Monthly Archives: May 2013

Spring mare afternoon

So after a job interview and car maintenance stuff, I got to the barn early on this sunny Friday afternoon. Miss Mocha was in turnout with the rest of the mares while the piebald mini stallion snorted sweet nothings at the field of mares next to his paddock (who pretty much ignored him except for one mare who LUFFS HIM MUCHLY. Given that he’s about 6 hh and she’s 15 hh, ain’t nothing happening without a lot of coordination, and so far she’s not showing much cooperativeness).

Mocha was totally about the Spring! Mare! mode today. Good grief, a teenaged Valley Girl in full mating cry would have been mellower. Mocha’s not a talky mare usually, but she started talking today and I had to get after her. Even at that, she was distracted and difficult. The little stud’s paddock is right outside one of the arena doors, so he can look in while she’s being worked. We started in a snaffle and she was distracted. Still, I managed to keep it together until she started blowing out of one loop on a serpentine because she was getting distracted by the damn stallion. Coupled with a bit of tough-minded disrespect (she was cutting corners on the serpentine and wouldn’t change leads crisply in the center. I put out cones to mark the loops and the change points, and she started aiming herself at the cones to try to knock them over), and I finally had HAD it.

I stopped her, got off, stomped back to the tack room, got the Pelham bridle (a short-shanked curb with four reins, more severe than the snaffle) and swapped out. I’ve not done that before, but the level of blowing through my cues so that she could knock over cones was getting extremely irritating. It’s one of her “I don’t wanna” moments and, coupled with Let’s See How Fast We Can Run The Cones is a particularly annoying Smart Horse Up Yours Moment. Mocha does aim for cones in this mood and she exudes satisfaction with herself when she knocks them over. I’ve felt her change directions to target a cone when she’s in this mood–which happens just about any time we work cones. Cone work doesn’t go very far with her. But sometimes she needs the visual cue to know where to go.

With the Pelham, I had a very different mare. I still had to correct her a couple of times, but instead of targeting a cone and running off as fast as she could, she slowed down, dropped her head, and did what she was supposed to do.

After a coolout ride and a rinse (during which she turned on her best Kookie Begging Face when it was time to spray down her head–OMG, talk about Terminally Cute, horse enjoying the spray under her jaw while begging for Kookie) and a graze on the Good Grass, I put her back in her stall, whereupon she supervised me cleaning up and mooched a few more Kookies. All was mellow at that point–but boy, she was being a Tough Mare earlier. At one point she was changing leads every stride as she was targeting one particular cone, but it was Cowhorse Version, which meant a lot of interesting lateral movement. Um, if I ever put her to cows, I think I’d better have the chaps on and apply rosin to my seat. We never escalated to slamming the butt on the wall, but I think she was close to it.

Ah well, in a few days she’ll luff me and everything else about the world. And she had a lot of energy. Two more weeks, and I can ride her little behind off–which will make both of us happy.

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Short takes: yesterday’s ride

Blog fail yesterday. I was going to write a little bit about Mocha’s adventures, but between executing said adventures at the barn, and other stuff, just didn’t get to it.

But it was a nice afternoon–AFTER I had the heart-stopping moment of discovering her 50 lb salt block lying in her feed bucket. On the floor. I sifted through the bedding looking for the eye the feed bucket snap hung on, but nothing (any horseperson who’s had to deal with a hoof puncture from a nail knows that sick feeling). No one knows nuthin’ about how the big salt block got into her bucket, but she has a small owie on one hind. Trainer suggested in all seriousness that it was remotely possible that she could have knocked the bucket off of the wall, then put the salt block in it–well, she does play with the block, and she can be a fiddler. Still.

I didn’t boot her up, just went for a light conditioning ride. As expected, she was full of herself and wanted to run. After the downpours we’ve had here over the past week, seepage in the indoor means footing that isn’t the best. But we had a decent schooling, then went for a short hack outside. The puddles were full, and not only did we trot through them, we cantered them! She launches herself quite respectably into a jump at the edge of the puddle, lands, then canters on, as if she’s had eventer training. Then we met up with another horse and owner. Owner was muttering about horse not liking puddles, so back we went for Mocha to give this horse a lead through the puddles.

