Thursday, January 29, 2009

Simple Pleasures

:-) The courtesy clerk actually used the reusable thermal grocery bag for the frozen foods.

:-) I got an e-mail from a member of one of my past Barn Bunches. She's eagerly awaiting the arrival of her new horse. He's one handsome dude and sounds like he's perfect for her.

Sunday, January 25, 2009

Northwest Author Series

I finally attended one of the Northwest Author Series sessions at the Wilsonville Library. The series is organized by local author Christina Katz (who was today's speaker) and it is geared toward writers. Christina's topic was "A Platform Primer."

I've heard the buzz that all writers need a "platform," but the discussions generally seemed geared toward nonfiction authors. I didn't understand the application toward writers of fiction. Christina explained that it is a way to build readership BEFORE one's book is published. A platform can help persuade an agent or editor to give your book query serious consideration. She writes and teaches nonfiction, so I still had to read between the lines when it came to focusing on an area of expertise and designating a niche within that area. But I figured out that the goal is to get one's name "out there." Writing for periodicals, teaching or giving talks, media interviews as an expert in a topic, a website and/or blog -- all contribute toward building a platform.

Christina covers it all in more detail in her book, "Get Known Before the Book Deal, Use Your Personal Strengths to Grow an Author Platform" (Writers Digest Books, 2008).

The monthly sessions are about two hours long. Christina spoke and answered questions for 1-1/2 hours, then allowed half an hour to meet and greet folks, and sell and sign her book.

See the link to the left for the NWAS. The next session is February 22. Christine Fletcher will lead the session on "Essential Skills for Every Fiction Writer." I'm looking forward to Carment T. Bernier-Grand on April 19 who will lead the session on "Writing Children's Books."


All Horse Stuff (see link at left, since I can't seem to insert the link within the text with my "antiquated" Mac) awarded me the Lemonade from Lemons award for being a "Blogger who shows Great Attitude/Gratitude."

I appreciate the plug! Especially since I learned I need to build a platform. :-)

KK at All Horse Stuff is a fellow Pac NW equestrian. I envy her ready access to miles and miles of trails on BLM lands. And I commiserate with the joys and frustrations of horse ownership. Mostly joys.

I hereby share my Gratitude/Attitude award with Shared Glory Photo Blog (link also at left). I've known her since she was a sonogram and can't believe that she managed to grow into a lovely young woman while I didn't age a bit. ;-)

I want her to share the award with roomy Michelle. Both are budding professional photographers. "When" I sell my YA fantasy novels, Shared Glory will take my "headshot" for the dustcover of my novels!

Friday, January 23, 2009


I'm sure I'm not the only equestrian whose tone for the day is established by my time in the saddle. A frustrating ride can alter a positive state into one of discouragement. A good ride establishes a positive and uplifting outlook on the remainder of the day. Thus, my attitude for the remainder of the day is determined by my ride. My "ride-itude."

Today was a good one. Wednesday and today I went back to basics and warmed up with haunch and forehand pivots, halts, backing up, and sidepasses. Not to say that I got Phantom to correctly crossover with the movements, but he did respond to and move off of my seat and leg. I then referred to my Sue Sherry Arsenal and did alternating posting trot diagonals. Youch! I definitely need to do more of them!

I had the opportunity to take a few clinics from Sue Sherry in the past. Sue gave me homework assignments to get my weight balanced on both seat bones. I was sliding off to the right, and Phantom was facilitating my off-kilter position. She had me post for 4-6 trot strides, then change posting diagonal through the two-point (not sitting). While alternating diagonals, I rode Phantom in circles, serpentines, etc. This exercise actually relaxes and rounds Phantom. And it showed me that I need to do more of it to strengthen my position. Having ridden hunters in the past, I've served time in two-point hell. The longer dressage leathers aren't very helpful, but holding a two-point and alternating posting diagonals will definitely help me get back into riding shape after my extended time off.


Speaking of my time off due to my broken wrist.... These medical expenses dribbling in are the pits! Hard to budget for the month when hit with unexpected bills.

