She Who Rides Horses: A Saga of the Ancient Steppe (Book One) by Sarah V. Barnes

She Who Rides Horses: A Saga of the Ancient Steppe (Book One) by Sarah V. Barnes released in March in the historical fiction genre.

Set more than 6,000 years ago, She Who Rides Horses: A Saga of the Ancient Steppe (Book One) begins the story of Naya, the first person to ride a horse.

Daughter of a clan chief, bolder than other girls but shunned by the boys because of her unusual appearance, Naya wanders alone through the vast grasslands where her people herd cattle and hunt wild horses for their meat. But Naya dreams of creating a different kind of relationship with the magnificent creatures.

One day, she discovers a filly with a chestnut coat as uncommon as her own head of red hair. With time running out before she is called to assume the responsibilities of adulthood, Naya embarks on a quest to gallop with the red filly across the boundless steppe.

​Unwittingly, she sets in motion forces and events that will change forever the future of humans and horses alike.

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Meet the Author:

Sarah V. Barnes, Ph.D. is both an historian and a horsewoman. When Sarah is not writing stories, she practices and teaches riding as a meditative art. She also offers equine-facilitated coaching and wellness workshops.

Sarah holds a Ph.D. in history from Northwestern University and spent many years as a college professor before turning full-time to riding and writing. She has two grown daughters and lives with her husband, her dogs and her horses near Boulder, CO.


“What inspires you?” Since becoming a writer, I encounter this question often. Depending on the context, I have more than one answer. If we are talking specifically about the inspiration for my first book, She Who Rides Horses: A Saga of the Ancient Steppe, I can tell the story of how I had no intention of writing a novel until the idea came to me, completely unbidden, during a workshop. If we are discussing the daily practice of writing, I can talk about finally settling, after years of moving around, into a home on a mountain top with a cozy office and amazing views, where I have the space I need – both literally and figuratively – to hone my craft. If we are talking about how to portray characters and their feelings with authenticity, I can point to my own experiences of grief and of joy, plus all the shades of emotion in between. 

As a writer, I find a frequent source of inspiration in other people’s words – in particular, those of the poet and philosopher David Whyte. One of my favorite lines comes from his poem What to Remember When Waking. “To become human,” he writes, “is to become visible while carrying what is hidden as a gift to others.” For me, this observation speaks to the essence of what we do as writers. Becoming visible means putting yourself and your words out there, for others to read. Writing is an inherently vulnerable act. Even if no one reads what you write other than yourself, you are still making yourself visible, if only to yourself. You are revealing what is hidden – the gift of your true self – the gift each of us alone can offer to the world. The whole poem is a powerful reminder of why each of us is here. Every time I read the words, I’m reminded why I write.

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