Timeless Tuesday


As I mentioned before, there are quite a few horses in my upcoming novel. In the 1860s horses were a big part of daily life. They provided transportation. They carried loads, pulled wagons, carriages, and more. And, of course, horses were used by the Pony Express.

Did you know that it’s not true that a horse won’t let you mount from the right side? Mounting from the left side is just a tradition. Soldiers mounted their horses on the left side so that their swords, which they anchored over their left leg, wouldn’t harm their horse’s back.

However, it is important that a horse let its rider mount and dismount from either side, especially on the trail. On the trail, it is not unusual to encounter a rocky cliff, mud hole, or other trail hazard that may require the rider to mount or dismount from the right instead of the left.

In addition, mounting and dismounting a horse from either side will enable the horse to use the muscles on the left and right side of its spine equally. This may help prevent an injury to one side of the horse’s back.

It’s also important for a rider to listen to his horse. The sounds horses make mean something:

Nicker: If your horse makes a sound that resembles a soft tapping, with its lips closed, often with its head raised, it is saying “Hi, I’m glad to see you.”

Blowing or Snorting: If your horse is frightened by something, they will make a blowing or snorting sound. Some will also snort when they are excited.

Neighing: A neigh is a long, loud, high-pitched sound. This can mean your horse is experiencing anxiety or confidence. Also, if one horse neighs when in a group of horses out in a field or pasture, he is warning the group that he sees something unusual.

Sighing: This is a sound you’ll want to hear before you mount. The horse will usually put its head down and release a deep fluttering breath through his nostrils. This means the horse is relaxed and calm.

Timeless Tuesday: Horses or Ponies?


Photo by Chris Liverani on Unsplash

The above photo is a picture of two ponies. Note that a pony’s body is shorter and a bit stouter than the body of a horse. Their legs are shorter than a horse’s legs. Therefore, they would not have been a good choice for use in the “Pony Express”.

The Pony Express began its run in April 1860, and when my upcoming novel is published, should you choose to read it (and I hope you will), you will find that the Pony Express is a big part of my story.

Even though it was commonly called the “Pony Express”, the actual official name was the “Central Overland California & Pike’s Peak Express Company” (C.O.C. & P.P.), and they didn’t use ponies. They used horses.

William H. Russell, one of the three men who started the C.O.C. and P.P. business wanted 200 grey mares between four and seven years old, no bigger than fifteen hands high that were saddle broken and healthy, solid, and reliable.  However, the company bought 400 to 500 horses, but they weren’t all grey mares.


Photo by Sheri Hooley on Unsplash

The above photo is a picture of a Thoroughbred horse. Kentucky Thoroughbreds and Morgans were ridden on the eastern end of the Pony Express route.

War Eagle - mustang of the South Steens, OR Wild horse stallion ...

The above photo is a picture of a Mustang. California Mustangs were ridden on the western stretch of the Pony Express route.

The horses were ridden hard at a gallop because mail delivery by the Pony Express was promised to get from St. Joseph, Missouri to San Francisco, California in ten days. Never before in history had letters been delivered such a distance so quickly. Therefore, horses galloped an average of ten miles per hour, sometimes being pushed to twenty-five miles per hour. Station houses were built 10-15 miles apart and Express riders would ride a length of 75 to 100 miles, but would stop at the station houses every 10 to 15 miles for a fresh horse, so as not to harm the horses, and allow them to eat, drink, and rest. An Express rider changed horses eight to ten times on their route.

The main character of my upcoming novel is a Pony Express rider.


Timeless Tuesday: Horses and my Male Protagonist in 1860


Photo by Luis Hinojosa on Unsplash

In the 1860s west, horses were a staple in most people’s lives. They were used for transportation as well as to aid in many forms of work.

Horses play a big part in my upcoming novel. My male protagonist began working with horses when he was seven years old. His father taught him how to work with horses for two years before they left their home in Kentucky.

