Friday, November 29, 2013

When the Human is Scared...

Imagine you are a little bunny rabbit.  Yes, I know this is a weird way to start a post, but work with me, okay?

So you are a bunny rabbit.  Let's pretend (while we are pretending) that the biggest, scariest, hungriest animal you can think of is a lion.

Are you with me so far?

Now let's pretend that we are out in a meadow with our other rabbit friends and suddenly a ferocious-looking lion appears.

Yikes!  Worst day ever!  you say.

To your dismay, all of your friends disappear and the ferocious lion corners you.

What do you do?

You panick, try to escape, kick for all you are worth, and throw your whole heart into trying to survive.  This is life and death now.  This is serious.

The lion begins making scary-sounding lion noises.  Of course, you don't speak lion (you only speak rabbit and a few phrases in hare).  So you don't know what the lion is saying.

You don't know that the lion is really saying, "Aww, look!  It is a cute little rabbit!  I always wanted a pet rabbit of my very own!"

You just assume the lion is talking about how hungry he is.

And try as you might, there is no way out.


Now lets fast-forward to several months later.

You are still alive.

By now, you are hoping that this means that the lion is not going to eat you.  You have settled into your new routine.  The lion seems to like you.  All in all, the situation is not a bad one.  As long as the lion doesn't get angry and eat you, then you should be safe with him, right?  After all, who would hurt you when you are in the shadow of the biggest and baddest lion ever?

So, one day, you and the lion are out in the meadow together.

And suddenly, for no reason that you can see, the lion is scared.

Why is the LION scared?

What is so big and bad that it would scare a lion?

Whatever it is, it must be worse that your worst nightmare.  You have got to find a way out, and you have to find it NOW.  This is time for the panic of all panics!!!!

Even if you (my readers) are not dripping with sweat and shaking with fear, I hope that you can at least sympathize why the little bunny rabbit might be.  This is pretty scary when the top of the food chain is scared.

Who is generally assumed to be at the top of the food chain?
We are.
Granted, there are plenty of animals that could easily kill us, but as a general rule humans are at the top of the food chain.
How do we look to a prey animal?  To a rabbit?  Or to a horse?
We look scary.
A horse that has not been taught that humans are friends automatically sees us as predators.

When a horse learns to trust a human, that horse can finally relax more than they have ever relaxed before.  It is like walking down a dark street with full confidence because you have got a really big, tough guy by your side.  You don't have to worry about predators because you have got top-of-the-line protection.

Now let's assume that a human comes to ride a horse.  And this human, for whatever reason, is scared of the horse.  Maybe he is scared of horses in general.  Maybe he is nervous about riding.  Maybe he was riding fine but then the horse shied at something and the human is scared that the horse might bolt.
The horse knows right away that something is scaring the human.  Of course, the Scary Something couldn't possibly be the horse itself.  I mean, who is scared of a rabbit with hooves?  No, the human is scared and that means that something very, Very, VERY scary is lurking around.  If the human is scared, the horse should be TERRIFIED!!!

So now we have a panicked horse and a panicked rider, and the whole scenario goes downhill pretty fast.

Rewind.  Let's try again.  You are approaching the horse.  Take a deep breath and remember that YOU are the biggest, toughest guy on the planet.  Your horse needs to know that you would do everything to protect him.  Decide right now that if a panther leaps out at you on your ride, you are going to run it off.  You will not let anything hurt your horse.  It's okay -- you got this.
Step Two, you are mounting your horse.  Regardless of how you feel about being high off the ground and all that, remember that your horse doesn't think of that.  Start out your riding career on easy things and move forward based on the skill and confidence that you have.  Again -- you got this.
Step Three, your horse shies at a potentially scary object.  Don't panic.  Your horse is not trying to kill you - he is just letting you know that something looks suspicious to him.  Look for and face whatever is scaring your horse.  Let your horse know by your confidence that it is nothing too hard for you to handle.  A rustling bush...a passing housecat...a plastic can protect your horse from any harm from these things.  For the last time -- you got this!

Just remember, in your horse's mind, you are the big one.
[Note: This is my own retelling of a story told to me by a respected horsewoman.]

