who spends much time on her grandparents horse ranch, which I believe includes a traditional hogan. She is a good ama..."

I recall reading a year or so ago about DeSoto. I'm embarrassed to admit that I can't remember the source for sure, but I think it was S.E. Morrison's European Discovery of America: the Southern Voyages. DeSoto's explorations could best be described as the Rape of the Early Southeastern Regions. He destroyed whole civilizations from Florida up into Tennessee and back down to the Gulf.


message 45: by Wesley (new)

Wesley Redfield | 48 comments I don't know. I haven't done any research on DeSoto. I urge caution though. Many authors have agendas, including me, and some might not be accurate.

The Indians' story is not told. An example is the Fiesta de Santa Fe. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Zozobra Many people go to the fiesta to see the Zozobra burn, and many of those people don't know what the celebration is about. It is to commemorate the reconquest of Santa Fe after the pueblos drove out the Spanish during the Pueblo Revolt of 1680. Well, what about the pueblos? How do they feel about this celebration? No one asks them. But reading between the lines one can get the message. Twenty years ago most pueblos had Spanish names. Now several are changing their names to the original native name.


message 46: by Robert (last edited Dec 19, 2015 11:16AM) (new)

Robert Jackson | 148 comments Morrison may be trustworthy. As one of the definitive Columbus biographers, he might not have been inclined to trash the Spanish (De Soto) unless it was true. Sad to say, I still have to read that bio. He sailed Columbus's route for the 500th anniversary, and I believe he did it in 1942. I'm not sure how with WW II going on in the Atlantic.

He was an officer/historian in the Navy, but sailed the path in his yacht.


message 47: by Wesley (new)

Wesley Redfield | 48 comments Very interesting. I am fascinated by reenactments. I forget if I mentioned this earlier, but early in the year I was invited on a reenactment of riding the Old Spanish Trail from Santa Fe to L.A., about 1,200 miles. It was an old and dangerous trade route for poor Mexicans before the Santa Fe Trail to the U.S. opened. The group of people is about to finish. My horse would have been perfect for it. He is a Missouri Fox Trotter which is an obscure breed developed by pioneers in the Ozarks for fast, comfortable, long distance travel. But I had back surgery and could not have slept on the ground that long.

Check out a nonfiction book entitled 1491. I'm sure it is reasonably accurate. There were major civilizations in addition to the Aztecs, Mayans, and Incas. There were the Mound Builders in the Midwest, and the Chaco Canyon and Mesa Verde cultures in what is now NM and CO. One of my interests in riding the route of the military expedition of 1848 is that the whites discovered the huge complex of ruins along Chaco Canyon. Indians knew of it, but Americans did not. A slight change in climate made agriculture untenable, and the peoples moved to the Rio Grande Valley and Gila River Valley and formed the pueblos that remain now. When Coronado arrived in 1540 there were probably 100 pueblos in the Rio Grande valley, and there are 19 or 20 now.


message 48: by Robert (new)

Robert Jackson | 148 comments I've seen 1491 on the shelves in bookstores and wondered about it. I will pick it up.

Would the ride have hurt your back or only the camping conditions?

You did mention that reenactment, and it sounds great. I would have failed due to not being in tiptop condition for it.

The author who wrote that novel I mentioned before (Return to Beauty) wrote quite a bit about old native civilizations.


message 49: by Wesley (last edited Dec 19, 2015 01:33PM) (new)

Wesley Redfield | 48 comments Riding does not hurt my back. Missouri Fox Trotters have about the smoothest ride of all breeds, which is the main reason I bought Duke, plus the Arabian blood in them gives them tremendous endurance, 100 miles in a day. My daughter and I didn't race him, but his breeder races his half brother in 50 mile races and wins. Because of their bone structure they always have one hoof on the ground which eliminates the pounding most horses such as Quarter Horses have. This bone structure is common among gaited horses such as Tennessee Walkers and Passo Finos, the main Spanish gaited horse.

The most I've ridden Duke in one day was 60 miles and he was in fine shape and ready for more. He's kinda hot, meaning spirited. The longest trip I've taken on him was 100 miles from Aspen to Crested Butte, CO, but my group took several days. We weren't in a hurry. However there were great elevation gains and loses climbing mountains and dropping into valleys, which is more taxing than distance on a level surface.


message 50: by Robert (new)

Robert Jackson | 148 comments I'm relieved. I thought your weren't riding at all anymore. That's good news that the back can take it. You really know your horses.


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