Tag Archives: horses

today i remember the ride

I pulled out a CD, yeah I said it, a CD, so what. Yes, I’m an old. It was an old Doug Stone CD ” I Thought It Was You.” I literally cannot remember the last time I listened to it, maybe 10 or even 15 years ago. But today I reached for it. I don’t know why. Then I heard “Remember The Ride” and started crying.

I lost my Steve 10 years ago to suicide. It broke me for a very long time and I guess I’m still not whole… or right?… but I’ve been mostly okay for years. Ups and downs, of course, but mostly okay. His birthday’s tomorrow though, so he’s on my mind.

This afternoon I had wanted music while I sorted through my closets, pulling out items I hadn’t worn in years or don’t fit into anymore. And really, how many jeans does one human need? Apparently my answer was 27 pairs Less now. Yay. Anyhoo.

I’d decided on a quiet day because my knee pain is sharp today and going to the barn was out if I’m limping through my own yard. It’s probably the storm that’s coming in, the barometric pressure dropping or some such voodoo magic. I don’t know why damaged bones feel storms rolling in.

I broke my leg , let’s see gosh more than 20 years ago on Thanksgiving Day. Steve was with me. Here’s the story: every year the barn organized a Thanksgiving Day morning trail ride. It was a big deal. That year we had about 35 people and their horses set out on the trail after breakfast of bagels and Bloody Marys. I was riding one of Steve’s young polo prospects, a handsome 4 y.o. OTTB dark bay gelding, as I was in between horses at that time. We split up pretty evenly into two groups about a quarter into the ride, the fast let’s gallop and cross the river and jump logs group yee haw ( lol and HELLno) and us, the we’ll walk/trot/canter while we enjoy the woods and chit chat sensible group.

I was cantering on the trail, followed by my cousin on a gray school horse I think, when I’m told a horse in the group we were passing backed up and kicked out with both barrels. One hoof broke both bones in my lower leg and the second hoof caught my young gelding in the shoulder. Now, according to my cousin and another rider behind her (I have no memory of the actual kick, or the pain of the breaks – trauma brain or something – but the pain came later oh my yes it did), I dropped the reins, leaned over and grabbed my leg and screamed “The fucking horse broke my fucking leg” (I’m a cusser, so no surprise there) over and over while my horse slowed down instead of bolting. I am so very lucky.

Yee haw indeed. This young gelding with a beautiful, quiet soul stopped on his own fairly quickly (I bought him six months later because how could I not? He probably saved my life or at the VERY least saved me from further injury. I sold him later to a friend of a friend with 3 kids who fell in love with him. They moved to North Carolina and she still has him! Well, he might have passed since I last got a picture of him a few years ago with his face gray with age but damn what a good life he had. And now back to my story). That young horse stood still while Steve and Sam, a friend, somehow got me off my horse. I am unsure if I was still swearing at this point. HAHA I kid. Of course I was, just softer.

My memory starts on the ground while one of the riders, who happened to be a doctor, was covering me with someone’s coat. There were lots of people milling around me. Steve was standing over me, his face pale. I kept saying I think I’m okay and he kept repeating no stay down, we’re waiting for the ambulance. I felt embarrassed at the fuss, especially since I was fine (lol i was not fine).

When the medics arrived they started to cut off my beautiful cream colored custom leather chaps (they were so pretty and soft) and heard Steve, who was petting my head like a dog at that point? growl “Hey, there’s a zipper down the back of those” the last word – asshole – was unsaid but definitely implied, as it often was with Steve 🙂

Since we were in the woods the paramedics had to park a distance away and gurney me to the ambulance. No memory of that at all. I remember being in the ambulance with a what looked like a blow up cast around my leg, feeling guilty for putting them out and telling them I’m really fine, so sorry about this inconvenience on Thanksgiving morning. The angry feminist in me now is going STFU IT’S THEIR JOB TO HELP YOU IT’S A BROKEN LEG JFC

I don’t know who ponied my horse back to the barn. I do remember Steve’s solemn face in the hospital when the ortho doc said surgery (meaning opening up my kneecap to slide a long pin INSIDE THE BONE to line up the pieces and anchor it with screws at my ankle and knee) was the best option since it was an open fracture. Yeah, the tibia apparently popped out and then back in when the hoof struck my leg. I still have a zigzag lightning scar there. Oh also to this day when I flex my foot the muscles above and below the scar bulge out because the fascia covering the muscle in the shin was broken with the horse kick. So there’s that. Happy Thanksgiving!

