Old Horses

One of the horses who calls the stable home is 32 years old. We've been lucky. All of this time she has been able to live outside and stay healthy with just round bales and the same grain we feed outside. This changed when she shed out. Now she has to come in twice a day for senior feed. After she eats, I put her back out with her herd (she lives with the broodmares and juvenile delinquents).


Last night when I did evening chores it was raining. Even though the field has a shed (that no one uses when it's raining) the mare would have to stand outside and get wet in order to eat hay, so I did the reasonable thing and opted to leave her in over night. Since she is groupy and no one wants to cause her any undue stress, I put her next to the stud, thinking he'd keep her company. The plan worked until the middle of night when the mare came into heat. This led to me cursing and yelling about how she couldn't be in heat, she was old, all those parts should have turned to dust long ago. Neither she, nor the stud, were impressed.


Normally the stud doesn't care, but we've been using him to tease mares so he's a little stressed at the moment. We're only breeding three mares this year, and since two are the old man's daughters, they are going to the youngster, leaving the paint for Gasperon. Even though I'm pretty sure I've seen her in heat twice, she hasn't taken any interest in the stud and since he's 27 and doesn't move as fast as he use to, we don't want to take an chances.


For us breeding season started a week ago, and I'm already tired of it. I want the sweet natured, lovable studs I know back, and I don't want to spend an hour dragging mares back and forth with zero results.

Also anyone who has not read this blog http://magicalwords.net/aj-hartley/writing-on-instinct/?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=feed&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+MagicalWords+%28Magical+Words%29&utm_content=Google+Reade really needs to. Although the blog applies mostly to writing and music, it also applies to dressage and riding, so much so, that I just sent it to my student who is having a difficult time finding the motivation to work her horse.




Today has been one of those days when everything seems sunny.


  • I sorta took today off from the barn (sorta as in I refuse to bale hay or ride, but I still did morning chores and held a mare for breeding). To make sure I didn't get roped into anything some friends and I bolted for Muskegon where we gorged ourselves at a Chinese food while the conversation steadily decreased in maturity.

  • I needed a new pair of barn boots. I've been wearing rubber boots for the past two weeks. Temperatures of 80+ and rubber boots equal sweaty feet. I found a totally amazing pair of Ariat ½ boots at TSC for a mere $19.99

  • I think the DemonSpawn might be sound, finally.

  • I got two new ideas for future writing projects that I'm really excited about. One shouldn't even require a great deal of researching.

  • Supposedly my instructor is going to try coming back to work this week. If she does, it means I'll have more time for writing and riding my personal horses (Spooner has told me several times that he is sad and misses me)


When I got home I fired up Joey and settled into read what I've written so far of DWARFED. After reading through what I've written so far, I have to say that I am head over heels in LOVE with DWARFED.


There are some flaws that I'm going to have to work out. The biggest that I tend to wobble between present and past tense. I also have a sneaking suspicion that my sub-plot is taking over. Plus the scene I'm currently working on is really really hard and I'm not totally sure how it fits, but all in all, I am loving what I've created.


The main reason that this story is such a joy is Grace. She is such a cheerful character. I mean how can you not like a character who's main flaw is that she wants to make people feel better, and she does that by using humor. It is such a pleasant change from Casey who was depressed and a little on the sullen side.


My biggest complaint about DWARFED is that I spent a gazillion hours researching court jesters, and so far haven't used much of the information. Maybe I'll use it for some other book.


I do have some concerns about DWARFED. The most minor concern regards Caleb, my male lead. He seems a little to perfect. I know he as some skeletons, but I don't think they are going to be included in DWARFED. Even though I have some questions about perfect Caleb, I don't feel compelled to make any major changes to his character. Since the DWARFED is told totally from Grace's perspective, I feel that if she thinks Caleb is perfect, so be it.


My biggest concern about DWARFED is that it is to slow. Although there are some funny parts, there aren't any moments that are going to make a reader's heart beat a little faster. This makes me sad. I'm trying to console myself with the fact that DWARFED falls into the category of literary fiction and that similar style books don't really excite me, even though I can't stop reading them.


Right now I'm in a weird place where I do a little editing and than I do a little writing and so on and so forth. I'm hoping to wrap up this version of DWARFED in two weeks at which point I'm going to start hunting up some beta readers.


