This Blog is dedicated to the Noble and Great horses in our lives and throughout history. Visit the land of the unicorns in Behind The Mist, the horse lover's fantasy for pre-teens to adults.


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Wednesday, September 18, 2019

LOSING MY NOBLE AND GREAT HORSE!

In my fantasy series, "The Mist Trilogy," I made up a story about the noble and great horses who are chosen to be unicorns when they die.

I now have sent a second "noble and great" horse to Celestia, the unicorn kingdom in the afterlife.

On Sunday, Oct. 15th, my beautiful Kit left this earth life. Kit was an amazing horse that I had the privilege of owning for twenty-two years. He was almost twenty-nine when he died which is old for a thoroughbred. His health was not great. He had already lived through a surgery to remove a tumor around his optic nerve. He also had to have daily medication for cushings. Cushings is a common desease in older horses though it has been diagnosed on rare occasions in younger horses. The symptoms include: 1. Excessive thirst and urination. Normally, a horse drinks 5 to 8 gallons of water a day. A horse with cushings drinks 20 gallons of water a day. 2. His coat gets long and doesn't shed in the summer. 3. He looses muscle tone and weight and his eyes get dull. They often develop a hay belly. 

Your vet can do a blood test to determine if your horse has cushings. It can not be cured but can be managed with medication. I was giving Kit daily Prascend pills by hand. They made a world of difference.

However, even with the best of care that I was giving Kit, I can't stop time.

Kit was the leader of my band of horses at my house. Yet he was always the gentleman. The other horses respected him and deferred to him but he was never unkind to any of them. I called him my "benevolent dictator!"


Kit was the RMDS Dressage Champion at First Level and First Level Freestyle. He was also the cover boy for all my trail guide books titled: "Riding Colorado." I bought him as an untrained six year old and trained him to compete in Dressage and ride the trails in the Colorado mountains. We shared some amazing adventures together.
I am so grateful that I had the privileged of owning and loving this amazing horse.

Here is a beautiful poem that a friend sent to me. Maybe it will make you feel better if you've lost a horse, too.

Don't Cry For The Horses by Brenda Riley-Seymore

Don't cry for the horses that life has set free.
A million white horses, forever to be.
Don't cry for the horses now in God's hands.
As they dance and prance to a heavenly band.

They were ours as a gift, but never to keep
As they close their eyes, forever to sleep.
Their spirits unbound, forever to fly.
A million white horses, against the blue sky.

Look up into Heaven. You will see them above.
The horse we lost, the horse we loved.
Manes and tails flying, they gallop through time.
They were never yours, they were never mine.

Don't cry for the horses, they will be back someday.
When our time has come, they will show us the way.
Do you hear that soft nicker close to your ear?
Don't cry for the horses, love the ones that are here.

If you would like an autographed copy of "The Mist Trilogy," go to the website: 
www.dancinghorsepress.com
The series is also available in print and ebook wherever books are sold.



Sunday, July 28, 2019

Congress Strengthens Law against Soring

Congress has finally done something good! On July 25th, the U.S. House of representatives passed an act designed to prevent all Soring methods.

Soring is the cruel, inhumane practice of inflicting pain to a horse's front limbs by applying caustic chemicals such as mustard oil or kerosene to their pasterns and then they wrap chains around the sores. Or, these evil people insert sharp objects into their hooves to get them to lift their front hooves high to avoid the pain. This is done in the Tennessee Walking, Racking and Spotted Saddle Horse world.



It is an evil practice and I find it hard to believe that anyone would do such a thing but it is quite common, believe it or not. It is ridiculous that the federal government has to get involved to stop it. You'd think that people's own sense of right and wrong would stop it!

I compete in dressage. In my world, our goal is to develop the natural, beautiful gates of a horse with the minimum of interference by the tack or rider. I look at that top picture, at the UNnatual movement of that horse and I am sickened. They call that high lift, the "Big Lick." All I see is big pain.

