Monday, December 29, 2014

holidays and mindfulness

Come visit me at Talk2theAnimals and share your own mindfulness practices:


I'll write more later this week. Today I have to get into zen mode with all the rain that's falling. :)

Sunday, November 16, 2014

a canter-bay tale

noun: canter
  1. 1.
    a three-beat gait of a horse or other quadruped between a trot and a gallop.
    "he kicked his horse into a canter"
    • a ride on a horse at the gait of a canter.
      plural noun: canters
      "we came back from one of our canters"
verb: canter; 3rd person present: canters; past tense: cantered; past participle: cantered; gerund or present participle: cantering
  1. 1.
    (of a horse) move at a canter in a particular direction.
    "they cantered down into the village"
    • make (a horse) move at a canter.
      "Katharine cantered Benji in a smaller and smaller circle"
early 18th century (as a verb): short for Canterbury pace or Canterbury gallop, from the supposed easy pace of medieval pilgrims to Canterbury.

What is it about cantering that makes it so appealing to those of us who ride? When I was a little girl taking riding lessons that was all I wanted to do. The days we rode around the lake near the stable and were allowed to canter for long periods of time are some of the best memories I have.

Both my children wanted to canter too. We have photographs of each of them cantering with huge smiles on their faces.

Each week when my daughter rides I get to watch the beginner riders, most of them little girls on big horses, all of them asking "when can I canter?" With their short legs it's sometimes difficult to get the horses to transition from trot to canter but the desire to do so is strong and the girls will try over and over again until they get a few strides, and if they're lucky, a whole circuit of the arena in the magical gait.

For me what's wonderful about cantering is the forward motion, the connection between the horse and rider, and the sense of total freedom that I feel as a result. It's a time when my usually churning mind empties and all there is is joy.

It has been awhile since Keil Bay and I cantered. We took the summer off and have gradually worked our way back into a regular riding routine this fall. I'm careful with him when we've been out of work, and careful with myself. We start out walking, add in trot, add in the suppling dressage exercises including shoulder-in, and when it feels like we're both back in shape, I will ask for the canter.

The past few rides I have been feeling like I have my "legs" back in the saddle.

Yesterday was a chilly day here and the neighbors were out in full force in the woods behind their house, wearing white hats which were popping up at unexpected times. There were a few shrieks and the snapping of branches as they cut brush. Keil Bay was alert but very very good, and we had a lot of really springy trotting and the kind of ride where the 16.2 hand horse felt like he was 18 hands. His lifting his back lifted me as well, and for most of the very forward ride my boots were loose in the stirrups. We reached that point when my seat and legs were plugged in and the stirrups were simply hanging there. When Keil and I reach that point it's a definite sign that we're ready to move on.

Today it was quiet. Not quite as cold but very gray out. Keil was still very alert. The fact that there were no white hats popping around seemed almost scarier than when there were. What if they suddenly appeared? But again, he was very connected and very forward and it occurred to me that riding a forward canter is infinitely easier than riding a clunky one, so in a moment of girlish glee I sat the trot, slipped my outside leg back a couple of inches and off we went. We cantered left and then we cantered right and I had the same wild smile on my face that I did when I was 9. The same joy, the same giddy happiness. There was nothing in my head but undiluted joy.

Riding Keil Bay's huge and elegant canter is like riding around the lake to the power of infinity. As much as I loved it as a girl, I think I love it even more at age 54. WHEEEEEEEE!

And now, just as when I was young, I can't wait for the next ride.

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

*November* Hill

We're a few days out from the beginning of my favorite month and also the month that inspired the name of our little farm, November Hill.

A decade ago we moved Keil Bay and the Little Man and the Corgis to our new home. It was a dream come true for me. As October passed and we began to learn the whisperings of this piece of land, I waited for the right name to come to me. And  then November arrived, and our farm burst into color around us. 

The name November Hill popped into my head and stuck there. And so our farm was christened.

Months later I was looking through Keil Bay's papers and discovered that he grew up on a farm in Virginia. That farm's name was November Hill.

We love it as much today as we did the first year. After a hot, buggy summer and a busy and stressful August and September, I'm looking forward to being here, fully present, enjoying and relishing every single day of November Hill's namesake month.

In celebration, I'm offering a couple of freebies from my published books.

From October 30th through November 3rd you will find these two titles free on Amazon:

Don't Miss The Magic -  a book of essays on the writing (and creative) process

Search For Fox Hunting Red (Little Shoppe of Colors, 1) - a delightful picture book about two little donkeys who own and operate a shop that sells paints 

You can go here for easy "purchase" and download of the ebooks. You are welcome to gift to as many friends as you like during this free period!

Thursday, October 02, 2014

even when you think you're straight, you're crooked

In one of my recent rides with Keil Bay I noted that he was counter-bending to the outside of the arena as we went down the long sides. For a few moments I thought, well, he's just looking at stuff. Then I thought, oh, no, it's not that, it's that he's just moving crooked.

A few more moments and I got to the place where I always try to get to, which is this: what am *I* doing with MY body?

Suddenly it was clear. I thought I was straight but I was crooked. I was bringing my outside shoulder forward and inward slightly. It was subtle. Not a visible thing but when I focused in I realized I was holding it that way and the tension was definitely there. 

So instead of being looky or crooked, Keil Bay was actually compensating for MY crookedness. 

I breathed in deep and softly let it out, allowing my entire outside shoulder to relax as I did so. He  instantly straightened and suddenly we were moving along much more fluidly, with a nice big swing.

This is just the most recent example of this notion that seems to pop into our heads as riders - we need to FIX THE HORSE. When really all we need to do is FIX OURSELVES and the horse follows suit.

We've been having very lovely rides. We're still doing mostly walk with a little bit of trot, and I'm aiming to just be, without any kind of training agenda or real goals other than to make my body as straight as I can and watch and notice and feel how Keil Bay responds to that.

He's 25 years old and he has always known more than me about dressage and about harmony and schwung and gorgeous movement. I've made it a point to listen to him and celebrate what he teaches me, but I've also thrown in some exercises and done my share of trying to get him to do things in ways I thought were "right."

Finally, I am giving up that pursuit of moving up the levels or even thinking in terms of levels. I am just looking at my own body and trying to make it as relaxed and as straight and as quiet as possible. When I do that Keil Bay matches me and then he takes me further than I could ever take him even if I rode every day for the rest of my life. In truth, he's been there all the time, if I just get out of his way.