I've been receiving statements of charges and insurance pickup since October, which of course I give only a cursory look. Hey, I'm an English Major! So I get the latest bill from the osteo surgeon's office and decide I'll pay half in January and the remainder in February. This week I get a new bill and the total due is a little over the same amount as the previous statement! Additional charges bumped up the amount due after I made payment. *sigh* I've already paid a bill for the physical therapy, but who knows, there may be additional charges. And these may not be the final fees due the osteo surgeon.

At least I've got health insurance. I'm paying through the nose for it, but when I finally needed coverage, the policy is coming through.


Lefty has been sold to a woman who lives back east. Keep in mind, for those of us living in the Pacific Northwest, anything on the other side of the Rockies is "back east." But if I have the facts straight, Lefty will be leaving tomorrow for one of the original 13 colonies. So today we said our goodbyes and wished him a safe journey. We all hope that Lefty will have an exciting new show career, but it's kind of sad that he'll be so far away we won't be able to watch his successes with his new owner.

I took this photo at the 2008 AHA Region IV Sporthorse Championship Show.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Ladies's Man

Every time I turn into the barn driveway I notice that Phantom is standing near the fence by the mares. He is turned out in one of the smaller paddocks that shares a fenceline wih the front field where the girls hang out. The mares don't seem to give him special attention. And Phantom doesn't seem to be pining after them. He's just "there." I have no idea what it's all about (Alfie).

Phantom shares "recess" with Pugsley of the endless tail and Dansuan, one of the sweetest horses ever. So I'm very happy with the company he keeps. The trio seems to be pretty sensible.

Saturday, January 17, 2009

Rose City Classic

Stump Town loves its dogs!

Today we went to the Rose City Classic Dog Shows held at the Expo Center in north Portland. The show is so popular, the parking lot was filled to capacity! We were redirected to Portland Meadows race track for overflow parking and free shuttle bus service to and from the Expo Center. Once we wended through the lines for tickets and at last made it into the show, we split up. I stopped in "Sheltie World" while my mother went to the "Russell Roundup."

My mother sat next to a woman who used to show Jacks and they chatted. They selected their favorite dogs from each class, but apparently the judge didn't agree with their picks. Brandy was descended from Eddie Chapman's English lines, so my mother prefers the leggy Jacks (Parson Russells in AKC-speak). Anyway, she had an enjoyable and educational time at Ring 3.

All the Shelties were so much smaller and more petite than Indy. He certainly is a big galoot compared to them! I looked for some similarity to Indy in the show dogs, but saw none. I took a peek at a program and did see some entries bred at kennels from Indy's pedigree, but no relation. I did, however, enjoy observing breed mannerisms that I recognized from both Indy and Lacey.

When the Jack Russells finished, my mother located me and we moved on to the vendor area. Found all kinds of fun stuff. At the Sock Shop I got Sheltie socks and couldn't resist the Dressage socks! Another vendor offered lifelike stuffed dogs (Jacks, westies, etc.) for a reasonable price. My mother bought one and, since no bag was offered, I placed the dog under my arm. Everyone did a doubletake, thinking it was real at first glance. I must say, it was well mannered. Our favorite vendor items were the fleece "poop pile" squeaker toys offered in several sizes. Also available were fleece "Poopsie Cola" cans, "Poop Tart" boxes, etc. You get the gist.

When finished with the vendors we went to the agility ring where the large dogs were competing. Border collies were predominant but everyone enjoyed the standard poodles, and the Afghan hound was a big hit. Having taken Indy through the agility foundation course, I have a new respect for the level of competition we saw. The class came down to a jump-off to determine the winner. Very exciting!

Then it was home to Indy where we introduced him to the lifelike stuffed dog. Indy had us in stitches. He was thoroughly confused by the life-size inanimate puppy. He sniffed, jumped, sniffed, assumed the play position, sniffed and then pounced to instigate play...but the other dog wouldn't respond!! What a nut!

The dog shows continue through Monday. Animal Planet was filming the competition and will air the Rose City Classic in the future. Watch the Animal Planet TV schedule for Dog City USA to strut its stuff.

