The Height of the Storm

When I was asked to do a blog review on The Height of the Storm, the third book in The Triple Crown Trilogy by Kimberly Campbell, I thought I would be able to read the book and write a review. I read the book summary and found myself interested, despite the book being classified as “YA” or Young Adult. It had all the elements I look for in a good book: a tragedy, relatable family drama and well, horses. To better educate myself on the whole picture, I read the summaries of the first two books, The Calm Before the Storm and The Eye of the Storm. I suddenly found that I was invested in the storyline. I wanted to read more about how the universe first aligned Genuine Storm, a horse that needed a second chance at life, with Charlie, a widowed mom of two young kids who found herself starting over whether she was ready to or not. The Height of the Storm begins right after long-shot Genuine Storm has two back-to-back wins at the Kentucky Derby and the Preakness Stakes. Weeks before the last leg of the Triple Crown, the stable suffers a devastating fire where much is lost, secrets are unraveled and relationships are broken. The third book centers around whether the group can rally together to clench the first Triple Crown win in thirty-seven years.

Like I said, after reading the official summaries of each book, I felt I was invested in the storyline and I wanted to know more about all the characters and read about their path to the Kentucky Derby. I knew I had to start at the beginning with The Calm Before the Storm. Luckily all the books are available on Amazon so it won’t be too difficult to catch up. In the meantime, I thought it would be a great opportunity to interview Kimberly Campbell about the Series and her own personal connection with Thoroughbreds.

HG: Thanks so much Kimberly for chatting with me. I loved the Thoroughbred Series as a kid and I feel like The Triple Crown Trilogy is an adult version of those, so I am really looking forward to reading the books! I learned that you have always had a soft spot for Off The Track Thoroughbreds (OTTBs) and have given a forever home to many retired OTTBs. Can you tell me about your first OTTB?

KC: My love for the Thoroughbred started when I was a teenager, when I got my first Thoroughbred off the track.  Smokey was grey, hence my love for a grey horse, and was quite the character.  He would stand in the middle of the field gazing around at the horses pleasantly eating around him and decide it was time to rile the rest of the herd up and start chasing them around.   He wasn’t the easiest to ride and was quite uncomfortable, but he would do whatever I asked, including jump as high as I could stomach.  And as a young kid, I thought I could jump the moon!    The thoroughbred has a heart and mind that I don’t think you find in other breeds, they will try to do the best they can and they certainly know how to exhibit enthusiasm when they are successful!   

HG: Many rescued OTTB stories have left scars in my mind and I am sure you know firsthand how people in the industry can cast the “old” racehorses or the “losers” aside. Is it sometimes hard to still love the sport knowing the things you know or do you think the industry unfairly gets a bad reputation?

KC: I try and look at things from an outside perspective.   The racing industry is at a cross-roads and at times is losing public interest due to mis-communication and mis-understanding.  I think it would be best served by talking in layman terms to the general public so they can understand why certain things are the way they are.  There are extremes in all sports and I think with social media and everyone being able to put their opinion out for all to read, things can get misconstrued.   The industry needs to be more relatable to the average person – sometimes all people see on TV or read about is the wealth owners and trainers that are involved in the Triple Crown races.    What about following a one-racehorse owner like me and focus on all the tidbits I am learning about as I try to understand the industry better?

HG: Have you ever owned an active racehorse? Can you describe the amount of, and intensity of, training that it takes to be competitive?

KC: My first and only racehorse is Height of the Storm, named after my third book.  I purchased her as a yearling in early 2017 with dreams of her racing career coinciding with my books and dreams of reaching the Kentucky Derby.   It was not to be, but it has been a whirlwind of fun.  Storm is definitely a competitor, but she got really sick and almost died right before she was going to run in her first race as a two-year old.  A team of great doctors at the equine hospital nursed her back to health, but they weren’t sure she would get back to the track.  After six months of rehab and weight gain, she returned to the track and continued her path to her first race.  To date, her best finish was a second at Pimlico, a few weeks after the Preakness.  It was exciting to watch her come down the homestretch where so many great racehorses have run with the tents in the infield as the backdrop.  

My trainer does a great job with Storm, but he is also educating me on what level races she could be successful at.  Since her second place finish, Storm usually finishes mid-herd.  She is a consistent runner, but doesn’t exhibit that “kick” to finish strong.  There is so much that goes into getting a horse to the race, both physically and mentally.  You also need to figure out what surface they like to run on, dirt or turf, as well as what would be the best distance.

