Friday, June 5, 2020

Western lite

I cannot comfortably spend any length of time or hard riding in a western saddle. I don't know why, but my right leg starts to kill me, especially my ankle. However, I can sit in my dressage saddle all day, which I did on Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday for some hard riding. I'm calling it my western lite saddle.

What western riders may find unbelievable but dressage riders will not (or they might if they've never chased cows before) is that I can stay with my horse turning a cow better in my dressage saddle than I ever did in a western saddle, and I grew up in a western saddle. I feel closer and more "plugged in" to my horse in my dressage saddle than in a western saddle. And, as I pointed out to my BIL, the knee rolls on my dressage saddle are just as good for stabilization as any swells on a western saddle.

I was on the ranch Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday of this past week helping my family sort cow-calf pairs for different pastures. Buddy had some moves! And I was right with him in my dressage saddle... all day (5-6 hours each day) three days in a row. We didn't work as hard as my sister and brother-in-law, but we had our moments. Besides, I'm older, and I also find that not getting the cows or calves excited the way they do usually results in less escape attempts and, as a result, less trouble.

The only trouble I really had, since Buddy LOVES working cattle, is that he got his tongue over the jointed mouthpiece of his pelham bit a few times and I had to get off to drop the bridle to fix it. If you've never had it happen, the joint will poke up under the tongue and bother the horse when that happens. Buddy tossed his head, until I fixed it. But he didn't stop doing it. So, I came prepared on the last day. When he did it again, I switched to a western bridle from a past horse I had, a low port sweet iron curb with a copper roller. It took him a while to accept it, but once he did, he quieted his mouth and didn't once get his tongue over that bit. Given this, we're going to try a double bridle, using the curb as a means to keep his tongue down while I ride primarily with the bradoon (a snaffle that is the primary tool of riding with a double; the curb being there only for refinement). I learned to use it on my last horse, a powerful and big warmblood who had an exuberance that could take him away from me in just a snaffle. With both horses, I had used pelham bits for some control when I could, but now with Buddy developing this new tongue talent and the curb having stopped it, I don't have much of a choice if I want to train him properly. I may not be able to go back to just a snaffle, but time will tell.

Buddy just had to make things difficult.

Thanks to my sister, I have some pictures of us at work.

Taking a group down the alley to the loading chute
to be hauled to one of the pastures Tuesday.

Getting a pair sorted. We need to keep this kind of
forward in our dressage work!

Ponying my sister's horse back to the corral after
a long day of work Tuesday. She took the pic
while driving the Ranger and leading her donkey.

In the corral at the end of the day Wednesday,
Buddy waits in his western bridle to move
cows to the pasture down the road

It's been a long time coming for Buddy to get to this point in his training, but we've put in the work. Dressage work has prepared him well for doing this. He had his good and bad moments, but those good moments made the moments of being ornery worthwhile. A few times, he sat down like a cutting horse to turn a cow, and I stayed right with him in my dressage saddle. However, he still gets intimidated by them looking at him and especially when they approach him. A few cows were chargey and needed caution near them. Those cows behaved with two riders coming at them. He's gaining confidence, but that can be unraveled quickly with a bad experience.

Buddy absolutely loves moving cows. He does NOT like being held back, which is funny considering he can be such a chicken. For example, he will snort at and try to get away from strange footing, but when it comes to cows, he doesn't think twice about muck or piles of dirt; he wants to chase a cow! He likes having a job and once he learns the routine, such as with sorting cows, he really gets into it. It's a lot of fun working with him.

In looking at the pictures, I see myself sitting crooked and don't know if it's the ground angle, the stride point, or me. I plan to get together with my instructor for a lesson this summer to fix things. It's been too long.

ps--because I was so exhausted after these long days, I haven't gotten as much writing done as I wanted, but it was worth it. The writing will catch up, hopefully this weekend.

Friday, May 29, 2020

getting my cowgirl on

So, I realized that I was going to have to cowgirl up on Buddy. I don't like to do that, because it means getting gritty, but he does need to get over his anxieties. Some horses get more excited the harder you get on them when they act up, until they do something completely dangerous, especially for the rider. I'm not as young and daring as I once was and have been through enough bad situations to have become a bit cautious, perhaps overly cautious... or not.

