A horse lover since childhood, JoAnn S. Dawson lives with her husband Ted and their two sons on a horse farm in Maryland, where they operate a bed & breakfast and offer riding lessons, carriage rides, horse shows and a summer camp. She teaches Equine Science at a local college and is an actress and animal wrangler for film and television. Originally self-published, the Lucky Foot Stable series was a finalist for three national book awards.
Have you always been interested in horses and what are you currently doing work wise that relates to them?
I’ve loved horses since age 6 when my dad brought home a pony and told me to go round up the cows. That was learning by doing! Currently I own a riding stable and B&B, and lease another barn for trail rides. (45 horses altogether)
We do lessons, pony rides, horse-drawn carriages, hayrides, summer camp, and trail rides. My husband and I also teach equine courses at the nearby college and wrangle horses and other animals for film and TV. I am an actress, member of SAG and AFTRA, and have had principal roles in film and TV.
How much of your day/week is hands on with horses?
I am hands-on with the horses every day for at least a couple of hours.
What are the general steps taken to get published as an author?
I began by self-publishing and worked very hard to get my books out on the market, then my series was picked up by Sourcebooks, after which I wrote a fourth book.
Any advice for those interested in pursuing writing about their love of horses and turning it into an income?
Horses are an endless source of inspiration and stories and are well loved by many people. Animal stories in general, if well told, are always appealing to a large audience. The love of horses comes easy; the writing ability is a gift. I would suggest writing down your experiences with horses, turning them into a workable manuscript and getting honest opinions before looking for a publisher.
Is there anything else with horses you’d love to learn about or try?
I always wanted to foxhunt, I’ll get around to it someday!
Favourite horse memory?
My favorite horse “story” concerns my own horse, Painted Warrior. I bought him at an auction when I was eight months pregnant with my third son. I was not planning on buying a horse that day but I saw him standing in the aisle (he had broken loose from his lead rope) and it was love at first sight. I later found out how difficult his behavior was because he had been abused. He was not mean at all, but distrustful, head shy, terrified, impossible to catch in the field, etc…
After years of patient care and training, he is now the best horse on the planet (in my opinion!) He is 26 years old but still giving riding lessons, jumping 2’6”, doing trail rides, and acting like he’s 10. It’s been a miracle to see him develop.
My future goals are to continue in the horse business and write more books!
Best thing about your sport/profession?
The best thing about this profession is working with a variety of different horses, being my own boss, meeting fascinating people through the B&B, working outside, and running a popular and well-respected business.
“A dog may be man’s best friend…But the horse wrote history.”