Friday, January 16, 2009

Go With the Flow

Well Phantom got off sort of easy today. Despite my intentions for a good ride, I got off after only 15 minutes to longe him again. I suppose if I wasn't just recovered from a broken wrist I would have remounted. Injuries that take one out of the saddle for extended periods can certainly make one skittish.

Woke up to freezing fog today. The sun burned it off in the burbs, but not at the barn. It was foggy and COLD! "Cougar weather." I longed Phantom before riding, per usual, to take off the edge. He does this thing sometimes when we begin our trot work of popping his rear end to canter before he's even in a place where he can hold a canter. Today, the "canter pop" was combined with the "hairy eyeball" -- on the lookout for said cougars. Since returning to riding after breaking my wrist, I'm still a little tense about unexpected "tap dancing." Tension doesn't help one stick to the saddle. The combination of looking for a reason to be silly and the canter pop was more than I wanted to deal with -- especially when alone at the barn.

So I jumped off, ran up the irons, looped the reins behind the irons (quick and dirty "side reins") and longed Phantom another 10 minutes. He let off more piss and vinegar this time, but also gave me some nice trot work in the end. So I called it good. I'll recover more confidence with time in the saddle, and Phantom has been very good considering all the time he had off.


So while I'm removing tack and grooming Phantom, I hear a loud meow. I tell the kitty I can hear him, but don't see him. He meowed again and then Romeo exited Impy's stall with a mouse in his mouth. So I praised our brave and fearless Critter Control Team member -- and the mouse wriggled it's front legs. Eeeuuw!

I quickly trotted down the aisle to close the tack room door and then made sure my brush bag was out of reach for a "gift." I told Romeo he was a good kitty as he strolled down the aisle with his trophy mouse (that kicked it's hind legs! :-P)

Romeo wandered into Harley's stall where I think he may have deposited his mouse under the pile of hay (sorry Molly). He then came back to me to claim my lap while I recorded the day's ride/longe in my calendar. We enjoyed some kitty bonding time and the Great Fluffy Hunter received his due.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009


Indy had his first encounter with the hot wire at the barn today. He seems to have survived unscathed, and the jolt did not give him a poodle coat.

I had the barn to myself when I finished riding. After letting Phantom free graze for a little while I placed him in his turnout paddock and turned Indy loose.

Indy, of course, wanted to go to the arena barn to see if his girlfriends were there. They weren't, so he had to settle for me. We played briefly in the arena, then he went outside where he left another pee-mail message.

Indy moved toward the round pen and past it toward the pig haven. I suspected he was looking for his Chi (the ideal location to make a "deposit"). I finally caught up with him and was about to attach the leash when Indy decided to investigate the bottom wire of the adjacent turnout fence. It was one of those moments like slamming shut the locked door of a car while staring at the keys inside. You know what's coming isn't good, but you just watch it happen. Indy stuck out his nose and I thought, "He's going to get zapped."

Bzzzt! Yipe! And Indy was off and running. I have no idea where he thought he was running to...just away! I called his name a couple of times and Indy finally stopped near the car. He looked at me. I had walked away from the offending fence and called him to me. And he came at a run. Good boy!

I think he may have suspected the Flexi-Leash was the culprit, or the baggie dispenser hanging from it. I had him smell each after I'd given him a hug. Poor puppy! Other than being SCARED, Indy seemed fine. He settled into the car per usual for the ride home. Once at home, he pestered me to go out for his walk so he could finish his business.

All horse folks have inadvertently touched the hot wire at some time. Not a pleasant sensation. But at 30+ pounds, that's got to be a real jolt for a dog of Indy's size! I'm just glad that he seems okay. If anything, it may have turned him into the Energizer Bunny. He was pretty bouncy when I was finally ready for our afternoon walk. I treated him to one of our longer summer routes, since the day was rather pleasant and he definitely deserved a treat.