Please Comment

     Greetings, readers!  I invite all of you to comment on my blog.  I would love to hear from you.  It is helpful for me to hear feedback as well as to connect with other writers.
     Comments are sent to me for moderation before they are posted.  So if you would like to contact me privately, you can do so by leaving a comment (just include a note in your comment that you don't want it posted).  That way I can read your private comment, but I won't post it for anyone else to see.
      If you don't specify "private," then I will publish (or not) as I see fit.
      I look forward to hearing from you!

Thursday, November 28, 2013

Pen Names - A Good Choice or No?

     Someone recently introduced me to a website for Author House Self-Publishing.  The website is full of articles with tips for writers.  I sat down earlier this week and read several of the the articles.
     One of the articles was on whether or not to choose a pen name.  There are many reasons to choose a pen name and, for several authors, the idea is appealing.  Many of the ideas I hear expressed from wanna-be writers were listed in this bad reasons.
     Hiding your identity, according to Author House, is a bad reason.  While it is appealing to think that you could write something and no one would know that you wrote it, it's a little immature.  You should be willing to stand behind your work.
     Picking a cool name, according to Author House, is also a bad reason.  Unless you really know what your are doing, the name that sounds awesome to you may not sound awesome to the general population or it may not sound awesome for very long.  So, again, if you are going with a pen name just for this reason, that is also a little immature.
[A random photo I took earlier this year.]
     Author House does believe that it is a good idea to use a pen name to avoid a pre-conceived notion inspired by your name.  For example, if you live in an area where your book would be discounted based on the sex or ethnicity of your name, then a pen name is not a bad idea.  If you were already well-known for a very different genre or career, then a pen name might be a good idea.  And if your given name is so distinctly opposite of your genre, then perhaps you could choose a pen name that better fits.
     If you do pick a pen name, Author House offers these 5 tips (I added punctuation), "Keep it professional. Make it genre-friendly. Make it reader-friendly. Make it pronounceable. Make it unique."

     P.S. If you want to read Author House's own articles on the subject, below are the 2 addresses to find them.

Monday, November 25, 2013

Bareback riding WITHOUT reins performed by Stacy Westfall

     In my last post, I talked about how I want to be able to ride bareback someday.  Just in case you weren't quite able to picture it, here is a demonstration by Stacy Westfall. This is part of what I want to do.

Saturday, November 23, 2013

Rider Meets Dirt

     I wanted to learn how to trot.  That seemed to be a natural progression from walking.  My instructor helped me figure out how to ask WhiteStar to go faster and so I tried to practice it a little bit each week.  WhiteStar and I were both a little rough: I because I was nervous and she because she dislikes anything that requires that much effort.  Nevertheless, I was determined to trot. 
     I was still using the bareback pad instead of the saddle.  I liked the feeling of using as little equipment as possible and entertained dreams of being as talented of a bareback rider as an Indian brave.
     This particular day, I rode WhiteStar around for a little while at a walk.  Then I asked for a trot.  It started out bouncy and got even bouncier.  Those of you who are riders know exactly what I am talking about.  As I stiffened, I bounced more, and then WhiteStar bounced more as she tried to cope with the jabs in her back from her unstable rider.
     There was air between my horse and myself.  I panicked.  I was starting to fall to her right side so I pulled the only thing I could get my hands on -- WhiteStar's left rein.  Sweet, obedient horse that she is, she stepped to the left.  When I came down from that last bounce, I came all the way the ground.  Ouch.
     I was considerably shaken, both physically and mentally.  Nothing was seriously injured -- just some stiffness and soreness that would wear off in a couple days.  But my body and my pride had been considerably jarred.
     Anyone who rides horses can tell you that it is normal to take a spill at least once.  But, for some reason, I felt like it was the end of the world.  I had fallen off a sweet, tame horse at a slow trot.  It was pretty embarrassing, and I was sure that my instructor would think that I had no balance at all.
     To cover up my embarrassment, I hopped quickly to my feet and pretended the fall had been no big deal.  WhiteStar was as unsettled as I was.  From my point of view, she had bounced so hard in her trot that I had been bounced off.  But from her point of view, she was doing something very difficult and I abandoned her halfway through it.  As she stared at me with wide, wondering eyes, I bet it didn't even occur to her that it might have been her fault.  And why would she?  I asked her to trot, made it uncomfortable for her, and then leapt off her back mid-stride.  What in the world was I thinking?
     My instructor came to check on me as she saw me getting up off the ground.  I tried to hide my hands which were shaking from adrenaline, and I told her I was fine and that it wasn't WhiteStar's fault.  Then I engaged her in showing me how to play one of the games that I had been trying to do earlier.
     That was all fine and good until I cried in the middle of the simple game.  My instructor was completely bewildered as to why I was crying until she figured out that it was leftover from sore landing gear and mental anguish.  It had nothing to do with the simple game at all.
     Of course, crying is even more embarrassing.  I blinked the welling tears away, shook my head, and blew out through my mouth.  Whew...let it go...I am NOT crying here.
     My instructor cocked her head at me.  "No, you need to cry," she said.
     I am not quite sure why it is.  It doesn't make logical sense to me.  But you know what?  She was right.  Somehow, tears and dirt just go together.
     For the record, I rode WhiteStar again that day (you know the old saying about getting back on a horse when you fall off), and I have not fallen off a horse since then...although I am still a little bit chicken and use a saddle if I am going to be trotting. ;)
     And I still had dreams of being able to tear around a field on a horse bareback...someday.  :)

