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Strike like Coup Counter and Black Rain

Strike a color, and winning attitude, like Coup Counter and Black Rain and you, too, will succeed in style.

Believe it or not, Roan is not a horse breed but a horse coat color pattern characterized by an even mixture of colored and white hairs on the body, while the head and “points“—lower legs, mane and tail—are mostly solid-colored. Horses with roan coats have white hairs evenly intermingled throughout any other color. The head, legs, mane and tail have fewer scattered white hairs or none at all. The roan pattern is dominantly-inherited, and is found in many horse breeds.

In 1999, the American Paint Horse Association changed its coat color descriptions: roans with a chestnut background coat are registered “red roan”, while “bay roan” is its own category. Both Coup Counter and Black Rain are Red Roans. Previously, the term Strawberry roan described the pinkish color of a light chestnut or sorrel roan.

There are various other colors or roans: lilac, black, honey, and blue.

Coup Counter’s Model


King Richard II of England rode a famous steed named Roan Barbary in William Shakespeare’s dramatic history bearing his name (Richard II, Act II, Scene 5). According to the play, this proudly prancing equine ate directly from the king’s own hand

Historically the roan gene only occurs in certain breeds and not in other. The breeds of horse that possess the true roan gene include Percheron, Belgian, Welsh Pony, Peruvian Paso, Paso Fino, Quarter Horse, and Paints.

These horses were carefully bred and selected for their muscular power, athletic ability, endurance and hardiness by the ranchers of the American West for a century before formal recognition of the American Quarter Horse by the establishment of the American Quarter Horse Association in 1940. Man of these original “Quarter Horses” possessed the roan gene passed down from their Percheron, Belgian, Welsh and other ancestors.

Horse Symbols

Coup Counter and Black Rain (when with Rattlesnake) both had a red circle around their eyes. Red for bloodshed in battle (in this case a horse race) so the horse can see any impending danger.

Black Rain’s sketch is half and half: red from when he was with Rattlesnake, and purple when he was with Spupaleena.

The fire arrow on Black Rain’s neck represents trouble for an enemy and strength for the warrior.

Feathers between ears or on the base of tail, or coup, represent enemies taken or in this case, horse races won.

The horseshoes, either curved and pointed up or square and pointed down, signify captured mounts.

The hand on the shoulder is a death oath of vengeance.

Coup Counter’s Owner/Rider

Rattlesnake, or Hahoolawho in Sinyekst, had a father with a harsh hand. Not only was his father abusive toward his son, but he also mistreated his mother as well. The young man is out to prove he can be the best horse racer in the territory.

He hates Spupaleena. Hates that she, a woman, races horses. Hates that she is beautiful and talented. He wants nothing more than to stop her, no matter what it takes.

Will he succeed?

Rattlesnake’s Model

Excerpt from Heart of Passion: Coup Counter

Other teams arrived, some trimmed in orange and others in brown.

And there they stood—red circles outlining a single dark, glowing eye of both the fool and his red roan, both arrogant as bull elks in fall. He is here. Spupaleena grunted and rubbed her horse’s rump, near the spot that was panted with three purple crosses.

Pekam jerked his head to his sister, his eyes narrowed.

She knew he saw the mark as well and smirked, knowing her brother watched her every move and needed assurance that Koolenchooten would keep them safe. The fool no longer troubled her as his horse now lived in her corral breeding her mares. She grinned, recalling the sweet moment of the previous season of Gathering Huckleberry’s victory.

Shayna Palmanteer, Spupaleena’s Model

Black Rain and His Owners

In True to Heart Trilogy’s second book in the series, Heart of Courage, Rattlesnake owned Black Rain. Because of his hateful and arrogant attitudes, he challenged Spupaleena in a big race: the winner takes both horses!

Guess how that turned out?

Excerpt from Heart of Courage: Black Rain

Spupaleena imagined her basket hat on her head and loosened her grip on the reins. “Whatever made you think you could beat me?” She fought to keep her tone in control. When he didn’t answer she took a step past him. He gripped her arm. “Let go!” She tried to pull away, but his grasp tightened.

“You talk as though you are stronger than all others. Better than other women and most men. Is this how you want young girls to see you?”

“I want them to see my strength and know they do not have to be beaten down by disapproval. By those like you. That they can have a dream. A voice.”

The vein on his jaw protruded. “Then we will ride without saddles—just us and our stallions. We will see your strength. Let your voice be heard. See how far you get.”

Spupaleena arched a brow and nodded. “No saddles. And like the old ones, with only a string around their jaws.” She wrenched her arm away from his grasp and strode to Bear. Pekam handed her a dogbane rope with a grin and a nod.

Black Rain’s Model

I hope you enjoy getting acquainted with the characters in Heart of Passion.

The next and final two horses and riders in this story will include Pekam (Spupaleena’s brother) his horse, and his teammates and Spupaleena herself, all three of her horses, and teammates.  When reading Heart of Passion, feel free to come back to these pages and see these amazing characters once again!



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