It's been a whirlwind spring and I'm looking forward to settling into the lazy days of summer.

We didn't have our best rides at the Bluebonnet a few weeks ago, although we had fun, none of us got to ride as far as we'd have liked to go. My son and I had a wonderful fun gallop of only 17 miles and BERI made it 92 miles of a 100 mile ride before the trail got to her.

The previous two months had been so busy that at that point, we decided to take a break. Stuff was piling up at home and my homeschooler just started a new program that we needed to get into. - and the last few weeks, while busy in themselves, gave me a chance to get caught up, sorta caught up, on stuff that needed do'n.

We're on schedule with the school, he's got about another week before he's out for the summer.

As far as what's up with the horses, we're still breeding, we breed late in the year compared to most people. There is one mare here for GWAIHIR and I have SHAHIN out being bred to ZEUS. We're teasing MARAH daily to she can be AI'd, hopefully, to what semen we have collected from GLAMDRING, who is now gelded (and FOR SALE!). We plan to breed both WITNESS and my son's black endurance mare, CIMMI, to ZEUS later this summer and those four foals will be for sale. We do offer pretty deep discounts for foals purchased in utero so don't hesitate to contact me if you like the looks of one of these combinations.

In writing news, I got the partial of _Bloodcup_ and the synop and first few pages of _Thunder Jewel_ mailed off, as requested at the OWFI convention. I entered a scene from _Thunder Jewel_ in a 'Sizzle' contest, _Bloodcup_ in the Celtic Hearts contest, and the first paragraph of _Star Shot_ in another hook contest - even though I got my applecart soundly trounced in the last one. AND, I'm in the process of polishing up an article for the RWA Yellow Rose club :) I just love talking about my horses, I hope they aren't sorry they got me started. note to self: insert links to these contests and clubs

In other news, we're going truck shopping this morning - umm... afternoon - it'll be the second drive for a couple of them and I may get to bring one home. These aren't new trucks by any means, but newer then the wonderful old workhorse I've been driving.

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.

riding-riding-riding ... and writing

... can't believe it's Thursday, I had intended to post on Monday -

- We had a fabulous, tough ride last Saturday, down in the Sam Houston National Forest. Didn't wreck the truck this trip! But lots of lessons learned, again. I always think that there should be a point at which you 'know stuff', but I guess, if I get too old to learn it's time to hang it up.

The biggest issue we had this weekend is that I tend not to take a Limited Distance ride of 25-30 seriously, and the conditions were tough enough last weekend to bite me in the back cheeks for it.

We had a long first loop, 20 miles, and the going was tough enough that my son was showing signs of heat stress before we got back. He stayed in camp while GWAIHIR and I ran the last loop. It was a shame as it was his and CIMMI's first non-completion, but some things you don't mess around with and heat stress, IMO, is one.

There was a deep mud on the trail which makes a lot more work for the horses. It changes the way they move and balance because the hoof slips or sinks a little each time it lands and the added stretching and tension and work increase the chances for an injury, especially a pulled tendon. If you can see the brown shading up the grey horses legs in this picture, that's mud from flopping belly-deep in a sloppy bog.

One of the important things about being in a bog is to stay on top of the horse, otherwise you're likely to get fallen on and/or trampled as they get out. Depending on the horse, they'll struggle and eventually get out or quite fighting.

GWAIHIR managed to get out of everything we got in, but I did get off to let him lunge and scramble up one tall bank. It's generally a bad idea to go across/up/over first and ask the horse to come to you because they have a tendency to come directly to you and if you don't leap out of the way you could get leapt on, but in this case, the bank was tall and steep enough that I didn't want to be underneath if he didn't make it on the first try.

One of my other mare, BERI, did her first 75 mile ride with another rider. We had debated over entering that distance since she hasn't been distance riding recently, she's been doing dressage and jumping. But this is cross-training at it's finest as she finished this unexpectedly tough trail in about 13 hours.
I don't have the winning time on the 75 mile ride, but in reference, my son and I have done our last few 25 mile rides in about four hours. We took the full four hours to do our first 20 miles and GWAIHIR did the last ten in about an hour and a half - so, overall, about 1 1/2 mph below our usual pace.
Photos by John Adame ~ link to his photo pages in the lefthand menu.
In writing news, I'm headed up for the OWFI conference in the morning. Oddly enough, I'm looking forward to an indoor weekend, sitting in the back of the class and taking notes and planning long lunches. If you're there ... umm .. here... 'mail me and we'll do lunch or hit the bar for a couple of hours.
Sue L
The formatting is driving me nuts. I'll have to figure it out later.