Friday, November 22, 2013

Auxiliary Projects

     As promised yesterday, I will share with you one tiny trick that I use to keep me from becoming bored with my current project.  My secret is that I have a set of auxiliary projects.  I only work on them when I am bored with my current project.  Each of the auxiliary projects has the potential to become my main project (once I finish the current one).  These auxiliary projects are varied enough to suit whatever mood I am in.  So if I can't focus on Bella and Gerard, I scroll through the others to see which one feels the most inspiration at the moment.  I work on it until I am satisfied, and then go back to Bella and Gerard.  It keeps me from being bored and at the same time it keeps from starting yet another new project.

     Here are some of my auxiliary projects:

Reagan's Island:  A boy is shipwrecked on an island.  He is discovered by a band of men guarding the island.  Who are they?  What are they hiding?  And who is this boy?

Alexander: This story has three parts.  I don't know if they will simply be three parts in a book or if I will break them up into a trilogy.  The first Part: Alexander was one of greatest generals to serve Henrique, king of Cabria.  When Henrique dies, Alexander offers his allegiance to Edward, son of Henrique.  But Edward is a weak leader, both jealous and afraid of the great general, and he spurns Alexander's offer.  Almost immediately, a rumor is spread of Alexander's "treason," and Alexander must disappear...

The Ultimate Stand: This story follows a young woman from her ordinary life as a veterinary assistant through a mob rebellion and into a shadow of a life in a compound under the control of a crazed and evil tyrant.

The Journey:  "We have to get away."  That is the driving force on this teenage girl's mind.  Trapped with her younger sister by a couple who claim to be their parents, she had never dreamed of escape...not until a neighbor boy secretly befriended her, taught her to drive, and gave her the courage to run.  Now, with the whole world seemingly against them, the only thing she can do is keep driving.

For me, this works.  It keeps me focused on my current project without stifling additional inspiration.  And, like I said, one of these auxiliary projects may end up being my next main project.  How about you?  What do you use to keep yourself on track without becoming bored?

Thursday, November 21, 2013

Distracting New Plots -- A Form of Writer's Block

     I was complaining to my mother the other day of a problem I was having with my current book project.
     "Writer's block?" she guessed.
     "No," I disagreed.  "Writers' block occurs when you can't think of what to write next -- you are 'stumped.'  My problem is that I am suddenly disatisfied and bored with my current project and my mind has been ambushed with 3 or 4 new project ideas."
     As I thought about it, however, I suppose it could be a form of writers' block.  While lack of inspiration is not the cause of the block, it is still a block.  I am still staring at my computer screen with my fingers poised motionless above my keyboard.
     It is amazing how dazzlingly clever my new ideas for new books appear.  They look so much more interesting than my current project.  How can I combat this form of block?
     First of all, I remember that I was perfectly satisfied and happy with my current project only a month ago.  This means that my current distaste is more likely due to a passing mood than any real underlying flaws in the project.
     Secondly, I think of how important it is to finish a project.  A writer who has started 400 books but never finished any of them will never be published.  You HAVE to finish a book.  Once it is finished, you can edit, overhaul, fix, and do whatever else is needed to make it readable.  But you have to finish it.
      What if this book is never good enough to make it to a publisher?  Well, then, it was a good practice (as long as I finish it), and the next one I write will be better because of it.
      But I truly believe that this book is going to turn out well.  Writers' block, whatever the form, won't stop me.  I think it is my best one yet.

