Literally, the latest chapter in the story of Smash the deaf HPD horse and the four Smash Girls who care for him has been released for public consumption.
It’s more than one chapter, actually. It’s a book written by Alicia Richardson under the pen name Artemis Greenleaf and entitled Team Smash: Five Amazing Girls, One Amazing Horse.
Ms. Greenleaf (Richardson) also is the only author in the world who created a homicide detective known as Quetzel Cazares. But that’s another story.
Famous Smash Story
The Smash story began in 2013 when he graduated from the Mounted Patrol branch of the Houston Police Academy in September, becoming one of 37 horses in the HPD stable.
Alas, he didn’t have a sponsor like the rest of his four-legged colleagues. It could be it was because he was deaf, a unique condition that Smash and his growing number of followers and fans believe is no handicap. Not at all.
“During his training, a young lady having a birthday party at the barn asked why Smash didn’t have a sponsor sign on his stall,” Smash fan and promoter Kim Richards explained. “Sgt. Leslie Wills told her that he just hadn’t found a sponsor yet.”
As Richards recalled, her daughter Katherine “gathered her friends together and didn’t miss a beat.”
“We can sponsor this horse,” Katherine told her four friends. “He is deaf and he is special needs just like us.”
The five young women have intellectual disabilities and their relationship with Smash was – as the elder Richards said, “a natural connection.”
Katherine Richards, Ashley Billard, Meg Norman, Hillary Kern and Christi Roberts signed up as sponsors of the fine steed believed to be the only deaf police horse in the United States. They are also known as the Smash Girls.
And they wear this label with great pride, having had numerous fundraisers and own up to the fact that they seldom if ever miss their regular grooming sessions with the horse they sponsor.
Each time the Smash Girls make an appearance at general membership meetings of HPOU, Smash stands sturdy and staunch outside ready for duty.
The book by Richardson/Greenleaf is the first of two that have been planned. Another author is doing the other book using a different angle. Richardson’s is in the children’s book genre – among others – and basically comes to you in three sections, including a coloring book section.
In an interview with the Badge & Gun, Richardson discussed her HPD background and explained how she became fascinated by Smash and his girls. She’s a graduate of Class 45 of the Houston Citizens Police Academy. “I volunteered regularly for No Refusals weekends and occasionally with SRG and SWAT (role-playing for training scenarios),” she recounted.
She discovered Smash by reading the posts on HPD’s Facebook page.
A veteran writer of children’s books as well as those for adults, Richardson was brainstorming about new book possibilities with some fellow writers in September 2015. The environment was the Houston Writers Guild Indiepalooza conference. The topic was “new projects.”
“I had been looking for a way to add some nonfiction to my catalog,” she said, “and the idea to write a picture book about Smash was a happy result of our lunchtime gabfest.”
Given this writer’s background, it’s no surprise that she relishes writing about horses and police and leans toward the mystery genre.
Wide Array of Books
As she told us:
“In addition to Team Smash, my titles for younger readers include Brain’s Vacation and Carl, the Vegetarian Vampire. Children’s projects in the pipeline are Kara’s Wish and Pretty Gritty as a Princess.
“My Marti Keller Mysteries series (The Hanged Man’s Wife, The Magician’s Children, and the upcoming The Devil’s Advocate) are a mix of urban fantasy and police procedural – one of the characters is a very skeptical patrol officer who, by virtue of being the main character’s brother-in-law, gets dragged into some fantastical situations.
“I even have an idea for a standalone novel project inspired by Smash’s story.”
Richardson, a Houston native who grew up “west of here” in the town known as Pattison, continued discussing her books.
“I have written a variety of other books, some for children and some definitely not for children. Additionally, I write under the pen name of A. B. Richards. That brand is markedly darker and grittier than Artemis Greenleaf.
“I have a short story collection called Rescue, which features Homicide Detective Quetzel Cazares. She will appear in a full-length novel, Icebox, coming out in the fall, where she stumbles onto a clue and solves the infamous Icebox Murders.”
Oh, boy, that sounds intriguing.
You can read and see more about the books of Richardson/Richards/Greenleaf by visiting the following:
- A website “which I’m currently re-designing” for Black Mare Books
- A Facebook pages for Artemis Greenleaf, Black Mare Books, and B. Richards.
“I have written stories most of my life, primarily for my own amusement,” she explained, proudly admitting that she won a small scholarship for an essay she wrote as a high school senior.
“Professionally, I was a database administrator and application developer until I had kids. After the first baby, I still worked part-time, but shortly after the second arrived, the company I worked for divested all of its Gulf Coast assets and closed its Houston office.
“I have been a full-time stay-at-home mom since then.”
And, of course, she writes books and short stories. Horses also have been a part of her life, a factor which obviously spills over onto her drawing boards.
“My uncle had horses across the street from us, so I got to ride all the time. I got my own pony when I was eight – a brown and white Shetland named Boop.
“I adopted a wild – as in never touched by humans until the gather – mustang and her foal from the BLM Wild Horse Adoption Program when I was in eighth grade. Sadly, the foal was hit by a car and killed, but I trained his mother to jump and competed at hunter/jumper shows on her for many years.
“She is the black mare in the Black Mare Books logo. I had her bred to a thoroughbred, and after many successful years of show jumping and eventing, her child is comfortably retired.”
Given this background, it’s no surprise that this prolific author became fascinated with Smash the deaf police horse and the five loving and caring young ladies who care for him.