Monday, January 12, 2009

Physical Fitness Equestrian Style


"This is the low-impact mechanical exerciser that gently and thoroughly concentrates on developing strength in the glutes, upper thigh, abdominal, and lower back muscles, and is especially beneficial for novice exercisers or those unable to tolerate excessive pressure and stress on joints. It allows you to conduct a 20-minute exercise routine while seated, making it easy to perform at home while working on other tasks or watching television. The saddle supports up to 265 lbs., gently tilting back and forth, left and right in preprogrammed sequences that can be selected at the touch of a button. The gentle swaying of the saddle forces the core body muscles to expand and contract, keeping you upright in a relaxed, properly aligned sitting position which helps develop important muscle structure necessary to maintain good posture. The exercise routines also provide a beneficial aerobic workout ideal for those who need to maintain low target heart rates. Any of three basic programs and nine speeds are easily controlled from the panel at the pommel, and a set of stirrups and a handle help beginners maintain proper balance during the slow workout that simulates the gentle back-and-forth motion experienced while riding a horse at a lazy gait. Plugs into AC. 29" H x 16 1/2" W x 34 1/3" D. (82 lbs.)
Item 10958 ($75) ................. $1,499.95"

I came across this item in a Hammacher Schlemmer catalogue (why I was sent the catalogue, I don't know) and got a laugh out of it. I cut it out and posted it on the bulletin board at the barn. I had to share it here, also.

All of us who ride horses realize that the activity is excellent exercise as well as good for the soul. We all growl at and quickly correct the pedestrians who claim "the horse does all the work." Afterall, every horse I've known would prefer to spend his/her days grazing. Anything a horse does that isn't grazing is due to the efforts of the rider!

The machine claims to provide an aerobic workout to help maintain "low target heart rates." However, any equestrian knows that horses can greatly increase heart rates in an instant and provide an adrenaline rush that any Xtreme sports enthusiast would envy.

I suppose the advantage of this machine is that it requires no hay, grain, shavings, veterinary care, farrier visits, tack, turnout/stable blankets/sheets, etc. However, I doubt that the above machine will nicker warmly at your arrival, mug you with a velvety muzzle for treats, fly over fences without wings, share a wildlife sighting on the trail, etc.

I think I'm happy with my selection of Equus caballus, thank you.



I finished the sh___y, messy, ugly first draft of part one!! Yay!

I'm going to move on to part two and -- I hope -- part three. I'm on a roll, and developments in later parts of the story may affect the rewrite of part one. My concept for the story arc is three parts (or three books) as Aisley learns who she really is, faces the expectations of others, and assumes her legacy to free the Island of Pennleah from the conquering Vardienians.

As explained by editors and agents at the WW Conference -- the publishing business is looking for people who will be writing books -- the emphasis on the plural. Anyone writing a trilogy or other multiple book series is of interest because a built-in readership may develop (Hello! J.K. Rowling, Stephanie Meyer, etc.) and with the publication of each subsequent book in the series the publisher can reprint and sell the earlier books to increase revenues. concept of a three-part story has the potential to become a trilogy of books, which is more saleable. Thus, my goal to soldier on.


Farrier Calvin called this morning to say he would meet me at the barn to repair Phantom's sprung shoe. I decided to longe and ride Phantom first. We did 20 minutes of walk work that we completed about half an hour before Farrier Calvin's appointed arrival time. Except he was half an hour early! Who's ever heard of a shoer coming early? So many things outside of their control affect the well-planned schedules of shoers and vets that the only appointment they can make on time is the first one of the day.

Anyway...the sprung shoe was quickly repaired and reset, and all is well in my small corner of the equine world.

During our walk work I went through my litany of instructions from former trainers and clinicians. Sometimes when moving at a trot the focus shifts to where we're going, not what I'm doing. Slowing it down to a walk gives me more time to remember, feel and correct. Or try to correct. Anyway, we had a few moments where Phantom and I had our act together.

Boarder Kim didn't bring Abbie to the barn today, but we saw Trainer Tracey for the first time in ages. So Indy and Breeze got to play a little. Caught up on news. Tracey's three daughters were all home for the holidays, which was nice. Very smart and talented girls. They include a medical school applicant, a future veterinarian, and an aspiring commercial artist.

By the way...Trainer Tracey is a fine artist who does GORGEOUS work. I dabble at sketching. She's a trained artist who produces lovely works of art portraying horses.


