Month: March 2013

Kaleidoscope’s “New Grounds” is out!

The next Kaleidoscope series short story is out! Here’s a teaser image of the cover I designed and painted.

NewGrounds-cover-teaser

You can download it from my Smashwords store or my Amazon Kindle store.

This short story features the four (five including the dog) main driving characters of the series which to me means the four main characters the series was founded on. I could technically wait and publish a book of these stories but I liked the idea of publishing them individually. This way they’re more suited for those who just want a little tidbit in their busy schedule or who don’t have an attention span for a long work. Eventually I may publish collections of this work or a new longer work with the characters, but that will depend on the interest it garners in the future.

I’m currently working on a one page comic for a magazine submission, so wish me luck!

Until next week, guys and gals!

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Saying “No” For Yourself (part 2)

Continued from part 1.

A round pen is basically a corral. You have your vertical fence posts and then the two heights of horizontal boards closing the area in. The horse I was riding was tall so the top board was lower than I was used to and reached only my knee. I am five feet four inches, which is 162.56cm, which is 16hands tall. This horse’s withers were at least two to four inches over my head. Being that high off the ground on an animal can be exhilarating or scary. In this case I just felt on guard. I’d easily been this high up on a horse before, and higher on an elephant ride at a zoo, but this was a whole different story. The nagging feeling was reminding me very distinctly of something my first riding instructor in high school had taught me both to help boost my confidence and as a safety measure: if you do not feel comfortable with a horse on the ground you should not get into the saddle.

Now, I am a fairly competent rider, somewhere between beginner and intermediate which to me means I know basic essential cues and how to make a lesson horse move. While walking the horse around the ring I found he was riding too close to the rail, meaning my stirrup was knocking against the top boards. As per the instructor’s direction, I used the leg cue meant to get him off the rail. Nudging and using a voice command did not work well. I had to prod and kick to get him to budge an inch. This did not happen in a previous lesson. Sometimes he would obey and swerve away, but then he’d be back. Knock, knock, scrape, went the stirrup. Again I prodded him. After a few bouts of this and trying to listen to the instructor at the same time wore on me. Just when the nagging feeling reared up inside me the worst part of that lesson happened.

I understand horses aren’t perfect. The ones available to ride aren’t kept in tip top shape and regularly exercised in the right methods. This horse was so bent on walking close to the rail that the next time my body touched the rail it was my knee and calf sandwiched between the top rail and the saddle.

Red flag number three.

When an equine accident occurs the stable/barn, horse, and owners will not be held responsible by law, most especially after you sign the wavier required before participating in equine activities on a property or horse that you do not own.

Three should have been it. I should have stopped the horse right there. If he didn’t stop, I should have executed an emergency dismount and then left the ring. I’ve gone over the scenario dozens of times in my head, all of which end with tossing the words “This lesson is over,” over my shoulder while I left. I don’t believe that it would have been arrogant. When you look out for your best interests it doesn’t necessarily mean you are a selfish git, it also means you are capable of being assertive when looking out for those you care about. That you can and, more importantly, will speak out and step in when you see cause for worry. Everything in me screamed that this was wrong, wrong, wrong. The one most prominent lesson I got from this session was that I had to start trusting my gut feelings again.

I’ve had bad lessons before. I’ve come off the horse feeling upset, disgruntled, unhappy with my progress. I’ve had a horse turn too fast the wrong way and tumbled off. I’ve tried to get a filly to back up when standing in front of it and the filly, refusing, reared up right in front of me. I’ve been nipped, shoved, stepped on, swatted, and once my mount even ran away with me at a gallop, half jumping over a ditch before I’d had a single lesson. I’ve never had a lesson like this.

If you are willing to exempt the the organization, owners, and instructor from responsibility to the injury of your person then you should by all means be insistent (and demanding if necessary) on the safety of your own person. If you are injured they aren’t the ones who will pay your hospital bills or sit by your bed and nurse you back to health. If you are blessed with great friends and family they will be there to support you, but for a large part of your recovery from a minor to major equine accident you will be the one who has to build back your confidence and coach yourself out of it. Most of all, you have to believe in yourself. You can do it.

There are tons of “should of” and “could of” options but what matters most is: What do you want to do, and do you feel safe with the risk involved? Keep in mind that there are times when I wholly support taking chances and standing back from a situation and trusting someone to handle it or themselves. Sometimes they turn out fantastically wrong and sometimes you survive. As you go you’ll see the more you trust your instincts (your gut feeling) the stronger it becomes. Remember, however, that there are also times when you just have to put your foot down, say, “Oh hell no” and walk away.

That’s it for this two part series, guys and gals! So, what do you think? What are your thoughts? Have you ever been through a situation like this? Leave a comment bellow and tell me about it! It doesn’t necessarily have to be involved with horses.

The next Kaleidoscope series story is coming out this week and will be free for a limited amount of time! I will be announcing it again across my accounts Thursday, March 21.

