Life At A Gallop

By Claudia O’Brien • Photos by Steve Floethe

We often discover early the direction of our lives. What we are drawn to as children, what makes us happiest, may offer a glimpse of what we will choose to do later to contribute to the world. As a child growing up in Tucson in the ‘60s and ’70s, Cynthia McFarland remembers that she had two abiding passions: books and horses. Not surprisingly, she grew up to be a writer.

Guess what she writes about.

Cynthia McFarland has lots of laurels on which to rest, though she has no intention of doing so. She’s far too busy.

Cynthia’s name is familiar to many Ocala Style readers. She was the first editor of the magazine when it began publishing seven years ago, and her articles on horses and horse people are featured monthly in its pages.

Many are also familiar with her articles that appear regularly in the national equine publications Horse Illustrated, Equine Journal, Pony Magazine, Homestretch, and Thoroughbred Times. What some may not know is that she is also a successful book author whose fourth title has just been published.

Cynthia writes about what she knows very well. She’s owned horses for more than 30 years and has been closely involved in many aspects of the horse world including showing, breeding, and training young horses.

No matter how hectic her life gets, Cynthia says she always manages to carve out time for riding.

“I don’t get to ride every day,” she explains, “but I usually try to ride at least three times a week. Most of all, horses are fun!”

Her new book, The Foaling Primer, from Storey Publishing, is her most ambitious to date. It provides a step-by-step guide to the process of raising a foal from birth to weaning.

“I wanted to write a timeless book on foaling that could really help people new to the foaling process,” Cynthia explains.

The 160-page, full-color volume is already on the road to success. Equestrian’s Edge, the premier book club for horse lovers, has chosen The Foaling Primer as a Main Selection for its members. [Editor’s Note: see info box for purchasing details.]

Cynthia’s first two books were written for young children. Cows in the Parlor: A Visit to a Dairy Farm (1990) and Hoofbeats, The Story of a Thoroughbred (1993) are intended for ages four through eight. She also shot the photography for both of the colorful books.

Cows has been especially successful. It was reprinted numerous times from its initial print run of 10,000 and has been translated into Spanish. It has also been featured, in its entirety, in a number of children’s elementary school textbooks.

Published in the fall of 2005, her third book, The Fact Book of Horse Breeds is designed for older children.

In between book projects, magazine writing demands most of Cynthia’s attention. At any given time, she is working on several byline articles for local, regional, and national publications.

In November, Cynthia received special recognition for her magazine work, when the Ocala-Marion County Chamber of Commerce recognized her as “Business Journalist of the Year.”

And as if all that weren’t enough, she’s also a new bride. She and Jack Wickliffe, an Oklahoma cowboy, were married last fall.

I suggested that she must feel very lucky with all the good things that have been happening in her life lately.

“I don’t believe in luck,” Cynthia explains. “I think when good things happen, it’s a matter of patience and hard work paying off.”

She feels very gratified that she has been able to combine her two childhood loves — books and horses — so successfully.

“I always thought I would write fiction stories,” she says. “But I know what I write about helps people with their horses, and I feel very good about that.

“I’m doing exactly what I want to do in my life,” she continues. “God has really blessed me.”

The Foaling Primer

When it’s springtime in horse country, few sights stir the hearts of horse lovers more than that of mares and foals on good green pasture. It is an image filled with both the satisfaction of the moment and the promise of the future. For horse people, the foaling process is one of the most critical and satisfying aspects of ownership.

Cynthia McFarland’s newest book, The Foaling Primer, captures the foaling experience in up-close photographs taken by noted horse photographer Bob Langrish. The friendly, informative text guides the reader through the first year of a foal’s life with detailed descriptions and instructions on birth, care, handling, training, and weaning.

It’s perfect for novice horse owners and 4-H and Pony Club members as a true introductory handbook that provides everything one needs to know to be successful with a foal.

The chapters are divided along critical points in a foal’s developmental timeline: the first 24 hours, the early weeks, one to three months, four to six months, weaning time, and approaching the yearling mark.

There are how-to boxes for such tasks as bottle feeding, introducing a foal to grooming, and practicing rope leading; “to-do” lists for each stage of a foal’s development; charts of what’s normal and what’s not (with clear guidance on when to call a vet); lists of supplies and equipment needed; and definitions of key words and terms. There are also pages of forms that can be photocopied and used for accurate record-keeping.

Source: Storey Publishing

Note: Some local veterinarians say they plan to keep copies of The Foaling Primer in their trucks to pass along to clients who could benefit from the clear and complete information it provides. It is available at Barnes & Noble and Books-A-Million in Ocala and at several tack stores in the area. It is also available online at and other book seller sites. List price is $29.95 for the hardcover edition and $19.95 for the paperback.

Posted in Ocala Style Promotional Features

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