Tomorrow is haircut day. Whew! My hair grows fast, so when I have a short hairstyle I have to get it trimmed like clockwork. It's pretty shaggy right now.

This coming weekend (January 15-19) is the Rose City Classic series of dog shows. Since it's back-to-back shows, it attracts breeders and trainers from all over and has been covered by Animal Planet. We may attend again. Mom is a sucker for terriers, especially Jack Russells. Obviously, I'm attracted to Shelties. But I love the terriers and herding breeds -- they're so smart and full of personality. The show includes a variety of agility competitions and a vendor row. Great fun for not too awfully much money.

"Inkheart" the movie opens on January 23. I'm within a couple of hundred pages of finishing "Inkdeath," the final book in Cornelia Funke's trilogy for young adults. Imaginative concept for a story. I'm envious.

The 2009 Northwest Author Series launches January 25 at the Wilsonville Library. Area authors in fiction and nonfiction will share their experiences and offer advice to attendees. The cost is only $5 to attend.

Saturday, January 10, 2009

Christmas Lunch

I had lunch today with my former "partner in crime" from our last place of employment. Like most folks, we say we'll get together more often, but life seems to get in the way. So we have lunch around Christmas and in May/June when we celebrate our birthdays. Neither of us skis, so we decided to postpone our holiday lunch until after the huge snow dump melted.

We met at Gustav's for a hearty German meal. I had chicken schnitzel served with red cabbage and flavorful mashed potatoes. Yummmm! Then we had dessert (hey, we only get together twice a year!). The waitress recommended the chocolate bread pudding served in a martini glass. Perfect ending to the meal.

The best part, of course, was the company. We shake our heads over the changes at our former workplace and the individuals who have climbed the ladder since we departed. And we're glad we're not there any more. We both love to read, and she volunteers at her local library's used book store, so the conversation usually gets around to books. And we catch up on what each other's family is doing.

A good way to spend a Saturday.

Friday, January 9, 2009


So I take the dog outside for our morning "business" walk and the first thing I notice is a flat tire on my Mother's car. Our only vehicle since I sold my 19-year-old CRX-Si in early 2008.

So much for my "best laid plans" to go to the barn per my usual schedule. My mother used her AAA membership to have someone come to the house to put air in the tire. This requires a 30-40 minute wait during which I change into barn clothes and prepare Phantom's carrot/apple treats. The kind man from Whitman Towing quickly tended to the car and I noted with irony that Whitman is based in Canby, where my horse is stabled and where I would normally be at that time on a Friday.

Off to Les Schwab to get the flat repaired. This takes an hour to have a faulty valve stem replaced. For free (Yay!) since the tires were purchased from LS.

We head home where I collect the dog and my barn backpack. Later than my usual routine, but we're off to the barn at last.

Where I find that Phantom has sprung a shoe.

Not this badly, thank goodness! But his right front is slightly tweaked just enough so that it is no longer flush with the bottom of the hoof. Now, Phantom is wearing only TWO shoes, yet he managed to goober up one.

I went ahead and rode him anyway. Just the walk and posting trot that we've been doing to get back into shape. And I kept the ride to 30 minutes instead of pushing it to 45 minutes and perhaps trying a canter. When I finished I left a message with the shoer. *sigh*

I don't know. All I'm trying to do is get my barn life back to normal after breaking my wrist, but between the weather and these unexpected events, I get the impression that the Universe has other ideas.

Monday, January 5, 2009


Indy and Abbie had a play date for the first time in forever! With horses safely out of the way we let the pair loose in the arena where they had a blast. Abbie has almost caught up with Indy in size and can pretty much keep up with him at a run. However, she's too smart to wear herself out chasing the goofy Sheltie. Per usual, Indy raced around the arena in large circles. Abbie chased him for a distance, then stopped to wait for him to come by again. Any time Indy stopped, Abbie was all over him.

Watching the pair do "breed stuff" is fascinating. Obviously, Indy's circles originate from the need to round up the sheep for herding. Abbie stalks Indy, pauses, and then pounces -- just as a bird dog would do to locate and flush woodcocks for the hunter.