Until then, happy trails!

want to color it? click on the image to download the original file and see my conditions for use of this image!

Saying “No” For Yourself (part 1)

Hey guys and gals! In last week’s post I said I would be discussing knowing that it is okay to say “no” when taking stock of your own safety, even when someone else may be in charge of the activity you are involved in. Due to it being longer than I anticipated even cutting down as much as I could I’ve decided to break it into a two part post. This post is mostly aimed at beginning riders, but really for anyone who has ever felt that a situation was wrong, felt unsafe proceeding, withheld saying anything, and was then nearly injured as a result.

I believe I mentioned a short while ago that I’d started riding horses again. The first lesson went well, I felt comfortable back in the saddle and I managed to carry a seated trot better than I had in the past with help from the instructor and advice from a trail riding guide I spoke to in the past. It was so wonderful to be riding again and to know I could move the horse on the ground and feeling confident I could budge him in the saddle.

That isn’t my focus point today, however. Today I want to tell you about a more recent lesson. What I learned from this experience provided me with red flags that can be applied to a variety of situations. For the most part you live and learn. The example I have for you is one I am glad I did not have to learn the hardest way.

cookies_by_amarainsevi

The riding instructor had informed me that we would be using a different horse for my second lesson with them. This horse was one I had seen nipping and biting when his sponsor was grooming him to ride. My instructor secured the horse’s head with a halter and left to finish a different lesson while I tacked up. I greeted the gelding and spoke to him, but as soon as I started in with the curry comb I felt something was wrong. His skin twitched wherever I rubbed and he began biting the door to the stall. At first I thought going slower and gentler would help so I did so. This time he started pulling at the lead rope. My instructor stopped by and said this behavior was normal for him and told me to keep going, so I did. I was taught that I should trust my riding instructor and so I tried to do just that. However, that nagging feeling inside reared up its head, much like a reluctant horse on a halter would do. I went as slowly and gently as possible but by the time I put on the blanket and saddle and tightened the girth, that nagging feeling in my head was pulling back, stamping and balking.Red flag number one.

Twitching like that on the horse’s skin like that usually means there is a sensitive spot. It could be ulcers, a skin condition, or something else I am as yet unaware of. It wasn’t intended to be vicious or at me but I’m sure it was intensely uncomfortable for him. Sometimes horses can develop this behavior when the girth or cinch is pulled too tight too fast (most especially in green horses). This horse was about twenty years old so he’s about middle aged and getting on in years for a domestic horse.

I’m still not entirely sure why, standing in the stall with my fists on my hips with a feeling of unease about this clearly unhappy gelding, that I didn’t immediately take the gear off and turn him back out to his pasture. In fact, I’d had plenty of time to do just that before the instructor came, put on the bridle, and had me lead the horse out to the round pen. The saddle was the same western one I was used to but the bridle was English. In the ring the instructor had problems with the horse turning to nip when she tightened the girth before I mounted up. Once in the saddle the instructor told me we would be using the two handed method, a style I knew in theory, had tried once, and did not like using. Red flag number two.

When it comes down to basics the different style bridles can be used in either the two hand or one hand method depending on how the horse was trained. Only the bit itself can affect a horse’s mouth differently. I’ve been told that once you train in a particular style relatively well you are not supposed to switch, especially if you are still a beginner or just getting back in the saddle.

That’s it for this week.

Because I’m splitting this post into two parts there will be two posts next week. One will be on Tuesday, March 19, and the second will come on Thursday, March 21.

Remember that “New Grounds,” the next story in the Kaleidoscope series, is coming out next week! I hope to have it up Wednesday March 20 and depending on how long my Smashwords site takes to process it it will be up either the same day or the next day! This story will have a promotional period and will be free for at least the first week of publication. Later in that promotional week I will be uploading it to Amazon via my kindle store where you can also obtain it for a limited time for free.

Until then, take care everyone and have a fun rest of the week!

artwork in progress

I’d planned to do a longer post this week but I ran out of time. Lame excuse, I know. I’ll be preparing it and I’ll post it next week. It’s about knowing it is okay to say no and to take stock in guarding your own safety even when someone is in charge of an activity you are doing.

This week has not seen me writing much in the Green Book so far but I’ve been busy working on the next Kaleidoscope short, “New Grounds” which will be coming out on March 20th! There will be a brief promotional period when this short story will be available for free download as well! This is the story where the four main characters come en route to the city of Kaleidoscope and gather for the main plot. If you would like to read about the ones introduced so far please follow the links below directly to the stories. Currently they are only available on my Smashwords store (for various digital formats including Kindle and rtf) but I will soon be making some of them available on the Amazon store.

There was a lot of art done this week, most of it for commissioned projects. Those are unavailable for posting but I can show you two works in progress:

 

Want to read the stories posted for my Kaleidoscope series so far? Follow the links below!

  1. Ointment (available only on Smashwords for free)
  2. Poker Face

Until next post, happy trails!