Untamed

I have been going a little crazy over Saleem lately, with his broken tooth, and that minor swelling in his hook and well, long story short, I have changed a lot of things, one of them is that I have gotten rid of the bridle. Riding Saleem in a cordeo, has resulted in one thing I did not anticipate. We now only have one gait. Walk.

He is perfect at a walk, he turns, he stops, he bends, he even moves sideways, but he refuses to understand the “trot” signal. That had me thrown for a while, wondering if it was me, who were just riding so differently, without the reins, but I now have a sneaking suspicion that is not the case.

I tried him from the ground the other day, thinking that if it was me, failing as a rider, he would still understand trot, with me on the ground. And he did. And he instantly told me, no. Which have me wondering. Why?

I have been staring myself blind on his legs, his top line, his pelvic, and for the life of me, he is not lame at a walk, but since he refuses to trot, it makes it hard to pin point if there might be a tiny bit of an off beat if he does set the tempo higher, thus placing more pressure on his joints.

And at the same time, with Saleem, it doesn’t have to be because he is lame, that he suddenly doesn’t want to trot. It could be a thousand different things that has set him off, I am just jumping to the nearest conclusion, because he does have a tiny swelling in one of his legs. (My vet has seen it and told me to ignore it. I am not good at that.)

So my new game plan is to test  him a bit, doing different things, trying to get a response from him that will clue me in on what is making him hold back. I should ad, he still plays with Apocalipse, he both trots and canters when he plays and he doesn’t seem uncomfortable at all. Just around me, does he quiet down for some reason.

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Training Saleem from the ground does lead me to what I really wanted to talk about. Ablaze, my one year old Arabian gelding. For years, I have felt hollow inside. Since Legacy died in March 2011, I have felt somewhat incomplete. I even named Ablaze, Ablazing Legacy, in his honor.

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I don’t meant to play down how much I love Saleem and Apocalipse, I would not have made it through the last three years without them. Apocalipse has been a ray of sunlight every single day and the only thing that truly threw me off my game was if something happened to him.

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Still, I have been looking at horses in sales adds, looking at foals, somehow trying to replace that increasing void in my heart. Losing Amalia, Poseidon and Apollon all within a year and a half after Legacy, did make me feel like I was never going to heal again. How do you recover from watching your young horse (Legacy,) never have a chance? A standard breed, he was born and broken for the race track before I got him, and I came up short when I tried to mend his broken body.

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How do you move past, suddenly realizing that the huge heart on your very old friend and sister in arms, is failing and that she is drowning and there is nothing you can do to stop it? I mean, I always knew she wouldn’t live forever, but Amalia had been with me for 14 years, she was the rock I used to lean on.

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How do you, at long last, truly let go of the part of yourself that has always been a troubled, untamed, red horse, allowing him the peace you know, you will never have, once he is gone? Poseidon was my soul mate in every possible way, and when his legs failed at long last I wondered how I would ever define myself again. I felt blurry without him, without a shape, without a purpose.

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And then, as a last blow to my sanity and my already broken heart, Apollon just failed and died, being euthanized during a blizzard with violent internal bleedings, for no apparent reason, 13 years old. I was so blindsided, so thrown, so unable to accept that not only was Poseidon gone, but his brother too, I still have no words for it. How unfair, how unreasonable, how … Hollow.

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I know I have been searching for something, since my horses died. I know that buying Marble was hands down, because I wanted another thoroughbred mare, now that Amalia was gone. I knew Marble could never replace Amalia, but how could I not have a dark mare like her on my pasture?

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I know that when I bought Tardis, I did so one, because she was a perfect pony, and two because she was pregnant. The foal she came with, always made me smile, even when he was just that- a fetus inside my new mare.

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Logically, I wanted an Arabian mare, giving me the option of breeding someday in the future, alongside with my thoroughbred mare.

Having met Ablaze though, I think I always knew that he was my salvation. Even before he was born. If there truly is such a thing as a soul mate, if it is at all possible to sense someone’s soul, then I knew he was my other half, the second I met his mother.

The way he said hello when he was born, right at my feet, the way he just raised his head and greeted my boyfriend and me, and his mother, my first thought was, I know this horse. I know that voice.

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I swear, I had not thought of it, before he was born. I didn’t buy the mare, thinking that she carried Poseidon reborn. I didn’t go around telling myself that I could have Poseidon back, when the foal was born. I realize that if you want something badly enough, you might convince yourself of it, but it never crossed my mind, until the second Ablaze opened his dark eyes into this world.