I know better than to get on an excited horse whose head is lost. It's insanely dangerous. Buddy can be that way sometimes, but I've come to realize there are two things that will do that two him--1) too much excitement, such as other horses running around, like when we're trying to help round up cows and the other horses are doing all the work flying back and forth while he's dancing out of his mind not sure what to make of their activities, and 2) when I put the western saddle on him. For some reason, this always precipitates difficult behavior. I don't know if it's because it doesn't fit right (it seems to it just fine) or if it's because I've always put it on him when we are in the situations of rounding up cows, and a few trail riding sessions. Even our spring trail riding before we tried to do any cattle work had him a little uneasy in the western saddle.

Part of that could be me, because I'm not comfortable in it. I don't like feeling like I'm sitting high above my horse instead of on my horse. My dressage saddle gives me a "plugged in" feeling on his back and I'm more at ease. Western saddles are bulky and heavy and don't allow for any close contact feeling like a dressage saddle does. I also think Buddy has come to like feeling me more closely and relies on the communication of my relaxation through my seat to help him know that he shouldn't worry, since he can't read my body language visually as when I'm on the ground with him. He's a very smart boy and I wouldn't put that past him.

And that all is the long-winded way of saying that I'm working cows in dressage tack and it's going much better with Buddy. However--there is a caveat here--he still gets too worked up when there's a lot of excitement going on around us. Today was quiet and we had a fantastic ride in the pasture and exercised some cows for practice ;) Chasing cows is amazing when you feel close to your horse. He only got worried when the dumb ass, Jewel, started running towards the gate instead of joining us--I let her tag along most of the time we head out on a ride, since the two are best buds and don't like to be apart. That's when I had to "cowgirl up" and deal with his naughtiness from worrying about his friends. I managed to get his mind on the cows, but he still can be difficult when I want him to canter to get ahead--he wants to take control the faster we go and not listen to me, but he's better in our dressage tack. So, we have some work to do this summer, and I'm finally up for the challenge.

He was a very good boy today and seemed to enjoy the workout. I've found that giving him Smart Digest Ultra before we ride does seem to help calm him about an hour after I give it, so part of his anxieties may be due to ulcers, and that's also why I feed it to him before we ride. And afterwards, he earned an extra handful of grain, and then some grass.

He's shed out nearly every last winter hair.

I never have to worry about him stepping on his rope--
he doesn't get upset and just steps off.

A family of Canada geese has been growing up in the pasture dugout pond.

Lastly, I am making good progress on RACING THE ORAST BELT. I've written nearly 27,000 words of it, or around 2/3 done with the first draft. I am aiming to have it done in two weeks, but we'll see. I better get back to it. The day was eaten up by my trip out to work with Buddy after work.

Thursday, May 14, 2020

writing progress update

available for purchase
I've been making great progress on RACING THE ORAST BELT. This is an episode of the Starfire Angels: Forgotten World series that features the space racing mentioned in THE RULE OF YONDER. Ever since I thought of that and inserted it as popular entertainment in that second book of the series, I knew that I wanted to write a story featuring the racing.

Now, I am 1/3 done with RTOB, book #8 of this series, and have expanded the details of this aspect of the galaxy in which Nya is carrying out her mission. I probably won't get into it again, but it is fun to give it so much focus. Nya has to have some fun once in a while, and so do readers, but it's not all fun and games for the characters.

pre-order today!
(available July 9, 2020)
I am hoping to finish the first draft in June, hopefully with plenty of time to finish final edits on DISPOSITION OF DREAMS. That would allow me to get back on track with my publishing schedule without cutting away in the midst of writing RTOB.

As a note to my readers, I generally publish a book about six to seven months after I finish the first draft. I'm trying to stick to that, but sometimes a book takes more work to write or ends up being longer than the 40,000-42,000 word first draft that I aim for with each of the Forgotten Worlds series books. In either case, it delays my schedule. DISPOSITION OF DREAMS and REMNANTS broke my pattern, both of them being closer to 50K words and REMNANTS being a difficult book to get started but one that turned out fabulous (imho), making all that trouble worthwhile. However, that book 7 did set back my publishing schedule a little bit. So, it does happen, but I try to get back on track.
Coming Fall 2020

On another note, I do my best to be sure the next book in the series is set up for pre-order as the preceding book is released.

Be sure to follow my author profile on whatever ebook retailer you prefer to be notified of new releases, such as my Amazon profile.

The best way you can show your support for any author is to leave reviews and to tell others on social media.

Thank you!

Sunday, April 26, 2020

my dressage cowhorse

I'm more comfortable in my dressage saddle, and it's easier to carry to and from storage, than my western saddle. Granted, both are basically custom fitted, but my right ankle kills me when I ride in my western saddle. Otherwise, either one is fine for Buddy, but I prefer my dressage saddle, even if we're riding out among cows. I train Buddy in dressage, which has helped him make the adjustment to being a cowhorse, which is why I call him my dressage cowhorse.