     Oh, I also have one other trick to help with this "bored" type of writers' block.  I will tell you about it tomorrow. ;)

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Games with Horses, Hints of Philosophy

     So, by the end of the summer, WhiteStar and I were making fairly good progress.  We had learned a number of "games."  These games were ways that the horse and I learned to move together as a team, with me as the leader.  They were ways to build trust between us.
     I had pretty good success with the various ways that we could turn in a circle together or back up.  There was one of them that was a little slow, but we got it.
     There's another game called yo-yo.  I ask my horse to back away from me in a straight line and then return to me in a straight line.  Straight lines can be hard for horses, especially shy, submissive horses.  Think about how different it feels to square off at something verses sliding in beside it.  Squaring off at something is more commanding and confrontational -- a very uncomfortable position for someone who is shy.  So WhiteStar had to work on being straight.
     When I first started this game, my instructor told me that I had to let my horse know that it was important to be straight or else she wouldn't know.  At that point, I myself could not see the importance of straightness.  I had too much else to think about!  I was kind of the same way when I was learning to drive the car: "I have my hands on the steering wheel, my feet on the pedals, and my mind on the million things that I have to remember.  And you want me to look where I am going to????" 
     [Note: for all of you on the road who suddenly feel unsafe, please know that I was only in my own yard at that point of my driving career.]
     Next, WhiteStar and I played a game called circling.  Here are the rules: I ask WhiteStar to back away from me and then to walk around me in a circle, maintaining the speed and direction I asked for without any further prompting from me.  When I started learning this game, I was so tempted to hold my rope ahead of WhiteStar and sort of "lead" her around me.  My instructor stopped me and pulled me aside.  I was given one end of the rope and told I was the horse.  She took the other end and played the part of the human.  She did circling game correctly first.  That was fun.  Then she did it the way I had been doing it.  I was surprised at how annoying it was for me, as the horse, to feel that slant of the rope.  There was no trust communicated in that rope, and it was a bit of a conflicting signal, too.
     Sometimes human leaders can do the same thing to their human followers.  That is probably where we get the derogatory term of "micro-manager."  When you ask someone to do something that they are capable of doing, then you should sit back and let them do it.  You only need interfere when it is not done correctly.
     And I had to "interfere" on this particular day in question.  As a matter of fact, I had to get my instructor to come help me.  You see, WhiteStar walked around me very sweetly when I asked her to go to the right, but she didn't want to go to my left (counterclockwise).  She was hesitant to obey and then kept turning and going back to the right without being asked.
     Who knows why she was reluctant to go that way?  There are a number of possibilities, but I have my own theory.  Here it is: I had a splint on my left wrist.  Maybe I was not communicating well through the stiff arm, and she didn't know what I wanted.  Maybe she sensed the weakness of that arm and figured she could get away with disobeying.  Or maybe, with her super-amazing-horse-sensitivity, she sensed that I was nervous about using that arm, and, while she did not know why, she figured from my subconscious signals that it was best not to go that way.  Knowing WhiteStar as I know her now, I think the last option is actually the most likely.
     Either way, my instructor came at my request and helped me work on it until I had her going both ways again.
     WhiteStar and I had 3 new games that we had started.  One was called "sideways," and, as the name suggests, she is supposed to walk sideways.  Since we were still learning, I only asked for 3 or 4 steps.  She went to the right fine, but skipped the sideways part of the sequence when she went to the left.  I let it slide.  Sideways was very new for her, and my instructor was impressed that she was doing it at all.
     Another new game was called "squeeze," and it simply involves the horse walking between 2 objects.  Gradually the objects get moved closer and closer together.  This can be difficult for some horse.  Horses naturally like freedom and open spaces.  That is where their instinct tells them they are safest.  Squeezing between two obstacles (especially tall obstacles, like fences) feels like a trap.  But, in the course of working with humans, there will be many such traps that horses are expected to walk through.  So we play this game of trust. 
     WhiteStar is already quite good at the squeeze game.  She has doubtless played it with many, many students before me.
     The last new game that WhiteStar and I were playing was my favorite.  It was supposed to be beyond my level, but it looked like so much fun.  Basically, the horse and I move around and the horse copies whatever I am doing.  It is awesome.  WhiteStar and I were very new at it, but I love the connection between horse and human during this game.  The game is called "stick to me".  WhiteStar and I walked fast, walked slow, trotted, stopped, turned, and backed up.  Whenever the practice of the other games felt tedious, I took a break and played a round of "stick to me".  It is so much fun!