I have always known this horse.

There is this glimmer in his eyes, like he knows me inside and out, at all times. Whenever I try to train him, he looks at me, just like Poseidon used to do, asking me just one thing. Not, “why”, like Amalia and Apocalipse, or “how”, like Saleem, or “make me”, like Apollon and Tardis… No, Ablaze asks me, “how much do you want it?”

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The first time he did that, I nearly cried. I know that question, I know that sparkle in those dark eyes.  Poseidon spent fifteen years, asking me that question, every time I needed him to do something. There was so many things Poseidon could not do, but he never refused me. He always asked me, how important is this? Will you push the matter? Like, with the Ferrier. Yes, I do want you to behave and let him shoe you. Not negotiable. But the vet, well, I can give you antibiotics myself, as maybe it would have been nice if they could have touched you, but I’ll handle it. Negotiable. I didn’t want it bad enough, so I didn’t get it. Not until the very last day, when he was euthanized. That day, I wanted them to touch him, so I would not have to inject him myself. (Illegal and as much as I am all for taking responsibility for your animals, I was prepared to step up and put him down myself if all else failed, but I REALLY didn’t want to.) So, how important is this to you? That last day, he didn’t flinch when they touched him.

So here I am, at long last, actually healing. I know it may not sound like it, but I truly am. My friends and I were at a foal show a few weeks back, and none of those foals tugged at my heartstrings. I didn’t go home wondering what it would be like to get another foal by Tardis or perhaps Marble, I was actually bored, watching foal after foal being showed.

I didn’t truly realize how much Ablaze has healed me though, until I tried walking him in a rope the other day. I keep telling myself that he must learn. He must be able to wear a halter and he must be able to be led on a rope, from one place to another. Of course he must know the basics, if something should happen to me, I would have failed him greatly, if he was not trained. So, I keep trying to make myself train him, but I just can’t. Every time I give him a halter on, or a rope around his neck, he gives me that look, “How much do you want it?” and my heart just breaks.

I don’t want it. I never want him to be tamed. I want him to be just like he is, wild and free, and perfect.

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Just like Poseidon always was. Untamed. Unbroken. Even if Poseidon was damaged by cruel hands before I got to him, I still managed to make him live for 15 years, without compromising his spirit.

Ablaze was never mistreated. If he truly is Poseidon, as he could have been, as he should have been, how do I ever rope him in, so to speak?

The thing is, it doesn’t really matter if you believe in reincarnation or even if you don’t believe in souls. What Ablaze is to me, is a chance to do better. To not try and tame that wild heart, to not ever follow traditional training methods. Ablaze is a chance for me, to test everything Poseidon taught me in our fifteen years together, to test just how skilled I truly am.

Ablaze is very well behaved, really, he follows me without the rope, without the halter, he stops, he turns, he keeps his distance, he walks, he trots… in fact, completely without having ever really trained him, he is the best trained horse I have. How could I want to ruin that by forcing him into a traditional box of halters and ropes and restraints?

I don’t. Everything inside me is screaming. I won’t tame this one. He will be my wild horse, forever.

It does sound rather foolish, to say it out loud, I know. Of course it should be taught to be led by a halter like an ordinary horse, what am I talking about? Why the hell not?

Because he never says, “Make me” or “Why” or even “how.” Because he always asks, “How much do you want it?”

Apollon and his “make me,” attitude, he had to learn, because he was simply dangerous and if I didn’t find a way through that, I could not handle him. The Ferrier could not handle him. Not taming Apollon, would have been neglect on my part.

A horse like Amalia and her wonderful foal Apocalipse, who says “Why” is just as dangerous. Most of the time, when you ask it to do something and it says, why would I do that? And you simply answer, because I want you to, it accepts it. Amalia and Apocalipse is (was) very well behaved, practically without training as well. Until you some day reached that one time, once in a while, where my answer, because I want you to, just isn’t good enough.

I have come up short against Amalia more times that I can count because she all of a sudden said, well, I don’t think so. Check mate. Apocalipse is just like her. Ask him nicely and most of the time, he is the perfect angel. If he isn’t though, you will lose.

A horse like Saleem, who says “how,” needs to be trained as well and trained a lot, simply because he finds it hard to perform the tasks I ask of him and I must take the time to explain and teach and make sure he is not stressed out by the questions I ask of him. It is my job, to prepare him, before I ask any questions of him.

