Full Cry Farm
Leslie McDonald
Dressage Trainer & Author
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1) What was your inspiration for writing Journeys with Horses?
I’ve been extremely fortunate to be deeply involved in the horse industry for over 50 years. In that time, it’s been my pleasure to interact with a wide variety of people who have inspired me with their own personal “journeys with horses”. My new collection of short stories is a window into the experiences of some of those very special people.

2) How did you initially get involved with horses?
It all started with a red, wooden rocking horse named Champion who was stabled at the foot of my childhood bed. As far back as I can remember, I was afflicted with a serious case of horse fever. I have no idea where I caught it as no one else in my family had any affinity for horses.

A life with horses was the last thing my parents envisioned for their only child. But, ultimately, my determined passion to ride wore them down. When I was 8, I was finally rewarded with a series of lessons at a local stable where I lost my heart to a little bay school horse named Co-Co. He was to be the first in my life long journey down the barn aisle. The little girl in “Natalie’s Hands” is my childhood story.

3) What is your background as a horsewoman?
As a child, I began hunt seat lessons in the Chicagoland area, gradually progressing from head-to-tail group lessons to showing “A” circuit hunters and jumpers. Over the years my deepest dreams took wing, expanding my experiences into fox hunting, eventing and eventually dressage. As a U.S. Dressage Federation Gold Medalist, I am now solely focused on that discipline, training horses and riders from the basics through the FEI levels at my Full Cry Farm Dressage Center located outside Cincinnati, Ohio.

4) In what other areas besides horses have you been involved?
When I was a young girl my mother enrolled me in ice skating lessons in an attempt to expand my interests beyond horses. Because I exhibited a talent, weekly group lessons at the local rink evolved into training and competing under the guidance of a nationally ranked coach. While horses always remained my first passion, skating carried me through a successful competitive career and opened the door to a teaching job upon graduating from college. For the next few years, my work days revolved between ice rinks and the stable. Early mornings began with teaching school figures on the ice, shifting midday into the saddle and finally culminating late day with classes back at the rink; a very full schedule that continued until I was 30.

In 1980, my skating and riding activities had to be curtailed due to a serious riding accident that left me sidelined for 6 months, necessitating the need to find a ground bound job to cover my horses’ expenses. As a result of this layup, I developed and produced the Midwest Horse Fair. Over the years, the event grew into the largest all-breed expo in the country featuring over 250 horses representing 25+ breed/riding associations in non-competitive demonstrations. In addition, we offered 300+ retail exhibits and seminars to the over 40,000 spectators who annually attended the event. I sold the event in 1995 to focus solely on my dressage training business.

5) What about your other published books?
My first book, Tic-Tac, was written as an independent study project during my senior year at DePauw University. Upon graduation, I received a contract for its publication from Dodd, Mead and Company in NYC.

Unfortunately after that initial success, my writing had to take a back seat for quite a few years due to the time constraint demands of riding, skating and trade show production. In 2007, motivated by one of my students who is a horse breeder, we wrote Making Magic: Breeding and Birthing a Healthy Foal. Published by Half Halt Press, the book is a guide for the novice horse breeder that follows my experiences with my mare Anastasia on our journey to produce her and my first foal, Vivaldi’s Magic.

After Making Magic’s publication, I was on a roll. All my free time not focused in the saddle or teaching in the center of an arena was spent filling the lines of countless yellow legal pads with stories from the stable. The next published book was Down the Aisle in 2010 followed by Musings of a Horse Farm Corgi in 2012. I’m excited to see where the next book inspiration after Journeys with Horses will take me.