writing and riding and writing

Another week gone by and we're on the road again early in the morning to the Bluebonnet Endurance Ride. I'll hopefully have a ride report and some photos next week.

I spent last weekend at the OWFI conference and had a wonderful time. I got a request for a partial from my agent appointment and she graciously spent a few minutes talking with me and offering advice about a couple of other projects I'm working through. I highly recommend this conference. It's two full days of workshops and lectures - I took some good tidbits from every single one I attended. My favorite session was when they put three agents up front and Robyn Conley read aloud. Everyone had the chance to turn in the first few pages of their manuscripts at check-in. Robyn shuffled the stack and started reading. Each agent would raise their hand at the point they would reject the work. When the second one rejected, they'd each take the mike and explain what they liked about the work and what the trigger was that cause them to throw their hand up. - yes, I turned mine in, but it didn't come up in the shuffle before we ran out of time.

But back to the subject of mud - from the Hog Scramble, and probably the Bluebonnet too - it's an excellent way to slow down your hero if you need to create conflict. You'll need to plan ahead with storm clouds, or setup unpredictable weather in your world. Depending on the type of soil, maybe clay (slick mud), blackland (thick and clumpy), or as in the Piney Woods of East Texas, soft and boggy. Not only does the mud greatly increase the horses workload, promoting fatigue, it exponentially increases the chance of injury to the horses' soft tissues, ligaments and tendons.

When a horse travels, especially at speed, they have a rhythm and an energy cycle and exchange. Using this, a horse can actually run past the point of having the strength to stop and live. Mud tends to break that easy rhythm because they're having to tense and brace when each hoof lands and rather than springing back off the ground with returned energy, they're having to wrestle each step out of the muck.

Not just mud, but any kind of terrain. Hills, steep or rolling, or rock, (like at the Heart of the Hills ride earlier this year) will also tend to slow a horse down and raise the chance of injury. Mud or hills, either one, will cause a horse to show tight muscles and soreness in the large muscles of the rump and down the tops of their back legs. A strained, stressed or pulled tendon will express itself in the horse bobbing it's head at the trot, or an unevenness of gait at the canter and when the rider dismounts to check the legs, they may be able to feel some heat in the injured leg. Depending on the severity, the horse may point that toe out, or hold it up so only the tip of the hoof touches the ground. There is a lot of good, easily available, information on the 'net about "bowed tendons" so I won't go into it here although I'll be happy to answer any specific questions if you want to email.

1 comment:

Gabriele Campbell said...

That's some very interesting info. I am a rider but I've mostly done dressage and some cross country on prepared trails (when I could still afford it), never long distance. But I have all those Germans riding around in muddy woods in my novel. Not to mention some Roman officers on their high bred Nesean horses that probably could cope less well with the conditions than the German ponies.

I actually had Varus' horse slip already. :)