Horse of the Year
Good Things Come Book 8
Liv’s never wanted any part of the spotlight, but the success of Just Jay has thrust her into it whether she likes it or not.
Campaigning Triple Stripe’s “big horse” for Horse of the Year means every decision she makes as a trainer is scrutinized — on the backstretch, the internet, and by the Kentucky group interested in syndicating Jay as a stallion.
Now her unconventional views on training racehorses are under fire, when all she wants is to get Jay through to the end of his career and keep everyone happy — her father, the syndicate, and most importantly, the horse.
Elise Cooper: Rider versus trainer-which is more important for Liv and why?
Linda Shantz: I think in Horse of the Year Liv realizes that as a trainer she ultimately has a greater influence on the horses. Both roles are important, but right now she accepts she needs to focus on being a trainer and trust in Nate’s ability to ride; that they have to work as a team, but they’re good at that.
EC: How do they train differently in Europe versus North American?
LS: In the UK, horses don’t live at the racetracks. They live in the trainer’s “yard” and are ridden out to where they train each day. They train on long straight “gallops” and spend a lot more time out of their stalls each day. In North America, most horses live in stalls at the racetrack, and they train on an oval track, always going around in the same direction (except maybe a half a mile of trotting at the beginning). It usually means they get less time out of their stalls and not as much time to warm up before they train (because the racetrack is closer than the gallops would be overseas).
EC: How would you describe John Jay-do you consider him a character in the book?
LS: I’m assuming you mean the horse, Just Jay. He’s a character, part of the “family,” though he doesn’t take over the story in the same way Chique did in the earlier books. But he fulfils some of Liv’s biggest dreams, and also throws her into one of her greatest nightmares. Jay’s the opposite of the fictional racing stallions we grew up with. The Black Stallion was wild and dangerous, but Jay is kind, cool and reliable. Some horses you need to be their confidence; Jay is the kind of horse that lends you his. Yet he’s still powerful, and life-changing for the people around him.
EC: Is Rory going to play a bigger role in future books and how would you describe him?
LS: Rory is a bit of a troublemaker. He’s got a sense of humour that will catch you off guard. I see him coming to North America and making some waves in the Triple Stripe pool.
EC: There is a lot of horse stuff in the story- please explain why each was put in the story and how it affected Liv?
a. Getting an award
LS: was intimidating and humbling for her, though she 100% believed the horse, Jay, deserved it. So in a sense, it validates the horses, and she still attributes him for her success.
b. Foals do not feed from mothers:
LS: The incident in the book was taken from my own experience. It’s not super common, but it does happen, and it’s stressful when a foal won’t nurse in what’s considered a reasonable time because getting that first milk is vital to their immune system. The resolution to the problem in the story was a bit of fun, an acknowledgment by Liv that even though she was in vet school and has lots of experience, she doesn’t know everything and is still willing to learn something new.
c. How easy is it to drug a horse
LS: It’s pretty easy, to be honest. Medications can be dosed to a horse by mouth and though they’re absorbed at a slower rate than if given in the vein (fastest) or in the muscle (not quite as fast) they are still absorbed.
d. Feeling responsible for bad things going wrong
LS: In horse racing today, so many trainers are full of excuses for why they aren’t responsible when things go wrong with their horses. Liv stepping up to accept responsibility is an indication of her honesty and character. As long as key players refuse to take responsibility for things they might be doing with the animals in their care, nothing will change, so she tries to do her very small part and initiate change – though not in the way she might have hoped at the beginning of the book.