Month: April 2013

Horses and Pillars

I was conversing with a friend recently and we were talking about being at the top of a pillar – of being one of the best of the best, the créme de la créme. My experience with trying to get there in the past with this has been rather unsavory and I attracted a lot of false individuals. As it was, I associated these individuals as the only result of being one of the best and so reacted negatively. Many businessmen I’d met when younger appeared strange to me. The masks they were gave me a not so good feeling inside and as I grew older I learned to detect some of their transparencies. Over time I started changing from wanting to be great at things I enjoyed doing to not wanting to be associated with the same negative context. I still wanted to be great but maybe if I was not that great I could avoid such unsavory situations. However, later that day the discussion kept rolling through my mind. At first I thought it was just becoming a silly obsession and distracted myself with work. It turns out it wasn’t so much an obsession as that my mind was turning over a new idea and making a connection with another notion. What was the other notion?

When I’ve been around horses I’ve been in many different states of being. Sometimes I’m coming in upset, sometimes ecstatic, sometimes lonely, or bursting with happiness. Every time I learn something from the horses I’m around. I can recall in particular one horse I would visit often when upset in high school. All I would have to do is walk away from the situation, out the door and across the field to my neighbor’s property. There lived a gelding I could visit and ride whenever I was able (though I didn’t take advantage of this nearly often enough). In these situations the pink skinned appaloosa would lift his head, still munching part of his day’s grazing, and greet me with a cocked head and a whinny, the horse equivalent of “Hello, friend, it’s good to see you!”

Pongo Greeting

He was an older pal but he recognized me when I visited (even in long breaks attending college) and did not expect me to bring treats. Instead he would greet me, wait to see if I was there for feeding time or a ride and, if I was not in mind of either activity, returned to grazing. When I was upset I leaned against his near side shoulder and listened to him chew. Of course he’d nibble the area clean and then move to the next spot. I followed along, still leaning on or touching his shoulder, listening to him breathe. Occasionally he’d sigh, or snort but just by letting me spend time with him like this I felt he was saying, “You know you can come to me any time. Bring me your problems, I will help you sort them through.” I’d tell him about my day, things that bothered me, ways I’d tried to fix this issue that failed. Sometimes I’d sing a song or read a book I brought along. Then sometimes I’d say nothing at all. On those occasions I realized that my problem was trivial and sure enough, six years on, I have no idea what half of those problems where. Often I would locate a treat for him (he loved the Spanish Moss) or brush him down in thanks before leaving.

The thing about the horse is s/he will not care if you are pudgy or skinny, curvy or straight, short or tall, young or old, clean or dirty. That animal will look at you with everything they have and see what is going on inside of you, under all the make up you could cake on they will see you. The horse hair left on my clothes was worth the pseudo therapy session because no matter what I knew he was listening to all of me, my body language, my voice, my breathing, no matter what I looked like, what height I was, and whether I was wearing glasses or not. He accepted all of me and in the end that’s what good friends will do – even people friends!

Those friends will encourage you, help build you up when you’re struggling not to fall, and smack the back of your wrist when you’re being silly. These warmer people will be standing by with a hug, game night, movie marathon, trip plans, or whatever you need on a break. Sometimes it will not be just friends leading you up but also people you mean along the way in life, like the sixth grade teacher who points out qualities you have and encouraged you to pursue what you liked, or the coworker at that job you use for support who shares opportunities they’ve heard of employment in the areas you practice off the clock. Maybe you’re a late bloomer and discovered your passion dropped in your lap from a place you least expected. Turns out that there are many sides to climbing a pillar and you can learn to approximate the people you meet and tell the difference between the ones who are just in there to rip you off and take advantage with a plaster smile, and those who burn by a fire in the metaphorical heart.

So after this lengthy period of half-thoughts half-feelings, I came to a different conclusion: Just because you’re up on the proverbial pillar doesn’t mean you have to dwell on everyone else’s expectations of you. Who’s on that pillar? You are. That’s right, you. Let them fuss. If you decide the pillar you’re climbing or standing on is not the one you want then slow your climb and build wings with the other. When that wind current comes you’ll be ready to take flight in the direction you want to go. Don’t worry too much. You’ll do great~

I may compile and publish these little horse-related episodes in small pamphlets as a type of self-help project. What do you think?

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Walking for Trail Rides

During my time attending USF and studying for a biology major, I joined the veterinarian’s club. At first I would only volunteer to feed the feral cats on campus when someone needed the weekend off and I would be on campus anyways with no extravagant plans. I was waiting specifically for an equine related event and finally the email came.

The event that was presented was for an organization that provided trail rides for disabled individuals as well as veterans. Unfortunately, I was not in the habit of keeping  precise records at the time so I do not remember the name of the organization. The group of volunteers attending met on campus and drove through a suburban development maze to reach the barn at its center. We sat for an orientation video and then were left to mill around the common area until the riders arrived. At that point I was itching to help more directly with the horses but of course being a new volunteer I wasn’t allowed much hands on application.

What I did get to do was assist the disabled riders settle into the saddle for the trail ride. The riders ascended a ramp in a covered ring and we walked the horses in a around it until everyone scheduled was ready. A more frequent volunteer at the center led the horse and two volunteers, myself included, walked on either side of the horse. Some riders needed an extra supporting hand on their leg or just a person there to reassure them. The horse and rider teams we worked with that morning were great: they remained calm, took directions from the head volunteers easily, and genuinely enjoyed their time there. These walking sessions were also partially rehabilitation exercises, as we prompted the riders to keep up their posture, move with the horse, grip with their legs, and helped boost their confidence.