A horse like Marble and Legacy, who instantly says “okay!” whenever you ask them something, is easily trained, easily taught, and the most important job of the trainer is to simply make sure you don’t teach it too much, too fast, because it will jump through hoops to please you.

Poseidon though, could be wild, because when it mattered, I could always tell him, I want this and when I did, he would never refuse me.

Ablaze can be wild. I will figure out how to never break that perfect trust there is between us. I never, ever want to lose that glimmer in his eyes. It is singlehandedly giving me peace of mind and healing that hollow heart of mine.

That glimmer, that makes him, not a horse, but a feeling, a touch of sunlight, a gust of wind, a raging fire, ocean spray…

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I knew when I named him, that Ablazing Legacy was a heavy name for a foal to carry. Even heavier than Amalia and Saleem’s Apocalipse.

Still, looking at my two foals, they carry their names perfectly.

Looking at them, does make me wonder though. Apocalipse, I love so intensely, I could not imagine my life without him. Whenever he is sick, I am about ready to fall to pieces. He is everything I ever wanted in a foal, horse, he is the only child of my old mare, he is perfect, flawless, I cannot begin to describe what he means to me.

It is different with Ablaze. He is my boy. Not because I love him, like I love Apocalipse, to the point where I fall apart if he gets sick, for fear, however irrational, of losing him, but simply because Ablaze, completes me.

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Life And Majesty

Life got her own pony, at long last. That way, she may not be trying to steal my ponies all the time… Yeah, that’s right, we bought her a Majesty.

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She loooooves it. She is a funny cat…

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I happened to pick up a UK version of Baby Lemon Drop, adding her to my Lemon Drop collection.

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And a very funny custom pony. I mean, the detail is crude, but I kind of really like this pony. She is dark, punk, and I am pretty sure it’s a Pokemon on her leg…

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And of course, a Baby Bridesmaid, for my Pony Bride. Wup Wup.

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As much as I love my ponies though, I am sure no one loves their pony more than Life does. Her very first, very own My Little Pony.

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War Games….

I love taking pictures, I guess everybody knows that by now. The ever faithful Canon Eos we bought four years ago, is close to counting the hundred thousand pictures it is supposed to be able to take before dying… Mostly I have been taking pictures of horses though, and as much fun as it is, to try and get that one great frame, I am always up for a challenge and since my boyfriend was at a tournament today, with his little figure war game stuff, I thought I’d drop by and try and get some great action shots…

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I know, action shots of a board game… Actually, I kind of got caught up in the game, and forgot to take as many pictures as I would have usually done, because I witnessed the impossible. My boyfriend made a mistake.

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I have never played with figures, the whole gluing them together and painting them would drive me insane, but I have played a lot of computer games against him and he is an evil genius when it comes to planning how he is going to take down your army…

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So, watching him make a mistake was new. I honestly thought he would lose the final game of the tournament because of that one error. He and his opponent, thought so too.

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I have to give the guy he played against, he was really cool. He was in it for the game, not so much to win it. He knew the rules and played his army perfectly.

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He did make one fatal error in the end though, underestimating how far Aston could move his army leader, thinking that where he placed his own army leader didn’t matter too much because really, he had totally won the game.

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Well, never think you’ve won when you are playing against Aston…

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Anyway, what I really like about this game is how these guys are totally into it. How they spend all their free time painting figures, or beating each other with their minds, and their dices… Really, it is the perfect hobby for any boyfriend. You always know what he is doing when you are not around, and the chance of him ever meeting another girl is like zero…

No offence. But it is pretty funny to hear the others whenever you show up to watch a game like that, how they instantly start talking about girls, and how much they love their right hand…

Once again, I find it a fascinating study in human behaviour. Yes, so Aston has a girlfriend, and he keeps winning the games, even when he really shouldn’t. Some of them are totally cool with it, and some, not so much.

