Wednesday, 2 September 2020

New Stories Posted On Short Stories Page


I belong to the Uxbridge Writers' Circle and part of the fun is writing stories that use pre-selected words. 

I have just posted seven stories that I've written over the past few months. The pre-selected words are shown in italics. You can click on the Short Stories header, or you can click on this link: Short Stories Page

Here's a few words on each:

"Plans": About a person who has a troubled upbringing and is in a "weird" relationship. 

"Moxie": About a horse that is at the racetrack during the pandemic. 

"Dream Vacation": About making a significant life-changing decision (very loosely based on my own experience).

"A Little Too Late": A woman's three marriages, her role in their deaths, and her financial ups and downs. 

"Horace and Me":A life-changing event throws two people back together. 

"Gritty Compromise": Winnie wrestles with who she wants to be, reluctant to follow in her father's footsteps. 

"Sisterly Love": I think this says as much as I want to give away!

Hope you enjoy the stories.

Thursday, 2 July 2020


Painting by Amanda Morgan

There's no book cover design yet for the fourth book in the Meg Sheppard Mystery Series. 
I have almost finished the first draft, but there is a lot of editing to do!
I am, what they call in the writing world, a 'pantser'. I don't develop an outline for each book before I start writing the story. So, I can change my mind about characters part way through - their traits, their actions, their guilt or innocence.
Even though it can be a challenge, I love editing. 

Here is the promised excerpt, but remember that it's a draft - and the final version could be different!
This starts on page 2:

'Melissa won’t get checked out. She implores me to help find out how the fire started and is convinced that it was no accident. She points out that fire safety regulations are much improved and there are regular inspections. Melissa’s so adamant that I relent, even though I’m to start my volunteer work with the Racehorse Rescue Re-homing and Retirement Society tomorrow.
            Cooper watches us with whiskers twitching as Melissa prepares a light dinner. She won't heed my pleas for her to rest in one of the recliners in the family room while I see to the barn chores.
            After I finish my work in the barn, I put Eagle and Bullet into their stalls for the night. I double-check that I haven’t overlooked any fire hazards before leaving. Images of barns burning and of horses trapped inside disrupt my thoughts and distract me, so I do another inspection and make sure that I maintain my focus this time.
            As satisfied as I can be, I emerge from the barn. Kelly races ahead of me in a silky black and white blur. William is at the back door and she almost bumps into him in her enthusiasm to greet him.
            A whiff of a heavy honey-like scent wafts my way from the large patch of echinacea. A milkweed butterfly flutters across my path as I walk towards William, who stops petting Kelly and puts his large hand on the doorknob.
            “What’s wrong?” he asks.
            “I was going to ask you the same question.”
            “Let’s go in. I expect Melissa will want to hear this.” He opens the door.
            We sit around the kitchen table. Despite the horrific news of the fire, tears of joy threaten to well up in my eyes. Surrounded by trust and love, this is the family I’ve always wanted and never had, until now. I have an urge to hug them both, and have to swallow hard. This isn’t the time to share my feelings. I’m certain William has heard about the fire. It would have hit the news by now.
            “Melissa,” William says, “I can’t remember if this is one of your workdays at the track.”
            “It was. You’ve heard about the fire, haven’t you?” She coughs. William gets up and pours a glass of water for her.
            “You should have that cough checked, and you’d be well-advised to get some eyedrops.”
            “You see, Melissa, William agrees with me.” And, although she won’t admit it, I think she's been traumatized by the fire. She might need counselling as well as a medical examination.
            “What do you know?” asks William.
            “What do you mean?” I ask.
            “I suppose Edwin must have had to euthanize that horse," Melissa says. "I don’t even know his name. That’s two dead. It’s so horrible.” She lowers her head and rests it on her folded arms which lie on the table. Her blond hair hangs like a curtain around her.
            “I don’t know about the horses,” William says. “Is there anyone you work with who’s missing?”
            Melissa snaps her head up, eyes wide, mouth gaping. “I don’t think so. Why?”
            “A friend from the Coroner’s Office, who knows you work at the track, called to tell me that they’ve received a body recovered from the scene of the fire. A human body, of course.”
            “Oh no!” Melissa grabs her phone and runs upstairs to her room, slamming the kitchen door on her way.
            “I wonder what happened?” I ask, not expecting William to answer.
            “There’s conjecture at the moment that the body is of a hotwalker who was known to sleep in one of the stalls that’s used for storage.”
            “That wouldn’t have been possible a few years ago. Every stall would have been full. That’s irrelevant to your story. Who is or was this person?”
            “A lad called Dan, but the identity has not been officially confirmed yet. That’s all I could find out.”
            “That’s so tragic.”
            “Perhaps your racehorse trainer, Neal, knows more. The barn was close to his.”
            “He might have had to evacuate all the horses. I hope they’re okay. Melissa would have said something if not, I’m sure.”
            Just as I pick up the phone to call Neal, his image glows at me.
            “Hi, Neal. What a tragic accident. Are you okay? And the horses?”
            “We’re fine. We didn’t have to move the horses. But it was no accident.”
            “Oh, no.”
            “I overheard the Fire Department guys talking, and they think it was set deliberately. Arson.”
            “That’s disgusting. What a horrible thing to do to the horses. How could anyone do that?”
            “That’s not all. There’s a rumour going around that they took out a body, and it wasn’t a horse.”
            “I’ve heard that too.”
            “News spreads fast here.”
            “I know.”'