I've been wondering why we humans tend to think we need to fix things outside of ourselves instead of simply focusing on ourselves. I'm not sure. I suspect it's because we've become so caught up in thinking and doing and fixing that we've lost touch with our own body parts. It's nothing short of amazing to focus in and find a tightness you didn't even know was there. And when you breathe it out and let that tension go, wow. The whole world (and the horse you're riding) makes a huge and wonderful shift.

In otther news, we have a third cat sick with cytauxzoonosis. River, our rescue kit-meow who has had chronic health issues all of her young life, is now on the treatment protocol but here at home instead at the vet school. She''s fighting and hanging in there but I would so appreciate any healing thoughts and  prayers you might send her way.

I wrote my September column at Talk2TheAnimals about healing circles and the power they have. Go read it here and tell me YOUR story about healing circles!!

Monday, September 22, 2014

autumn equinox 2014

This morning I rode Keil Bay in the newly-cleared arena. My husband cut and moved all the pokeberry bushes that I had elected to let grow along the arena fence this year, and after that he took the chainsaw and trimmed the oak and pine branches that were hanging low.

Today my ride was completely clear - no ducking and no finding fuchsia stains on my legs after the ride. Keil and I rode with donkeys in tow. We stopped and chatted with Salina, who I feel is always with us out there. We trotted the entire arena today. I am loving being back in the saddle, feeling the breeze, enjoying the lack of sweat.

There was one horse fly out there but it was easily deterred. Somehow once it starts to get cooler they lose their intensity.

I came in and did a few chores and then glanced out at my garden. My summer lunches have been built around whatever was growing. Today I picked the next-to-last watermelon, which turned out to be slightly overripe, so I cut it into quarters and Bear went out and chewed the melon from the rind while I picked a bowl of tiny cherry tomatoes. These are smaller than the ones you buy in the grocery store and they have an intense and lovely flavor. They're perfect for mixing in with chickpeas and feta and a drizzle of olive oil and balsamic vinegar. Just the right size for eating without slicing.

The corn is done and the melons are done and the okra is finally slowing down some. We're still getting peppers of all kinds and basil and parsley and the tomatoes. This weekend I'll be clearing out some beds and planting some fall things: lettuces and spinach and chard and brussel sprouts and collards.

I'm waiting on the figs now.

It's been a wonderfully abundant growing season and now we're on to the next.

Pumpkins! And the lovely fall mums. I love this season. Happy equinox to all!

Friday, September 19, 2014

eagerly awaiting the first day of fall

It's been crazy here the past few weeks. A logging truck hit my parked truck (thankfully I was not in it!) and the next day two of our cats were diagnosed with cytauxzoonosis, which is a tick-borne disease that originates in the bobcat. Thankfully the protozoa don't infect other animals or humans, but the survival rate for the disease is less than 60% and the only treatment that works is done by our local vet school ICU, so off Pixie and Mystic went for 7 and 5 days each.

We visited daily and when they got well enough to finish their 10 days of treatment at home, we gratefully took over the every 8 hour medication schedule including heparin injections. 

They are finished now and doing really well. The whole cat and Corgi crew are now wearing Seresto collars in spite of my concern over the chemicals. Cytauxzoonosis is truly scary - very quick onset and it goes downhill very very fast. Just so you know, if you have bobcats around, the first symptoms are lethargy and loss of appetite, very sudden high fever, and jaundice, which tends to be a later symptom. 

We are so relieved our two sweet cats did so well with their treatments, and grateful our local vet worked us in on a busy Saturday morning and nailed the diagnosis so very quickly. 

Today was the first day in two weeks that I didn't have a long list of things to do. So I marched out to the barn and tacked up Keil Bay and we got back to our riding, which has been off the schedule for several months now, mostly because of heat and biting insects. But our days are cooler, the horse flies are getting sluggish, and it was time.

We walked and walked and the donkeys tagged along behind us. We finished up with a very little bit of trotting to make sure everything was working well, and it was, so we'll build things back slowly and hopefully by first frost we'll be fully back in gear. 

I do not know what to make of the fact that Keil Bay is 25 years old, still. He had his chiropractor here a couple of weeks ago and she said he was almost totally clear. He enjoyed what she did, but it wasn't much! I felt so happy to swing my leg over his back this morning and settle into the saddle. We rode in his bitless bridle and the wind blew his long mane and all the years we share between us melted away. I could be 15 and he could be 5. 

But we're both glad we're not, I think. :)

I hope everyone is happy and healthy and ready for a new season! 

Wednesday, September 03, 2014

just say no to Clinton Anderson's aggressive training methods

What people do to animals says more about them than anything else. 

If you have a horse you can't handle, for the sake of all that is holy, find someone who understands horses and their behavior. Find someone who embraces enlightened horsemanship and progressive methods.

CA is not that. CA doesn't know HOW to be that.

If you can't find someone who utilizes respect and kindness, humane methods and a calm demeanor, get in touch. I'll do my best to help you find someone.

Don't let anyone who views horses as the enemy near your horse. You both deserve better.

Sunday, August 03, 2014

August on the hill

We've had a wild week here. Husband was in the mountains taking landscape photographs and the gravel road beneath the Honda Element collapsed. He rolled 40 feet off the edge and was amazingly saved by the tree saplings which slowed the vehicle and a tree that stopped it, although upside down.

The seat belt held him safely, several windows were broken out, and he was able to climb out and get back to the road where a kind passerby took him to the nearest town for help.

The Element had close to 250k miles and it has been an amazing car. It's gone now and we're looking for the next vehicle. 

The morning after all of the above happened, I woke up to my entire herd on high alert in the front pastures. I went out to check on them and didn't see or hear anything. About 15 minutes later a neighbor's entire herd (four horses, a pony, and two goats) came galloping up our driveway. For about twenty minutes it was total chaos here. My five and those seven were all running and snorting and squealing and the neighbors who own them were not answering their phone. 

Fortunately another neighbor and her husband helped and the herd got home with no mishap.

Today, my brilliant teens are discussing quantum mechanics and calculus and piano and college. Husband, thankfully safe and sound, just brought home a new round bale of hay, photos of newborn piglets. It is mercifully cool outside, overcast and still cloudy, and the needed rain has come to an end. 

Summer's nearing its end. I'm getting ready to plant the fall garden and have four elderberry bushes to plant along the front fence.

And oh! I have forgotten to mention that we've joined in a county-wide solar purchase group and are waiting for our solar assessment for the house and barn. I'm really excited about the possibility of getting the barn entirely off the grid. 

Thursday, July 31, 2014

Monday, July 28, 2014

FREE BOOKS!! donkeys and the writing life, how could you go wrong?

