Horses and Harleys is a story of two wounded souls who find hope and healing through their interaction with each other and through their mutual love of horses.

Racing Hearts

Racing Hearts

As part of my research for the story, I looked into how animals can be helpful in the healing process, whether this is physical or psychological. Many of us have pets and know how wonderful it can be to curl up with a cat, to canter across a field on a horse or to take a long walk in the fresh, country air with a dog. Animals are often important family members who share in our daily routines and our lives, providing us with love, comfort and companionship.

Some of the ways that animals, especially horses, can help us include:

- Comforting us during the grieving process after the loss of a loved one.

- Lowering blood pressure and stress.

- Extending the lifespan of cardiac patients.

- Therapeutic horseback riding can improve balance, posture, mobility and muscle coordination.

- Encouraging people to get out and about and to socialise more with others and therefore improving mood and communication skills.

- Aiding the recovery process when trying to beat an addiction.

- Helping those with conditions such as autism and PTSD who might otherwise feel disengaged with the world around them.

The reasons why animals are particularly good at helping humans lie in the fact that they don't judge us; they only judge our behaviour. This is particularly true of horses. As long as they don't feel threatened by us, they see us as we are, as human beings. This can help us to feel comfortable being ourselves because we are accepted as we are. It is all too easy to judge and to feel judged in this life, but animals don't judge us and this obviously has positive benefits.

I wrote the story Horses and Harleys for an anthology called Racing Hearts. The anthology is very close to my heart because it's a tribute to a very special lady called Sue-my first ever editor-and her family. Horses and racing are very important to Sue, so it was decided that the anthology should centre on these elements. In Horses and Harleys, I wanted to explore how horses, and one horse in particular, can help two broken hearts to heal.

All of us will experience loss in our lives and sometimes that loss will seem unbearable and we will struggle to keep going. But even when life seems at its darkest, there is usually hope to be found somewhere, whether it is in our loved ones who are still with us, in the love we shared with those we've lost (and being aware that they would want us to go on) or in the company and acceptance of a pet or animals we come into contact with.

Life isn't a race; it's a journey, but as with a race, along the way we might well accrue some injuries. Nothing can ever replace the people we love and although time can help in the grieving process, it may be a case of learning to live with our loss rather than completely healing.

Animals can help us to continue, they can give us a focus, a purpose and comfort.

To sum up, here are two quotes. The first is from author George Elliot:

"Animals are such agreeable friends - they ask no questions, they pass no criticisms."

The second is from Albert Einstein:

"Nothing moves me more -when on the way to fetching my mare in the morning-than the sound of her neighing to me as I open the gate.

Our task must be to free ourselves…by widening our circle of compassion to embrace all living creatures and the whole of nature and its beauty."

Note: Pride Publishing will be donating profits made from Racing Hearts to Cancer Research UK and Prospect Hospice.

About Molly Anne Wishlade:

Molly Ann Wishlade has always been an avid reader and writer of stories. Her lifetime of reading has taken her from the magical worlds of The Faraway Tree and The Borrowers, to the Greek myths and legends, to Sweet Valley High and Judy Blume's Forever, to Asimov's science fiction, Jane Eyre's torment and Stephen King's masterpieces. More recently she has wandered through the vivid historicals of Philippa Gregory; the bubbly, gritty delights of Adele Parks and the fast paced thrillers of James Patterson. She loves getting lost in a novel and often regrets finishing one as the characters are usually missed like old friends. She regularly indulges her insatiable hunger for romance and passion in the delicious worlds created by romantic novelists and is working on several of her own!

What precious spare time she has is spent with her family (one gorgeous husband and two bright and beautiful children), taking long walks around the beautiful Welsh countryside (although she's still waiting for the rescue greyhound she wants to accompany her), cooking her own secret recipe curries, drinking Earl Grey (in copious amounts) and discovering delicious wines. Oh, and she also loves to ski and can't wait to go again! And buying shoes!

She wants to take readers on the rollercoaster that is life through the creation of her own characters, relationships and worlds.

She appreciates feedback, recipes and wine recommendations.

Blurb for Horses and Harleys, part of the Racing Hearts anthology:

Life's not just about horses and Harleys, but sometimes you have to get back in the saddle if you want to go along for the ride.

Henry Lockhart is a rich, successful businessman but life at the top can be lonely, especially as he vowed never to fall in love again after a painful bereavement.

Alex Castillo grew up in a small town where small minds made his life a misery. A disastrous love affair with a married man and the recent death of his mother led him to flee his hometown in search of a better life.

When their worlds collide after Alex takes a job as a groom at Henry's stables, they both know that life will never be the same again.

But they've both been hurt, they've both suffered loss, shame and regret.

Can they find a way to be together, or will they both ride off into the sunset alone?