I’m re-blogging this because I want to share this with everyone, particularly my horsey friends.
Source: A Magical Evening
I’m re-blogging this because I want to share this with everyone, particularly my horsey friends.
Source: A Magical Evening
So excited! The @SVRWAChapter has a spot on Lit Crawl in San Francisco on Oct. 17. It’s where 10,000 people come out to hear literature over 3 hours and hundreds of different authors! Yeah for readers!
Join bestselling and up-and-coming SVRWA authors for a deliciously decadent taste of modern romance, with readings that range from sweet to sexy to downright salacious.
Yes…I’ll be reading something sexy and fun!
So come on out — it’s FUN, FREE, AND FABULOUS!
Invite your friends!
(Make enemies jealous)
Today I’m talking about some of the changes in how horses are now cared for. In recent years alternative or complementary medicine has become as important in veterinary health care as it has in human care. Chiropractic, massage, acupuncture, etc. are now widely accepted treatments for animals and more and more techniques are being developed as we speak. The top equine athletes regularly use complementary treatments. But it wasn’t always this way.
When I got my mare Portia over twenty years ago, alternative care for animals was in its infancy and generally frowned on by traditional veterinarians. While I, myself, had tried acupuncture for a chronic bursitis, I wasn’t really that open to alternative techniques. But trying to help my sweet mare cured me of that attitude and introduced me to a new way of looking at life.
Portia was a beautiful, grey Anglo-Arab with wonderful gaits, a very willing attitude and a delightful joy in life. While she could be silly, mostly she was a lot of fun. Unfortunately, after I’d had her for about six months, she developed unusual problems that the vets couldn’t figure out. First, she started having trouble going down hills. Then she began tripping over things if we rode at dusk. Finally she began to stumble and fall to the ground. Now lots of horses stumble, but rarely do they go down. This was weird as well as dangerous. And I had the bruises to prove it.
We went through a variety of diagnoses. Navicular disease—but the x-rays and the lack of response to shoeing changes and medicines seemed to rule that out. Weak stifles—but injections and keeping her on hill didn’t change anything.
This went on for about a year and a half and I was ready to give up on her when a friend suggested trying chiropractic. I hadn’t heard of equine chiro before and resisted the idea for quite a while. Then I heard about a vet who did acupuncture and worked with a chiropractor, and I decided to give it a try. If a vet was supervising, maybe there was some worth to it.
The acupuncture to relax the muscles, followed by chiropractic treatment to correct the misalignments in Portia’s spine and sacrum, produced an amazing and immediate improvement. I was ecstatic! I would have my talented, fun horse back again.
The jubilation only lasted a few weeks, then Portia started having problems again. It turned out that the chiro put things right for a while, but didn’t correct whatever was causing her back to go out in the first place. While I continued to use chiropractic on all my horses, I now began a journey through just about every alternative modality that existed, in an effort to find a solution to Portia’s trouble.
Finally, I encountered a woman who was learning a new-to-the-USA technique called Integrative Manual Therapy. For the first time we got improvements that lasted. She was actually able get to the cause of some of Portia’s problems and many times fix them.
Jacquie’s main work is with people and she only occasionally works on horses. Both my husband and I have gone to her and benefited greatly from her work. Through her I’ve met several other manual therapists, most of whom also work both with humans and animals.
IMT is only one of many alternative techniques that have been more easily accepted in the animal world because the results cannot be simply discounted as a “placebo effect.” When a horse moves off better after being worked on, it’s not a trick of the mind. Something has changed.
Stem cell therapy is another “alternative” veterinary treatment that has led the way to acceptance in human medicine. While still considered experimental by insurance companies, it is used quite commonly on animals. Hopefully, it too will soon be standard in human medicine. (My knees would certainly appreciate that.)
When I began writing fiction seriously a few years ago, I thought it would be interesting to have a protagonist who was a Manual Therapist. The story possibilities were many, and I might also introduce some readers to alternative techniques. The result was my book FOREWARNING.
I’d love to hear your reaction to the heroine, Kasey Martin, and the work she does.
Here’s a small excerpt from FOREWARNING, showing Kasey working on a horse.
“What is she doing?” TJ asked Billy, who had come into the barn too.
Billy glanced at Kasey and gave a shrug. “She’s listening,” he replied.
“What do you mean, listening?” TJ turned to the younger man with a disbelieving frown.
“That’s what she calls it—listening to the body, to figure out what needs to be done. I’m no expert. I just know she does some pretty amazing things. Watch.”
So TJ did watch while Kasey finished her initial assessment and stepped back to make notes on her chart. Then with a determined expression, she placed one hand on the mare’s spine and another low on her left hip. She kept them there for almost ten minutes while talking softly to the horse and Ben. As far as TJ could see, she was doing nothing more than lightly touching the horse.
All of a sudden, Doll let out a big sigh and visibly relaxed, dropping her head low and almost closing her eyes. Kasey stepped away, and tension seemed to flow out of her as well. A few moments later, with a much calmer expression, she moved back to the horse. She continued to hold her hands in different spots for varying amounts of time, changing their position after Doll sighed or yawned. Obviously, something was happening, but TJ had no idea what.