Through Wed. July 30th, two of my books are free on Amazon:

Little Shoppe of Colors, 1, Search For Fox Hunting Red, is an adorable picture book for children of all ages who love donkeys and the adventures they take. Of course you all know who inspired it! Get this now and be ready for books 2 and 3 when they come out. My illustrator is amazing and it's entirely due to her skill that these stories come alive. 

Don't Miss The Magic is my book of essays on the writing process, and it gives tips for not only writers, but creative artists of all kinds. Some readers have said it is a book for people in general. 

As always, if you do download these and enjoy them, reviews are most appreciated. 

And if you want to get on my newsletter list, look to the sidebar on the right and click to sign up. I send out regular (monthly or less) updates with news about my books and my writing here on November Hill. I would love to have you join me!

Saturday, July 19, 2014

Home!! and a good day's harvest

I was at Weymouth as writer-in-residence for the past 10 days but am home now, very happy with the editing I got done, and equally happy to be back with my November Hill herd, which includes horses, pony, donkeys, Corgis, cats, husband, and daughter. 

The garden is going mad - this is today's harvest:

What is everyone else up to? I'm ready for cooler weather and an end to summer bugs! 

Friday, July 04, 2014

Happy 4th - please hold the fireworks!

If you're considering having your very own fireworks show this evening, I encourage you to stop and think about:

neighborhood pets, including dogs, cats, horses, donkeys, chickens, ducks, etc. They will likely be frightened by the noise. Some may try to escape the sounds and will be lost and/or injured.

wildlife, who will also be frightened. I have read studies that songbirds in the vicinity of fireworks fall dead from the trees due to fright.

fire hazard, which is increased if your area has not had recent and prolific rainfall.

stray fireworks, if you use the kind that go up really high and are often actually illegal for home use. I have had these land in my pastures while I was sitting out with my horses. 

combat veterans, who may suffer from PTSD. Fireworks sound like explosives and rapid gunfire and may trigger flashbacks and other symptoms.

Most towns and cities put on firework shows. Why not go see the display there?

If you still intend to have your own show, please be courteous and let your neighbors know so they can protect their animals. 

For those who live with animals:

Keep cats and dogs inside for the night. Equines need to be assessed individually. I don't lock mine in stalls but I do give them access to their stalls, turn on the fans so the sounds of fireworks are muted, and give them the safest space I can to run around so they can work out their anxiety. I give Rescue Rmedy to all concerned, including myself.

A true celebration of independence respects the rights of the people and animals nearby. 

Happy 4th of July, all!

Wednesday, July 02, 2014

we have a winner!

Congratulations to Caryn Myers! I hope you and your horse enjoy the bitless bridle from Two Horse Tack! And thanks to Janet Roper and Talk2theAnimals for a terrific site and host for my Thoughts From The Barn.

Stay tuned, camera-obscura readers - a new giveaway is in the works and will happen right here!

Monday, June 30, 2014


This is just one example of the bitless bridle you might design and win if you enter at my June column on Talk2TheAnimals - but today is the last day to enter - drawing will happen after midnight tonight.

To enter, GO HERE:

You can read my column, follow the link to the giveaway, and there is NO requirement to be on Facebook to get the winning announcement - I'll contact you and announce in the comments here and at my Thoughts From The Barn column. 

Hope to see you there today, June 30th, for the last chance to enter and win!

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Two Horse Tack Giveaway!

My June column, Thoughts From The Barn, is up at Janet Roper's wonderful Talk2TheAnimals site. This month I'm talking about anchoring. The November Hill barn aisle version. :)

Come on over and read the column, tell me what anchors YOU, and sign up to enter the drawing for one of Two Horse Tack's customized bitless bridles!

I got one for Keil Bay last month and it is gorgeous. I'll be ordering one for Cody AND the pony as soon as I can. They also have harness, halters and lead lines, and dog collars and leashes - all available in leather and biothane, with lots of fun ways to customize using different styles and makes of buckles as well as colors if you like to go bright. 

I'm so thrilled with the quality, the options, the customer service, and the terrific price points, I have added Two Horse Tack to my "Companies I Love" page!

I look forward to read what anchors YOU.

GO HERE to read and enter the giveaway.

And here is Keil Bay modeling his Two Horse Tack sidepull bitless bridle, in black leather, with easy buckle black leather reins. It's a warmblood size and fits him perfectly. Also matches his dressage saddle perfectly!

Guess who came running up to get in on the bitless bridle action? Rafer Johnson, the donkey who wants a Two Horse Tack harness! :)

Saturday, June 21, 2014

when the veterinarian crosses the line

Recently I've heard a number of first-hand stories about horse folks having huge and upsetting issues with veterinarians who were on the farm to examine, diagnose, and/or treat a horse. In all scenarios, the veterinarian crossed the line in one way or another. In one case, a horse ended up with injuries to head and legs and the veterinarian who caused the injuries left the farm without even checking to see if the injuries he caused were serious.

This brought up a lot of conversation. What do you do if a veterinarian exhibits incompetence or even malpractice?

Many people felt there was nothing to do but look for a new vet. Others felt that to name the vet was wrong. Others felt everyone deserved to know the name of the vet so they could steer clear.

A couple of things came to my mind immediately.

First, I always hold my horse when the vet comes for anything. Emergency, wellness visit, etc. I do not even have cross-ties in my barn, so there is no tying a horse up and letting the vet approach. I have the horse in question's halter on so that when the vet gets out of the truck I can quickly snap the lead line on and bring the horse out for the exam.

There have been a few times (all when Salina was very old) when she was actually down when the vet arrived. In those instances she was allowed to have her donkeys with her, as it kept her calm, and I approached her with the vet and let her know with my voice what was happening.

One of the best reasons to hold your horse for any health care professional is so that you can walk the horse away if you need to do so. It is so much easier to walk the horse away than to step in and take over if someone starts manhandling your horse. 

It's sad to think we might need to do this, but if something goes wrong, I much prefer to be the one with the lead rope in my hand.

A frightened horse who is tied in cross-ties or straight-tied is much more likely to be hurt than one on the end of a lead rope. 

Secondly, if you experience abusive treatment, incompetent treatment, or what you feel might be or is malpractice, don't just let it go. Report it to your state veterinary board, the one that licenses vets to practice in your state.

In North Carolina, we have the NCVMB. I've copied and pasted the page on making formal complaints below. Making a complaint means the Board will investigate. The thing is, if you don't report, there is no way they will ever know what happened, and there is no pattern of complaint created so that bad vets are dealt with.

Everyone can have a bad day, things can go sideways, and horses are big animals. But we all know there are humane ways to get things done. We all know anger, frustration, and condescension have no place during a difficult moment with a horse. An equine vet who is competent will know when to take a break, walk away, or request more help. An incompetent vet will actually make the horse more afraid and more difficult, so that the next visit will be even harder. 