Given that I don’t want to risk Storm getting claimed, our race options for her are limited.  The majority of the races at the track are different levels of claiming races, where horses have the potential to change hands, and you can’t prevent it.  Although I have been told the risk is small, I couldn’t stomach putting Storm in a claiming race and having someone claim her away from me.  Although the competing argument is that these races would be a better match for her potential and get her in a winning mindset – hence the mental side of preparing a horse to race.  They do know when they win.  Right now she is quite comfortable with finishing with her friends around her.  

I will give her another race this year and then give her a few months off at a farm to continue to mature and develop physically.  Then, if as a four-year-old she doesn’t succeed, then I will find a new job for her such as being a show horse.  Storm will always have a home with me. 

HG: What do you think it would be like to sit in the owner’s box of the Kentucky Derby? Would you be able to enjoy it or be wrecked with nerves? I think I would be bouncing back between those two emotions!

KC: Oh boy, that would be the best!  I was fortunate to be invited into the Paddock of this past Kentucky Derby for a race earlier in the day and it was such a treat.  No matter what, my mind would be on having a safe trip – which I say to Storm’s jockey every time they get up on her for a race.  Believe me, watching your horse run down the homestretch at Laurel Park is just as exciting as watching the horses come down the stretch at Churchill Downs.  The one emotion I look forward to experiencing is coming in first – it wouldn’t matter what track I was at. 

HG: Did you ever anticipate that you would be an author of an equestrian novel? What was the most challenging part of writing the last book, The Height of the Storm?

KC: Never in my life did I envision being a writer.  I am an accountant by trade and have written the books in my “spare time” while managing several businesses and a houseful of kids and all their activities.  But I was passionate about the topic and have thoroughly enjoyed learning more about each of the races, as well as meeting so many great people who provided me details that I have weaved into the story.  There are so many people to thank for taking the time to answer my questions. Early on before the first book was written, there were the ones who helped me frame my ideas and storyline – from the receptionist at a breeding farm in Casanova, Virginia after the owner passed away to the owner breeder who introduced me to the details of Keeneland and its historic auction to the historian at Sagamore Farm outside of Baltimore.   And then subsequently, the tours of Pimlico and Belmont by individuals willing to hear what I was trying to write about, introductions to vets that specialized in various aspects that I incorporated into the books, along with inspirational chats with industry insiders at various conferences I attended.    

The challenge of writing book three was that I wasn’t sure where the story should go.  When I started out writing the trilogy, I knew what the main topics and stories were going to be in Calm Before the Storm and Eye of the Storm.  I didn’t have a strong sense of where I wanted the last book to go.   My editor Lauren Kanne was instrumental in asking questions and helping with the research as we worked together to develop the last book and wrap up the storyline of each character. 

HG: What’s next? Can we look forward to a new equestrian series from you or a potential spinoff series?

KC: I have been asked about more books and for now, my goal is to take a breather while my kids are still at home.  I have one in college, one ready to head to college and my daughter is a freshman in high school.  I have ideas on where I could go with follow on stories as I love educating myself as well as the reader in different areas of the horse industry.  And maybe it just isn’t within horse racing, but maybe some of Storm’s offspring venture into other disciplines, like eventing or showjumping.  I will have to see where my heart (and Storm, both fictional and real-life) takes me. 

Thank you so much for answering my questions, Kimberly! Excited to see what is in store for you next!! Chloe votes that Storm’s offspring enter the showjumping stadium!

Kimberly and her horse, Lilly.

Saddlebox: A review by Chloe.

Saddlebox promises to be a box of happiness for your horse. Therefore, it was only natural that they asked me, Chloe, the world’s premiere horse blogger, to review their subscription box. After my minion, Andrea, opened the box for me (I’m all hooves), I got to work and quickly accessed the goods.

Noms. There were two bags of quality horse treats. TWO! And they were both full size bags – not the little sample bags that typically come in other boxes. Thanks to Saddlebox, Andrea’s tack trunk now has 1lb of bite-sized Apple Nuggets and her grooming tote is well stocked with Claeys peppermint candies. These treats are so delicious that I don’t mind doing 100 neck stretches for them.

