Thoroughbreds: My Backdrop, Guest Post by Author Cindy McDonald

Over the past twenty years or so, my life has been marinated in horses. I live near Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania on a forty-five acre Thoroughbred farm. My daughters and I spend many years showing horses on the Quarter Horse circuit, traveling all summer long from one horse show to the next, including the All American Quarter Horse Congress that is held each year in the fall in Columbus, Ohio.

Even though she was a professional dancer, Cindy McDonald chose her husband's hobby of Thoroughbred racing for the backdrop of her UnBridled Series

Even though she was a professional dancer, Cindy McDonald chose her husband’s hobby of Thoroughbred racing for the backdrop of her UnBridled Series

My husband feeds his hobby by racing our Thoroughbreds at Mountaineer Racetrack and Presque Isle Downs. Ahhh, the backside of a racetrack—now that’s where you will find a collection of characters that is an author’s dream! It is a lifestyle that few witness and even fewer understand.

The backside (the stable area) is a community. Believe me, everyone knows everyone’s business and if you’re a newbie, it won’t be long until they know everything about you—they make it their business. The people of the backside are always waiting for that one special horse that will send them over the top to some fantasy of fortunes that is always one length, or one race beyond their reach. Likewise, there are those who have the means and the horses that keep them head and shoulders above the rest, putting them on a higher social ladder than those who do not. However, the two groups meet on a nightly basis at the starting gate, and that is where it becomes Unbridled.

My husband and I don’t make our living with the horses. They are a hobby, a habit, an addiction—whatever you’d like to call it. That said I’ve spent a lot of time on the backside with the exercise riders, jockeys, and fellow trainers. I’ve watched them diligently for years. The deals, the lies, the scandals, and yes the drugs. My husband calls those who use the drugs “cheaters” and rightly so. Some of the cheaters are more cunning than others.
In 2005 I sat down at my computer and began writing a TV drama call Unbridled. I wanted to bring this lifestyle to the forefront because there was nothing on television quite like it. But I knew that horses and horse racing was a mystery to most of the public. People may not be interested in watching something that they know nothing about. So what is it that television viewers know all about? You got it–murder, suspense, and relationships.

So with the racetrack and a beautiful sprawling Thoroughbred farm called Westwood as my backdrop, the Unbridled scripts took form.

Against the Ropes was released June 1. Click on Book Cover to Purchase on Amazon.

Against the Ropes was released June 1. Click on Book Cover to Purchase on Amazon.

I created a family known as the Wests who were the proprietors of Westwood. The West are wealthy, but they are fair and decent people. I was tired of the shows where there were no redeeming qualities in the characters. No, this ain’t Little House on the Prairie folks, and my characters are far from perfect, but at the end of each show there was a message.

Hokay, it was a bust. While I had many lookers, including Warner Brothers, the show simply didn’t sell. One of my Hollywood script readers said to me, “Cindy don’t be stupid, make this into a book series.” And so I did.

Each of the Unbridled books feature graceful Thoroughbreds—they are not always the main part of the story, but they are always ever present. And yes, some of the situations that the characters get into are actual events that we have experienced at the racetrack—great exaggerated upon of course. For example, I’ve never been murdered.

The first book of the Unbridled Series, introduces the West family, and the farm, and the fact that online romances can be a real killer!

The second book, Hot Coco, is a romantic comedy. Coco Beardmore brings her crazy out-of-control horses to Westwood. The woman is a total train wreck—a fun read.

The third book, Dangerous Deception, is about betrayal. An aged jockey is asked to take an easier position at Westwood. He becomes enraged and entangled in a kidnapping scheme that turns deadly. This book features a secondary storyline with a Quarter Horse rather than a Thoroughbred.

On June 1st the fourth book was released. Against the Ropes features the West’s good-hearted farm manager, Punch. When Punch helps a down-on-his-luck fighter, he begins to question his good intentions, especially when the fighter puts the people that Punch loves against the ropes, and at the very edge of disaster.
So there you have it, a book series filled with murder, suspense, relationships, and graceful Thoroughbreds as they dash hell-bent-for-leather across the finish line—hey, what else could you ask for?

Against the Ropes


When the West’s good-hearted farm manager, Punch McMinn, stumbles upon Eugene Strom, a down-on-his-luck fighter threatening to jump from an old bridge, Punch takes him under his wing and convinces the patriarch of Westwood Thoroughbred Farm, Eric West, to give him a job.

But when the gun-toting mob shows up at Westwood, it’s quite obvious that good ol’ Eugene is hiding a secret—a big one. Punch finds himself questioning his good intentions when the ex-fighter puts the people he loves against the ropes—and at the edge of disaster.

What Reviewers Are Saying About Cindy McDonald’s Unbridled Series:


Wow!! I could not put this book down. This is the first book in the Unbridled series. From the first chapter I knew this series is a keeper. I am spellbound by Cindy McDonald’s story telling and the twist and blind curves this story takes you on. This book really makes you question who you are chatting with online and question our justice system. It’s wise to remember things are not always what they appear. 

Reviewer: Wanted:Readers blog for


Hot Coco is not just a steamy romance novel – but is funny, and heart warming, and really touches the heart.  I love that this story takes place on a Thoroughbred farm.  I love horses!  I love Cindy McDonald’s writing style which is fast, easy, and keeps you turning the pages to find out what happens next.  The characters are believable and totally relatable.  This book is the second book in the series.  I haven’t read the first book, but Hot Coco was good as a stand-alone.  I plan to download the first book in the series – and anything else Cindy McDonald puts out.

Reviewer: Jennifer Golub, Waiting for Sunday to Drown for Hot Coco


Only author Cindy McDonald can deliver a plot so charged and filled with suspense, danger, and surprises to the West family. Dangerous Deception will keep you glued in your saddle until you cross the finish line or read the last page!

Reviewer: Fran Lewis, Review for Dangerous Deception

For more information about Cindy McDonald, visit her website at

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