At one point Doll swung her head around and touched her ribs, just behind her front legs. Kasey nodded. “I know,” she said, and kept on with what she was doing. A few minutes later Doll twisted around again and touched her side a couple more times. Kasey smiled and responded. “I’ll get to it. I know it hurts. I need to take care of this first.”
TJ widened his eyes in disbelief. The horse is telling her where it hurts? At that point, he almost left in disgust to go back to the house, but hesitated when he saw how seriously Ben and Billy were watching. Pushing down his skepticism, he decided to wait and see how her treatment played out.
A while later Kasey finally switched her attention to the area Doll had touched. The mare bobbed her head up and down a couple of times, then let it hang in total relaxation. After spending a good ten minutes working on the area, Kasey stepped back.
Since the title of my blog is Conversations With Horses, today I thought I’d talk to a couple of horses. Fictional ones, of course, featured in my book Forewarning. They are based on ones I’ve known and hopefully will give you an insight into horses’ minds.
So Paris tell us about yourself.
“My real name is Harrbit’s Parisienne. I’m a beautiful dappled grey Anglo-Arab. That means I’m half Thoroughbred and half Arabian—horse royalty. I was bred for Three Day Eventing and I loved to jump, particularly in the show ring where people noticed and admired me. Something bad happened to me before I came to live with Kasey; I don’t like to talk about that. Kasey fixed me up but I don’t get to jump any more. I miss all the attention and fussing and special things associated with showing.
What do you do now?
I alternate between having foals–oh how I love my babies—and being a trail horse. Dancer and I make really nice foals and Kasey lets me keep them for six or seven months and then waits until the following year to breed me again. After my babies are weaned, I become her trail horse and ride the mountains with her. I love exploring new trails. I get enthralled and walk so fast other horses have a hard time keeping up. But I don’t like it when things change on familiar trails. I have to look very carefully to be sure that big branch or rock slide isn’t something to run from. Once in a while, I’ll play games with Kasey and pretend to be afraid when I’m really not. She usually figures it really quickly and stops my fun. That’s okay, I love her and always run to gate when she comes.
Now I’m going to skip to the most important horse on ranch—Dancer, Kasey’s regal stallion.
“My name is Willow’s Sundancer and I am a chestnut Trakehner stallion. My breed developed in East Prussia in the 1700’s and were used as cavalry horses. It is the oldest of the European warmbloods. Like Paris, I was bred for Eventing too, but I also quite enjoy dressage. Kasey bought me as a yearling and trained me. We competed for a few years and I was very successful. I had lots of admirers, which is why I am so popular as a breeding stallion. I have offspring all over the world,.
Now I have an even more important job—protecting the ranch. As a stallion, I must make sure my herd, which includes Kasey, is safe from danger. While I may romp and play, I never relax my vigil. I’m very aware of everything that goes on and ready to take action if necessary. Of course, I’m also quite interested in the ladies and wish I could live with the mare herd. Unfortunately, Kasey doesn’t agree. I definitely could do without the pesty geldings. They can be so ridiculous at times.
Hope you enjoyed meeting the horses. You can learn more about them and others on the ranch in my book FOREWARNING
If you have horses, what are they like? What kind of personality does your animal have?
I’m back! My hiatus from blogging and writing lasted longer than I expected but I’m getting back in the saddle again. Today I’m starting with a short post highlighting some delightful equestrian performances.
FOREWARNING on sale for $2.99 for this weekend only on Amazon and B&N
The first is from the Equitana Hop Top Show 2015 and features Alizée Froment and her horse Mistral du Coussoul doing a lovely freestyle, performing high level (Grand Prix) movements, with no bridle.
The next one is a Billy Ray Cyrus video of a horse line dancing to his Achy Breaky Heart song. Unfortunately I couldn’t find a You Tube video of the whole dance, so you’ll need to belong to Facebook to see more than this short bit.
At the 2006 World Equestrian Games the wonderful mare Blue Hors Matine surprised the staid dressage world by doing a marvelous freestyle to Hip Hop music.
Hope you enjoy the videos and come back again next week.
After some time off, I’m getting back on the blogging horse again. Recently someone asked me about a term for teaching riding, and that seemed like a good topic for today’s blog. When we talk about teaching the horse something, we usually call that training. The horse is in training or he’s training the horse. When we focus on the rider, it’s called equitation. This refers to much more than kicking to make them go or using the reins to turn or stop. It concerns the position of the rider’s body, legs, hands and head, how she handles the horse, and the effectiveness of her cues.
Most people are unaware of how much a rider affects the horse’s balance. A 150 pound rider equals 15 percent of a 1000 pound horse’s weight. Fifteen percent may not sound like much, but it is a significant amount, particularly when it is moving around. If you’ve ever carried a toddler in a backpack, you’re aware of how much their weight shifting can affect your balance. The same is true of a horse, though not to quite the same extent since they have four legs. Nevertheless, a lopsided load, whether human or a pack, will make the animal work to keep its balance, make it harder to do some things and may affect its soundness.