Jump ahead eleven months to October. It’s Steve’s birthday. The day is cool and clear. I’d finished my second surgery on that leg about four months earlier and was just back to riding again but still hadn’t been on trail since that Thanksgiving Day. Steve wants to go on a trail ride with me for his birthday. My beautiful souled gelding was being ridden by that friend of a friend so I have to ride one of his horses. He tells me to ride Seth, one of his polo ponies who’d JUST BLOWN THROUGH THE BRIDLE LAST SUNDAY AT THE GAME.

For non horse folk, that’s when a horse, usually at high speed, (which polo definitely is) is past the point of listening to you, its rider. It is done. It will not turn, it will not stop, until, in this case last Sunday, he was next to the horse trailer. Seth was D-O-N-E. DONE.

“Trust me,” he says.

So this is the horse he wants to me ride. What?! I usually trust Steve’s judgment but I’m also irked because I’m scared. Fine. I tack up Seth who is fine, btw. I throw a leg over at the mounting block and he’s still fine. Steve is watching me closely, a little smile on his face. It’s my first trail ride in a long time and I’m on a horse who’d JUST BLOWN THROUGH HIS BRIDLE. My heart is pounding, I tell myself I’ll be fine. I breathe slowly and hope Seth doesn’t get nervous because I am. Seth is fine, minimal jigging, no head tossing. Steve and I ride mostly in silence.

His dog is ahead of us, sniffing, running back and forth. I’m slowly adjusting and relaxing with movement of the horse, the familiar, comfortable sounds of even hoof beats striking the ground amid the birds singing and the soft breeze, and just…taking in this gorgeous day. Steve guides us through a wide path filled with a riot of yellows and reds of the leaves and blue sky ahead of us. In the clearing there are at least a hundred geese gathered in a small green field in front of us. It’s beautiful… until the dog promptly chases them into flight.

It was astonishingly loud, geese honking and the literal whooshing and flapping noise of hundreds of wings as the flock lifts into the air and the dog barking as he runs back and forth. My heart feels like it stopped and I”m ice cold. I shorten my reins, drop my heels, steady my seat because I was sure Seth would bolt and then somehow my leg would be…broken again? or the pain would return? Idk really but Seth does not bolt. The horses watch with interest but no fear. Seth flicks an ear back at me like what? I glance over at Steve who is watching me.

“Breathe, ” he says.

Then I really was fine. Well, it was the start of fine anyway. Steve smiled as he guided his mare closer to me and reached for my hand. We watched the last of the geese disappear over the trees, holding hands like teenagers. I wish I could write we rode home into the sunset but no, Steve said something gross about the geese poo that made me laugh.

I was better than fine.

I’d gotten a piece of myself back that day.

It was a wonderful ride and wonderful day and is a treasured memory for me today. On the birthday of the man I loved, who loved me, when he knew I’d needed a nudge. When he knew the horse would be fine. When he knew that life is short and sometimes you just need to trust and take a ride.

So that’s the story of why the song “Remember the Ride” spun me into an unexpected crying jag, but the cathartic kind where you feel tired but better afterward. Steve was my wild one. I will always remember the ride. Sometimes I’ll cry. Sometimes I’ll smile.

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WRITE ON;

How horses shaped this author’s life

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“Kisses are nice, coffee is better. Now go. Leave the coffee. And turn off that camera!”

Writing and horses are two passions that traveled with me from childhood to adulthood.  I was the pesky kid who bugged her parents for a horse every Christmas and every birthday. I got a Breyer model horse instead (haha, not funny mom). Then around age 13 I got a Saturday job at a nearby stable in exchange for riding lessons. I found my bliss. I wrote my first “book” about a girl and her horse around that time. Bliss struck again.

Both have been a huge part of my life ever since.

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“Yes this jacket IS too big but watch me rock it like a BOSS.”

I got to wallow in my two passions writing my latest paranormal romance novel, Omega Rising.  It’s about a stable owner and the unusual group that surrounds her. The fictional Sky Blue Farm is based on a stable where for years I lived and breathed and worked horses (minus the sexy shapeshifter wolves and bears and magic and murder. There was drama there but not that kind of drama 😀 ).