Don't be afraid to step in if you feel the professional is out of line in any way. Better yet, BEFORE the line is crossed. You are the voice for your horse. It's your job to step in. And remember: you know your horse better than any professional does. He or she should be asking you questions and LISTENING to your insights and answers. 



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The General Statues of North Carolina established the North Carolina Veterinary Medical Board for the purpose of regulating the practice of veterinary medicine and surgery. 

The General Statues, along with the Administrative Code, establish protocols for the review of complaints and set grounds for possible disciplinary action. Complaints are filed against licensees of the Board rather than veterinary practice facilities. The complaint protocol applies to licensed veterinarians, registered veterinary technicians, applicants for examination and faculty certificate holders of this Board. Complaints cannot be accepted anonymously, by fax, e-mail or telephone.

Printer Printer friendly version of Summary of the Complaint Process    

Types of Complaints 
The Board investigates complaints concerning the practice of veterinary medicine and the standard of care provided by licensees of the Board and includes, but not limited to:
    - Incompetence
    - Malpractice
    - Fraud
    - Gross negligence
    - Misrepresentation

Fee Issues
The Veterinary Practice Act does not address the issue of fees. Therefore, the Board has no authority concerning fees or the jurisdiction to settle monetary disputes. Monetary disputes would be handled through civil court.

Contract Disputes
The Veterinary Practice Act does not address contract disputes; therefore, these types of disputes are generally not within the jurisdiction of the Board.

Filing a Complaint
A letter of complaint should be typed and mailed to:
    NC Veterinary Medical Board
    1611 Jones Franklin Rd., Suite 106
    Raleigh, NC 27606

Complaints cannot be accepted anonymously, by fax or telephone. A formal complaint is serious, the process takes time and may require all parties travel to a meeting of the Board and provide testimony under oath.

The letter of complaint needs to include the following information:
(1.) The name(s) of the accused individual(s) whom the complaint is to be file against.  (2.) Name(s) of any veterinarian(s) or veterinary practice(s) that may have more information or medical records concerning the pet.  (3.) Detailed account of the complaint/situation including pet’s name, age and breed.  (4.) Copies of any documentation(s) or information pertaining to the complaint. NOTE: Remember to provide a mailing address and telephone number(s) should the Board need to contact you. 

Procedure for Investigation/Review of Complaints
1.) A copy of the letter of complaint is forwarded by certified mail to the accused individual for a response. They are given twenty (20) days from the time they receive the letter of complaint to respond in writing.

2.) A copy of the accused’s written response is then forwarded to the complainant. They also are given twenty (20) days from receipt of letter to reply. Should the complainant not reply to the accused individual’s response, the Committee on Investigation (the “Committee”) could dismiss the complaint.

3.) When the complainant’s response is received, a copy is forwarded to the accused party and a date is set for the complaint to be reviewed by the Committee.  

4.) After the complaint is reviewed, the Committee relays its findings at the next meeting of the full Board.  The attorney for the Board prepares all letters that summarize the findings of the Committee and mailed to all parties.

NOTE: A complaint may need to be continued until the next meeting of the Committee: all parties are informed of this continuation by the Board in writing.

Possible Actions by the Board
    - Issue a Letter of Dismissal 
    - Issue a Letter of Caution
    - Issue a Letter of Reprimand
    - Suspension of licensee to practice veterinary medicine in North Carolina

Dismissed Complaints
The Committee on Investigations can dismiss a complaint when it:
    1.) Determines that no probable cause exists
    2.) Lacks the jurisdiction to proceed
    3.) Lacks a response from the person who initiated the complaint

Letter of Caution
A Letter of Caution may be issued when no probable cause is found but it is determined by the Committee on Investigations that the conduct of the accused individual is not in accordance with accepted professional practice.

Letter of Reprimand
When probable cause is found, but it is determined that a disciplinary administrative hearing is not warranted, the Committee on Investigations can issue a Letter of Reprimand. The Letter of Reprimand is prepared by the Board’s attorney and mailed to all parties.

Acceptance of Reprimand: If the Letter of Reprimand is accepted by the accused individual, a record of the Letter of Reprimand shall be maintained at the Board office.

Refusal of Reprimand: The accused individual has fifteen (15) days to refuse the Letter of Reprimand from the date received. A written refusal and request for a hearing should be addressed to the Committee on Investigations and filed with the Executive Director of the Board. This is pursuant to Chapter 150B of the North Carolina General Statutes, Title 21, Chapter 66 of the North Carolina Administrative Code. Legal counsel for the Board shall prepare and file such Notice of Hearing.

Administrative Hearing
When disciplinary action is refused by the licensee and probable cause was found, the attorney for the Board will file a Notice of Hearing. All parties involved in the complaint are informed and must travel to a meeting of the Board to provide testimony under oath. Hearing procedures are similar to a court of law.

Method of Notice: The Board shall give notice to all parties of a Notice of Hearing in person or by certified mail. In the event that the notice is accomplished by certified mail, the delivery date on the return receipt shall be the date served.

Notification Deadline: The Board shall give the party or parties in a contested case a Notice of Hearing no less than fifteen (15) days before the hearing.

Suspension of License/Registration
If the Board determines that public health, safety or welfare requires such action, the Board may issue an order suspending a license or registration. The Board’s attorney will prepare the order requiring the licensee or registrant to immediately cease the practice veterinary medicine in North Carolina.

Ownership of Veterinary Practices 

Only a North Carolina licensed veterinarian can own and operate a veterinary practice facility and deliver services to the public. Welfare groups, humane societies or other entities cannot operate, and are not able to own veterinary practice facilities in North Carolina. Any advertising or promotions suggesting that someone or entity owns a veterinary practice other than a North Carolina licensed veterinarian, would be considered in violation of the Veterinary Practice Act.

Welfare groups, humane societies, or other entities are not authorized by law to engage in the delivery of veterinary medical services to the public.

Sunday, June 08, 2014

summertime blues: beating the pesky biting insects

It's June and suddenly we're dealing with flies on November Hill, which has made me remember how grateful I am for two of my favorite companies. 

SOX FOR HORSES and their wonderful summer whinny leggings are a favorite horsewear item here. Keil Bay literally lifts his hooves and assists me as I pull them onto his legs. They are wonderful for keeping flies from biting but they can also be very useful in helping keep flies off leg wounds and hastening healing. 

Check them out here:

ARBICO ORGANICS sells fly predators and food grade diatomaceous earth in 50 lb. bags. I've used fly predators for many years now and knew they made a big difference in the fly population. This year I messed up my order and didn't get the first batch until close to the end of May. I realized we were seeing a lot more flies than usual. They helped me get my order sorted out and sent a double batch to get me going with catch-up fly control. 

