Liz Hughey is a mud puddle loving mom from Brookville, Indiana. She has a degree in Geography from Indiana University and spent the better part of her twenties in the National Forests and Wilderness Areas of Northwest Colorado working as a horse guide and a mule packer. She now resides in Southeastern Indiana on her family's Red Angus beef ranch with her son and their rather large family of pets. Hughey & Son are the grazing managers to the ranch's grass-fed beef operation and spend most summer days with the herd. Liz has a passion for educating children in animal husbandry, environmental stewardship, healthy eating habits, and an organic, simple lifestyle.
How did Liz get involved in horses/mules?
She has been involved with backyard horses since before birth and has always been comfortable around equine. However, became sidetracked in her teenage years. A longing to horseback ride in the Rockies after college lead her back to horses and introduced her to mules.
What is her background in the outfitting industry?
In June 2002, Liz attended the Colorado Outdoor Adventure Guide School, Victor, CO. At COAGS she received her introduction into horse/mule packing. After graduation, she went to work for outfitters, from Jackson, WY to The Flat Tops Wilderness Area, Northwest Colorado. Finally, finding a home in J-Bar H Outfitter’s, Meeker, CO, and finished the 2002 Elk season packing mules with them. It is at J-Bar-H where she fell in love with mules, sometimes working with over 50 different head in one fall season. She moved north of Steamboat Springs, to Clark, CO the following summer and spent three of the next five summers working as a guide/packer and/or barn manager for outfitters and guest ranches in the area, always returning to J-Bar-H for elk season packing.
How has Liz's life changed since working full-time as a guide?
The biggest and best change of Liz's life came with the addition of her son in July of 2013. As far as the type of work she does, animals and nature have always been a constant. She still manages a small herd of horses/mule and rides as much as possible, it’s part of her job. One major change in her career, has been the introduction to Red Angus cattle. Liz moved back to Indiana knowing NOTHING about cattle. With her help, the family ranch has moved their conventionally pastured Red Angus herd into a Management-intensive Grazing platform.
How long did she work in the outfitting industry?
Liz worked for outfitters in Northwest Colorado for 10 years on and off and feels confident in her packing skills to this day. She thinks of the trail and mule packing daily with a very warm heart, and is so glad to know the knot tying art.
What made Liz decide to write children's books?
She reads to her four year old son everyday. Liz found her voice as an author after she was unable to find many books geared toward young children about horses and mules, and none that had the animals in a working environment; how she knows the animals to be happiest. Liz has dabbled with memorizing and reciting poetry since a young age and has been writing poetry, about the trail, mules, and horses since 2004. One late night in 2015, she penned two poems about mules that had been in her mind for many years. Barney the Lopsided Mule was born that night.
What are her long-term goals as an author?
Liz's long-term goal is to introduce a generation, or more, of children to mules and horses and the vocabulary and life that is and can be built around them. She wants children to know, in this modern world of touch screens, there are still trails out there to be ridden. And even in 2017, you can still be a cowgirl or boy if your heart desires. Her goal would be met by reaching one child, her own.
What will readers learn from Liz's books?
Readers of Liz's work will learn about mules and horses, basic equine vocabulary, and about the life that can be built around ‘working’ horses and mules; the equine that she knows to be the happiest. Liz wants her readers to learn about the outfitting and guest ranch industry and know that it is a real life that can be lived. Readers will also learn ecology, geography, and environmental stewardship through the simple poetry of her children’s books. She feels that reaching young minds, is the best way to plant a seed and bring people back to nature.
Why is it important for children to know about mules and horses?
There are many developmental studies highlighting the number of different words heard by a child in their first three years of life and correlating that number to academic performance and vocabulary skills. The more words and ideas introduced to a young child, the better for that child’s mind and future. When Liz looks back at the media that she was exposed to as a young child, it's easy for her see how it has influenced her life to become the equine and nature loving person she is today.
Is her writing exclusively in children's books or is Liz also writing for magazines/e-zines/websites?
Liz's mind is always working on children’s books, but also cowboy poetry, and magazine/e-magazine articles on mule/horsemanship. She has a series of articles published inWestern Mule Magazine, Summer 2017, which are centered around being courteous to your riding and pack animals, keeping yourself and animals safe while handling them, and giving yourself and your riding/pack animal an enjoyable day on the trail.
Where does Liz get inspiration for her children's books?
Much of the inspiration for Liz's writing comes from her past experiences with mules and horses. She finds raising her child in a rural life on the family ranch and watching him interact with the animals to be very inspiring. Her imagination is sparked by spending time in nature and watching her son discover our natural world. She also loves the inspiration that comes with reading to her son.
Does Liz have any future publications in the works?
Liz Hughey & Son's second book, Pack String Problem, is due out November 2017. Also illustrated by 'The Mule Artist', Bonnie Shields, Pack String Problem introduces children to an entire pack string of mules and the different personalities that accompany them. It transcends the equine world with messages of teamwork and forgiveness.
Where can I read more of Liz's writing?
Liz is published by and currently writing columns on mule/horsemanship forWestern Mule Magazine.
You will also be able to read about her work on the family farm in Rural Heritage Magazine in the coming months.
Liz's poetry can also be read in Cowboy Poetry Press, State of the Cowboy III, October 2017.
How can your readers connect with Liz?
Readers can connect with Liz via,