Horses need care 24/7 no matter the weather. In winter we bundled up in long underwear and held hot packs in freezing hands and hand-walked horses indoors when the sub-zero temps made it too dangerous to ride. In summer we sweated through our tank tops under the hot August sun in jeans or breeches with leather boots because riding in shorts is something you only try once (sweaty skin + leather saddle = omg-it-hurts-so-bad burns).

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“Is that a carrot? I smell carrots. Do you have one?”

I’ve called vets for injured or sick horses. Scary.

I’ve called ambulances for injured people. Scarier.

One of my horses (a clever, handsome bay TB/Quarter Horse cross) was so quick sideways that he once left me hovering in mid-air for a split-second, during which I literally thought holy crap I’m in a Road Runner cartoon before I hit the ground in a heap. I’d have used it in Omega Rising but readers would’ve snorted in disbelief unless they were riders, too. In that case they’d nod yes, been there, that does indeed suck.

I’ve had young horses, tall horses, lazy horses, and spooky horses, learning something with every one. Grays and bays, mares and geldings, skinny chestnuts and fat ponies. I’ve been stepped on, knocked down, bucked off, bitten, kicked, and yes, sailed over a fence or two without my mount. But I loved them all.

In Omega Rising the opening scene shows the heroine and her mare, Peeka Booyah, jumping fences in a field. I based her on my own lovely mare except for the talent at jumping fences thing.  Fiction is awesome 🙂

I wouldn’t trade my experiences at that farm for anything. Some of those memories made it into the book, some will NEVER see the light of day. Yeesh. But the camaraderie, that sense of family and belonging ran deep,  overcoming the hurt feelings and squabbles and allowing us to survive when things went sideways. Much like it does for the Sky Blue Farm family in Omega Rising.

Our barn family isn’t together anymore; we peeled off one by one after the farm was sold but I’m in touch with some of them. My forever horse and I are at a different barn, one filled with good people, but I look back on those years at “my” barn with so much love in my heart. They changed me, shaped me; as a writer, as a rider, as a human being.

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“I’m sweaty, tired, and smell like a horse. What a good day.”

My heroine in Omega Rising, Cass, is funnier than I am, certainly ballsier, but we share an enduring love of and respect for all horses, small and tall. Oh, and we both have a passion for sexy, shapeshifter wolves *cough* Nathan *cough*

Omega Rising (book one in the Wolf King series) and Skye Falling (book two) are available at all online retailers. Happy reading!

WRITE ON;

AND LOOK AT THIS FACE BEFORE YOU GO

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“Again with the camera? Don’t forget to include my ears this ti–dammit.”

New release by Sydney Scrogham

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I’m happy to spread the word about indie author Sydney Scrogham’s latest release, Ariel, The First Guardian. Last summer I enjoyed her first book in the series, Chase, which I believe was classified YA. This new one is adult and set in the same fantasy world named Agalrae which is filled with horses, or alicorns to be precise, and the humans protecting them. Here’s the info:

ARIEL: THE FIRST GUARDIAN TAKES SCROGHAM’S READERS THROUGH A STORY OF RESTORATION

Are you ready to gallop back to Agalrae? Sydney Scrogham released Chase in August 2015 and now it’s time for the second installment in the Guardians of Agalrae series. Fans may recall mention of a character in Chase named Ariel. Take one guess at who’s going to be the next lead character.

“I’m writing my series somewhat backwards,” Scrogham says. “I wanted to go back, write the story before Chase, and then do a sequel or two. Ariel: The First Guardian is so far my favorite that I’ve ever written.”

Ariel Harte is a raw, real character with a troubled past involving sexual abuse. Scrogham was wary at first about crafting a story about such a sensitive topic, but she is hopeful that readers will identify with Ariel’s happy ending story of true love and restoration.

“All of the people I shared this story with in its early stages told me they laughed and cried,” Scrogham says. “I can’t ask for anything more than a story where readers feel their way through the highs and lows of a character’s journey. While I was writing, I kept telling myself that there are people out there who’ve lived through trauma similar to Ariel. Her journey isn’t to make light of that pain, but rather explore a way to find hope in the midst of difficult circumstances.”

Here’s the back cover copy:

Abuse survivor Ariel Harte doesn’t need anyone. Ever. But her companion animal is infected with a dark, magical force. Only an ancient purification ritual, the mind link, performed with another human can cure this infection.

Ariel must ask her ex-boyfriend, Ryan Tracey, for help.

