There are horse lovers, and then there is Kathy Moss, whose life has revolved around horses since early childhood.
Working with horses, writing about horses and speaking about horses has taken her from Prairie City to Canada to New York.
She was given her first pony, Mighty Mouse, when she was 2, and the bond went beyond competitions and ranch work.
Because her dad was a horse trader, she worked more horses than she could count before age 16.
“Pop would bring in mules, draft horses, spoiled horses, colts, mustangs, orphaned babies,” she said.
Her job was to start them — catching, haltering, leading, saddling, harnessing, driving and loading them in a trailer.
At age 9, she bought her first mule for $15, which she later sold for $200 at age 11. Then she bought her first filly.
“Next thing I knew, I was loading horses, working with troubled horses, mustangs and so on,” she said.
On her 6-acre property in Prairie City last year, Moss took in a 20-year-old skittish rescue horse — a “heartbroken mustang who needed a chance” — whose outward scars reflected a difficult life.
She said working with him brought her horse communication to a new level.
“He has shown me try, understanding, frustration and temper tantrums beyond my imagination,” she said while working with him. “All the while, he was finding himself. I think most of all he wants to belong.”
Moss divides her time between working alongside her husband, Tracy, at their Canyon City business, Russell’s Custom Meats, and writing and speaking.
She is known for her award-winning cowboy poetry, which captures Western living, including the hard-working, can-do spirit from the saddle.
Her respect for the cowboy lifestyle and an awareness of horse communication is shared not only in her poetry but also in her novels.
She almost chose not to publish her first book, “Unspoken,” but with encouragement from friends, she decided to go ahead. It was released in 2015, the first in a trilogy.
“If this helps one person understand horses a little bit better, or understand our Western living a little bit better,” she said, “then it needs to go to print.”
A year after the first novel was released, Moss received a call from a girl who said she had been thinking of suicide but reconsidered after spending the night reading the entire book.
“Whatever she got out of the book, I don’t know, but it’s about pulling through and getting through things that are really tough to do,” Moss said.
The first book was followed by “Finding Home,” and then her editor suggested she write about the therapeutic effects horses have on people with autism.
Her final book in the series, “From the Heart,” was released last month, and she has spoken about it in Queens, New York, at therapy centers associated with the Professional Association of Therapeutic Horsemanship International.
The book is about a young girl with autism and an injured draft horse who develop a relationship of trust.
While Moss has calmed and won the hearts of many horses over the years, she’s found in her interactions with the animals that they also have much to give.
“I had always thought horses had a sense about them that was healing,” she said. “There is something in the brain that is therapeutic when the body feels the motion of a horse.”