Grooming. There were a few items in the box related to horse grooming. I am pretty clean most of the time, but have you seen some of those gross geldings? Yikes! I was happy to see the Epona grooming mitt in the box. Andrea misplaced my old one and these mitts are great for removing sweat marks. Not that I sweat of course. The mitts also help stimulate my natural sheen and can be used wet or dry. The box also came with a very soft palm-sized face brush made by Decker. I really appreciated this because I detest when Andrea uses a stiff brush on my face! Would she like me to use a stiff brush on her face? I don’t think so! A fancy (as far as hoof picks can be fancy) wooden hoof pick by Epona was also included. It has a leather tag that makes it easy to hang up in the grooming stall so that everyone has a hoof pick handy. Lastly, the Tough-1 Shedding Blade is sure to give Andrea delight this time of year, as my winter coat is in and the dull dander on my romp gives her heart palpitations.

Owner Gifts. Andrea is never going to purchase a subscription box that doesn’t benefit her in some way (hmph) so Saddlebox correctly assumed they have to include a few owner gifts in there. Heaven forbid that the majestic animal that carts you around weekly is pampered! Anyway, this box came with a horse patterned light weight scarf, which Andrea loved, and a decorative Western boot that would apparently (according to Andrea) look cute in a book case.

Details. For a one-time box the price is $45 total. Sign-up for 3 consecutive monthly boxes and the price drops to $40 total per box. For a year membership, the boxes decrease by 33%. I am not a mathematician but it sounds like a pretty good deal to me, if you like getting monthly surprises in the mail and you like giving back to your horse, the one that works tirelessly to carry you around and make it look effortless… 🙂

Sign up for your box here and it will ship for FREE, TODAY!!!! You heard that right. It ships today, and then each subsequent box will ship on the 15th of every month. And there are no shipping fees, ever! You’re welcome!

xo Chloe the horse.

Be The Hostess With The Mostess

PC: Vagabond House

Have you ever been to a social gathering and wondered where the host or hostess found such fabulous serving pieces and home decor? Well, the secret is out. Vagabond House specializes in fine tableware, serveware and giftware. The pieces are stylish without sacrificing an ounce of tradition, and they seamlessly transition from casual to formal settings. Handcrafted from natural materials, with many touches of the highest quality pewter, almost every piece looks like a family heirloom… but one you are happy to inherit!

Be sure to take some time to explore Vagabond House in its entirety, but definitely don’t miss out on the new Equestrian Collection. Among other goodies, you will find pewter and wood serving trays, a stone and pewter sugar/creamer set, lots of pewter flatware, and a porcelain/pewter stirrup dessert stand. Seriously, if you can browse this Equestrian Collection and not feel like you want to host an afternoon tea (after a foxhunt in the English countryside) I will be impressed!

I like to host simple birthday parties or small get togethers, so for me, the cheese/dessert stand was perfect. This stand is made from hand-blown, sturdy glass with a horse bit attached to the glass top. A hand-crafted leather knob handle sits on top so you can easily move the glass dome without creating fingerprint smudges on the glass. In this particular set, there are three different heights to choose from. One stand is fun, but having two or more at staggered heights would also be eye catching.

Horse Bit Glass Dome
PC: Shannen Smyth Photography

The holidays are coming up which makes it a great time to update your dinerware and home decor. I know I am going to be ordering some special pieces for Thanksgiving from Vagabond House. The addition of the Equestrian Collection will make it hard to stop at just one item in my shopping cart!

Not Your Basic Invites

My custom stationery created at Basic Invite.
PC: Shannen Smyth Photography

We live in a world of texting, Facebook and FaceTime, but nothing beats receiving a letter in the mail. I know I am excited when I open the mailbox and see a handwritten personal envelope, addressed to me, buried in the mass of bills and junk mail. Oftentimes, when I receive products to review from equestrian brands, a handwritten note is in the package. I always enjoy that. It feels more special knowing someone took the time to draft the note. In the past, I have looked for stationery for Horse Glam to use primarily as thank you cards to send back to the brands. Basic Invite has two of the requirements on my stationery list: custom options (so that I can upload my logo) and gold foil. I LOVE gold anything! Furthermore, not only can I add my logo to the stationery, but with over 180 colors to select from, I can perfectly match my Horse Glam color scheme.

Chat box on far right!

There were tons of samples of stationery to choose from (and even MORE wedding related paper products, if you are in the market for that), but I found one (called “painted wash”) pretty quickly that complimented the subtle watercolor design scheme of one of my Horse Glam logo sub-marks. The “Painted Wash” also was the same ballet color pink as my logo. Naturally the design I liked was not one of the ones that you could upload your logo to, as I wanted to remove the “Hello” text and just put my logo in its place. However, within seconds of me browsing the site, a chat box had popped open asking if I needed help. I decided it couldn’t hurt to ask the question: “Could they add my logo for me, even though the product I wanted to add my logo to was pre-designed?” The online rep answered momentarily and led me through the process to do it. After two rounds of instantaneous previews, I was ready to see my sample product. Actually, it was better than that…I was ready to hold my sample product.