Sunday, November 17, 2013

Writing is an Art

    I recently talked to a high school girl about writing.  She said she hated writing.  This did not surprise me too much.  After all, God made us all different.  Just because a blank sheet of paper thrills me doesn't mean that everyone has to feel the same way about it.  I know some people who sincerely dislike writing.
    But then I had the opportunity to read some pieces that this high school girl had written.  I expected something boring and awkward since this was just something she had to do to pass her English class.  Instead, it was quite the opposite.
     Writing is an art.  Art is an expression of the artist.  Look at a painting and see how much you can tell about the painter.  Does he make big, bold strokes or tiny, careful ones?  Does he choose bright colors or somber tones?  How did he feel about the subject he was painting?  How does he feel about painting as an expression?  What things does he like to paint?
     In the same way, you can see the author through her writing.  In this high school girl's papers, I saw that she loved telling a story.  She loved picking her words carefully.  She thought about the most creative ways to say something.  She was a writer.
     I don't know how it came to be that she thought she hated writing.  I don't know why she didn't think she was good at it.  I do know that she is an artist, and I thoroughly enjoyed reading her papers.
     That, of course, does not mean that she has to love writing or that she must now make a career of it.  But I never again want to hear her say that she is not good at it.  If she wants to be a writer, she can.
     Some people are not writers.  She is not one of those people.

Saturday, November 16, 2013

Harry from Bella and Gerard

Image copied from internet

     I haven't gotten the chance to "sit down and talk to" Harry yet.  He is one of the characters in Bella and Gerard.  I know that he works down by the docks in New York, and that his name is Harry.  He is a widower, and he lost his daughter a couple years ago.  It is hard to build a full impression of someone's character on such a short acquaintance, but I have a sense that he is a pretty good man.  And I will try to set aside some time in the near future to sit down and explore this character.  He hasn't been introduced in the book yet, but he will be very soon.
     In my defense (as an explanation of why I have not fully figured out Harry's history and character yet), I have spent some time over the last week-and-a-half studying Gerard again.  I have to make sure I understand his character and am not misrepresenting him as I write.  That is one of the responsibilities of authors, after all.

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Horse Personality Types

My instructor explained 4 basic personality types of horses.  I view personality tests with a bit of skepticism, whether they are applied to people or animals.  Nobody fits exactly into the assigned boxes.
However, sometimes the boxes help you understand at least a little bit of why your horse may be acting the way he is.  With that in mind, here is information about horse personalities from Pat Parelli's website (

Horse can be classified as "left-brained" or "right-brained."
     Left-brained horses tend to be: dominant, brave, confident, calm, and tolerant.
     Right-brained horses tend to be: submissive, fearful, not confident, nervous, and reactive.

Horses can also be classifed as introvert or extrovert.
     Introverted horses tend to be: low energy, have more "whoa" (i.e., a lack of forward momentum), have a tendency to be slow, and have a tendency to stop often.
     Extroverted horses tend to: have high energy, have more "go" (i.e., lots of forward momentum), be quick, and run often.