Vicky Earle Copyright 2020

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Links are on my blog: Vicky's Blog

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Happy reading!

Monday, 29 June 2020

Excerpt From Third Book In Meg Sheppard Mystery Series

This is the third book in the Meg Sheppard Mystery Series.

Racehorse trainer Grayson is found dead in his office trailer and Meg's trainer, Neal, asks her to investigate. The members of a syndicate, who owned five horses trained by Grayson, are all under suspicion. But the list of suspects grows as Meg learns more about the horses' unexpected poor health and disappointing performances.

The series is set in the crazy world of thoroughbred horse-racing. Meg lives on a farm with her beloved border collie, Kelly, as well as horses and cats.
If you like cozies, you'll enjoy this series!

This is the excerpt from 'Pointed Attacks', which starts on page 126:

'The condo doesn’t look as if it’s been lived in since I visited last. We help Philippa to lower onto the soft sofa. She’ll need help to get out of it too. Oscar has carbonated spring-water, with lemon slices, poured out for us - so he’s proven that he can play host if needs be.
            “Your eyes look puffy,” Philippa says as she peers at me.
            “I didn’t sleep well last night. Don’t know why.” I give her a half-smile and sip some water.
            “I’ve got no time for chit-chat,” Oscar says. “Let’s get on with it. Meg, you’re the one who asked to meet with us, so you can go from here.” He crosses his legs with a flourish. 
            “Thanks for taking the time to meet with me. I know you’re both busy. I’ll get straight to the point. I need the truth about your dealings with Grayson and with Emma.”
            “That’s easy,” says Oscar. “The horses were doing so poorly that Philippa and I wanted to change both the trainer and the vet, even though they were members of the syndicate.”
            “How did you plan to do that?”
            “We hadn’t got a plan worked out.” He shifts his gaze to Philippa. “I hoped you would buy them out, Philippa.”
            “Not a chance. Even if I had the money, which I don’t, those horses aren’t worth it. I’ve always believed that the quality of the horse is paramount. There’s only so much that the trainer can do.”
            “But I thought we agreed that we needed to change things up because everything was going wrong. I spoke to Bryce, you know the trainer who’s in the same barn where Grayson was. I heard he’s a hard worker and would do a good job.”
            “You talked to Bryce?” Philippa squirms and lunges forward as if trying to launch herself out of her soft nest. “He’s a no-good useless piece of shit. Didn’t you think to look at his race record? Who told you he was good?”
            “So, the useless vet told you that Bryce is a good trainer. This would be funny if it wasn’t so terribly sad.”
            “I thought we’d agreed.” Oscar unfolds his legs and leans forward with his arms on his thighs.
            “I don’t know where you got that stupid idea from.” Philippa flops back on the sofa as if exhausted. “Bryce would be my last choice. All he ever says is that he wants a level playing-field and that he reports anything that isn’t fair. What it boils down to, is that he has sour grapes because he can’t get results.”
            “Philippa,” I say, “what do you think is at the root of the problems? For one thing, I’ve heard that the syndicate horses get ailments of all sorts, when other horses don’t appear to.”