I don't know if Buddy finally hit the age of maturity mentally as he has physically or if the farm has changed him, but this spring, he's been showing me a calmer side (at last! It's only taken 4 1/2 years /sarc). He's seven this year, officially a fully mature horse. And he's finally decided that we can go out on a loose rein and not have to fight each other because he's freaking out being too far away from his herdmates.

Granted, a lot of the change is simply consistency and patience in training him, but he's even walking through mud or uneven footing for me without much fuss. He used to freak about that and try to avoid it, even as recently as last fall. This spring, he's marching right through mud to move cows.

And he loves cows! I swear that moving cows gives horses the confidence for anything, or nearly anything. Having an animal as large as them move out of their way... Whoa! Mind-blown (for the horse). When they finally accept that those cows don't challenge them, something changes. Buddy just took a year and a half to reach that conclusion, but at least he's gotten there. It's a huge confidence boost, but so is learning to trust a rider, which he can only feel and not see.

Buddy is a reader--he likes to see his leader (handler) to read body language as indicators of how he should feel. He's only slowly come to trust in my feel on his back to determine how he should feel. In other words, he's generally not a very confident horse, so anything I can do to help him gain that has been the key to training him. First, they learn that in ground work. Then, the harder challenge is to carry that over to under saddle, where the leader is riding and out of their site. Because of Buddy's nervous personality, it has taken him longer to get to that higher stage. A ridden horse feels more alone, and a horse like Buddy who is a middle-heirarchy herd personality would rather have a leader he can watch for cues about how to behave.

It just takes patience, time, and consistency. Buddy is getting there, finally. I'm so proud of him for how he's blossoming into the horse I always knew he could be. Today, I lunged him in side reins, and, although we haven't done that in a couple of years, it really helped him rediscover his balance and lift his back. Then, the wind decreased, so I rode in the same uneven, grassy area where I had lunged (where he's grazing in the pics below), and he was just as good. In fact, he was better than he's ever been, even cantering on both leads without any fuss. I was going to quit there after such a superb ride (for him) but the wind was so low and he was so good that I decided on a little trail ride out checking cows. After a little fuss to leave the gate, he went out on a loose rein, although he leaned towards home.

We'll be doing more with the cows this spring and he's definitely ready for the work. He's shed a lot in the last few weeks--not a shaggy yeti anymore--but still has a lot to shed out. Today, his mane got a trim so it doesn't tangle so much. He needs a lot more work to lose the winter belly. As a reward for being such a great boy today, he got an extra helping of grain and the chance to graze on the green grass growing after a smidgeon of rain the other day. (We really need much more rain, just not like last summer.)



Definitely less winter hair on his face than a few weeks ago.

Saturday, April 25, 2020

Dr. Erickson COVID-19 Briefing -- TRUTH CENSORED BY YOUTUBE!!

Update 4/28/2020: Youtube is censoring the truth about coronavirus!! Big tech is controlling what you can see and not letting you judge for yourself. They have taken down a very revealing video of MDs who have explained why the lockdowns should be lifted.

The first video is available on Bitchute at https://www.bitchute.com/video/NkiM9fo1Ba0h/.

My original post:

Some sanity in an insane world too afraid of infections to live. These two explain how to keep your immune system strong, what the real fatality numbers of coronavirus are, and the truth that is being suppressed by the political elites.




Part 2:

Saturday, April 18, 2020

REMNANTS update


Good news! I finished the first draft of REMNANTS yesterday. It came in at just under 50,000 words, the longest of the Forgotten Worlds series so far (and hopefully ever). I'm now doing my first read and rewrite for consistency from beginning to end. Later edits will be sure of consistency in other things, although, as I mentioned in a previous post, that's why I build up a wiki file with all my world-building notes.

I really like how it came together, although I think that it needs one more scene to fully wrap it up. I just have to get through this read to see how it flows for plot and character development. After this, I'll get to start RACING THE ORAST BELT. I'm so anxious for that one! I'm eager to write so many other ideas I have for this series, but ever since I came up with the Orast Belt racing in THE RULE OF YONDER, I've wanted to get my characters in that race, although not as readers probably expect.

I also have to prepare DISPOSITION OF DREAMS for its July release.

Busy! Busy!

And for fun, some pics of the cats.

Can you find two cats?

"Here, I am!" - Suki

"The throne is all mine!"

"I am your master! Bow to me, human slave."

"Bird!"