You can check this company out here:

I've done all my other things too. Hanging clear plastic bags filled with water in the barn entrances, using the sticky fly strips to take care of the adult flies while the predators work on the larvae, and mixing up a custom batch of fly spray using essential oils, apple cider vinegar, and water.

It's not my favorite time of year but it's a time when I am grateful for two of my favorite companies. 

Thanks to Socks For Horses and Arbico Organics!

Stay tuned for a fun giveaway that will showcase a new favorite company who offered to let me test one of their products. It arrived this week and I'm thrilled with the quality and really excited to share it with you. More soon, so keep an eye out!

Hope all are doing well as we near the summer solstice.

Thursday, May 22, 2014

celebrating with Big Bay

I've been focusing on the anniversary of Salina's death this month, and missing her, and getting stuck a little bit in my obsessing over Keil Bay (who is 25 now) and fretting over him on a near-daily basis.

Keil is sound and healthy but he has white hairs around his eyes, silver hairs in his mane, tail, and forelock, and he has an off day now and then. Under saddle we warm up more slowly and for a longer time. And I'm discovering I can make fretting a full-time occupation if that's what I choose to do.

Yesterday it was Keil Bay's turn to get his hooves trimmed. My husband and I are doing it now, minimally, since the areas of stone and hard ground and our arena serve as huge trimming tools and I am seeing how healthy the hooves are when they trim naturally. No soreness after the trims, no flat soles. I certainly won't hesitate to call our trimmer if I feel we need her, but for now, this is working really well.

We do clean up the rough edges, though, and this week it seems like the summer hoof growing season kicked in because all the big boys and even the donkeys to a lesser degree, were self-trimming like crazy and the hoof walls were looking a bit too ragged for my taste. 

Husband and I went to the grass paddock and started working on Keil Bay. We were immediately surrounded by the pony and the donkeys, to the degree that trimming was nearly impossible, so we moved with Keil to the front field. 

He fussed about the hoof stand so we moved it to the side and did the trimming with his feet propped on husband's leg. By the third hoof he was licking and chewing. I don't know if it was the attention, the trimming itself, or just pure contentment, but it was lovely. The sun was low in the sky, the heat was fading, and although we were sweating a bit, it was a shared moment of love and affection and cooperation.

When he was done with his trims I pulled his Summer Whinnys up (these are wonderful white leggings that keep the flies off - he loves wearing them this time of year) and spritzed him with the fly spray concoction I mix up (no chemicals, smells good, seems to feel good to him when I spray it on) and removed his halter. 

My husband opened the gate back to the grass paddock and barn and I watched as Keil Bay turned, power trotted through, then broke into a gorgeous canter which he did right through the barn aisle to the barnyard on the other side.

Husband asked, "Was that good or bad?"

And I said "Great."

These moments when Keil shows me that he is 25 years young are priceless. I seize onto them and feel like baking a cake and lighting candles and saying happy day! Happy day with the Big Handsome Bay!

My challenge with him is to celebrate the good days and not focus on the number of years old he is. To listen to him if he needs special care but to also listen to him when he says "I'm 25 and I'm sound and I'm still powerful and brilliant and perfectly capable of behaving like a 5-year old!"

I hear you, Bay, I do.

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

May column: Anniversary of the Passing of a Goddess

I hope you'll stop by and read, and comment too. 

I miss her still.

Saturday, May 03, 2014

May days

I'm finding it hard to believe May is here already. We've had horses in the backyard grazing down the grass (they mow for me in 3 shifts and all are perfectly willing to work overtime!!), we'll soon be moving the grass paddock fencing to encompass the entire side and front yards of our house (that grass is now almost chest deep to Keil Bay, imagine their delight when we open it up to them!), all the trees are fully leafed out now which means our privacy is back (in other words, we can't see the road, much less the neighbors across the lane), and I am riding with Keil's Quiet Ride mask due to yellowish-orange biting creatures as well as those nasty little midges.

Because of those midges the herd has chosen to stay in the barn with their fans on more days than not the past couple of weeks, and I am using fly spray and various other ointments as well as the full-blown Kellon cocktail of chondroitin, spirulina, and ground flax to keep insect bite reactions to a minimum.

The ride time around here has shifted officially as of this morning. Still very nice temp-wise in the early mornings, and, before the insects come out, it's the perfect time to ride. This morning Keil Bay and I went in the arena and I left the back gate open. He heads straight for the back gate when he's had enough of the arena sun, and that is fine with me. There is nothing better than marching around the back field on Keil Bay.

Writing-wise, I am 15k words into my second novel this year. My goal is to write four first drafts by the end of September so that I can then turn to editing in the fall/early winter. So far I have completed Clairette, a short story; claire-voyant, the third novel in the Claire Quartet; and now I am four chapters in with claire-de-lune, the final Claire Quartet title. The key is writing 5-7 pages a day, no matter what. The REAL key is not letting that time get shoved right off the end of the table with all the other things I have going on. It's not that the time isn't there - it's that I have to actively prioritize my daily writing. (and my daily riding)

In other news, my son is coming home for two weeks! So I'm looking forward to spending time with him enjoying his all-too-brief visit. He is going back to school to do a research job with one of his physics professors and is also taking two classes in summer school. 

I hope everyone is having spring weather by now - without the crazy severe weather of the past few weeks. We had a few dicey days and I'm glad we made it through with no problems. 

Happy May!

Thursday, April 24, 2014

now THIS is dressage

birthdays and beautiful days

We're celebrating two very important birthdays this week. Keil Bay has turned 25 and the Little Man has turned 14. 

We have had horses taking turns grazing down the back yard for me, birthday apples over the back fence, horses literally knocking at the gate wanting to come back in, and big servings of hay last night because the temperature dropped into the 30s!

I stood with Keil Bay yesterday, looking at the sprinkling of white hairs surrounding his eyes and wondering, when did those appear? When did this amazing friend of mine get to be 25 years old? A couple of days ago he galloped full speed up the front hill. I hold my breath and hope with all my best hopes that he lives a long, healthy life. 

Late in the evening, just as dusk fell, I stood with him and when I looked down there was a hawk's feather right at our feet. I picked it up and Keil took in the scent, deeply curious, as if he could still smell the flight left in the feather. He put his nose to mine and we breathed together. Happy birthday, Keil Bay.

The Little Man has been whinnying to me from the pastures, licking my hands, and in lots of other little ways seems to be connecting with me. Does he know his girl is preparing to apply to college? I don't know. I love his attention. He's a happy pony, still young, such a prominent member of our herd. Happy birthday, Little Man.