            “They seem to get everything going, but I think the real issue is that the horses don’t have what it takes to be runners. I blame Grayson for selecting those horses in the first place. He obviously doesn’t have a good eye or good horse-sense. Useless.”
            “They do get sick a lot,” Oscar says as he puts his glass down on the table. “That’s why I wanted someone else to look at them. I asked the vet, Edwin, to examine them, but he wouldn’t unless I got Russell and Grayson to agree.”
            “Now, that I’d agree with. I respect Edwin,” Philippa says. “He’s the new vet now anyway, so that’s good.”
            “Have things improved?” I ask.
            “Not enough to satisfy me,” Oscar says as he clasps his hands behind his head and leans back. “I want out. I’ve had it with this business. It shouldn’t be called a business, it’s just one big gamble and the owners usually lose while the trainers, vets, jockeys and barn crew do okay. We take all the risk.”
            “But if you have the right horses…” Philippa says.
            “You have to have the right people too,” Oscar interrupts. “And we have nothing right. Rehashing all this isn’t getting us anywhere. I just want out of the whole thing and, quite frankly, I couldn’t give a damn who killed Grayson. I still think it was suicide. He should have killed himself. It was the honourable thing to do.”
            “Oscar, hang on,” Philippa says. “That’s a terrible thing to say. While I’m angry and disappointed and frustrated, I wouldn’t say he should have killed himself. I don’t think that five under-performing horses is enough to die for, personally.”
            “Well, I do,” Oscar says. “It’s a disgrace.”
            “I’m going to end this with one last question,” I say. “Assume that Grayson was murdered, who do you think could have a motive to want him dead?”
            “Bryce,” says Philippa. “He’s scum, and I know he didn’t like Grayson. Amy told me he hung around the barn a lot. That’s not right. There’s something odd about that guy. I’d guess he wanted to get rid of the competition that he had a hate-on for.”
            “No, it was Emma,” says Oscar. “My theory is that she was trying out new drugs that she made up herself. Let’s face it, we got enough bills for medication. I think she thought she was going to come up with some dope that wouldn’t be picked up in testing, but would make the horses run faster. But all she managed to do was make them sick.”
            I thank them both for their time. It’s just as well that I made notes since my mind is misty, as if my silent tears have leaked into my thoughts. I lack the will or the energy to do anything else today, so drive home with Kelly with no other ambition than to make sure all the animals are looked after.'

Vicky Earle Copyright 2019

Thank you to for stocking all three books in the Meg Sheppard Mystery Series on the shelves and having them listed on their website.

They are also available at your favourite e-book retailer: Pointed Attacks

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Excerpt from draft of fourth book to be posted soon!

Happy reading!

Sunday, 28 June 2020

Excerpt From Second Book In Meg Sheppard Mystery Series

This is the second book in the Meg Sheppard Mystery Series. "Over Frank's Dead Body", like the other cozy mysteries in the series, is set in the world of horse-racing as well as country life.
Meg Sheppard is an amateur sleuth and avid animal-lover, as well as a racehorse owner.

In this book, Meg wonders if her husband Frank's murder, the death of a jockey at the racetrack and the theft of some horses are linked.

In this excerpt, Meg meets with her racehorse trainer, Neal, and groom, Linda, before watching one of her horses race.