But she’s racing time. She’s infected, too. All the walls will have to come down so Ariel can heal or she will lose herself to the darkness forever.

Ariel:  The First Guardian is a story of true love that wins over time, the power of second chances, and redemption from abuse. This is a prequel to Chase in the Guardians of Agalrae series but can be enjoyed as a standalone novel.

About the author

Scrogham loves creating happy endings. When she’s not writing, she’s at the barn with her horse Snowdy or catching up on reruns of the best TV show ever – Castle. She lives in Harrisonburg, Virginia with an adorable dachshund named Zoe. To learn more, visit her website at sswriter.com.

You can find her at:

Blog/website: http://www.sswriter.com
Instagram: Sydney Scrogham
Twitter: @sydney_writer
Facebook: Sydney Scrogham
Pinterest: @sszoewriter (Story boards)

 

Horses taught me everything

me and P I am lucky enough to have been around horses most of my life. My mom used to say I got the bug from one of her relatives (great-uncle maybe?) who rode in the Calvary way way WAY back in the day.  As a kid I worked on Saturdays at a nearby barn in exchange for riding lessons. Money? I spit on money. There were HORSES!  

As an adult I don’t spit on money. Gross. No. I scrimp on other things like driving an old SUV and limiting my craving for fast food to pay for my horse. 

I’ve got the bug and it’s been life-long. This journey has taken me to the highest highs and the lowest lows but it’s been worth every second and changed me for the better. I cannot even imagine what kind of person I’d be if I hadn’t hung out with horses.

My current horse is a Thoroughbred mare (my cousin calls her the lovely Miss P and you can see by the photo why) I’ve had since she was 3. She’s 12 now. I absolutely adore her. But holy hell we went through some trials. 

She wasn’t my first horse, thank heavens. Before the lovely Miss P (aka Dolly, Sweet P, or “mare” in a growly voice when she’s being fractious) I rode, bought, trained, and sold a lot of horses. Each one taught me something. For example, a little bay polo mare stopped my habit of leaning forward while asking for a canter because whenever I did that she bucked my ass off. LESSON RECEIVED!

I learned a lot, picked the brains of trainers, went to clinics, studied anatomy, and became better (I hope) with each horse I trained. Perhaps all those other horses were preparation for my eventual forever horse.

In the lovely Miss P’s young days she was spooky and afraid of every noise. Next was her balking phase, where in the middle of trotting or walking or leg-yielding she just stopped and wouldn’t move. That was followed later by bolting and then a long stretch of halfheartedly trying to buck me off at every canter depart, ears pinned and head shaking.  

Yeah, I made some mistakes but then I fixed them. And my horse forgave me. That’s another thing about horses that amazes me; they don’t hold grudges.  If someone tried to put a saddle on my sore back I’m not sure I’d be so nice.

Horses can feel happy, playful, sad, angry, annoyed, bored, and PMS-y. I can read those expressions on my mare’s face; the tightening of her nostrils in irritation, the droopy lip of contentment, hear it in the soft nicker of hello, the sharper whinny of demand. Dumb animal? Far from it.

It’s been a long journey for us and one that’s been filled with ups and downs, as life usually is. Today, when we ride outside the sound of gunfire in the distance only makes her twitch an ear. She’d still prefer to walk around puddles rather than through them but sighs and does it when I insist. Canter departs are vastly improved – usually :). Balking – gone. Bolting – gone. 

It’s like we’re partners. She trusts me to keep her safe and I trust her to do the same.

This is not to say she doesn’t have her whirling/spinning/ohhellno moments because she surely does, they’re just much rarer. Like my own ohhellno moments.

She’s taught me patience and humility. She’s made me laugh in delight and cry in frustration and breathe a sigh filled with awe when we’re so in sync that it’s perfect. It’s hard to describe, this relationship one can have with your forever horse. It changes you. It changed me. 

I look before I leap (usually), think before I act (mostly), and pause before reacting (tough one but I try). All because of my horse. 

We’re both settling into our years pretty damn nicely, I must say. I don’t get to see her as often as I’d like – life interrupts – but this spring I am squeaking in more barn time wherever I can get it. Because the lovely Miss P – and horses in general if you’re lucky enough to hang with them – reminds me that sometimes blasting off in the pasture with a tail held high because the sun is shining is reason enough.

Life is short – I plan to blast off across the pasture more often.