I hope everyone else had an equally wonderful holiday and also set aside some time to honor our vetrens.




Non-Fiction Five Challenge of 2010-May's Read

Hey despite my crazy schedule, I did manage to read a nonfiction book this month, and I even managed to jot down my thoughts before the actual end of May. GO ME!

For anyone who might have forgotten, in March, before I knew about the twist and turns my life was about to take, I committed myself to the The Non-Fiction Five Challenge of 2010 which is being Hosted by Trish's Reading Nook  


For May, I chose to read the Good Good Pig. Pig is one of those memoirs about pets that everyone seems to be writing lately. The biggest difference between this book and some of the other ones that are currently on the market is that instead of a dog or cat, this book was the story about a pig.


I am a huge pig fan. Growing up, I raised and showed market hogs. and my Mom still gives me all sorts of pig ornaments and collectibles, that are displayed throughout my apartment. I've known about this book for some time, but I never would have read it except for a student who knew about my pig obsession read it, liked it, and dropped it off. The reason I never felt compelled to read the book was because the blurb is terrible, not the least bit compelling.


The author of the book Sy Montgomery, is a naturalist writer. She and her husband adopted Christopher when he was just a little guy. The runt of the litter and sickly, no one really expected the little guy to live. Not only did Christopher live, he thrived. The bigger he grew, the more famous he became. Eventually turning into a kind of mascot for the entire community.


I'm not really sure how I feel about The Very Very Good Pig. On one hand I enjoyed the book. It was wonderfully written and read fast (which was a good thing, since finding time to read isn't easy right now). The author was wonderfully descriptive and many of Christopher's antics had me smiling and a few times I even laughed. On the other hand, there were several times when I was reading, where I found myself getting irritated by the author. My biggest problem was that she tended to come across as a whiny and unappreciative. At other times I felt like she was jumping on a soapbox and preaching against farming, but since I'm sensitive to farmer's rights its possible I'm overreacting.


I think that anyone who enjoys reading memoirs about pets will enjoy this book. It is nice to read a book which features an unusual main character.


For June, I'm going to read a biography about Joe DiMaggio.


Problem Students

I am so ready for the barn owner to come back to work. I don't mind doing her chores, and I'm actually kind enjoy teaching most of her students. The keyword there is most. One of the students is slowly, but steadily driving me insane. She's a beginner, so I'm suppose to have a little sympathy, but every time I give her a lesson, I'm always struck with this urge to shake her and start asking how she manages to get through the day.


I can understand and even sympathize with her having zero physical ability, but this is an older woman, basic shapes should be within her mental grasp. Especially since we are in a dressage arena, the movements are basically connecting the dots. But this lady simply can't seem to put basic thoughts together. The fact that she drives a car really concerns me.


The sad part is that she has improved. It took my instructor six months to finally teach her how to dismount properly, and even then she still needed prompting for several more months.


The worse part is that she takes an hour long lesson. At the beginning I'm usually very cheerful, but after about twenty minutes of telling her to lower her legs and to kick in, not out (I swear I'm going to get a tape recorder and hook it to the megaphone) and watching her barely get poor TGIF out of a jog trot, I'm ready to stomp my foot and start yelling.


After talking to my regular instructor, I felt a little better. Once she got done laughing, she confided that she watches the clock the entire time this particular student is riding. The problem is that it isn't much consolation when I'm actually teaching the woman.


Why would anyone voluntarily become a teacher of anything?


Lifes little irritations

This week started with a head cold and has ended with me cursing my bathroom.


A good friend is getting married right now. I'd be at the wedding except the friend is also the barn owners niece and someone has to tend the barn. Since today was also handicap day, I invited my student to spend the night and help out. The good thing about this situation is that it forced me to clean my apartment. Since the housecleaning went well, the apartment chose to revolt.


It started with the toilet. It flushes half way. Than the sink decided it didn't want to drain. Than I took a shower and found myself standing ankle deep in water. I'm hoping all of this has something to do with the copious amount of rain we've received during the past two weeks. Luckily the bathroom in the observation room is working, so all we had to do was traipse down the hallway, but it is still very irritating.


On a happier note the handicap program went well, we didn't have enough volunteers but half of the riders didn't show up either so everything kind of worked out.

