Hi guys! Today I am pleased to welcome author Caitlin Ricci to the blog. Caitlin is here to share with us more about here story “Horsefeathers” in the new Dark Menagerie anthology by Storm Moon Press.  Please join me in giving her a big welcome!

Mustang Shifters – Caitlin Ricci & “Dark Menagerie”

For my short story “Horsefeathers” in the Dark Menagerie anthology, I wanted to focus on Native American traditions and legends along with my own love of Colorado. For me, the darkest of these legends is that of the Skinwalker, which tied in perfectly with the theme of this anthology, which is shifters that struggle with the dark side of their dual natures. I took different aspects of the legends I could find and created something different but still familiar. Skinwalkers are largely considered evil, and to become one often requires the person to do something to another member of the tribe to bring the ability on. That is where the werewolf legends differ from that of the skinwalkers, since werewolves in most legends turn people by biting them whereas skinwalkers more often choose their path through an already deeply seated hatred of the tribe. In the legends I found, Skinwalkers are exiled as soon as they are found out.

caitlin ricci mustangAlong with that idea, I wanted to tie in Mustangs. I’ve had the pleasure of knowing one of these great horses, and though I was listed as the owner on his paperwork, they aren’t the kind of creature you can ever really own. Like a domesticated wolf, a Mustang is always going to be a bit wild, in my opinion. And the one I knew showed it. He was stocky, far more like a draft horse than the sleek Quarter Horse types of Mustangs that are often portrayed in movies. The beautiful thing about Mustangs is that, after so many generations of domestic blood coming in from loose horses, the standard varies widely between herds depending on where they were from. Mine was captured as an adult, and so I always knew that he likely remembered what it meant to live without fences and daily handouts of hay and grain. Looking into his eyes was different than with an Arabian, a Thoroughbred, or any other domesticated horse. Mustangs are known for being hardy little horses, but more than that, they’re intelligent. There’s something magical about having a creature want to be with you when he knows there’s an alternative. I was thankful for every day he came up to me in the pasture and each time we’d go for a trail ride together through the Rockies.

dark menagerieI remember one time when I brought a friend to the barn to meet him. She didn’t know that he was a Mustang at all, and I hadn’t introduced them yet, but when she went past him, she said she could tell that he was wild. She didn’t know how, but she could tell that something was different about him. I liked that about my gentle boy. He’s gone now, and I miss him, but I remember the times we had and what it felt like to be cared about by something as wild and beautiful as a Mustang. After that experience with him, I know I can never go back to having anything but Mustangs. I’ve cared for Quarter Horses, Andalusians, Arabians, a Clydesdale, and a handful of ponies, but the Mustang will always have a place in my heart and on my land, too, when I get a farm.

I hope you enjoy “Horsefeathers” in the Dark Menagerie anthology from Storm Moon Press. It’s now available, so get your copy today! Thanks for having me here on Joyfully Jay!

Caitlin Ricci was fortunate to be surrounded by family and teachers that encouraged her love of reading as she grew up. She has always been a voracious reader, and that love of the written word easily morphed into a passion for writing. If she isn’t writing, she can usually be found studying as she works toward her counseling degree. She enjoys gardening and horseback riding in the Colorado Rockies she calls home, along with her wonderful fiance and their dog. Her belief that there is no one true path to happily ever after runs deeply through all of her stories. She can be found at www.caitlinricci.com or on Twitter @CaitlinRicci.