So the Parelli website puts these 2 sets of qualities together into 4 basic horsey personality types:



This horse is a playful character that needs interesting things to do. He is obsessed with learning and needs variety and new things to keep it fun.
Welcome to the land of “Why should I? What’s in it for me?” This horse reads people like a book. He knows what you want and he’s not going to give it to you, unless you treat him right. Even though he appears stubborn or lazy, he’s not at all lazy in the mind! He may move slowly, but he's always thinking quickly
This shy, timid, shrinking violet avoids pressure by retreating into himself. Success involves going very slowly at first and waiting for him to come out of his shell, to trust more. Pretty soon he’ll be offering you more.
This horse constantly needs reassurance. He gets confused easily and then gets afraid, so he needs you to make things simple, which will help him relax.

What do you think about them?  Have you ever played with a horse that fit pretty well into one of these personality types?

Sunday, November 10, 2013

Learning My Basic Horsey Equipment

     Jump forward to the end of the summer.  By this time, I am working largely on my own, with my instructor working on small projects nearby (ready at a moment's notice to help me if I needed it).  I still felt pretty awkward using the equipment, but I had a general idea of what I was doing.
     My equipment consisted of a halter, a lead rope, and a stick with a string.

      Here is an image showing what my horse's halter looked like.  Do you see the blue halter on this horse's head (over his nose, along his cheek, and behind his ears)?  That is a halter.
You can also see the lead rope in this picture.  It attaches to the halter under the horse's chin, and the person (not shown in this picture) holds the other end.
     Your lead rope is kind of like your "hose of communication" with your horse.  You might be surprised how much you communicate just by how tightly you hold your rope.  Try holding the rope in your hands with your eyes shut and have somebody else hold the other end of the rope -- see how much you can tell about the way they are holding it without opening your eyes!

This is kind of like what a carrot stick and string looks like.  It is long (firm but flexible) stick with a string tied to one end.  It helps a person (who stands upright) to communicate to a horse (who stand on all fours).  It is a very versatile tool.  Sometimes it is like a tail.  Sometimes it merely gives you a "longer body" (like a horse).  Sometimes it is a hoof.  On occasion, it acts as teeth.  It's basic purpose is to help you talk in horsey language (instead of expecting the horse to understand English).

In reality, I guess this is not a lot of equipment.  An experienced person moves smoothly with these things, as though they are a part of her.  I, on the other hand, as a beginner, was constantly tripping over, dropping, and tangling myself in these various pieces of equipment.  A more "left-brained" horse would have been snickering up her sleeve at my clumsiness.  WhiteStar, however, was very patient and nonjudgmental as she waited for me to unwrap myself and get up again.  [I am immensely grateful that I did not start out on a wild horse as I imagine what would have happened if the horse had spooked while I was tangled.  Yikes.]

When I rode her, I connected both ends of a rope to her halter to act as "reins".  Occasionally, I put a bareback pad on her, but she is so comfortable to ride that I usually rode completely bareback.  Riding bareback is fun.  It definitely makes me feel connected to my horse, and it also helps me pretend that I am either an Indian or some girl taming a horse in the wilderness.  :)  It is very "natural" and I like it.

So that is the equipment that I used on a regular basis to work with her.  In addition to that equipment, I learned to used various kinds of brushes, a hoof pick, and special non-chemical fly spray.

Friday, November 8, 2013

James from Bella and Gerard

     I don't have a picture for this character yet.  Maybe it is because he is such an important character.  I probably won't ever give you pictures of my main characters unless I sketch them myself. 
     Main characters take on a form of their own in the imagination of the reader.  Rarely, as a reader, do I pay any attention to the photos or sketches of the main characters.  The pictures just don't look quite right.  I know what the character really looks like.  Apparently, as a writer, I have the same narrow view.
     All of this was simply to apologize for the lack of a photo.  And perhaps I can make up for that lack with a description.
     James is a young man in his early 20s.  He is tall and slender, with long limbs.  He has brown hair.  He's got a bit of an Irish accent.
     He is probably Gerard's best friend.  They have teamed up on some adventures and jobs in the past, before Bella came into the picture, and apparently Gerard used to room with him.  He is a steady and dependable fellow.  He's very quick to see through people - both the good and the bad.  And while he does not rush headlong into things, he pursues the things that are important to him.  He knows how to get things done.
     Here are some quotes from James:

     “So you’re the one who stole me bed,” he said with an accent unlike any Bella had heard before.

