Author of Saddled, Chosen by a Horse, and Chosen Forever

I was born in New York City in 1949. I have one older brother, Lloyd Richards, a lawyer who lives in Vermont with his wife Cameron and his three children: Nate, Marguerite and Evan.

When I was five, my mother died of leukemia, and my father disappeared to try to drink himself to death for the next fifteen years. Lloyd was sent away to school in South Carolina. I went to live with my father’s mother, Granny Richards in Rye, New York. For the next thirteen years this grandmother farmed me out to live with various relatives up and down the East Coast, giving me enough book material to last the rest of my life.

In addition to the priceless book fodder, my childhood gave me a deep love of reading, art, nature, animals and above all, horses. That same childhood also led to my becoming an alcoholic by the age of twenty-three. I managed to graduate from the University of Colorado, BA English, in 1972. After attending a graduate program in teaching certification at Brandeis University, I began teaching high school in the Boston Public Schools in 1974. This was the first year of court ordered bussing and Boston erupted into daily, often violent demonstrations. It was impossible not to be effected by the profound social strife, and it was during this time that I became more interested in the workings of the human psyche than I was in teaching English literature. But it wasn’t until I left an unhappy marriage and stopped drinking that I went back to school to get a Master of Social Work at Adelphi University, graduating in 1990.

I loved being a social worker but always at the back of my mind was a desire to write. It had been there for as long as I could remember but I didn’t have enough confidence to begin. That changed in 1995, when at the age of 45, I took a writing workshop with the wonderful Maureen Brady and began writing my first novel. It also led to my becoming a writing adjunct at Ulster County Community College in Stone Ridge, New York and at Marist College in Poughkeepsie.

Today I live in a small house in the Hudson Valley surrounded by stone walls and hay fields. I have two rescue pugs named Luna and Noche; a chocolate lab named Lucy; and a siamese cat named Sebastian. My beloved horse children, Georgia, Tempo, Hotshot and Lay Me Down, written about in my first book, Chosen By A Horse, have all died and lie buried in a back field. Hotshot and Tempo died of old age in their forties. I euthanized Georgia in 2002 at the age of 23, after trying for a year to save her from laminitis. I euthanized Lay Me Down in 1998, also at the age of 23, for an inoperable brain tumor. Horses have enriched my life immeasurably, not the least of which was to show me how better to love people.

© Susan Richards | Website: Ken Schneidman