This morning I hear the cutting machines again. They went until 8 last night and started up at 7 a.m. this morning. But it's a beautiful day so instead of cringing at the sounds of trees being cut and hitting the earth, I went to the garden and harvested a colander full of bok choy. I washed it and sauteed it with a little olive oil, fresh garlic, and salt, then I set it aside in a plate. I made two small (fresh, happy hens, local) eggs over easy and put them on top of the bok choy. A little freshly ground pepper and there was the best breakfast I've had in awhile.

Now on to feed the equines. One of them (like me) "with frosting" as my daughter tells me when she glimpses my silvery hair. 

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Andreas Helgstrand's Downward Spiral

And it is way past time.

If you haven't heard, Epona TV has run a series of articles over the past couple of weeks documenting Andreas Helgstrand and his horse Akeem. There are photos of blue tongues and scars from spurs, video footage of Helgstrand spurring the hell out of a sick Akeem who should not have been being ridden, much less in competition.

As a result of the articles and many people writing and commenting and sharing and speaking out, Helgstrand not only received a visit from the Danish animal protection society, he has lost sponsors like crazy. 

Akeem is on ordered rest due to severe pain in his mouth from the cruelty perpetrated by his Olympic-level rider, who made a statement saying the problem was the "poorly fitted bridle."


This is a link to Epona's most recent article, with more photos of another of Helgstrand's horses in a snaffle bridle fit so tightly it makes me sick to look at it.

Read, share, and if you want more, click over to their other articles on Helgstrand. I hope his career is over. It should be.

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

March column was delayed but is up now at Talk2TheAnimals

And there's a giveaway for waiting. :)

Saturday, April 12, 2014

farmers' market treasures

Today was our first visit this season to one of several local farmers' markets we have in our community each week. With markets on Tuesday, Thursday, and Saturday, all having different farmers, it's a treasure hunt every single time we go.

One of the farms is close by and I had to stop and tell the story of a day a few weeks ago when I drove past and spotted two of her new sheep propped up on a fence rail straining to reach the leaves on the tree for a green nibble. I wished again I knew how to knit - she had gorgeous yarn from her wool, in my most favorite colors - cobalt blue, fuchsia, emerald. It would make the perfect poncho. One day. It's on my list to learn.

Tonight's meal was left-over roasted chicken sauteed with red and yellow peppers and onion, avocado, and salsa on warm from the pan home-made corn tortillas. Dinner was incredible.

Tomorrow night we'll use the chicken to make stock for risotto and the tender local greens and sausage we picked up at today's market.

We also got parsley, green garlic, salami, lettuce greens, and a few other things I'm forgetting. Ideas for meals line up like dominoes in my mind.

We love knowing where our food comes from, that it is grown and raised with love and care, that animals used for meat are treated with respect, and we love how good everything tastes.

I was in our garden this afternoon, tending spinach, kale, bok choi, brocolli, purple cabbage, sage, and basil. I saw at least 20 tiny seedlings sprouting, volunteers from last year's garden. And I'm starting some seeds inside as well. 

If you don't already grow some of your own food, or visit your local markets, give it a try this year. It makes the meals, and the season, extra special.

Friday, April 11, 2014

it's a Keil Bay day....

I was ready to change the blog decor and since April is Keil's birthday month, and since he will be 25 years old in another week and a half, and since he has taken to following me to the back gate and hanging his head over it, and since he looks so incredibly handsome doing it, you can see that Keil Bay has taken over camera-obscura.

Which is fine with me!

It's April. Along with Keil Bay and the Little Man having birthdays, my husband has one, my daughter has one, and I personally think we should have flourless chocolate cake for all four of them. Have I mentioned here that I have gone (almost totally) gluten-free? I can't tell you how much better I am feeling. I have more energy, my head feels clearer, and I am so much more productive on a daily basis. 

I'm happy that our local farmers' markets are back in business for the season, my garden beds are about half full, and I've expanded the garden area and fenced it away from Corgi gardeners who seem to have different gardening practices than I do. It is easier to eat good food when the markets are going. Tomorrow will be our first farmers' market trip this year.

April also means ticks, culicoide midges, and probably fleas, but I haven't seen the fleas yet, thank goodness. Oh, and fire ants. I got my first fire ant bite of the season on Wednesday. I'm not even mentioning flies - time for the fly predators to start showing up in the mailbox!

In other news, I've started novel number 2 out of 3 that I intend to write in 2014. 

My son found out he was awarded a National Space Grant Scholarship for next year. 

My daughter is prepping for her SAT test and if practice test scores carry through to the test itself, she's going to knock the socks off that thing.

What's going on with you? 

Friday, March 28, 2014

still lingering between winter and spring

Today we're going into the 60s but yesterday morning troughs had a thin layer of ice on them from the low 20s the night before. 

I saw the first carpenter bee last week and then the day following saw a number of dead carpenter bee corpses because they had frozen that night. 

It's a crazy back and forth transistion this year, but yesterday after riding Keil Bay I was literally covered in horse hair, so that's another sign weighing in that spring surely has to be nearing!

We'd had a week and a half off since our last ride until yesterday. The arena was freshly harrowed, it was sunny with a stiff wind, and it was time to get back into the groove. I have been experimenting the past few rides with different hand positions. I had gotten in the habit of holding my hands about 8 inches apart and I decided to close them to about 2 inches and see what happened. Well, the difference was startling. There was no change in contact - simply bringing my hands back toward the wither and keeping them there. All need for steering seemed to disappear. 

We had a nice long walking warm-up, then notched it up to Keil Bay's power walk. We did crisp, perfect turns on the haunches and the forehand in the deepest part of the arena corners. We did serpentines. And then we did just a little trotting, and it was very very nice. 

It was a fun ride - Keil Bay was alert but not spooky, even though the hay tent was filling with air and swelling like a living breathing creature, and the neighbor was driving loads of fallen branches into the woods and dumping them, making huge, invisible, crashing sounds. Keil kept his eye on the woods for me but even when I dismounted onto the hiked-up block and he had to turn his rear to the woods while crashing brush happened, he stood as still as a soldier on duty. It's good having such a terrific partner to work with.

On the neighbor and dog front, we had a scary incident last weekend when neighbor's adult daughter took dog on leash along the fence line, allowing it to dart under the fence so she could correct it. Okay, I would prefer she train the dog not to come within a few feet of the fence personally, but at least she is trying.