'My arrival at the racetrack helps me to shift my focus back to Rose’s race. I’ll have time to visit the backstretch, although I don’t want to disturb the trainer, Neal or the groom, Linda. But most of all, I don’t want to agitate Rose.  
As I step into the shedrow I catch a glimpse of Linda, and am pleasantly surprised. She’s clean and tidy, wearing a new pair of jeans, a smart black windbreaker and a clean purple cap. Neal’s stable colours are black and purple. The horses look elegant when they go out to train in the mornings, with black saddle pads trimmed in purple, and with purple polo bandages wrapped round their legs (which they wear for protection).
“You look great, Linda.”
“I’m glad you’re here.” She sounds breathless and her frown is so pronounced it’s making her eyes look smaller.
“Oh no, there isn’t something wrong is there? Is Rose okay?”
“Sorry. She’s fine, great. It’s something else.” Tears roll down her cheeks.
“Is Neal okay?”
“I’m fine.” He steps out of the stall to our right, and Rose puts her head over the mesh gate as Neal closes it. “But let’s get out of Rose’s sight. I don’t want her picking up on our stress as we talk.”
Neal is dressed in a suit, hoping to be photographed later in the winner’s circle. He strides ahead and Linda has difficulty keeping up with us. Despite the strenuous physical exercise she endures every day, her rotund body is no less spheroid, and her short steps are no less wanting. Neal leads us to his modest office, which is at the end of the shedrow. It’s about six feet square and houses a rusting fridge, a coffee maker on a small metal table, a couple of chairs, a tall, leaning cupboard, and numerous hooks on the walls with a myriad of horsey things hanging from them. There’s no window, but the door is always open when Neal is around. Linda enters the office puffing and red in the face. Neal insists we sit down on the two plastic chairs.
“So, what on earth is the matter?” I ask.
“A jockey was killed this morning,” Neal says. Tears run down Linda’s hot cheeks. Neal hands her a couple of tissues. “The official take on it is that he was thrown from his horse just as they were about to start a timed work.”
“But that’s not right.” Linda almost chokes, and blows her nose.
“Linda and I saw what happened. We were there watching one of our horses being breezed.” Neal hands Linda another couple of tissues. “It looked like Juan blacked out and slumped forward, frightening the horse, which bolted, and Juan was thrown, landing on his head.”
“It was the worst thing ever.” Linda breaks into sobs.
“The reason we wanted to tell you is that there’s something fishy about it.”
“We want to find out the truth.” Linda looks at me with red, puffy eyes and a runny nose.
“And we think you’d be able to find out what happened. I knew Juan. He was a good kid. He hadn’t been at this track for very long, but he was doing well most of the time. He was a champion jockey at a track in the States.”
“I don’t think I’d be any help.” I need this like a hole in the head. Too much is out of control in my life at the same time. “What about the police?”
Linda snorts and then blows her nose again.
“Accident,” Neal says. “It seems like no-one else thinks it’s suspicious, so they’re not listening to us. But no-one was close to Juan when it happened, not like us. And we both agree. Hope you’ll help. We can’t think of anyone else who has the connections and would be able to ask questions without getting people uptight.”
Neal and Linda look at me while the silence hangs unseen but felt, expecting to be broken. I can’t ignore their eyes. They remind me of Kelly’s eyes when she’s asking me for something. I can’t resist their appeal.
“I mean it when I say I don’t think I’ll be able to help.” I let out a sigh. Linda’s frown deepens as she looks at me with unwavering intensity. “But I’ll do what I can.”
“That’s great.” Neal shakes my hand. Linda gets to her feet, wipes her nose again, and hugs me. I’m not comfortable with physical contact, but her embrace, limited by her rotund body, doesn’t make me feel smothered, and she releases me after a couple of seconds, letting me breathe again.

“No time to talk more,” Neal says, as he grabs a lead-rein off one of the hooks. “Linda and I need to get Rose ready for the race. We’ll see you track-side.”'

Vicky Earle Copyright 2018

If you enjoy cozies, then add this series to your summer reading list!

A big 'thank you' to Blue Heron Books for stocking all three books in the series on their shelves, and including them on their website. 
They are also available from your favourite e-book retailer: Here's the link for this book:

Happy reading!

Friday, 26 June 2020

Excerpt From First Book In Meg Sheppard Mystery Series

If you like cozy mysteries and are interested in horses and the exciting and challenging world of horse-racing, then you'll enjoy this series - and I should mention that Kelly, a border collie, plays an important role in the story.

