Like thousands of people from all over the globe, I’m writing 50 000 words in 30 days. Or trying to, anyways. Output has never been my strong point; I’ve been writing Another Sword since August and I’m about to finish it now (or at least, whenever I get around to it), which is good going for me.
I decided to try NaNo because I needed motivation to write every day, write fast, keep writing and just bang down that first draft without listening to my dear little friend the Inner Editor. And I have to say that in that respect, it’s really working. I’ve been writing virtually every single day, and lots every day; because I miss a day or two each week, I write 2000+ on the days that I do write, and I have had a few insane days of 4-5000 words. All you die-hard Wrimos who do crazy stuff like 10 000 words, I take my hat off to you. I wrote about 4000 words today and I feel like my brain has been wrung out like a sponge.
But I’m staying on top of it, having hit my target word count for the week. With less than a week to go, A Promise for the Horses is now 41 880 words long. I think I might just do it – hit 50K, anyway. Whether the novel will fetch up at just 50 000 words, I don’t know. I haven’t written anything that short for years; even my first novel, which I wrote at age nine and a half, was 60 000 words. (60 000 words of trash, but still, 60 000 words).
Thankfully, school is winding down around now – being homeschooled, I only start writing real exams next year – so I can still get around to NaNo in between farm, horses, and other commitments.
The horsies have been going really well. Skye and most of her Horde were vaccinated for AHS in October and are just about over their resting periods now. The golden charger herself is coming back into work. Thanks to God, she is as sound as a brass bell after months of that niggling lameness, although she is terribly unfit. Still, I’m being careful and conditioning her back into work very slowly. Starting with half-an-hour of walking (with a little bit of trotting and a tiny bit of cantering to keep us happy) four or five times a week, I’ll build her work up slowly. Thankfully, living on a big, beautiful area of farmland as we do – with a magnificent farm all to ourselves and obliging farmers on both sides – and on Skye’s beautiful marching walk, soft as butter in my hands, it’s not easy to be bored.
I suspect that she may have a bit of trouble with her teeth at the moment; she’s been dropping bits of half-chewed pellets while she eats, and as an idle horse eating 1.8kg of concentrate every day, she should be as round as a barrel. Instead, she’s been losing a little weight. She’s still pretty healthy, with a glowing coat, bright eyes and happy attitude, but a visit from the horse dentist may be necessary. That should be fun; Skye is a wonderful, gentle horse, but she’s not the most placid when it comes to strangers (especially men) picking up her feet or poking fingers in her mouth. It took the Mutterer years to trim Skye’s feet without her leaping about like a pogo stick.
Wilful, unfit, naughty, whatever. She’s my splendid Skye and God’s own horse, and I adore her. It’s like this; give Siobhan an inch and she’ll take a mile; give Arwen an inch and she’ll politely ignore it; give Skye an inch and she’ll give you back a mile. She’s a star when it comes to teach lessons, too. On Tuesday I was teaching two of my (three) students to post to the trot. This is always a tough one to teach, but to my delight the girls quickly got the hang of it; being ballerinas as well, they’re pretty strong and used to moving rhythmically. Upon being asked to trot, Skye, who was a bit fresh, cried in delight Charge Forth Noble Steed! and almost cantered off with her rider, who is the smallest of my students, and I ran after yelling “Pull the reins! Pull the reins!” while said rider beamed all over her face. Luckily, Skye has good brakes and dropped quickly if reluctantly into a walk. Dear fiery angel.
Arwen is not being fiery, fortunately and unfortunately; on outrides, she is much improved. She hardly ever spooks anymore, and when she does, she calms down afterwards very quickly. On paths that she knows well, we can even canter or (on paths she knows VERY well) have a nice, controlled, well-behaved gallop.
In the arena she’s being a bit lazy again, but the Mutterer lent me his spurs. I was, initially, revolted at the idea of stabbing my poor darling baby horsy with nasty metal spikes. However, they’re little English-riding dressagey spurs, I know what I’m doing with my lower legs (most of the time), and it actually worked really well. I can control how much pressure I want to put on her, and it’s easy to use my legs without using the spurs; when I do want to use the spurs I can. I used to ride her with a whip, but the trouble with the whip is that I can’t use it without interfering with my hands, my contact on her mouth and, hence, her frame. She’s not fond of the spurs, but I only use them when she’s being daft, so the daftness is steadily decreasing.