But she waited to do it until the horses and donkeys were right there, and the entire herd moved to the fence to protect their territory. The pony and Cody went right up to the dog and she continued to let the dog go underneath - and the two horses turned their rears to the dog (and to her). I was scared they were going to kick at the dog and hit her. I don't know what the thought process is over there but after seeing that I got a copy of our neighborhood covenants and thankfully, mercifully, there are absolutely no restrictions on fencing except that barbed wire is prohibited.

We will be installing no-climb wire around the entire perimeter, starting with that side, which will keep the dog out. The Horseguard tape will keep the horses off the woven wire. Then we are installing a 10-foot privacy section with a lattice inset along the top foot and an arbor on top so I can plant grape vines or something nontoxic and flowering to add even more height. This will put the dog, the neighbors, most of their house, their cars, their parking area, and their junky sheds out of our sight forever. 

Interesting to read the covenants and learn that of everyone on our lane, we are the only ones totally compliant with all the rules! 

I also discovered that the house across the lane that is for sale had in its real estate listing the phrase: Perfect For ATVs!  I emailed the realtor and told her no one here wants ATVs driving up and down the road, that it is not okay, that I have had numerous occasions to call the sheriff when the old ATV neighbors lived here, and that I hoped she would change the listing to accurately reflect that this neighborhood values peace and quiet. She emailed me back saying she had removed the phrase! What a relief!

We have rain rolling in today and thunderstorms tomorrow and then sunshine returns on Sunday. Just in time for me to start what will be 6-8 or so weeks of riding lessons here on Keil Bay. An opportunity arose and I seized it - really excited to see how it goes and do some learning and tweaking and improving. 

It feels like we're all hanging on, waiting for spring to come and stay. Maybe April is the key to that this year!

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

closing in on spring? really?

We have had several stretches of gorgeous spring-like weather, but yesterday and today we're back to cold and ice. It looks like tomorrow we will start the shift back to warmer temps.

The horses and donkeys are alternately grumpy and playful. Keil Bay is looking especially floaty the past two weeks so I'm eager to get some ride time in when the weather warms up.

I have daffodils in full glorious bloom, and the crocuses are done. The tulips are up and but not quite ready to bloom. 

The vegetable beds are clear and I put in some seedlings that looked sort of pitiful initially but are holding their own out there. I need to start some seeds inside but it's hard to get motivated when it keeps getting this cold outside!

I'm hoping this winter is knocking out all the pesky biting insects.

Writing-wise, I am at the end of the first draft of claire-voyant and nearing the end of my second editing pass on Never Not Broken. I'll be starting claire-de-lune, the fourth novel in the Claire Quartet, at the beginning of April and getting these two editing and ready to roll. 

And I think - thought not quite 100% sure - that gluten-free eating is at least partly responsible for my productivity. For more information on this, I highly recommend the book Grain Brain. It's fascinating.

Hope all are well and that we all get some springtime weather very soon. 

Tuesday, March 04, 2014

Mid-West Agri plain beet pulp shreds - update!

I started using Blue Seal beet pulp pellets until the Mid-West Agri stone situation is sorted out - and am so disappointed in the pellets I am not sure I can actually feed them.

Aside from taking forever to break down from pellet form, they are slimy/sticky, do not smell like beet pulp, are orangish-colored and mushy, and I cannot get the water to rinse clean. I'm not going to be able to feed this to my horses except for a brief interim period, that's for sure.

If I recall correctly, Standlee beet pulp shreds have molasses in them. But I also just looked at the ingredient list online for their shreds and it says "concentrated separator by-product" - what the heck is THAT? 

But, on a hopeful note...

I just heard from the Quality Control manager at MidWest Agri. They have isolated the issue to one factory out of three that process the shreds.

He is traveling there on Friday to show them the stones I sent him and they will try to figure out what's going on.

Meanwhile, he had already sent me a free bag of shreds from a different factory and if I'm lucky they will arrive today so I can ditch the Blue Seal pellets.

If you feed MidWest Agri plain shreds, use a metal colander and see if you find anything. You can hear the stones clinking if you rinse in small batches - once the water runs through, slide the shreds around with your fingers. You'll hear the stones if they are in there. 

If you don't find anything hopefully it means you have a bag from a different factory and can continue to enjoy the cleanest shreds I've ever seen. (which I'm reminding myself of as I try other brands and forms).

Actually, you might want to use the metal colander no matter WHAT you're feeding - just to check the quality and keep a close eye on what is going into your horse. As I have said before, I've found foreign objects of one kind or another in every feed I've ever bought - and I have only ever bought high end feeds. (the only exception is Hansen Mueller oats)

Again, I am impressed with the response from the Mid-West AGri. My local feed store told me Saturday that the manager called last week and got all the information from them (bag numbers, lot numbers) so he could proceed with sorting this out. 

It's nice to deal with a responsive company and I'm looking forward to being able to go back to their product.

Sunday, March 02, 2014

warming up, cooling back down

Our wacky winter is continuing - we've had a few days of nice warm sunshine, 70 today, and tomorrow we're looking at ice pellets and low of 18 degrees.

Keil Bay and I had the first ride in over a week yesterday - he had chiro this past week and with the weather weirdness we had not gotten in riding time. He seemed a bit stiff and I fretted some - thinking that maybe I'm asking too much of him. But I decided that even if we poke along it's probably better to keep riding than to stop. Today was totally different - very nice ride and lovely forward trot work. 

In hindsight I think his front frogs are shedding (and there's a longer story involving hoof trims which I don't really want to go into - suffice it to say I am seeing the value of allowing some self-trimming to go on and let the riding do the work instead of the rasp) and that he was just tender yesterday.

We had a bluebird flying around the arena as we rode and that was nice. I think spring is coming but it's clearly not here yet!

In other news, if anyone is using MidWest Agri plain beet pulp shreds, PLEASE make sure you rinse and soak and rinse and check for STONES.

I had been finding stones in the shreds for several months now - not daily, but off and on. Since I rinse the shreds in a metal colander, I realized I could easily hear them when rinsing - and I also have hands in the beet pulp as I rinse and inspect it carefully.

I decided that I needed to check more rigorously and when I opened the last bag, I started collecting what I found in individual ziplock bags each batch. What I found is rather stunning. After the second day I contacted the company to let them know that I was quite concerned. The quality control director emailed me within an hour and asked for photos, which I was more than happy to send. I also sent two days worth of stones at their request. They are supposedly checking into this and seemed to take it very seriously - I have continued to collect what I find, as I wanted to finish out this bag and have the entire "collection" of what was in it. 

I'll post some photos here later this week - but there are stones bigger than chickpeas as well as many tiny stones. 

While I'm happy that the company responded so quickly, I have switched to Blue Seal beet pulp pellets until further notice. 