Here's a short excerpt from about one third of the way through the book. Meg Sheppard meets with the trainer of her racehorses (previously her husband's horses):
     “Hi, I’m glad you’re here,” the trainer says, as he takes off his grubby baseball cap and sweeps his rough hand through his dishevelled red hair. He seems to be looking right through me with his dark eyes.
     “Hi. Perhaps I should see Rose, then.” 
     “Yes, yes. She’s in the end stall.” Shane turns and struts ahead. I have to walk at a brisk pace to keep up with him. He opens the half-door, catches hold of Rose’s halter, and uses a tie which is attached to the stall wall, to secure her. He motions to me to go round with him to the side of the horse the furthest away from the stall door. Bending over in the semi-darkness, he runs his hand down the horse’s foreleg.
     “I can feel some warmth in the tendon. See what you think,” Shane says, as he pulls himself up and steps away from the horse. I obediently bend down, and rub my hand slowly down the leg. I can’t feel anything unusual. There’s no warmth, puffiness or apparent tenderness. I know that Shane is standing too close to me, almost touching. A crawling sensation creeps over my skin as if little spiders are building webs from one extremity to another.  
     “Where’s Linda?” I ask, as I look for a space to pass the man and leave the stall. I feel pinned in and claustrophobic.
      “Oh, it’s her afternoon off.” Without warning, he grabs my hand and firmly guides it down the horse’s leg. I can feel his warm breath on my neck. My stomach lurches and my palms are wet with sweat. I can barely breathe. I pull my hand away abruptly and dive under the tie, almost touching Rose’s nose, and make my escape, trembling.
     “I don’t feel anything unusual,” I say as I catch my breath and regain my composure outside the stall. Shane releases the horse from the tie, and closes the door.
     “Well, she’s definitely favouring the left fore.” He acts as if nothing has happened. “I’d like you to come into the office. We should discuss this, and I’ve got some information I need to give you.” Giving me little chance to reply, he marches off towards his office. With reluctance and ill-at-ease, I enter the trainer’s well-used and tattered domain. There’s a couch, the original colour of which cannot be determined. There are faded, moth-eaten pictures of winners, including him with the horse’s owners in the winner’s circle, on all four walls. Hooks are haphazardly arranged, with pieces of bridles, saddle pads, bits and some other items which I can’t identify, hanging from them. Despite the small open window, the office smells strongly of horses, but the odours of leather and human sweat also hang with heaviness in the stuffy, musty air.
     “Drink?” asks Shane. He picks up a bottle of rye from off his desk and reaches into the small, battered fridge for a can of cola and another of ginger ale. I’m careful to avoid the sofa, and sit on an upright chair which has rusty legs and a padded seat with a ripped plastic cover. It’s prickly and sticky. Shane pulls two white, disposable plastic tumblers out of a bag, and pours a generous measure of rye in one.
     “No, I won’t have a drink, thanks,” I say, just as Shane’s about to pour rye in the second tumbler. He pauses, and then pours the rye anyway.
     “I really don’t want any,” I say, getting up. I walk over to his battered desk.
     “It seems to me that you may not want any, but you need some!” Shane smiles. His dry, weathered skin looks as if it will crack. “If you don’t tell me what you want in it, I’ll just have to guess, won’t I?”
     After a slight pause I say “I’ll have some ginger ale.” My intuition is shouting at me to leave, but I don’t listen. I walk back to the chair. I suppose, at this particular moment, my curiosity is stronger than the repulsion I hold towards the man. 
     “Frank and I used to enjoy the odd drink,” he says.
     “Frank didn’t drink.” Why did he lie?  “What do you want to discuss about Rose?” A sudden pang of loneliness comes over me. I miss Frank. He would have dealt with this whole thing with Shane brilliantly. Shane always treated him with respect, at least to his face, and wouldn’t have dreamt of being so pushy and inappropriate with him.
     “I want to show you the vet bills first,” Shane says, as he downs a large gulp of his drink. “Here, hold this.” He gives me his drink, picks up some papers off the desk and drags the sister of my chair over, to be close to its sibling. He takes his drink from me, and, after taking a gulp, he puts it on the floor beside him.
     “Come on, drink up. It’ll do you the power of good.” He leans over me and peers into my tumbler. I shift away. The smell of alcohol hangs about him like a threatening cloud.
     “Let’s see these papers then. I have to go soon,” I mumble. Shane pulls his chair closer. Too close. I shift mine away. He downs another large gulp of his drink, puts the papers on his lap and stares at me for a couple of seconds.
     “I can’t understand why Frank would leave you on all those trips he took to England.”
     “That’s none of your concern. It was my choice. I had no desire to return to that country.” I’m taken aback. I don’t know why I responded. It’s none of his goddam business. My gut’s now screaming at me to leave but still I hesitate. And he doesn’t reply, presumably because he doesn’t like what I said. The suffocating silence that hangs between us is broken by some familiar, though muffled, sounds coming through the small trailer window. These sounds knock some urgently-needed sense into me.
     “What’s that? I think I can hear barking. It’s got to be Kelly,” I say.
     “You brought your dog? That’s nuts. But she’ll be fine. Have your drink.” Shane picks up my tumbler which I’ve just put down on his desk...