Basic Invite is one of the only websites that I have encountered that lets you order a printed sample of the actual invitation so you can see exactly how it will print (as well as the paper quality). This surely beats having 150 invites delivered to your house only to then discover that maybe you don’t like that hot pink font after all. My sample arrived within 10 days and it looked exactly like the online preview: it was perfect! I opted for just the plain white envelope but when I place my actual order I am going to take advantage of the over 40 colors of envelopes they have available.

I look forward to ordering my custom Horse Glam stationery from Basic Invite, especially now that I know it will turn out exactly how I wanted. If only ordering my wedding invites (12 years ago) was this easy!

Collection of pretty paper from Basic Invite

wedding photo coasters favors 

wedding rsvp websites

Artist Lara Kaller

final_web_res
There is something so whimsical about Lara’s work that I was moved enough to reach out to her a month ago on Instagram. Within hours she sent me this fun drawing, despite the fact that she doesn’t do portraits! I loved how she captured Chloe – she looks like her regal self. Her ears are her perfect pony ears, her forehead swirl is noticeable and her muzzle even has the infamous Chloe wrinkle in it. I showed Chloe the picture and she was pleased, although she thought Lara could have helped a girl out and added a few more forelock strands. I tried to explain to Chloe that it was supposed to be lifelike, which did not go over well. The giveaway for me, is the eyes. When I look at Lara’s picture, I notice Chloe’s eyes immediately and it really makes me happy. I will always treasure this picture! I cannot wait to get it printed and hung somewhere!

Lara has been passionate about horses her entire life and went to riding schools in Israel, and her home country, Ukraine, where she dabbled in dressage, show jumping and western. While she doesn’t own a horse, she does live nearby a ranch that provides a constant source of inspiration and a place to occasionally ride.

Lara is a professional illustrator, animator and graphic designer and has been working in the gaming industry for over a decade. Recently, at the urging of her husband, Lara decided to offer her private equestrian inspired drawings for sale. You can buy her various drawings and designs as art prints and/or on different lifestyle products, such as apparel, home decor items and tech accessories.

You can currently view these, and some more of her products for sale, on the following two sites:

www.redbubble.com/people/LaraKaller
www.society6.com/larakaller

Want Lara to email you a sketch of your horse for FREE? Enter our contest by following the simple rules below:

  1. Follow “Larakaller” on Instagram.
  2. Sign up to receive email notifications from Horse Glam by entering your email at the bottom of THIS PAGE

A Glass Of Chardon – neigh, Please.

A Glass Of Chardon – neigh, Please.

I am SO excited to share this newest find with you all! Customized, hand-painted wine glasses in your horse’s image!! Chloe looks so adorable on a wine glass – who knew!? Ordering from The Horse’s Glass is very easy. First, you have to decide if you want a custom glass or an already made wine glass.  If you can’t wait the 2-3 weeks for the custom order, then definitely check out her current, ready-to-go inventory. There are numerous types of horses to choose from, from bays to grays. If you are happy with one of the glasses she has available here, then complete your purchase as normal.

If you have the time to wait, and extra money to spend, then what are you waiting for? You HAVE to do the custom order. It takes a few minutes to fill out the order form (click here) and you must have a good picture of your horse handy. See a photo I provided her of Chloe below – I chose it because you can see the little bit of white Chloe has on her right hind. I think she did an amazing job and I know Chloe appreciates the extra bit of volume given to her lashes! I love the stem of the glasses – their legs/hooves crack me up!! The Palomino horse was a gift for my friend Colleen, who owns City Luxe Style. Colleen and I are planning on meeting up to do a video blog over a glass of wine, so hence the custom glasses. Colleen does not have a horse so I am convinced that Marci (owner of THG) made a horse in Colleen’s blonde image!! Marci was kind enough to incorporate Colleen’s logo on the stem too. See the end results below.

These glasses are so fun and practical at the same time. I think they are not only perfect splurges for yourself, but also for gifts. They would make a perfect holiday gift for a friend or family member. Custom is $48 and non-custom is $25. Order before December to receive in time for Christmas!!