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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