Last November, two of my books were honored in New York City, by the Equus Film Festival. While at the awards ceremony, I met the director of a short called "Awesome Gal," that is a story about a horse that escapes from his cruel owners who were using soring on her. If you get a chance to see the movie, do so! Here is their FB link: www.facebook.com/chancesawesomegal

Tuesday, February 5, 2019

Learning to Sit the Trot Effectively

I have a lovely new little (15.1 hands) horse named Amara. She is an American Warmblood.
She is training at first and second level in Dressage, but I am also getting her out of the arena and introducing her to trails. She has a lovely, forward trot and as we move from first level to second level, I have to sit that trot. I found this great article in Dressage Today I like the emphasis on not just following the trot (which may be your goal to start with,) but learning to influence the trot. Enjoy!
Learning to sit the trot effectively and to appear relaxed and in harmony with the horse is perhaps one of the biggest challenges in the world of dressage. Many of today’s dressage horses have big, bouncy trots that can be daunting for even experienced riders with supple seats. It is, however, very important that every rider develop her ability to sit the trot in order to influence the horse effectively during the trot work. So think of sitting trot as proactive rather than reactive.
An open angle between the hip and thigh also will lead to the softly draped long leg that is advantageous in many ways. In this position, the rider is correctly balanced and properly aligned to ride the sitting trot. (Photo by Amy K. Dragoo)  
An open angle between the hip and thigh also will lead to the softly draped long leg that is advantageous in many ways. In this position, the rider is correctly balanced and properly aligned to ride the sitting trot. (Photo by Amy K. Dragoo)  
The first step a rider must accomplish is the correct position in the saddle. You want a tall, correctly aligned body position, a supple waist and strong abdominal muscles. The upper body must be very straight and placed directly over the hips. A viewer should be able to draw a straight line from the rider’s ear through the shoulder and hip to the heel, and that line should be exactly perpendicular to the ground.
The pelvis should be centered in the deepest part of the saddle and balanced between the two seat bones and the pubic bone. (If too much weight is placed on the seat bones, the rider will be behind the motion and behind the vertical with her upper body; if too much weight is placed on the pubic bone, the rider will be perched on her crotch and tipped forward.) Sit as tall as possible. While lightly balanced on the seat bones and pubic bone. Your back should be close to flat and your head carried over nicely squared shoulders and a raised an open chest.
Once the seat is balanced, the rider needs to open the angle between the hip and thigh allowing the legs to drop down almost vertically from the hip. It is the open angle between the hip and thigh that will enable the rider to use her hips to influence the trot. This open angle also will lead to the softly draped long leg that is advantageous in many ways. In this position, the rider is correctly balanced and properly aligned to ride the sitting trot.
To ride the sitting trot, the rider must make her waist supple—not loose and floppy, but elastic and supple. The very slight pelvic motion involves pushing the pelvis down and toward the hands through relaxation of the waist and abdominal muscles. The timing of the motion is critical—the rider must straighten as the horse begins the stride and then push down and slightly forward just before the completion of the stride. In this way, you can “bounce” the next stride with your seat, just by allowing yourself to relax down into the saddle.
You can get the feeling of the pelvic motion while dismounted: Stand against a straight wall with your heels, hips and shoulders touching the wall, and your knees slightly bent. Place your hands over your tummy, just below your navel. Using your abdominal muscles, push your back toward the wall—this is the “straightening” phase of the sitting trot. Relax your abdominal muscles toward your hands and allow your back to fall away from the wall—this is the relaxing or “pushing down” phase of the sitting trot. At no time should you grind your seat bones into the saddle to try to sit more “into” the horse—this is uncomfortable for the horse and counter productive.
Once a rider has the timing and strength to follow the motion of the gait, she will be able to change the trot strides wit just a little more emphasis on the pelvic motion—straighter and taller for a shorter, bouncier stride and more down and forward for lengthening the stride. Influencing the trot involves “riding the stride,” rather than going with the motion. The rider must be balanced and poised in the saddle and able to anticipate the stride. When this is done correctly, she is very slightly ahead of the motion of the trot, and by being slightly ahead, has a good opportunity to influence the size and shape of the next stride. So, rather than following the motion of the trot, a rider can lead the motion of the trot, thereby staying in balance and harmony with the horse.