It’s amazing. The Stall Princess now does water. Not only that, she seems to like it these days.

Afterward, we joined the college class for some groundwork practice so she could dry off a little bit before I put her up. This class is a beginner group and some folks are pretty green and timid. I did show off during the ground-tying practice when I just dropped the rope, said “whoa,” and walked off.

It was also an excellent opportunity to practice squaring up at the halt. Not really a skill you need except for Showmanship classes, but it’s an excellent technique to get the horse to center in and focus on you, especially with other horses around.

Once her legs had dried off a bit, I spent some time on deep grooming. She’s still shedding out and her skin is scurfy and dry, with scaly patches. It doesn’t look like bugs, none of it is particularly itchy, especially on her legs, and it’s been a while since I’ve washed her. Next hot day when I have time, it’s bath time for the horsey girl, perhaps with some tea tree oil mixed in.

All in all, a nice horsey day.

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Short take: Back from Miscon

So we’re back from Missoula, in one piece, and as always my head is spinning with new ideas, connections, and places to go, people to see, things to develop. We had a lovely drive up through Sandpoint and Libby to Kalispell, then straight back today in one big drive.

Miscon is a lovely little science fiction convention in Missoula. I’ve participated as a critiquing author in their writers’ workshop for three years now. As always, I learned from doing my critiques–good for both the author I’m critiquing and for insights into my own process.

There were many, many conversations and much food for thought. I got pictures with both camera and iPhone. I got to play some more with my new iPhone, and I realized that I really really really need to find a business card scanner to upload card data into my contacts on the phone. But when I went to iTunes, I found something like 123 apps, most of them free, a few not. How to sort out which one’s the best for me? Don’t know, but I’m going to start working on it.

I’m still in the process of unpacking, and have things to muse upon in the blog. Amongst other things, I’m going to try to start to get back into blogging on a regular basis. I need to do this. Lots of things that need to be done…

Meanwhile, off to unpack. Pictures later.

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A nice easy ride

Mocha and I have been schooling in the Pelham lately. With spring and all, she’s gotten a bit strong and opinionated, plus I did something to my left thumb and can barely bend it. So I needed to ride with two hands (not, not gonna try to teach myself to neck rein with the right hand, it would be far too confusing for a rather particular and precise mare. Ahem) while still using some curb elements–ergo, the Pelham.

But things are getting busy with Miscon coming up and various end-of-the-school year things. It’s a good time to back off a wee bit on conditioning and both of us catch our breath, then build back up with frequent short works, then lengthen them out with ground schooling work for bending and flexion.

Therefore, tonight we rode in the snaffle, and no boots. Boots to Mocha are a cue, we’re either going into the show ring or we’re doing a fairly light ride. She’s more relaxed and less on the muscle…but as I realized tonight, less on the muscle does not mean we’re not doing some high level stuff.

She lined out with lots of energy, and my first cue that–ahem–light work these days might mean something other than it used to was when she offered up lead changes on the rail when we usually do them during warmup. No drama, no fuss, just a lead change in response to an unconscious weight shift. Hmm. So I asked again, keeping the rein long, doing a light rein squeeze and leg. Change.

I didn’t ask for the change every two strides–that does get her hot and bothered–but we did calmly and serenely change every four or five strides. She remained relaxed throughout.

And from there we did a few fancy didoes and such, involving random direction changes and small voltes with lead and direction changes…girl sure seems to like that sort of work.

A good ride. Long rein throughout, I never really took up much of a contact, did most of our work by leg, seat, and leaning the rein on her neck. She remained soft in the hand and mellow, despite all the changes and twists and turns.

I think she really likes that kind of work.

Then afterward, a nice long grooming with lots of cookies for her and just a quiet, relaxing groove for the two of us. The sort of night horse people dream about.

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Netwalk Foundations Monday!

It’s the third Monday of the month, and you know what that means…yep, it’s another Netwalk Foundations Monday! Free snippets, segments, and worldbuilding short stories in the Netwalk Sequence universe. For your delight today, here’s “Diaspora.”







Diaspora is one of my early attempts at what later became Netwalk. It’s a partial answer to the question of “what was Diana doing while Melanie was in Japan?” It was written about 1994 and I revised it lightly for this publication.

Links to Kindle, epub and PDF versions here.