Never let anyone tell you that dogs can't smile. Both Indy and Abbie were happily panting during their brief breaks from whooshing about the barn.


It was so hard to get Phantom moving today. We started out at a semi-decent walk and eventually got some connection. Then I asked for the trot. Chubby Phantom picked up a shuffle and chubby me tried to squeeze him forward. So he then tried to pop into a canter which was hysterical because he was so strung out there was no way he could pick up and hold a canter. But I didn't want him bouncing me out of the saddle, so I cautiously attempted to pursue the trot . It was sooo muuuch wooork. After my forced three month "vacation" from riding, my muscles aren't responding like they used to. And the Goober Boy is so "fluffy" from his time off that the girth is a hole looser than the norm. We're definitely a pair.

But I put in a whole 35 minutes today. Last week all I could manage was 20 minutes at a time in the saddle. Once again, lots of circle work. Only a wee bit of lateral work. I got the "beach ball" connected trot that I was after and called it good. We generally finish with a stretchy trot on a long rein, and then walk out until I dismount.

Phantom is being a very good boy. Definitely a keeper. :-)

Sunday, January 4, 2009

Freezing Fog

Woke up to freezing fog this morning. Everything was coated white, almost like snow but not quite. And the fog muffled noises, similar to snow. So I grabbed my little Kodak digital for our morning walk...just in case.

Loved the feeling of being one of the first to venture out on a Sunday morning while others slept in. The fog/frost combination creates kind of an eery sensation.

Friday, January 2, 2009

Return of the White Stuff

We began the New Year with heavy-duty rain and gusty winds. It was so bad that Indy didn't even want to step out onto the covered porch after ringing the bell to go outside. Guess he didn't have to "go" that badly!

So we went to bed last night with rain beating against the roof and skylights. And woke up to -- SNOW! Again.

As best as I can tell, sometime during the night the rain turned to sleet, then snow that got slushy, then rain that froze when it hit the snow. What appeared to be a mere dusting of snow was actually slick and icy. I had to outfit my waterproof/insulated Ariats with the YakTrax for Indy's morning walk. I crunched through our a.m. trek.

The streets were melting in time to head out for the barn. But when I crossed The River, there were no further signs of snow! When I returned home in the afternoon I expected the snow to be melted. But our burb still had quite a bit of the overnight dusting intact. Okaaay.

Possibility of an additional dusting of snow overnight as temperatures drop.


"Dizzy/I'm so dizzy, my head is spinnin'/Like a whirlpool, it never ends...." Anyone else out there remember the Tommy Roe bubblegum classic?

Another brief ride on Phantom today. Between both of us being out of shape after our extended "vacation" and the crazy weather, I settled for another quickie ride. I got some round and connected walk, and beachball, connected posting trot, so I was happy with that.

Did circle after circle. Hence, the tune and lyrics from "Dizzy" latching onto the brain. I worked at one end of the arena while handsome Emaus was longed at the other end. I was intending to concentrate on circles anyway, so it worked out well. I do a 20 meter circle, and 10 meter circles within it at the four points of the large circle (north, south, east, west). I throw in an occasional figure 8 and make S-shaped changes in direction. Tried a couple of spiral in and outs, but they weren't very pretty today. Phantom is still a bit stiff through the middle and I haven't yet regained the strength to assist him with his bend.

Emaus generally has a lot of p___ and vinegar to work through on the longe line, but Phantom didn't seem to care what was going on at the other end of the arena. What was a bit unnerving was the storm cell that moved through while I was in the saddle. We have a "weather wall" in our arena: the east-facing long wall is a partial that allows views of Mt. Hood and whatever is falling at the moment. While I was riding we had hail, snow, snow/rain, etc. It's a bit distracting to wonder if one needs to abandon riding to get the heck home before the roads really get bad.

As it turned out, my ride pretty much ended when the storm did. But even though the sun came out, it was still chilly. I returned to the little barn to find Boarder Genevieve wrapped in Zorro's wool cooler while he looked at her with an expression that said, "Shouldn't I be wearing that?"