The only way I reliably find these is by listening and sliding the wet shreds across the metal colander - they are not visible just by looking, and I can't feel the tiny stones just by running my hands through. 

I know I'll be complaining about ticks and fire ants and fleas and flies but I have to say it - I am ready for spring!!

Wednesday, February 19, 2014


We have one tiny strip of snow left and have had really warm temps yesterday and today - though I did wake up this morning to roaring thunder and rain, so add that to the mudslide that is a part of the front field and several other areas.

I had planned to ride yesterday and in hindsight should have pushed through and done it. I had groomed Keil Bay the day before (along with a hoof trim touch-up courtesy of dear husband) hoping that he would be clean yesterday. Ha! That was crazy thinking on my part. He was caked in dried mud again, so I started from scratch, did a sheath cleaning, and made the critical error of not riding right then. 

Today there were some chores that really did have to be done. All water troughs needed to be dumped and scrubbed, which was painful - adding more water to the mud! - but necessary.

I brushed the Big Bay down quickly - yes, of course, he rolled himself on both sides, again! - and then did some mucking. 

Some of this is catch-up from not getting things done during the snow days.

Daughter encountered the first fly and I encountered the first mosquito so we got those milestones out of the way!

Meanwhile, inside the house, I am woefully out of touch with my cleaning routine, so I'm trying to plug that back in. The gym routine too.

I can say with a fair amount of happiness and pride that I am surging forward with the writing. Since I love doing it AND it can be done any time of the day or night, any weather, it has been easy to keep rolling with it. 

Right now I'm sitting in my green chair in my bedroom, and out the window I see a painted pony, Cody, Keil Bay, and two sweet donka boys grazing their hay while the sun is just starting to set behind them. And Keil Bay looks like a million bucks if I do say so myself! :)

Here's to getting all the good stuff in every single day. 

Monday, February 10, 2014

snow week, dog debacle

We'll see if it happens, but they are predicting snow today and tomorrow, ice pellets Wednesday, and more snow on Thursday. Then we warm up again!

We had a bit of a debacle here yesterday. The neighbors right next door have an adult daughter who has gotten a dog and she brings it over on weekends and lets it run loose on their property. Except (of course!) the dog is obsessed with our fence line and the horses and donkeys and since it is unleashed, has come under the fence at least one time and was charged by the pony. The owner was right there and saw it but denied that it happened.

The entire herd gets revved up and they start running. I've asked the dog's owner to consider putting the dog on a leash until it learns to come when she calls. As it is, what she is doing, which is to run alongside the dog with a stick trying to lure it away from the fence, is just teaching the dog to run the fence line, which is a huge mistake, in my opinion. I mean, let's create a dog that is an ongoing nuisance for people with horses!

Yesterday my daughter was getting ready to ride Cody when all this transpired. The parents and aunt (they are the neighbors who live there) came out and all four of them were up at the fence, in effect making it a game for the dog to try to get through. The dog was being rewarded by play when it approached the fence. The horses started running, Cody freaked out and started spinning, and the whole thing just went south.

I don't know how much more clearly I can explain to these neighbors that horses are prey animals and this kind of thing gets them worked up. We've had this discussion over the years with their other adult children and dogs, with grandchildren throwing sticks at the horses, with ridiculous tent gazebos being put up right at my fenceline, with guests coming over and trying to get the horses to come up to the fence, etc. etc. I told the dog's owner that at this point, with Salina gone, I am not as concerned about my horses, but I am concerned that the dog is going to get hurt if the pony and/or the donkeys get hold of it. And I told her that if her dog is in the pasture she is not to climb in the fence to get it because the very last thing I want is for her to get trampled by galloping horses. 

And the last thing I want to have to do is go out there and pick up a dead or injured dog and hand it to them over the fence.

I admit - it annoys me to no end to see my horses in protective herd mode. It was more stressful when Salina was here and I knew she could go down and get stuck that way. And it's clear that the donkeys have residual anxiety about that. I hate seeing them get so upset. 

At this point I feel like I have warned them, I have asked that they stop clustering near the fence (they have 10 acres!! Take the dog to the other 9.5!), and short of dog-proofing and privacy fencing that entire side of our property, I guess things will get resolved when the dog gets kicked or stomped and hopefully lives through it and learns to stay the heck away from big animals.

Huge sigh. 

A hundred acres in the middle of nowhere sounds pretty good to me right now!

Tuesday, February 04, 2014

rain, writing, not much riding

We warmed up again but are wet wet wet outside. About the time the snow melted, here came the rain, and it is a mushy, muddy mess out there. 

The horses and pony and donkeys are being good sports. It's too warm for blankets so they are rolling and creating huge grooming messes for me to clean up. 

Except the donkeys. Who wonder why any self-respecting equine would roll in WET dust.

There has been no riding yesterday or today, but thankfully there has been a LOT of writing and this morning I finished my Claire Quartet short, titled Clairette. It will sit for a bit and then go into editing mode.

Meanwhile I am closing in on the first act of claire-voyant, which is a full-length novel and the third in the Claire Quartet. 

And continuing to edit Never Not Broken.

I admit to not keeping up with the housework since Christmas, and that is on my list to get back into the daily routine. 

In other news, I was looking on Craigslist yesterday for Le Creuset cookware to add to my 31-year old set and ended up looking at miniature horses, wondering how in the heck anyone would pay $350. for a pot and lid when you could get a sweet little mini for less? And by the looks of it, get that poor mini out of a not so great situation. Sigh.

Hope to be back in the saddle soon. 

Sunday, February 02, 2014

spring preview

64 degrees today - both Keil Bay and Cody had damp armpits and groins!

Daughter got a huge and nasty blister hiking in the snow in my muck boots that are too big for her so it's going to be probably a week before she can get a boot on that foot. 

Lucky me - I got to ride both Keil Bay AND Cody today. They've had a few days off so mostly I was just getting them back in the groove, but as usual, it is really educational for me to ride these two back to back.

Cody is super sensitive and responsive but is shorter, narrower through the back/barrel, and his movement is much flatter than Keil's. I mostly focused on being very very quiet with Cody and was really happy he didn't stick his nose in the air - instead he was chewing the reins from my hands, stretching down, and really relaxing with some soft snorts and nice walk.

He also handled my unusual mounting block with no problem - both mounting and dismounting. 

It looks like we have rain rolling in late tonight - ugh - but several days of warmer temps than we've been having.

I read the groundhog predicts six more weeks of winter so... I guess this really is a preview.

Took the Christmas tree down yesterday because once it gets this warm it seems odd to have those sparkly lights on!