Categories Writing articles
Writing about horses in historical fiction
Writing historical fiction can involve taking a step back in time to an earlier age of transport, such as travelling on horseback.
It’s easy to forget, as I did a few minutes ago, that horses have to be cared for.
For example, at first I wrote the following.
‘He rode his horse across a small stream and continued on his journey.’
But after a couple of minutes I remembered that the horse had been ridden for fifteen miles without a rest on a hot summer day and would probably need a drink of water.
So I changed it to the following.
‘He came to a small stream and allowed his horse to drink before continuing on his journey.’
It seems that it isn’t enough to be familiar with the lives of your characters; you also have to be familiar with the needs of their horses.
This aspect of writing historical fiction – a familiarity with horses, will probably come to me naturally after a while.
Having said all this, did famous writers such as Emily Bronte, who of course lived in the age of transportation by horse, write about the need to give her horse a drink of water?
If so, I can’t find any record of it.
It’s a nuisance (in my view) to have to include information like this.
But on the other hand it adds detail to the story, which perhaps makes it more credible.