Vicky Earle copyright 2018

You can get the book at or at your favourite e-book retailer What Happened to Frank?
Thank you for reading this cozy mystery! 

Wednesday, 24 June 2020

Don't Give Up!

...that's what I've been telling myself during most of 2020!

The curious circumstances we've found ourselves in this year have posed challenges of all sorts, affecting all kinds of people - including racehorse owners, and, writers.

As racehorse owners, we can't go to the racetrack to visit our beloved horses, or to watch them race.
That's tough.
But at least is operating, thanks to all the hard-working, dedicated, caring people who work in the backstretch. And thanks to the administration and leadership who, now that racing has finally started, are doing their utmost to keep it going and to draw attention to this wonderful sport.

And, then there's writing.
With all the distractions and additional stress, it can be tough to be creative.

The picture of my desk might give you a clue as to why I've had to tell myself "don't give up"!
I'm what they call in the writing world a "pantser" - I don't develop an outline of each book before I begin writing. I can easily get into tangled messes but it's much more fun to write this way. It allows me to change characters as things unfold and to add twists and tension that I might not have thought of until I become buried in the story-telling.
But this means that it's best if I can keep things rolling in my head - if I have long breaks in writing it makes it  harder to remember where I was headed or to regenerate the energy.

Despite the many obstacles, and my chaotic desk, I'm pleased to reveal that I'm on page 260 of my first draft of book #4 in the Meg Sheppard Mystery Series! Yeah!

I have to add that has my first 3 books in the Meg Sheppard Mystery Series on their shelves and also on their website. Thank you to Blue Heron Books!

If you read cozy mysteries and are interested in horses or horse-racing, as well as country-living, these are the books for you!

I will be posting excerpts from all four books in the series soon! Sign up to be notified of new posts.

I hope you are keeping safe and: don't give up on your creative project, whatever it is!

Saturday, 25 April 2020

New Book Review

A big 'thank you' to Anne Leueen for a great review of What Happened to Frank?, the first in the Meg Sheppard Mystery Series.
Link: What Happened to Frank? (I'm currently writing the fourth in the series!).

Anne Leueen has an excellent blog that is full of observations, experience and facts relating to dressage and horses (especially her talented horse, Biasini), as well as other interesting topics.
As the home page of the blog says "the world is best viewed through the ears of a horse'! is well worth checking out!

So, I'm delighted that Anne Leueen has posted her review of "What Happened to Frank?" on her esteemed blog.

This is the review:

What Happened to Frank is the first in the series of Meg Sheppard mysteries written my Vicky Earle. The novel opens with Meg Sheppard getting ready to ride one of the horses she has on her farm.Usually she loves to ride. But this day is not a usual day. It is the one year anniversary of the death of her husband, Frank Sheppard. While she is grooming her horse she gets a phone call from a woman in her grief support group. During their conversation the woman says it is good that Meg has accepted that Frank’s death was an accident.
But Meg has not accepted it was an accident. Frank’s car went off the road on a bend and plummeted down into the river below. But it was a clear day, with no weather issues that would have caused him to lose control of the car, on a road he knew so well. He had not been drinking and he was in good health. What happened? Meg cannot accept it was an accident.
Frank Sheppard was a government minister and several things he was trying to implement had made him some enemies. He was fighting for the environment and some of the powers-that-be, in the local town, were opposed to any controls on their business and their waste management. But did they dislike him enough to kill him? He also had cracked down on the use of drugs for racehorses and yet the trainer of his own horses was known to favor the use of one of those drugs. But would he kill Frank?
With someone following her in an ominous dark pickup truck and her dog being kidnapped Meg is certain there is a cover up. Someone wants her to stop looking for answers. But she has to find out what happened to Frank!
This is a quick paced and easy to read mystery. It carries you along as Meg investigates a series of possible suspects until she finds the answer to Frank’s death. And that answer is a surprise! I shall say no more!
Author Vicky Earle lives in South Ontario on a small farm . She and her husband have a small scale breeding program of Thoroughbred race horses.