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It's Really Real!


I got my Advance Reader's Copy of Relentless in Texas in the mail! 

Note, sadly, that I said copy, singular. I used to get three, and this would be the time when a couple of my faithful newsletter readers would have a chance to win one. Unfortunately, ARCs are very expensive to produce because they are printed in small batches (as compared to the regular books, which are done by the thousands). Publishers are cutting back on how many physical ARCs they hand out to reviewers and relying more heavily on electronic versions, and that means they're also handing out fewer to authors. 

And yes, I could give away this one copy, but I actually enjoy being married, and one of our hard and fast rules is that my husband gets first dibs in exchange for putting up with episodes of book brain where his wife fails to recall things like phone messages, meals, and in the most severe cases, the existence of him and our child. However, he was a bit put off that this one doesn't include the dedication or acknowledgments, so there is a chance that whenever he finishes it I might be allowed to give away a slightly used book, so stay tuned. 

In the meantime, other than a ten-day stretch of extreme cold, our January has been the October we were denied last fall. Temperatures in the thirties and forties, hardly any snow, lots of sunshine, which translates into as many afternoons as possible spent roping in the indoor arena. Because summers are so busy, and because schooling young horses and working on your own skills are not very compatible, we do the majority of our training in the fall and winter. And since our arena was built when I was in junior high and has been in continuous use ever since, that place has witnessed enough drama and high comedy to have its own reality show.  But steel and wood can't talk, so here's one I wrote. 


Dishing Up the Dirt


I thought I had heard it all. I was wrong. Today I met a person online who has never seen a dirt clod. Think about that for a minute. A life without dirt. It’s stupefying. And sort of depressing, because people who grew up like this get elected to Congress and sit on committees that decide farm policy.


I have to confess, though, I too have lived in a world without dirt clods. The north end of Hermiston, Oregon is located on what is essentially a gigantic sand dune thrown up by the Columbia River during the floods at the end of the last ice age. For ten years, I had an arena that was incapable of mud. I thought I had found heaven.

Then one day my husband’s rope horse decided he didn’t really need to back up and keep the rope tight while the calf was flanked and tied. I reached for an all occasion horse training device to give him a little reminder smack in the chest…and came up with a handful of sand.

I was stunned. My entire philosophy of animal training had to be re-envisioned. Dirt clods are the remote control of ranch work. Any time you can’t or don’t want to get close enough for laying on of hands, a dirt clod comes to the rescue.

Dog getting carried away and about to run a bunch of yearlings through the fence? Explode a dirt clod on the ground in front of him, he’ll weaken. Got a pair of bulls that refuse to quit fighting and move along? Unload the double-barreled dirt clods on their butts. Rocks will do in a pinch, but they just sort of plunk and drop, without that satisfactory poof! of dust that makes a direct dirt clod hit so satisfying and effective.

Like all training devices, dirt clods require practice, and should be implemented with care. One year at the Glendive college rodeo, the boys from Western Montana College were having a problem with their bulldogging horse. Just as they started to slide from the saddle and grab the steer by the horns, the horse would duck off to the left and drop them on their head. So after the rodeo, they ran a few practice steers to address the issue.

Rooster picked a spot out in the middle of arena, selected a couple of prime dirt clods, and said, “Go ahead. Run a steer and jump him right here in front of me. I’ll nail the horse in the shoulder with one of these clods when he tries to duck out.”

His teammate’s eyes got big. “But you might hit me instead.”

“Not if you get your butt out of the saddle and down on the steer.”

This is probably where I should put the Don’t Try This At Home disclaimer, right?

The dirt clod approach did not prove to be effective in this particular case. Mostly because the steer wrestler kept bailing off before they got within range of Rooster’s throwing arm, whether the steer was in a position to jump onto or not.

I would like to say I wouldn’t have been dumb enough to get on that horse in the first place. Several members of my family would be quick to remind me that yes, I was.

The horse in question wasn’t ours. We’d taken him in to train as a barrel horse. They called him Bear and he was prone to sulling up and refusing to move. One afternoon, my mom and my sister were up at the indoor arena with Bear and another horse or two. I was enjoying the fact that there was no one around to notice I was stretched out on the couch in the middle of the day. The phone rang.

“We can’t get Bear to move,” my mother said (because we are smart enough to have an emergency phone in the arena).

“Uh-huh,” I said, unsure why this was my problem.

“If we smack him on the butt, he kicks up,” she said.


“You’re brave,” she said. “We need you to come up here and get on him.”


She hung up on me.

I gave my couch one last, longing look and went up to the arena. “What exactly is it you want me to do?”

“You ride him. I’ll smack him on the butt when he stalls,” my sister said.

Hmm. That didn’t sound so bad. It wasn’t like he was serious about bucking. I climbed on. Eased him into a trot. He made it half a circle before locking up all four wheels and stopping dead. My sister sidled up and swatted him. He snorted, bucked, and kicked straight in the air with both hind feet.

Luckily, my sister is not very tall. Especially when she’s flat on her belly in the dirt. He kicked right over her head. She crawled to her feet, dusted herself off and stepped back. Way back. Then she said, “Okay, new plan. How ‘bout I just hit him with this dirt clod instead?”

May I just say, if there’s ever a time you hope your sister throws like the proverbial weenie-armed girl, this would be it.


Relentless in Texas is now available for pre-order! Check your favorite vendor, place an order with your local bookstore, or visit my website at for links to be sure it's in your hot little hands on June 30th.


Copyright © 2020 Kari Lynn Dell, All rights reserved.

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