Wednesday, January 9, 2019

Two New Releases in December


I have been very busy the last few months getting two new books ready for publication. It actually takes a lot of work finalizing covers, getting professional reviews, setting up distribution, and on and on. And now it is done! YAY!

"The Stone of Wisdom" is the fourth and final book of "The Centaur Chronicles." This series, about a land filled with Centaurs, Ogres, Cyclops, and a tiny race called the Duende, has won numerous national and international literary awards. That is great when the critics like my work, but it is even greater when my middle-grade and YA readers love it! It is so fun getting emails from them. It makes all the hard work worth it when they write to me to say they love the books.

"PERCY - The Racehorse Who Didn't Like to Run" is my first-ever picture book for 3 to 7 year-olds. The Industry Standard for a picture book is 30 pages and 1,000 words. That is hard for a novelist like me that usually writes about 65,000 words! But I had fun working on it and working with an illustrator. I had strong opinions about what I wanted the illustrations to look like. I don't like picture books where the horses have big buck teeth and oversized hooves. I want the horses to be beautiful. This story is about a little, thoroughbred colt who was supposed to grow up to become a great racehorse. However, he doesn't like to run! The wise, old mare in the pasture advises him to find his true purpose. This he does as he becomes a therapy horse and becomes the feet for disabled children. I am excited for little children to get to enjoy this book.

All of my books are available on my website:
www.dancinghorsepress.com

Or here are the links to Amazon:
The Stone of Wisdom: https://www.amazon.com/Stone-Wisdom-Centaur-Chronicles/dp/1948543575/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1547052701&sr=8-1&keywords=The+Stone+of+wisdom

PERCY-The Racehorse Who Didn't Like to Run https://www.amazon.com/Percy-Racehorse-Who-Didnt-Like-dp-0996661778/dp/0996661778/ref=mt_hardcover?_encoding=UTF8&me=&qid=1547052771

Sunday, October 7, 2018

A NEW UNICORN IN HEAVEN

Here is another tribute to a noble and great horse that touched so many lives. Thank you to Nell Foxworth for her beautiful tribute to Denim.

We lost another one of the greats yesterday. Denim was an amazingly patient and kind horse, and had earned his angel wings years ago taking care of Julia Combs and Gracie Combs. He has taken care of Courtney since she was about 1. We were fortunate enough to be able to have him as Courtney’s horse for the last 3 1/2 years, and he was simply the best. He knew his job as a kids horse and made sure he kept it that way-he wasn’t interested in having the adults ride him, but he loved his little girls!! He passed away suddenly yesterday afternoon, the storm moving in got the best of him.
RIP Denim buddy-you were the best!

Monday, September 24, 2018

A TRIBUTE TO KNICKEE

When I started writing this blog, I intended to dedicate it to the NOBLE and GREAT horses throughout history and those not-so-famous ones that have touched our lives. If you have or know such a horse, please send me a tribute and I will post it here for all to see.

This tribute comes from Asako Jackson, a volunteer at Promise Ranch Therapy Riding Center in Franktown, Colorado. (If you have read, "In the Heart of a Mustang," you will recognize the name!) 

