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Author Kristen Halverson has drawn inspiration for two children’s books from horses she and her husband, Larry, own.

By Pam Reinig

Register Editor


A Northeast Iowa woman with a genuine flair for storytelling, a deep love of horses and an unwavering commitment to literacy has shared her talents and values in two children’s books, including a new holiday release.

Kristen Halverson, Elkader, is the author of The Tale of Josephine Rose: A Horse’s Magical Neigh and its newly released sequel, The Tale of Noel: The Holiday Horse Angel. Her own horses were the inspiration for both stories.

“We acquired a Clydesdale in 2015 and my first book’s story was about her integration to our farm,” Kristen explained. “I leverage themes of inclusion and kindness because it took one of our thoroughbreds to be kind to her for the others to start accepting her. It made me reflect on what transpires in schools and in workplaces. Sometimes, it takes someone to step up and be kind to make a difference.”

Kristen’s second book was inspired by the special friendship of two of her horses. “I leverage their unique personalities and traits in my books’ characters to create a heartfelt and meaningful storylines,” she explained.

A native of Houston, Kristen grew up riding and taking care of horses, which ultimately led to her role as a dedicated equine welfare advocate. Storytelling was a natural gift nurtured by her mother, who encouraged her to share her tales with others. She heeded her mother’s advice but first she completed her education by earning an undergraduate degree at Hollins University, where she took creative writing courses, followed by a graduate degree at LeTourneau University. Along the way, she met her husband, Larry, an Elkader native. Three years ago, they left the Lone Star State and settled here.

“I have been very active with the Elkader library and given book readings with my first book,” Kristen said. “In addition, I gave a talk on the history of the horse when I first moved to Elkader at the library.” She’s also done a reading at the Elgin Public Library.

A focus on children’s books has been a deliberate choice. “I am a tenacious advocate for literacy, making reading fun, and writing stories that have valuable messages of thoughtfulness, inclusion, hope, and kindness,” Kristen explained. “I believe reading stories that share important values will mold young leaders in the classroom and community.”

A portion of the proceeds from her books is dedicated to another cause dear to Kristen: raising awareness for equine protozoal myeloencephalitis (EPM) research, specifically work that’s being done at the University of Kentucky Gluck Equine Research Center. Kristen lost a beloved horse to the disease in 2010, which is caused by a parasite that attacks the animal’s brain and spinal cord. If not detected at an early stage and treated, the disease can seriously damage a horse’s central nervous system and can even lead to death.

“There is some great research being done (on EPM) but there are still a great amount of challenges present toward management of the disease and finding a cure,” Kristen said. “It is a very complex equine neurological disease that has challenged the veterinary community for decades now. More importantly, a lot of horse owners are unaware of this particular disease. Thus, knowing the initial signs is quite valuable toward the treatment protocol for this disease.”

To educate people on the disease, Kristen has shared articles on her Facebook page.

“I strongly believe that enhanced EPM research funds and or endowments will enable teams to increase the necessary resources toward improved treatment protocols, management of the disease, and hopefully find a cure one day,” Kristen added. “I think we owe it to the horse. We are here because of the horse. For centuries, our equines have helped mankind in terms of transportation, war times, and agriculture. More importantly, the horse is still at the forefront of our daily cultures. There are a myriad of athletes in different equine disciplines around the nation, companions for leisure, therapy usages, law enforcement, and as a valuable resource in the Amish community daily in NE Iowa.”

“The Tale of Noel: The Holiday Horse Angel” will be available to libraries and book distributors, including Amazon and Barnes & Noble, next month. The delightful story and wonderful illustrations by Kathy Jurek create an irresistible holiday gift for readers of all ages.

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