Theraputic RIding

Wow, it's been a really long time since I've posted anything. The reason for my absence is my trainer is still out with broken ribs and I've been doing the bulk of her work as well as mine. When I'm not in the barn, I've been on the computer writing web content.


Every spring and fall the barn where I live hosts the counties 4-H therapeutic riding program. In our county the program runs for six Saturday's. The program officially starts at 9;00 am and wraps up at 12;15pm. However setting everything up takes a great deal of time and usually starts at 5;30 am. Usually I do this with the same barn owner who currently has broken ribs. The two of us have been doing this for several years and have the routine down pat. This session I am doing it with her husband (also barn owner/hay maker/ equestrian extraordinare, and school bus driver). The change means my schedule goes something like this


5 am-start cleaning viewing room

5;30 am-bring in PEP horses,

6;00 am-feed broodmare pen, while Tony puts stallions out and mucks stalls

6;30-sweep and set out equipment

7- chase horses, re-vacuum observation room

7;30-Tony and I settle in to watch an hour of some BBC comedy on DVD

8-kennel barn dogs, make coffee

8;30-start tacking horses


12-put horses out, sweep, chase everyone out of the barn


The program itself is frustrating. Before the spring session started, I told the volunteer coordinator that I was not going to be head walking until Wendy came back. Since I'm already handling set, take down, and helping make sure riders have the correct helmet, I didn't think I was being unreasonable. What I didn't count on was having barely enough volunteers to get through a single class. Not having enough volunteers adds a great deal of stress to an already stressful day and also means I end up walking, a lot.


This week, to my dismay, one of horses used for the program came in with a swollen tendon. You might think that having 30+ horses would mean that replacing him would be easy, but it takes a special horse deal with the program and while we have a few that should work, they all need some work before they are actually ready. After a frantic phone consultation with the barn owner. we decided that the best bet would be Nagg.


Here's the thing with Nagg. She is a wonderful mare, very talented, a good size, and well trained. The problem is that she is also scary smart, is opinionated, and when she isn't always easy to read. I adore my mare but I am also aware that she is still the same horse who once kicked my dad clear across a hay barn. I know that she has grown up quite a bit, and she is no longer nearly as volatile as when she was younger. I also know that she would never do anything to harm a rider, but that doesn't mean she won't do everything in her power to make a volunteer's life difficult.


This morning I made it very clear that the only person to lead Nagg would be me. At least I know how to read her, and if I get hurt it isn't a big deal.


Today was one of those super windy, rainy, weird days. Several of the usually well-behaved program horses weren't acting badly, but they weren't on their best behavior either. After watching the first hour of classes I was starting to get a little nervous about using Nagg. When I got her out for the second class, my anxiety increased. Nagg came out with her head high and eyes wide. She looked like she'd never been in the arena before. After a few minutes she settled in and stood quietly while her first rider was mounted.


I am so please to report that Nagg was a rock star. The only issue she had was swinging sideways when she stepped over ground poles and we think that she was doing that because her rider tends to lean left when he goes into a half seat. The rest of the time she was obedient and appeared happy. The biggest problem she had was trying to figure out who to listen to, me on the ground or the rider on top.


Hopefully, she'll be just as good next Saturday.




Book Giveaway

You might now know this, but Shannon Whitney just signed with agent, Laura Rennart. To celebrate this awesome event, Shannon is hosting a book giveaway, and this is a huge giveaway. Shannon is giving away six different books and every single one of them is signed by the author. For more information visit Shannon's blog.

PI laughter

Gender Genie

I have wasted more time on this website over the past two days than I care to admit. bookblog.net/gender/analysis.php It's a blast.

What the gender genie does is analyze a portion of text and determine if it is masculine or feminine. It's really useful when you are trying to make sure that your male characters sound like men and vice versa.

PI laughter

New Moon

So a friend and I finally got around to watching New Moon yesterday and we were a little stunned to discover that with long hair, Taylor Lauter looks alot like Val Kilmer in Willow. Since we both have crushes on Kilmer we decided this was a good thing.

As for the movie itself, I wasn't impressed. I'm really not a huge fan of the Twilight series and I really don't like either of the lead actors. I might have like the movie better except for the wolves. Maybe they looked really awesome at the movie theater, but on my little tv screen they were horrible. They reminded me of the old Conan the Barbarian movie. I can safely say that this is not going to be a movie that I'll be rewatching anytime soon.