     “Are you still working at the factory?” Gerard asked, around a mouthful of bread.
    “I am, and I’m at school at nights,” James answered.  “I’m going to be an engineer, Gerry.”

     “Actually, I will probably take Bella uptown to one of the bigger churches,” Gerard suddenly decided.  “She’s never seen the architecture of a cathedral.”
     “God is still God…no matter where you are,” James answered.

     James laughed.  Then he leaped up suddenly and grabbed his shirt from the back of the couch.  “I’ve got to go, Gerry, or I’ll be late.  See you tonight!”  He paused long enough to wink at Bella.  “Take care, little miss,” he called cheerily as he hastened out the door.

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Scooter and Katy Warm-up in the Arena - V4

     Here is a video of Scooter and Katy warming up in an indoor arena.  Scooter was not accustomed to playing inside so he was a little hesitant.  Even so, it is so much fun to watch the two of them.
     Katy uses a wind-dancer in her hand.  I don't know if you can tell that from this video clip, but it is basically a pole with ribbons streaming from one end.  Scooter loves to take her wind-dancer in his mouth and wave it around.  ;)  He likes to show off for Katy.
     He also loves to stand on a platform.  If she left him in a field with a platform, you would look out there and just see him in the middle of the pasture, standing on a platform.
     Enjoy the video!

Sunday, November 3, 2013

A Change of Heart

     WhiteStar and I continued to work together.  The funny thing about horses is that, whatever your issues are, those issues are magnified when you are working with horses.  You either have to quit altogether or you have to deal with those issues.
     For example, if you have a habit of only sort of listening to people (i.e. not focusing your full attention on them), you usually can get away with it.  In your day to day life, you can think about half a dozen things at once.  Maybe your acquaintances are a little disappointed in their conversations with you, but it doesn't really affect your life.  Maybe you don't even realize you are doing it.  Then you go to work with horses and find out that they know exactly how focused you are.  And if you are not focused, they will not be focused.
     {Note: My friends who have children assure me that children are the same glaring reflection of your own equally good test as horses are.}
     So, as WhiteStar and I went through our paces, I began to deal with my own shortcomings: focus, confidence, leadership, relationship, motivation, speed, listening, purpose, planning, and so on.  Some things are not an easy, one-day fix, but as you sit there on a distracted horse you realize that you are doing something wrong.  Maybe it is technical (pointing with the wrong hand, weighting the wrong stirrup) but more likely it is deeper within your focus and attitude.  When you fix it, your horse automatically corrects.  So you are motivated to find out what you are doing wrong and fix it.
     As I am working my way through all of this, I keep a check on the pretty red mare out in the field.  "Someday...someday...," I tell myself, "...someday I will move on to riding her." 
     I was intensely jealous to see others riding the red mare.  Why them and not me?  Why was I still stuck with the sweet mare who tolerated me?  I buried my tears in WhiteStar's neck and faithfully kept working at my horsemanship skills.  One day...
     But when my big "someday" came -- the day that I look back on and say "I finally got to ride a real horse" -- the horse that I rode was...WhiteStar.
     I am not even sure how it happened.  But one day, when I walked out into the field to get her, I really saw her.  I looked at her and not past her.  And I suddenly realized what an amazing horse she was.
     And you know what?  As I stood there looking at her, with her halter and rope hanging over my arm, she looked back at me.  And, for the first time, her look did not say that she was tolerating a beginner.  Her look was an actual look of greeting.  When I stopped looking past her to my future career as a world-class horsewoman, she stopped looking past me to her quick return to the pasture.  We actually saw each other.
     I slid the halter over her head and led her to the arena.  All the way, I whispered sweet words to her, thinking of nothing else than the joy I had in her company.  She flicked her ears and listened intently.
     As we played our games, I told her how wonderful she was.  I told her stories of amazing things we could do together -- highly unlikely things, I suppose, but I could see it in my imagination.  I told her I would protect her -- and I would have!  I would have faced a cougar on her behalf.  She was my girl.
     And she, in response, was more relaxed and more attentive to me than ever before.  We accomplished things that we hadn't quite managed until then.  She was amazing.
     We had the most perfect day together.  I had a change of heart, and that was the day I got to play with a real horse.