Bonnie Marlewski-Probert is a nationally recognized equestrian authority and horsewoman who was professionally trained in Hunt Seat and Western riding disciplines. Hooked on horses at the age of eight, horses and riding have been her life-long passion. Capably edited by Susan Strafford, each of three volumes comprising Bonnie Marlewski-Probert’s outstanding series, Horse Tales For The Soul, contain 40 original stories submitted by horse lovers from around the world and is divided into chapters highlighting life lessons such as gratitude, overcoming adversity, appreciation, etc.
Targeted Age Group:
I don’t believe there is any difference for me because my focus is on inclusion and on the life lessons we can all learn from the experiences in our lives. Those are the things that transcend horses or sport or marriage or kids or jobs. They are the universal things that tie us all together.
What Advice Would You Give Aspiring Writers?
Own your Outcome. I can’t put it any more plainly than that. If you are one of those authors who is waiting for the big NY publishing house to find you in your small town but you are certain that once they do, you will become famous, stop waiting and start moving. If you don’t believe in yourself and in your ability enough to back yourself, how in the world can you expect a total stranger to believe in you enough to put their money behind you. Interestingly enough, once you demonstrate that YOU believe in YOU enough to get out there and own the outcome and make things happen, the publishers will come beating a path to your door. The funny thing is that once you do believe in yourself enough to get out there and make things happen for you, when the publishers come a calling, you won’t answer the door because you won’t need them anymore!
As a child, my parents were ambitious go-getters before it was fashionable. My family owned the only grocery store in our small town in Illinois and the store was literally attached to our home. The building had a wing for the store area and for the warehouse beyond. The east wing had our family home on the basement and first floors with a large apartment on the second floor.
The store hours were from 6:00 a.m. to 10:00 p.m. (seven days a week) and very often over the years, my father worked a fulltime, outside job to help make ends meet. This meant that my mother ran the store on her own throughout the day while she had four little girls (each a year apart in age – she was an Irish Catholic woman) running a muck in our living quarters. When I think back on those days, I realize that if my parents attempted to do that today, someone would have reported them to Child Protective Services or to the local ZOO! However, at that time, our community was filled with farmers and hard working blue-collar families who were working just as hard as they were and I’m sure, didn’t think there was anything odd about how we were being raised.
What saved my life as a child was having Colleen, her husband and young son rent the apartment above us. Colleen and her father were heavily into horses, although her husband and mother were not as crazy about the whole thing. Colleen needed someone to baby-sit her son while she went riding. I was eight or nine when I took the job and part of the pay included Colleen occasionally riding a horse back to the house so I could ride in our backyard.
From that summer on, I was hooked on horses. I lived horses, breathed horses, read about horses, knitted horse blankets and kept a secret drawer in my shared bedroom in which I stored all my horsy treasures that Colleen either gave me or that I found or made on my own. That drawer was more valuable to me than all the treasures in the world!
The following spring, I begged my parents to let me take riding lessons. Because they were so busy just trying to get through each day, they agreed, so long as I paid for the lessons. Suddenly, that grocery store that had been responsible for keeping my parents away all day and night, quickly became my ticket to ride.
As children, we never received an allowance. Instead, we were paid like employees in the family store. If you worked, you got paid. If you didn’t work, you didn’t get paid. In that respect, life was very simple. I needed money to take lessons and I lived in the same building as the only grocery store in town. The solution was simple – I started working as many hours as I could get in the store, while going to school, doing chores, baby-sitting and still found time to be a cheerleader at school. In other words, I was a driven child who found my passion in life early-on and nothing was going to stop me from pursuing that passion. This passion is what saved my life during those years.
The life lessons my parents didn’t have time to teach me, I thankfully learned on the back of a horse. Lessons about commitment, dedication, patience, teamwork, discipline, overcoming adversity, owning the outcome and so much more.
I worked with many riding instructors over the years, studied many different styles of riding and soon was invited to start catch-riding sale horses at the barn I was riding at. As my riding skills improved, more and more horse owners at the barn were asking me to keep their horses exercised when they went away on holiday. That led to schooling horses and that led to working for the barn owners to pay for my extra lessons. My barn jobs included mucking stalls, warming-up lessons, tacking horses and catch-riding new sale horses. At the time it all seemed like a great deal!
I bought my first horse when I was in my early teens and moved up to a swankier looking horse a few years later. From there, I finished school, started teaching at the barn and apprenticed as a riding instructor for a year before heading off to a Corporate Job in the oil industry working in the computer field. The pay was great but it kept me out of the barn and that was like trying to keep a fish out of water.
Eventually, in my mid-twenties, I quit the Corporate Job and bought a horse farm in Indiana where I set up shop for several years teaching lessons, training and boarding horses. That is another story! After several years, the economy took a spill and I moved back to the computer world to regroup and to lick my wounds. While trying to decide what to do next, I started writing magazine articles for horse publications around the world. Writing for a riding teacher is a logical “next step”. After all, through a magazine article, I could teach hundreds of thousands of students at the same time without tacking up horses, mucking stalls or freezing during several months of the year. Suddenly, that started to take on a life of its own and one article led to hundreds of articles, which led to syndicated columns and book deals, which led to starting my own publishing house. From there, I did some how-to videos (the teacher in me of course), launched some horse-related websites (my computer background paid off here), and all of that ultimately led to the Horse Tales for the Soul books. Again, this was a natural extension of my horse farm which was built on the premise of inclusion and that all styles of riding and all breeds of horse have something worthwhile to teach and that every horsemen and every horse has value. The Horse Tales for the Soul books are all about these same life principals.