And did I mention that all Foundations pieces are FREE?

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Miscon schedule

Yay! Got my final Miscon schedule, and it looks like Great Fun. Miscon’s a lovely con and I always enjoy my time there.

Joyce Reynolds-Ward

  • Fri 1:00 – 1:50 PM, Big Bang Theory!, Great Hall (Upstairs)
  • Break Fri 1:50 – Fri 4:00
  • Fri 4:00 – 4:50 PM, Writers’ Workshop Meet and Greet, Containment Room (Upstairs)
  • Break Fri 4:50 – Sat 11:00
  • Sat 11:00 – 12:50 PM, Writers’ Workshop Great Hall, Great Hall (Upstairs)
  • Break Sat 12:50 – Sat 2:00
  • Sat 2:00 – 2:50 PM, Reading: Joyce Reynolds Ward, Upstairs Programming 3 (261)
  • Break Sat 2:50 – Sat 5:00
  • Sat 5:00 – 5:50 PM, One Person’s Freedom Fighter . . ., Upstairs Programming 1 (259)
  • Break Sat 5:50 – Sun 10:00
  • Sun 10:00 – 10:50 AM, The Role of Religion in Science Fiction/Fantasy, The Cave (Downstairs)
  • Break Sun 10:50 – Sun 2:00
  • Sun 2:00 – 2:50 PM, Gender Roles and Societal Change, Upstairs Programming 2 (260)

Getting excited about it now, thinking about my reading. A snippet from How Beer Saved the World and a snippet from Netwalker Uprising…both of which hopefully will come up on the Stanza on my lovely new phone (Never fear, I plan to bring hard copy as well…)

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Fun stuff–trailer for How Beer Saved the World

One of my intrepid co-authors in How Beer Saved the World has created a lovely trailer, found here.

Many thanks to Laurel Anne Hill for her lovely work.

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Announcing Netwalk Foundations

cover-kathy-millerI’ve been a bit of a slacker this week and not gotten the info out on Netwalk Foundations.

Basically, twice a month (first and third Mondays), I’ll be putting up a freebie short piece connected to The Netwalk Sequence on my web page. Some of these pieces will be brief character sketches, some will be worldbuilding stories tied into the Sequence in different ways. Some of this material is original writing from the early 1990s, just updated to reflect the current worldbuilding process, and some of it will be brand new.

Kathy Miller is the rewrite of a worldbuilding story from the 90s. I’ve updated it to reflect current continuity. I won’t do that with every piece I put up, but this one needed some revision.

Foundations has its own tab on my webpage toolbar, and each story will have its own page. Go here to read Kathy’s story–available in Kindle, epub and PDF versions!

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Light ride tonight

Warm out, did a short relaxed ride in the big outside arena because I’m still half-sick and besides we gave Mocha her 5-way vaccination today (EEE, WEE, rhino, flu, tetanus; in November she gets the 2-way which is rhino and flu; in a training barn with a lot of folks in and out so she’s not in a closed herd). Plus yesterday she got trimmed.

It was a sweet little ride. She’s now comfortable enough with countercanter that we can change leads on the rail every three strides and she stays mostly relaxed. I really didn’t collect her up much on the snaffle–long rein ride and she was mostly relaxed and dropping her head. I really didn’t want to collect her up or get her too worked up because of the vaccination. I find that light work on a long rein after the vax seems to help her deal better with it–better to inject before, too, it seems.

Gregg commented that she was loping nice and relaxed, with a level topline.

The other thing is that now we can play in the big outdoor. With just a little bit more space, we can change directions and leads at will, and so a lot of our relaxed loping also involved zig-zagging around swapping leads. Actually kind of relaxing and fun, as well as a bit whimsical. Whimsical is good.

Anyway, a nice riding session. Not a lot of schooling, unless you count countercanter and whimsical direction-swapping at the lope. We do need to school down transitions, heck, transitions always need work. But just a nice playful outdoor arena ride, with lots of walk breaks and work over the railroad tie walkovers. Short, but relaxing.

Another one like that on Friday, to help with further recovery just in case. And then next week back to harder schooling.

Rather pleased with myself–I’d set a goal to get countercanter and tempi changes put on her this winter, and we did it. Now to continue making them No Big Deal.

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