I have no doubt that a lot of their comments were for my benefit, to make the girl look at them. You know how teenage boys start doing stupid things, to impress girls… I love it that Aston never seem to notice, and well, I am pretty hard to impress or offend, having grown up in the equestrian world…

The guy Aston played against at the final did deserve a win. He was really good. I kind of feel for him, knowing full well what it is like to watch a perfectly played game unravel and your hero die, just because you made a tiny mistake and Aston jumped on it before you realized that it would even matter…

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Still, knowing that Aston has hardly slept for days, since I have been making him play with my friends for two nights in a row, where he should have been painting his figures, he earned it that he won again. I don’t know how this guy keeps his focus like that… Imagine if he was that focused in all aspects of our lives… So many things I wouldn’t have to worry about then…

Anyway, I think it’s cool that  this local shop is holding tournaments and even if I don’t usually watch the boys play, I think it’s great entertainment to watch them once in a while. If it wasn’t for all the painting and all the math, I would totally play with them… So yeah, I am a strange kind of girl, but after all, I am a writer. I like to disappear into my own little world, and that is really, what they are doing, when they play.

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How can that not be awesome?

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Update

I tried Saleem in the bridle yesterday, going for a ride across the stubble fields. First off, I wouldn’t dare not to wear the bridle on a stubble field just yet, and second, it dawned on me, that when I do call my vet again and have them check his teeth again, they are going to ask me if he is any different. If I have changed from bridle to cordeo in the mean time, I won’t be able to answer that, and thus, not knowing if he is different from I may be failing to give him the best help possible.

For those of you who don’t know, Saleem broke a tooth two weeks ago.

So we wore the bridle. And he was well, Saleem. Easy going, as we walked out, enjoying the time away from the kindergarten at home, taking in the surroundings with high spirits and a trusting mind. I hardly had cause to touch the reins.

We did encounter a place where the stubble field was no longer a stubble field, and so we had to turn around and go back the same way. Yes, he did flick his head when I turned him, yes I did use the rein a bit, because he was looking at some hunters and their dog in the distance… So, maybe he flicked his head because I broke his focus, by asking him to turn away from what he was looking at, or maybe, he did it because I touched the rein?

I am awesome at driving myself crazy…

Going home we both tried the trot and the canter. He was rather quiet, the canter was perfectly balanced and relaxed, much to my surprise and once again, I had no need to touch the rein at all…

So, I think I am going to have to try the bridle at home, just once, to see if he gives me any negative response on the bit. Just so I know what to tell the vet… And just so I know, instead of this constantly wondering… Because he was very well behaved on the stubble field yesterday,  he did chew on the bit a lot, but he has always had a tendency to do that when he is thinking… was it worse than usual?

I haven’t been writing much lately, feeling kind of strung out, constantly looking at this horse, keeping all of my fingers crossed that he won’t have to go through a horrible operation to have the remainder of the tooth removed, so instead I decided to go over the last book in the Stastone Series, as my editor is just about finishing up with book four now.

Reading The Shadow of Time, I still adore that book, but I keep getting stuck thinking to myself, you evil bastard…. Wrapping up  the Starstone Series was hard when I wrote it, reading my final book again, wondering for the last time if I should tamper with the details, is not much easier.

I know of course, what I should be doing, if I don’t have the energy to write on my new books. I should be editing the Danish version of Surviving the Equestrian World and have it published, like I said I would a month ago now…

So why aren’t I? Well, a month ago, my computer crashed and burned. My wonderful friend bought me a new one, and by all means it should be perfect, loads of space and such, but for some reason it handles pictures so slowly I almost jump out the window every time I have to open one… I mean, my phone loads faster… I still haven’t figured out why it is so mind numbingly slow, but until I do, I am not too keen on putting together the Danish version of Surviving the Equestrian World. I know it will be a test of patience on my part, adding pictures, and I know I will fail… So yes, it is stuck in editing, yet again. I’ll fix it. Just not right now.

Now, I am reading through my Sci-fi series, the Legacy as well, trying to make sure I don’t mess up that story, now that I have just read the Starstone. I always have to complicate my storylines. Sometimes I can’t just keep writing, I have to go back and read everything I have written in a short period of time, to be able to remember what happens when, how and why… I honestly love that. Going over my worlds, keeping them fair, believable, and not messing up the characters or the story…. Okay, so I love controlling the world, my world, overseeing all the great events…

And what I am really doing, is waiting for the Unicorns Horn to return to me, so I can have it published. Book four in the Starstone Series. Drawing near the end. I can’t wait for them to be published all five…

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Saleem Without Reins

Saleem and I have been playing with a cordeo lately… Or, really, with a rope around his neck. I always wanted to be able to ride him without aids, and this simple rope is a good transition for both of us, I think.

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Saleem is very gentle, and very attentive without the bridle. One of the things that stand out the most to me, is how quiet his head is. Usually, if he didn’t exactly understand what I wanted, he would grow frustrated and shake his head, but I am not getting that response at all. No headshaking, what so ever. In fact, he has never been more steady.