Jumping-wise, we did hardly anything for a while. This took its toll and Arwen began to stop a little again; although, to be fair, she only did it when faced with a big jump – a 90cm double. A few days’ schooling and her jumping is way improved. Yesterday, I warmed her up and took her straight to the big double and she jumped it well every time; once she was very out of rhythm and knocked the pole down, but that was my fault because I was in Firnyland and paying no attention to what I was actually doing.
Then we made the jump higher and turned it into an upright about 1.00 or 1.05m high. She had one slippery stop, jumped beautifully from her favourite side, jumped nastily from her least favourite side, ran out, and then jumped it beautifully twice. I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again: As long as I commit, Arwen will do it. I have been dreadfully absentminded lately, which must contribute a lot to Arwen’s stopping.
Thunder’s work has consisted mostly of gentle lungeing. I am minus one long line (having left it at my neighbour’s farm after riding her cute old bay horse, Bruno) and so have been lungeing him with a single line, teaching him voice commands. He’s getting better, and much, much more responsive, although he’s a little nervous of cantering. You could yell at Dancer all you like and if she was very naughty she was usually put right with a sharp flick from the whip, but if you try it on Thunder, he just gets scared and confused. He needs a lot of patience, but as he’s always been patient with me, I think I can be patient with him. He had a few bucks with the saddle on, but quickly got used to it. I also spent one day running about next to him, holding the reins over his withers, teaching him to stop and turn and even back up; I took the halter off him and taught him to respond purely to pressure from the bit. He learnt it well, although backing up isn’t his favourite, and he carries his head nicely – he doesn’t poke his face in the air or pull against the bit. I just can’t wait to ride this lovely horse.
By the way, I think that star looks like a lightning bolt, fitting for a horse called Thunder. The Mutterer disagrees and tells me I’m thinking wishfully. Am I?
Then, of course, there’s the awesomest thoroughbred in the world, a certain somebody named Magic. Man, I adore that horse. God is great! I mean, how can it be that I (who already has four horses with among the best temperaments I’ve ever come across, as well as looks) found, at exactly the right moment, for exactly the right price, a horse who has it all just perfect – talent, temperament, looks, training, size, and age? I wanted a horse with good breeding for jumping, excellent conformation, enough spirit without any malice, some basic training put in place, who was still quite a baby, not too tall for me, and was nice-looking on top of it all. Plus, the wistful little girl in me wanted a grey or chestnut with as prominent white markings as possible. All this for a less-than-exorbitant price.
What did I find? A beautifully conformed horse, excellently built for jumping, with a short, strong back, light and high forehand and correct legs. A thoroughbred, amongst the most popular jumping breeds. A lively, spirited horse with bounce, flair and zest for life, yet a big, kind, gentle heart made of gold. A horse with most of the bucks taken out of him who is not a lunatic on outrides and walks, trots and canters reliably without bucking, but has no advanced training in the way of jumping, changing leads and so on. A four-year-old, 15.1hh, and an absolutely gorgeous grey with a big blaze and four white socks.
I mean, people, how can that be a coincidence? I wasn’t driving over the country looking at hundreds of horses. The day after I advertised a horse of mine for sale at a certan price, this horse came onto the market for exactly the same price and his owner offered him to me. The amazing horse I mentioned above. God’s hand is in this; it’s holding mine.
I already have the three most amazing horses in the world – gentle Arwen, willing Thunder and, most of all, that splendid, shining mare, Skye. And now my friend the Lord Jesus dropped this lovely horse in my lap. He’s not mine yet; we’re still leasing him, trying him out, making sure that we’re making the right choice. But I fall more in love with him every time I see him.
The Lord sent me Skye, He sent me Arwen, He sent me Thunder. And now, He sent me Magic. He sent me a trainer who completely understands, and, most of all, above and beyond all, He sent me to the most amazing parents who have ever existed.
God is great!