Thursday, May 17, 2007


My riding has changed a lot in the past year. There's a lot I want to say to get caught up, but first I just want to talk about the horse I'm riding now, Splash. He was named that because one of the girls was treating his feet with bleach (to keep them from getting thrush, which is like really yucky athlete's foot for horses). Then she noticed he had some little white spots on neck and withers, and she was afriad she'd gotten bleach on him. She hadn't -- he came that way. Hence -- Splash.

He's a sweet horse. He is nothing like the horse who's eye is over to the right, which is a somewhat worried horse. Splash is very open and affectionate. When he first came, I walked down once to the paddock he was in to give him a carrot, and when he looked at me, I just felt this intense connection. Probably at the time he was lonely, he's gotten more used to the place, he's been there a while.

He likes to nibble on things, including people. A couple of weeks ago he bit my finger. It was really just a very gentle squeeze, like firm pressure in a vise, and I could see that if I were a horse, I would relaly like it, but as it was, I would rather keep my finger! A little bruise under the nail, that was all, and now it's gone.

Monday, September 04, 2006

Migraine Series

This was actually done on August 13th. I'd had a massage and it brought up a lot of tension. I got a terrible migraine and lay in bed most of the day. One good thing was, I managed not to hate myself for having a migraine -- I finally figured out that if I was going to feel horrible anyway, I might as well be kind to myself while it was happening. Because that part I have some control over, even though I can't control the pain.

The other good thing was, I did this series. This is a variation on blind contour. Instead of looking at something and drawing it without looking at the page, I close my eyes and feel how my body feels and trace it from inside. In the first one, you can kind of see it's an "icepick" headache, with a fierce spot over the eye and then another at the back of the head, with the pain also coming from the shoulder. I draw it from myself, so it's kind of a mirror image, in that the pain was on the right. In this one, #8 in the series, it looks like things were only getting worse.

I kinda like this one (# 10). All in all there were 22. The eyes are there because you can feel them from inside and the nose and mouth, you know they are there too. In this one the pain has gotten over to the left as well.

I don't know that I felt any better after doing this, but at least I have a record of where I was. It's like my friend Lee said a long time ago -- when you're sick you can't imagine being anything else, and when you're well, you can't remember what it is like to be sick. (Or, as Virginia Woolf said, "we cannot quote Shakespeare to describe a headache.) When I look at these I do think I've described that headache a bit.

Friday, July 07, 2006

Blind contour fridays

I've found an online practice (?) "Blind Contour Fridays" , so I thought this was a perfect place for me to start this up again. Of course, it was something very difficult for me: sky. I lay down on my back and looked straight up at the sky and drew everything around it. There's the wall of the building and the trees above me.

I wasn't very happy with that, so then I tried looking at the leaves of just one tree and drawing the negative space. Which is exactly what I need to be drawing -- the sky is everything that isn't there.

Finally I gave up and just drew my cat....

Wednesday, August 24, 2005


One thing Casino is helping me learn is that you can't avoid conflict by avoiding conflict...

He's an example of what is true about any horse. If they decide you are not in charge, then they are. He's not even like some mares, who will test you, accept for a while, then test again. But if I make it clear one thing is not allowed, he moves on and looks for the next thing. Each boundary has to be tested and established separately. For example, just because he can't stop on the trail when he wants, doesn't mean he can't eat, toss his head, or run into the horse in front of him.

What seems most important though, is just the way I've learned not to give up, not to back off. The more you hold your ground with a horse, the easier the horse is to work with. This doesn't mean being abusive, but it does mean being very assertive.

What I'm really trying to say is, if I back down in an argument with a horse, and let him have his way "just this once", then he does it over and over and over, and I either have to keep yielding until he does nothing whatsoever that I say, or I have to have the conflict I was avoiding. And it's generally better to have the conflict sooner rather than later, because the horse has not yet gotten it into his head that he can push back, or that I'm not really serious.

Of course, this applies to: People. Procrastination. And just my general attitude to the universe.

Saturday, August 20, 2005

Daisy Mae

On the way down hill, a ranger turck passed us, and the guy rolled down the window, looking at DAisy Mae. "What kind of horse is that," he wanted to know. We explained she's half-Percheron or some other kind of draft horse "for pulling carts." "She looks like she should be pulling something," he said, rolled up the window and went on. This is about the thrid time I've seen this happen, that one of the ranger's asked about what kind of horse she is.

Brenda looked at Daisy Mae...."She would look good in front of a cart," she said. Then she said, "Daisy Mae is a guy magnet." "Well," I said, "she looks just like the real Daisy Mae. Let's face it, guus still like curves."

Please Don't Leave Me....

We had an "episode" on Tuesday's ride. There's one place where there's a steep uphill and we all canter it. Casino likes to canter, usually, and Daisy -- well, she can't always make it up the hill. So Mary and I were going to trade places and let Casino pass Daisy right before we started the run...

We got to the T-junction that's right before the big hill, and Brenda pulled Daisy over to the side and I began to pass. And Daisy squealed and began to buck a little. I mean, squealed -- later one of the riders up at the front asked me "was that you that screamed?" Casino gave a little buck too -- he likes to take a second to act up a little when he has a chance, but it's never very serious. I just decided, let's not get into a pecking order decision here, and fell back and didn't pass after all. And yeah, Daisy realy didn't make it up the hill. But it was okay, once it was clear we were trotting, Casino was willing to trot.

Later Linda said, when Daisy got pulled over to the side like that, she thought she was going to have to go up the other trail of the T-junciton alone. And that's what scared her.

(Afterwards, Linda said, "Good job." She doesn't say that often. Funny though, I just didn't want to get in a place where we were fighting to control our horses. Far far better to play it safe.")

Give and Take

Jeanine said, she thinks Casino's problem is, he's bored. When I rode him on Tuesday, I thought, it's true, he has ADD. He does't want to do the same old boring trail we always walk, so he drags his feet, and pulls off over to the side, to eat, to pee, and just to have a break. But there's a being in there that is very aware and sensitive....

We had the "don't walk so close to the horse in front of us" discussion a few times going down the hill. When I rein him in a few times, he gets cranky and starts to toss his head. I've gotten used to that, and now I know to be firm, so I pulled back and didn't let him. Then the next time we had to stop, he actually stopped without dragging down into slower-and-slower-and-run-into-the-horse-in-front mode. So I let up on him very quickly. I could see him doing what horses do, chewing and licking as he took it in, "so this is what she wants." (Aha! Another phrase for the horse dictionary -- chewing it over. Because that is exactly what horses do as they think.) And after that, he stopped very nicely.

Linda always says, with a horse there has to be give and take, and you have to give the horse more than you take. I think with Casino, maybe you have to turn up the volume on both of those. You definitely have to "take" -- to be firm, give him a good whap with the crop when he slows down, let him know that he is not in charge. But I really feel you also have to give, have to respect him when he does respond, when he does go, or he will go all shut down and sullen and stop listening.

I like him. He feels very there, somehow. Even when he's not listening to me.

Saturday, August 13, 2005

This One's for Lee

Tuesday, August 02, 2005

Back in the Saddle

Rode for the first time in a couple of weeks. A quiet ride. Casino was well-behaved until we were coming down & went off the main trail. He started picking at the grass as he went by, and then began to toss his head. Then he bit Daisy on the butt. Fortunately she took it in stride. He got a good thwack for that with the crop -- and then he was perfect.

I need to remember that I'm the boss and that I need to stop him from misbehaving before he starts. I did, too, at the beginning, but he got away from me. It's my insecurity that makes believe I can't take charge, but when I do, I do well.