 
For Celebrating Amazing Knickee's Life
Our Knickee, the Bay Morgan mare of Promise Ranch passed away on Thursday, September 20th, at the age of 26. She came to Promise Ranch all the way from Florida after her previous career in Jumping, and as a show horse.
Knickee was kind of horse to me, that she was noble, elegant, patient, sweet-heart, and I saw her teacher side as well. Two years ago, before I joined volunteering at the Ranch, I had no experience with horses. She was my very horse encountered with for the first time, but funny, it felt like she was a long lost friend of mine.
It may sound like funny to you, but it's real that whenever I work with her, especially leading her for a session, I used to feel magical sensation that entire my body was becoming so relaxed and grounded as I received a magical power to my forehead from Knickee's. I would also feel as if I was wrapped around gently with a soft veil. It's funny, but I was soothed with her spiritual power. Knickee gave me the freedom of being okay just the way who I am.
People say that every creature ends the life when its own mission has done in this world. If Knickee's mission was saving people's life, her mission had been accomplished. She made lots of people's life uplifted, and I was the one of them.
Lastly, Knickee girl, how fortunate I am that I have you into my life. Wait up for me up there for a while until I finish my mission here. So long till I meet you again.



Sunday, August 26, 2018

Training Your Arena Horse to Go on Trails


Two an a half months ago, I purchased a new dressage horse. She is a 15.1 hand American Warmblood and my first mare. She is eight years old. I named her Amara.

Amara has spent her life in an arena and is well started in Dressage. Had I not had to have knee surgery shortly after I bought her, I would have shown her at first level in dressage this summer. But, oh well.

As the author of three equestrian trail guide books for Colorado, any horse I own has to be able to function both in an arena and on the trails in the beautiful Colorado mountains.

Since Amara was not a trail horse, I needed to begin the process of training her to be one. The horse on the cover of the trail three books I have written is Kit, my thoroughbred. When I got him as a six-year-old, he was afraid of stepping on a shadow! He ended up showing in Dressage and becoming the world's best trail horse. He was so good that everyone with a new or young horse wanted to be in line right behind him. I love that horse!

 So, I've done this before. Amara is going to be easier to train because she has a very good brain in her head. But, that being said, there are some common sense steps one needs to take to move a horse from the arena to the trail.

STEP 1: Make sure your gas, brakes, and steering are well established while in the arena. Arenas serve a very important purpose when training by reducing the variables!

STEP 2: Venture out of the arena on your property. This is like sticking just your toe in the water. Practice walking, trotting, halting, circles...the usual arena stuff but outside the arena.

STEP 3: How is your trailer loading and unloading? If it is not good, stop here and work on that. If it is good, you may proceed to step 4.

STEP 4: Know the trail you are going to. You can hike it first or get a good trail guide book to advise you. I found that the regular trail books don't really deal with equestrian concerns which is why I wrote my own. What horse-hazards are you going to encounter? You don't need to do water crossings, bridge crossings, rocky ledges, etc, etc, on your first outing. You want it to be simple and successful.

STEP 5: NEVER GO ALONE. But don't take just anyone. Ask someone who has a steady, reliable trail horse. (Like Kit!) You don't need another horse upsetting your beginner and you may have noticed that horses feed off one another! Keep your first group small, 1 or 2 other horses.

STEP 6: This is not Endurance Training. Keep your first ride a nice calm walk. Talk to your horse, rub her withers and stroke her neck as you go along.

STEP 7: Think like a horse and be one step ahead. Anticipate what might be scary to him. Puddles will eat them, as will rocks! Look beyond the threat, keep calm and just ride past it. Or, let the seasoned horse lead.

STEP 8: Play Leapfrog. Take turns with the other rider(s) being in front, middle and back.

STEP 9: As your horse gets more experienced, add short sections of trot when the footing is good.

STEP 10: Go to the same trail a couple of times then start adding new ones.

STEP 11: Bikers - Stop and face them if they come up from behind.

STEP 12: Water Crossings: Take your time. Keep Calm. Let other horses go first. If that doesn't work, make a hundred circles, gradually getting closer to the water's edge until you actually get a foot in. Then move back away from the water and complete the circle and do it over and over.

Trail riding will become a favorite with your horse if you keep it safe and fun! It will also benefit your training. I practice my dressage on the trail: flex and bend around trees. Halt with just my seat and legs...you know...all that arena stuff but in a prettier setting!


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