Monday, April 13, 2020

Forgotten Worlds Q and A - Part 2

The following is the continuation of the Forgotten Worlds Questions and Answers started on April 11, 2020:

Q: How did you come up with so many different creatures?
A: I love science fiction and fantasy and let my imagination fly. I think in terms of "what would I like to see with this book?", and then I go ahead and create. Forgotten Worlds lets me let loose. The difficult part is that, once I create a species/organization/planet, they're a part of the canon and I need to be careful for the next time I use that particular piece. I keep track of everything in a growing wiki file that started with my base ideas and evolved from there. I refer back to it periodically for reference.

Q: Who are the main bad guys of the Forgotten Worlds?
A: The Issan are religious zealots who worship the creature of death that they call Issa. The name is based on the sound the creature makes when it is able to connect with those in the vicinity of a weak dimensional barrier, a sort of a hissing sound like "issssaaahh". Obviously that would be hard to write every time, so it just gets written as Issa, or Issan for their worshippers. (However, shortly after releasing the first book, I found out about a statesman with the last name Issa. This has nothing to do with any politician but was purely onomatopoeia.) These Issan have no value of life, so they will enslave, torture, mutilate, and kill without hesitation or shame. Their god is death, so their whole culture revolves around the concepts of honor in death and dishonor to their enemies. It is a rigid, cold culture, which is in stark contrast to the Inari.

Q: You have several subplots going throughout the series so far. Do you ever plan to resolve any of them soon?
A: I have an outline of how I want the series to go, with room for adjustments. I do plan to resolve the subplots when they are each ready. Every book in the series will build on multiple subplots, although not all of them in every book. I know exactly how the series will end, so I already know how I want those subplots to play out, although I leave room for them to surprise me, such as in REMNANTS. I'm exploring more deeply the idea that the Inari were in that galaxy previously. I can't say any more than that it is revealing some connections. I feel like I'm juggling with too many balls and afraid of dropping them all, which is why I like the shorter length of these novels, which are barely qualified as novels at just over the minimum 40,000 words. It's just long enough to get in an episode but to also play with those subplots without being overwhelmed.

Short answer: yes, I will resolve them, just not necessarily as soon as readers may want.

Q: How many books do you plan to write? Why should readers start now if this is going to take awhile? Will you ever finish?
A: As I mentioned, I do have it outlined and know the ending of the whole series. Readers who start now have a chance to influence the plots of upcoming books with their input. I leave room in my outlines for other ideas. That's how the Dark Angel Chronicles went on into five books plus a novella, WHEN ANGELS CRY, and also into the Revelations series with SHARDS (the story of Leksel and Korali). Those were because of enthusiastic readers requesting more. Readers could have the same influence now on future books in the Forgotten Worlds series. I will finish, but only after I've satisfied myself and exhausted all the fun variations of stories I want to tell in this series. As for the number, I'm thinking a couple dozen in the Forgotten Worlds series should cover it, although a better range is 20-30 books.

Q: Some writers get out a book a month at that length. Why don't you?
A: Every writer is different. I write at my pace because I have a day job, a family, and my own set of health issues, namely autoimmunity, to manage on top of writing. Some days I sit down and can't stop writing and other days I can barely get out a few sentences. Every story is different also. I can usually write a first draft of the Forgotten Worlds books in about two months, but then I need time for several rounds of rewriting and editing. And then there's REMNANTS, which has gone onto 3 1/2 months to write a first draft. I had some health issues get in the way but also the story itself didn't know what it wanted to be initially. Once it got going, it really started to pick up speed to a normal pace for me. So, for me to write a good book, I need time. My goal is to publish a book every three months, but I'm a little behind because of REMNANTS being such a challenge.

Q: Can you provide any teasers or hints of what's to come in Forgotten Worlds?
A: I won't give away anything, but I will say that there's far more to the Inari-Feri issue than anyone, except maybe me, can imagine. There is so much more to come with the Paxons and Issan and Inari that I can't give away. I also have some side stories, like the upcoming RACING THE ORAST BELT. I anticipate that being a lot of fun. I have ideas for a lot of explorations of the galaxy's history and cultures that have developed. You have to keep reading each adventure with the multi-species cast racing to help Nya find the Starfire crystals before the Issan can complete their mission to free their god. There will be pain and joy in the lives of all the characters, space battles, exploring other planets, and everything that is fun about science fiction, particularly space opera. There will even be some romance.

That's it for now.

THANKS FOR READING!

*****

If you have questions you would like answered, please use the contact form at http://melanienilles.com/home/contact/ or comment on this post and I will share those in a future post.