My protagonist quickly became quite fond of horses. However, due to unfortunate circumstances, his time with horses was quite limited from the time he was ten yours old until he turned eighteen years old.

When he turned eighteen, he gained employment working as an omnibus driver. The omnibus he would’ve driven would have been similar to the one in the photo below.

The horse-drawn omnibus became Paris' first form of public ...

An omnibus was a four-wheeled carriage pulled by horses. An omnibus traveled a predetermined route and followed a schedule, carrying passengers for a fee. My male protagonist drove an omnibus, carrying passengers around the city of St. Louis, Missouri for seven years before leaving St. Louis.

Timeless Tuesday: What was Happening in 1860?

The novel that I am working on is set in 1860. That is the year the Pony Express began. How did it begin?

William H. Russell, one of a trio of men who had a freighting company known as Russell, Majors, and Waddell created the Pony Express. They were business partners in Missouri. They had a lot of experience hauling cargo and passengers. They took an interest in government mail contracts as they already offered a stagecoach service that provided mail between the Missouri River and Salt Lake City, Utah.

Russell was convinced that a horse relay, a Pony Express would be a money-making endeavor. His partners, William, B. Waddell and Alexander Majors were not so sure. Without the approval of his partners, William Russell committed to opening the express mail service on the central overland route in April 1860.

So the three partners started a new company, the Central Overland California & Pike’s Peak Express Company (C.O.C. & P.P.). This was the official name of the Pony Express. The company had just 67 days to hire riders, station keepers, and mail handlers, and to buy horses, food, and other supplies and distribute them to stations along the route. Some of the stations weren’t even built or located yet.

However, homes stations were established every 75 to 100 miles. These homes stations would house riders between runs. Smaller relay stations were established every 10 to 15 miles to provide riders with fresh horses.

Many of the stations were upgraded from existing stagecoach stations, while some had to be built from scratch. They began with 86 stations but expanded to 147 stations by mid-1861.

Alexander Majors organized the route into five divisions, numbered east to west. The first leg of the route ran from St. Joseph, Missouri, to Fort Kearny, Nebraska Territory on the Platte River.

This is the leg of the journey that my main male character has a part in.

Timeless Tuesday: History of My Setting

In my upcoming novel, the story begins in St. Louis, Missouri in 1860. The city of St. Louis was founded by Pierre Laclede Liguest on February 15, 1764.

St. Joseph, Missouri is where my main character moves in Chapter two. At this time, St. Joseph was already a fairly busy town with the California Gold Rush bringing people east to west in 1848 and the railroad having been established in St. Joseph in 1859. 1860 saw the beginning of the Pony Express in St. Joseph which was the eastern end of the Pony Express route. As a matter of fact, on April 3, 1860, the day the Pony Express made its first delivery, the first rider left from St. Joseph.

Because of St. Joseph’s location near the Missouri River, St. Joseph would continue to grow in the following years.

In my novel, you will note that I took some “creative liberties” since I write “historical fiction”, and when my character arrives in St. Joseph, it is not yet a large, busy town, but that begins to change about halfway through the novel.

Timeless Tuesday: History Related to my Novel


My first Historical Romance story is set in Missouri in 1860. I have completed my first draft and am currently working on revisions.

In the beginning of my novel, my main character has been living in St. Louis, Missouri for several years. The above map is an 1860 map of Missouri with the railroad running through the middle of it. St. Louis is near the bottom right corner of the above map.

My MC (main character) gets a job that requires him to go to Hannibal, Missouri to get on a train that will take him to St. Joseph, Missouri, which will be his new home. Hannibal is on the right end of the railroad line and St. Joseph is on the left end of the railroad line.

My MC will also spend time in Seneca, Kansas, which is not on this map, although you can see Kansas here.

1860 is during the time of the Old West. There are cowboys, towns are just being established and settled, there’s the Pony Express, and the start of the telegraph lines. There are Indian uprisings as well. Most of the land is still untamed. In just one year the Civil War will begin.

All of these things will have an impact on the characters in my novel.