This experience of helping riders was similar to the Spring Farm Festival Day held at Equestrian Inc. on Saturday April 13. I have been volunteering there most Fridays and Saturdays since about October 2012 so I felt comfortable greeting the volunteers and stepping up to help out. As soon as I arrived I made my way to the barn to help with trail rides – it’s not easy walking horses on a hot day! I was given the lead line for Astoria, Secretariat’s great grandson, and we flowed right down to business! Astoria carried younger, older, beginner, and experienced riders well. There were times when I had to correct him, or he would see the open gate and try to retreat to his stall, but I convinced him to keep going throughout the events.

I recall a handful of young inexperienced riders who were at first terrified by Astoria’s height. One young girl in particular had never been on a horse before and was about to go out with her sister astride another horse. After she was lifted into the saddle she crouched down over Astoria’s shoulder. Clearly she was terrified, clinging to the saddle and repeating that she did not think she could do this. When these situations occur I try and put myself in the place of the rider and provide what I believe will be what they need in that moment. In this case I remained calm and spoke gently to her while Astoria stood patiently for me. I coaxed the rider to keep her eyes on me and reassure her that she could in fact do this. We stayed at a stand still until she felt comfortable moving forward. I encouraged her to sit up straight and relax her lower body to help her feel more secure in the saddle. As it was, she went from flinching at even the slow walk to laughing and wanting to run on Astoria by the time the ride was over. Isn’t that something?

I’m happy to say that all the volunteers did a great job and helped the riders both feel safe and enjoy themselves. It’s quite a feeling when you help someone to the great height of a tall horse and they come out of it confident and ready to go again!

I highly recommend the experience of volunteering working with horses. It’s beneficial to both parties and builds great confidence in the individual.

horse flow
an unfinished card design – what do you think?

Check out more of my art at AmaraInsevi@deviantart.

You can read all the short stories I’ve published so far at my Smashwords store in almost any file format or if you prefer you can download limited stories from my Amazon Kindle store.

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Want to see more unfinished projects? Go to my Tumblr page!

Changing Titles?

I’ve started on the post about working with disabled individuals on horseback for next week but this week I’d like to just notify you of some changes happening around here.

Since I began taking a more serious attitude towards publishing my art and stories online I’ve started trying to stick to a single alias and site title name. You can see from following the links to my other sites (which I have made available to you in my “About…” page) have my name in the URL address for the most part. The titles of the sites are where the misalignment occurs: on my art site my artist name is “Amara Insevi” which is a pen name I used to use in college. It’s related in part to a character name from when I played an online MMORPG. On my Tumblr site the title on the page is “Amaranthine Rain” which is similar to the title of the the blog “Amaranth Curiosity,” which I wrote on before this one. The amaranth both of those titles base in the translation of my name (which you can also see in the “Amara” of my dA site). Clearly there is a link and I want to keep it consistent so it is as easy as possible to find and identify me across the platforms I use.

Now, I realize that between publishing a short series called Kaleidoscope based in a city entitled Kaleidoscope and then having this blog with Kaleidoscope in the title may become rather confusing. At least, to me it is confusing as I’d think this blog should pertain only to the story series when clearly it is not. As such, I want to change the title of this blog. So, if you see the title bar at the top altering over the course of this month do not be too alarmed. I hope to have everything set and squared away before May rolls around this year. Until then I’ll be fidgety, scribbling names on papers, muttering to myself in conversation and weirding out the people around me in general. Oh wait, I do that regardless. I’m told it’s amusing.

Here comes the part where I ask for your input: I am looking to getting my own main site, also hopefully in time for May. Should I have a standard “www.firstlastname.com”? Some part of Amara Insevi included? Would that be confusing? I look forward to your response!

This is for you, my pretties:

Ask Kaleidoscope is a tumblr site where you can become more involved with the characters of the Kaleidoscope series! I set up this tumblr site around the same time I started working on the series. It’s a place where extra Kaleidoscope character art will go up, and also where you can ask the characters questions and see their responses. I’ll even draw you pictures of them responding – short comics or memes if you well. Go check it out!

Invent-An-OC-Contest-Entry
a piece I’m entering into a contest this week

I’m still feeling a winter scene so there will probably be another like this. I’m also feeling Green Book vibes to write, which means new art for it is not far behind.

Until next week, happy trails~

Sketch Dumps

This past week I’ve been doing a lot of drawing and preparing to work on the next Kaleidoscope short. For drawing I’m setting up challenges for myself where I try to sketch a pose for practice very quickly. I want to be able to establish the base of a picture faster, to illustrate faster. As such, there isn’t much to tell this week except that I went for a riding lesson this past Saturday and it was amazing. I’m still on a high feeling from it and I’ve been dreaming about riding again all week! I have a lot to practice, most especially find a way to take the shock of a seated trot and jog more into my legs than my low back. I also helped out with a trail ride or two, which was similar when I volunteered working with both horses and disabled individuals. That’s a possible topic for next week. I can describe that experience for you. What do you think?

In the mean tim, here’s a sketch dump for you!

to expand or zoom, click on the picture to go to the original post site

Sketch dumps are meant to be unfinished works and quick sketches compiled into one document. Each sketch above takes me about a minute to lay out and then I quickly move on to the next one. I can lay down basic movements and poses in about 30 seconds. When I’m working on a request or commission I’ll do a few sketches to warm up and then I’ll lay out multiple poses that are small like those above. Once I have several poses to choose between, I pick one and enlarge it and it’s from that I build a piece. I find this works better than drawing a pose and fleshing it out and then deciding halfway though that I really don’t like the pose. This is especially messy if more than one character is involved and even more so if there’s a background I’ve laid out. By doing this I avoid wasting too much time on a picture I end up throwing away and getting caught in a time sink. It takes lots of practice and I still stumble trying to figure everything out.

What did you get up to this week? Something exciting? Did you kick back and relax?

Until next week, happy trails!