Saturday, November 15, 2008

Leslie Desmond Young Writers Contest

For Immediate Release
December 2008 Issue of EQUESTRIAN MAGAZINE

No One Can Tell it Better than a Child!

Novato, CA -- Author, producer and trainers’ coach Leslie Desmond is sponsoring a contest for young artists and writers who want to share stories and pictures of their favorite horse, pony, mule or donkey.

Winners and runners up will have their stories and art or photographs featured on the Young Writers section of and receive a copy of her popular 3-volume DVD series "American Horsemanship for Young & Old" by Leslie and her students from Novato, CA.

As a young girl growing up in Western Massachusetts in the early 1960s, Leslie was given a retired Thoroughbred named Brown Jug. The 13-year old former race horse was owned by family friends whose daughter had gone off to college. She could no longer care for her beloved best friend, and Leslie was desperate to bring him home. "My own parents did not know much about horses in those days, so I relied on the kindness of others to teach me how to ride and take care of him.

"At first, he went way too fast and was not easy to steer, but it wasn’t long before we understood and loved each other anyway. Although I know she meant well, the woman who tried to help us often yanked on his mouth and whipped him if she thought he didn’t do the right thing. I did not know what the right thing was either, but we got along very well so I was certain he knew how to do some things in a good way.

"Brown Jug’s worry and confusion about all this soon turned to sadness and I could not bear to see this, so I began to correspond regularly with some well known authors who published stories for children about horses and other animals. As it turned out, they were happy to hear from me.

"I asked if there was a better way to communicate with Brown Jug. To my great relief there was. I wrote often, and they wrote right back, usually with some good advice and warm words of encouragement."

Margurite Henry, who penned "Misty of Chincoteague" and many other books, wrote to Leslie in 1964-1966 and sent her pictures of the famous foal taken at night with an early flash camera. C.W. Anderson, who wrote and illustrated "Heads Up, Heel Down" and over dozen other titles, urged Leslie to stay calm about things, and keep old Brown Jug clean and in good shape. "He also suggested that I pay close attention to the way others rode, and to see if the horses looked pleased with the situation," she said.

Joy Adamson, author of a trilogy about an African lioness named Elsa and other members of the pride, wrote "Born Free", "Living Free" and a other good books about wildlife. Several times she wrote to Leslie about taming the wild lions, and the damaging effects of man on the delicate African habitats that lions need in order to survive.

"Those authors provided support when I needed it the most. Years ago, they were my inspiration to ride well, and keep my horse clean and fit. Later, they inspired me to become a free-lance photographer and journalist. Today, they inspire me to say: 'Now, come on, all you kids! Go find a pen and some paper, or a lap top and set down your story!' I don’t think anyone can tell a better tale about a horse or pony they love than a child."

Desmond, co-authored and published the best-seller "True Horsemanship Through Feel" with the legendary horseman, Bill Dorrance (1906 – 1999) of Salinas, CA. In 2006, she produced the unique, 102 track 10-CD audio book called "Horse Handling and Riding Through Feel".

Entries will be accepted through Leslie’s website, and at:

Young Writers’ Contest
Leslie Desmond International School of Horsemanship
P.O. Box 2642
Novato, CA 94948 USA.

Each submission must be received no later than February 15th, and be accompanied by a letter from a legal guardian or parent to authorize publication of the story and art work on the internet.

Friday, November 14, 2008