We do have a few issues. It is very important to me, that he doesn’t lose his shape. I want him to round himself around my inside leg,  and I want him to carry himself correctly, otherwise it is doing more damage than good, to not wear a bridle.

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The thing is though, it is very easy to turn your horse, using your outside leg, but if you do that, the horse will hobble around on four stiff legs and it will tense the neck. Turning your horse around your inside leg, requires skill and training, when you don’t have a rein to guide the front of the horse with. In other words, it shows me, how good, or how bad, a rider I really am, and now well I have managed to train this horse. Removing the rein sure displays your short comings as a rider, especially if you are not willing to compromise the “frame” of the horse.

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Another thing that strikes me about Saleem is that when we find the trot gear (and doesn’t mistake it for the “turn and bend” button,) he becomes what we in Denmark referrers to as a vacuum cleaner.  I know, I have spent the last three years, teaching him to lover his neckline, to stretch down and forward, rather than up and away, but still… I didn’t anticipate this response. Clearly, Saleem, if left to his own devices, is a star vacuum cleaner horse… And he finds comfort down there, if not entirely the self carriage I was looking for.

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Quite an improvement from what he was three years ago, but  I still don’t want him hanging that much on his front. Too little, too much, you know.

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Never lose sight of the end goal. So far, we are not cantering, simply because going from walk to trot is confusing enough for him as it is, and I want to be sure he won’t trip and fall over his own face once we do canter…

It feels a  little like breaking the horse in again, starting over on most counts, amending all the things  you installed wrong, the first time around, by the aid of the rein. Even if I do decide in the end, that the bridle and the bit might be the best solution for us, training this is not wasted. It is showing me myself and my horse in a raw and naked light, with very few options when it comes to masking faults and mistakes and shortcomings.

And, more importantly, it is preventing me from supporting him on the rein, which he keeps asking for when we have one, seeking reassurance from my hand. I have been going crazy, trying to avoid that, and here we are.

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What did kick this off, was the fact that Saleem broke a tooth lately, (way, way back in his mouth,) and even though he has been eating normally and acting happy ever since my vet was by and help him with it, and even though my vet tells me to just ride him as if nothing had happened, I don’t want him to wear a bridle at the moment.

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I am hysterical that way, but until we check him again next month, to see how the rest of the tooth is holding up, I really don’t want anything on his face if I can help it, no matter how normal he seems.

Right now, I am still holding my breath, hardly daring to believe that he can escape a broken tooth without being hospitalized, and not feeling too much like tempting fate by picking up where we left off… Nah, we’ll play with the rope for a while now, and see were that gets us…

IMG_6986 “Don’t hit the foal, don’t hit the foal!”

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Edward!

OMG ! We found Edward Cullen! He is real! Suck it, Twilight bashers :)

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Action Shots

I believe it’s been a while since I have showed some action shots of my little ones. Marble is still in training and still trotting across bars, to tighten her ligaments. So far, I hardly dare say it, it seem to be working. Her locking stifles has not been acting up for a long time. All summer actually.

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Most of the time, she works very well, and only once in a while, does she well, run off to get some action… 

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Apocalipse is so bored with ground work these days that I am seriously considering starting to ride him soon… I have sat on him three times by now, and had my friends lead us around, but I don’t think he would be a problem without someone on the ground. In fact, I think he would love that.

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He still likes to play.

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And of course, we have my beautiful Ablaze, a year and a half old, and never one to not show off. He loves playing in every possible way. Here he is hunting the rope, across the bars…

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And well, here he is just showing how drop dead gorgeous he is…

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Marble is always ready to help him look awesome…. 

Saleem and Apocalipse got an eye infection from the wind two days ago- bloody Arabian eyes- but we got it under control instantly. Not like we haven’t tried that before… And so far, I hardly dare say it, Saleem is eating. Fingers and toes crossed that his broken tooth won’t need removing…

I tried riding him in a cordeo two days ago, and he was awesome. I am totally going to work on that. Mostly, I would love to ride him without any aids at all, but I am too much of a coward to go straight from the bridle to nothing, so the cordeo will be my middle way.

I am still surprised by how daunting it is, to climb on top of my little, gentle gelding, without reins. I used to do that with Poseidon and never think twice about it. You know, my crazy horse…

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I want that kind of relationship with my youngsters too. I will get there. I just have to keep the goal in mind.

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