Ideally, a rider sits straight and tall, but with a relaxed back to absorb the movement of the horse. His head, shoulders, hips and heels should be in a straight line, except for hunt seat (jumping). This applies across all disciplines, English and Western. The stirrup length may vary, depending on the type of riding. For jumping, the stirrups are shorter. In today’s show ring the stirrup length is long for dressage, saddle seat and Western. But for trail riding, most people use somewhat shorter stirrups to give themselves the ability to rise out of the saddle if necessary.
In addition to being straight, a rider must also be still or quiet in the saddle. Every movement she makes causes the horse to have an easier or harder time doing his job. Imagine how difficult it would be for the horse to jump a fence with a 150 pound weight shifting back and forth. Or, one of the common things we see, going downhill with the rider swinging side to side. Of course, some movement is required but keeping your weight centered is very important. In jumping, the rider moves up and forward to free the horse’s back, but still remains over the center of gravity. In roping, the cowboy swings his lasso and leans forward but keeps his weight even.
Being still implies quiet movements. A good rider communicates with his horse subtly, with few visible cues. A well-trained horse will respond to the lightest of aids and does not need to be jerked and treated harshly. The more invisible the aids, the better the equitation.
Recently I happened upon an old John Wayne movie, The Undefeated, which also starred Rock Hudson. Wayne knew how to ride, of course, but wasn’t particularly pretty in the saddle. Not so Hudson. He was playing a Southern Confederate gentleman and he really looked the part on a horse. Tall, still, elegant, he was the epitome of a cavalry officer. Look the movie up sometime, if you want to see an interesting contrast.
Hope this is helpful to those who are writing stories with horses in them and interesting to others.
Fun post on hunting up ideas. Useful for lots of things besides writing – including out-of-the-box training techniques.
This post by Craig Snider.
There are typically two breeds of writers. There are the types who have lots of writing ideas. And, then there’s the kind who, well–don’t. For that breed with lots of ideas. We hate you. And, as such, you are not the topic of conversation today… So there. For the rest of us, how can we find an idea that inspires us to take up the pen and begin a story? Let’s see if we can try to find out.
Idea hunting is a skill passed down from our knuckle-dragging forefathers. It takes patience, skill, and yes, a little bit of luck. The first thing to know about idea hunting is that it isn’t an exact science. It is, in fact, something more of an art. Though, practice will help alleviate the level of difficulty.
To be a good idea hunter, you need a
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My guest this week is Mary Pat Hyland, an award winning journalist and author of eight books, including a three-book chick lit series, a parody, a suspense novel, and a family saga . Her latest, In the Shadows of the Onion Domes, is a short story collection inspired by the characters, gossip and local lore of the Triple Cities in upstate New York. In addition to her writing she enjoys Gaeilge—the Irish language, music, dance, gardening, Finger Lakes wines and cooking. Today she’s giving us some good advice about writing.
Five Pieces of Advice to a Beginning Author
1) Never tell someone the plot of your novel or story until the first draft is completed. Why? We write for an audience and if you get a response from someone and it’s positive, then why bother to do the hard work of writing it. You got the affirmation you needed. I speak from experience, unfortunately.
2) Always have a small notebook or smart phone nearby so that you can jot down story ideas when they occur. Inspiration is capricious and you must grab it like the string attached to a helium balloon, or else the idea will swiftly drift away.
3) Believe in yourself. It’s much easier to say than to put into practice. You will get one-star reviews and harsh criticism from editors. That’s a given. Listen carefully though, sift through it and discern what the correct advice is and do what needs to be done to improve the work. Sometimes, you should ignore both, though. No one on this earth will write the way you do, for your life experiences and influences are unique. Make sure to maintain your voice in whatever you write.
4) Do not become a writer for the sole purpose of creating a bestseller. That’s pretty shallow when you think about it. Write because there’s a story within that needs to be shared with this world. Write because it’s the drive that makes you get up in the morning and makes you curious about everything in the world around you. Write for the sheer joy of creative expression. Write because you have to empty your mind of the chatter from the characters lurking around in your gray matter. Write to live. Write!
5) Read a lot. Read often. Read varying genres from around the world. Read the classics; read pulp fiction. Read poetry; read plays. It is through this process that you will realize what you enjoy, see how other authors approach similar situations and how they define characters through choices of voice and description, learn to recognize characteristics of good writing and do it because it’s a good workout for your brain.
The shoe factories that originally drew thousands of immigrants from across Europe have long moved on.
What remains are the distinct ethnic flavors of a gritty community determined to overcome economic woes, adapt to the rapid changes in society and find true meaning in life.
Consider these eighteen stories as pages ripped from a sketchbook. Some are quick studies; others are more detailed portraits inspired by observed characters, whispered gossip, overheard conversations and the local lore of the residents whose neighborhoods are framed by the gilded Orthodox Church domes that span this valley.
You’ll find that each tale has its own tone: some are humorous or poignant, others are surprising and haunting.
The Author’s eStore
Mary Pat is giving away an autographed copy of In the Shadows of the Onion Domes, six copies of her other ebooks and a piece of original art created by the author. Unfortunately I can’t figure out how to display the Rafflecopter entry form, so please go to: