Posts Tagged ‘horses’


Does anyone have recommendations for barefoot trimmers, boarding, and trainers in the Ft. Collins, CO area?  A friend and her horse will be moving there this summer.

I do realize, between my fiction and artist requests, I’m being a little needy over here on ye olde EqPal.  I promise to make it up to you all just as soon as the Lovely Boyfriend returns my laptop.  Until then, posts will be short and sweet.  Or maybe just short.

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Although I haven’t yet really dug in to the subject, I am very interested in contemporary equine art.  My taste is more towards the modern, post-modern, and abstract, but I’m open-minded.  I had the thought that maybe I’d even like to start a gallery here, so if you all have a favorite artist you’d like to recommend, that would be great.

In the meantime, I found artist Barbara Rush, who has a self-described neo-cubist style:

It looks to me like she might be a dressage rider.  What do you all think?

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I have been remiss in commenting and answering comments, but I’ve still been hoarding away posts to list today:

I have a heap of new horse blogs to go through when I have some time to “pan for gold” as I love discovering new sites to network and share. If you know of a great blog that I haven’t yet discovered, send it my way!

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Of course the largest font on my author tag cloud in the horse fiction library is Dick Francis, who, as you most likely already know, was a champion steeplechase (or, more properly, National Hunt) jockey before he became an incredibly prolific writer. Having read all of his novels, I thought I had some idea as to what a National Hunt race is like, but it turns out I really didn’t have a clue.

Wiola posted a video of the 2008 Cheltenham Gold Cup – a race Dick Francis never won but described many times in his novels – and I was totally amazed, watching it, to realize I had never seen a National Hunt race. For some reason, all of the imagery I had absorbed from reading tricked my brain into thinking I had actually watched steeplechasing – but seeing the real thing, it was completely different from what I had imagined.

Given the dramatic action of the race scenes in Dick Francis’ novels, the pace seemed slower and the fences looked lower than I expected. I do realize that if I was riding the course – a completely and unequivocally absurd thought – it would most certainly be the other way around (and since Dick Francis writes in the first person that makes sense), but having adjusted my sense of speed from flat racing to harness racing, I still wasn’t prepared for the initial circuit’s lope towards the fences.

In reality, of course, the fences are at least 4½ ft. high and it’s only the talent of horse and rider that makes them seem smaller, but perhaps because of the camera angle they didn’t seem to loom above the horses as I thought they would. I know it’s an optical illusion, but somehow Grand Prix showjumping has ruined my eye for what constitutes a tall fence.

The course itself seems to go on forever – 3 miles 2½ furlongs – and the fitness and stamina of the horses blew my mind, particularly with Cheltenham’s famed uphill finish. It makes a flat racing course, even the most strenuous, seem like a sprint. Harness racing horses are jogged for miles daily to increase their wind, but the actual races are only a mile (longer in New Zealand and Australia.) I can’t imagine the amount of work that goes into conditioning a ‘chaser.

When the narrator in a Dick Francis novel describes a race, it sounds like the course is full of twists and turns, dark alleys where misbehavior can’t be seen by the stewards and hidden pockets out of sight of the cheering crowd where a bystander could be lurking to string something across the jump to fell horse and rider. It’s a testament to the skill of his writing that the atmosphere of his suspense novels is nothing like the cheerful, endlessly green course of the real race in the clear light of day.

It’s interesting how the mind works. I’ve had memories of things that seemed much larger, or imposing, when I was a child, only to find as an adult that they weren’t intimidating at all. I just never realized that the same dynamic could occur with memories that were, literally, fiction.

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I had an epiphany today.

It was my second day of training for a new job, and we were role-playing and running mock situations. When I was presented with the information in a step-by-step manner and given a chance to practice things until I got them right, I excelled, and felt eager to learn more.

When I was asked to do things for which I felt insufficiently prepared, where I wasn’t sure I knew the correct way to act, and where I didn’t have a good foundation to draw upon, I not only felt slightly panicky – I also felt resentful. My voice rose about an octave and my words in asking to go back a level and start from a place I understood were rushed and even quavery at times. I knew that if I was pressed to go further into more complicated scenarios without getting a chance to feel secure about what I had to do thus far, I was going to have a mini-meltdown, and that my behavior wouldn’t be attractive or appropriate.

I was fortunate that the two times in the last two days I had these reactions, my trainer listened to me, and backed off. I was relieved that my increasing discomfort was both noticed and addressed without censure. And given the opportunity to learn at my pace and in the way that felt best to me, I performed beyond my trainer’s level of expectation when we returned to the advanced scenario.

Afterwards, I thought: This is how the horses feel. This is the same chain of actions and reactions, the same emotions, the same principles at work. I get it.

So many times I understand something on an intellectual level without grounding that knowledge in a viceral way. I am then unable to use the concept with consistency, since I don’t own the knowledge. I don’t feel it; I just think it. I grasp it, but I can’t live it, since it isn’t a part of me.

And then, after floating around in my mind for ages, I will experience something that allows the empathetic part of my self to come forward, and suddenly I get it, down to my bones.

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I love TheHorse.com, if only because it gives me such good blogging fodder:

California Adopts Steroid Testing Levels

February 29 2008, Article # 11422

The California Horse Racing Board (CHRB) took a major step towards banning supplemental anabolic steroids with the adoption of testing levels for four major substances during its meeting Feb. 28 in Arcadia.

“It’s the first step in regulating anabolic steroids in California horse racing,” said Rick Arthur, DVM, the state’s equine medical director. “This is the most important action the board will take on medications this year.”

Due to their copyright policy, I can’t reprint more than that on this site, but I do feel I can add a few quotes:

Punishment for overages has yet to be finalized. In the meantime, the CHRB intends to send warning letters for any overages.


CHRB chairman Richard Shapiro noted that the timing is right for regulation. “Anybody who reads the news knows this is something obvious,” he said. “We need to move forward. This is something that will help the whole industry very quickly.”

Hmm… really? From working on horses at the track, I can tell you that the ones on steroids – most commonly ‘Equipoise’ (a misnomer if I ever heard one) – are so tense, both muscularly and mentally, that it’s totally unpleasant to be around them. Even the grooms avoid them, and do the minimum to care for these horses. I have seen horses literally grinding their teeth like a methamphetamine addict on a three-day run.

Trainers come up with all kinds of good reasons to give their horses steroids – “She’s too moody to race otherwise”, “He’s not aggressive enough to get out front”, “He’s not fast enough without” etc., etc., but the bottom line is, if you have to drug your horse to win, it’s not the right horse or you are not the right trainer. Performance-enhancing drugs are just that – drugs. Just ask Marion Jones.

And who will be doing research into the long-term effects of use in horses? No one, I presume, since, after all, they’re just horses, who can easily be converted to cash once their winning streak is over. (I’m hoping those who eat chevale aren’t disturbed by the idea of inducing who-knows-what drugs into their system along with a horseburger du jour.)

And those warning letters? Those will really put the fear of God in ’em. Especially since any testosterone level in non-gelded horses will be acceptable. Your man-eating, fire-breathing, totally unmanageable stallion is always like that, right? And gee whiz, he sure races great, especially if you can keep him straight so he doesn’t get distracted by the impulse to beat the crap out of every other horse on the homestretch.

The racing industry is dogged by constantly churning whispers of unfair play on every level. Surely the powers that be can see that the confidence of the gaming public – something that no one can deny has slipped, and slipped badly on every racing day other than the Derby – is imperative to the continued health of the sport. So why the hell is it a “major step” when they announce “testing levels” but don’t actually announce banning the drugs, testing for them, or consequences?

Get with it, guys. If an Olympic medalist can be taken down, what’s the dilemma about a $3000 claimer?

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Equus Palaverous Horse Fiction Library

Us horse-crazy gals tend to be a wee bit obsessive. I personally never tire of reading about horses, but there are times that I also long for fiction, not another training book that I have to ponder or riding book that I have to decipher. It’s harder than you would think to find fiction books with a horsey theme when you’re using a search function at the bookstore or the library, since it tends to miss a lot of books that don’t list the word ‘horse’ in the title or, even more frustrating, leaves you with a long list of young adult fiction to wade through in your hunt for a decent novel.

So, I’ve compiled a list of horse novels based on recommendations via Amazon’s “Customers who bought this item also bought…” and “listmania!” features, which have led me to some good things in the past. Keep in mind that I’m not endorsing these books as a group – I haven’t even read most of them. I have no idea if they’re brilliant or boring. I’m just looking for as inclusive a list as possible of adult horse fiction.

In my research for this post, I did find a library on ponydom which looks promising, but there’s no way to simply see all the titles without the non-fiction and some Young Adult being mixed in, which is confusing. On the plus side, you can browse by discipline or genre, which is handy if you have one you really like (mystery) or one you don’t (science fiction). It’s worth checking out and obviously the product of yet another horse-crazy gal like the rest of us. I also stumbled across a new blog, Equestrian Ink, which I highlighted on yesterday’s weekly blog round-up, and I have high hopes that these professional writers/horsewomen will make a grand splash into the horse blogosphere.

In order to make this list work as painlessly as possible, I’ve decided to utilize LibraryThing. Why not Google Books, you ask? In this case, Google Book Search can’t help me, but tags and recommendations from other readers can, so LibraryThing’s social bookmarking is a better application for this project. As always, books I’ve actually read can still be found in my Google web library. Neither list is as updated as I’d like, but it’s a work in progress and I will update frequently. Tags, comments, and reviews still need to be added, so if you have any, please leave your thoughts in the comments of this blog and I will add them to the list. I’ve included a link to the EqP Fiction Library on the sidebar so it’s easy to find.

I’d love to hear feedback on the books listed, and more than that, I’d really like some good recommendations that aren’t on the list. My only request is that it be limited to fiction – any genre is fine, so long as the setting includes horses in a meaningful way.

I hope this is useful for all of you who love to read as much as I do and are constantly on the hunt for a good horse book to curl up with at the end of the day.

Equus Palaverous Horse Fiction Library

Note: Looking through the list, it does seem like the mystery genre is over-represented, and I’m not sure why that is, but as I continue to add books that may become less weighted. A good many of the books I found are Young Adult but read by adults as well, much like the Harry Potter series. I’ve chosen not to include these since I haven’t read them and don’t know if they really transcend that label or not.

p.s. If it seems like I’ve included a lot of links to the library, you’re right. After cataloging 168 books over the course of an evening, I may have lost my mind. My lovely boyfriend certainly thought so when he went to bed and I was still feverishly typing, 11 open tags on my browser…. “I’ll be to bed soon. I just have seven more lists to go!”

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