A Rider’s Reader process

DSC01156The process of formulating, writing, rewriting, and editing A Rider’s Reader is done!

It was a long, challenging task for this first-time author. What started years ago as an idea got intense over the past five months as a professional editor and publisher came on board.

Several friends and colleagues, including poet Gary Lawless and producer Cindy Meehl, weighed in on the manuscript. It became necessary to amend personal favorites and suspend my ego as entire passages were cut.

You’d think with a library of 20,000 images, I could come up with a good cover shot. Not so. I hired a professional photographer.

When it came to revisions, I’m old fashioned. The most effective way to edit was by scrutinizing actual printed pages, not illuminated word documents on a laptop. Thus, at least seven versions of the 300-page manuscript wash-me-on-dirty-carwere lugged out of my local copy center.  Recycling bins got heavy, I’ll tell ya.

After proofreading the manuscript scads of times, you’d think it would be free of typographical errors and issues of flow. Not so. Think of the manuscript as a car I was trying to buff and polish. I’d take a break, make myself a cup of tea, and come back to find  a dust storm had mysteriously wreaked new havoc. Arghhhh!

And if I was driving that manuscript-car, it was something that started out running clean and smelling great. But by the time I sent final approval to the publisher last week, I wanted to trade it in.

DSC01153A writer-friend told me it wouldn’t be a worthwhile read if I wasn’t completely exhausted and exasperated by the process. I am. So, let’s take that as a good omen.

A Rider’s Reader, exploring horse sense, science and sentiment will be available May 1.

Read more about A Rider’s Reader progress.

Mule progress goes up and over

IMG_2553_2 copySmiling through gritted teeth, I’m making some progress with the mule. Like a lot of paths of progress, it has its bumps, hazards, and hairpin turns.

Most recently, Jolene gave me a lesson in pressure. As I learned months ago, pressure with the new mule needs to be light and sensitive. And I’m not just talking about lead line or rein pressure. She showed me how light pressure of presence needed to be with a recent saddling incident.

I had Jolene on a lead line and was readying saddle and saddle pad. She was antsy and I asked Steve and a friend to block her from having an escape route.

The guys, both really good with horses, were relaxed and non-threatening. More like Cowboy A, than Cowboy B (at right). They stood a few yards away as I struggled to position her near a gate.

a not bJolene eyed them suspiciously. (She eyes pretty much everyone suspiciously.) Her discomfort at having them nearer, from twenty feet to ten feet, became too much. From a standing position, to get away from the pressure of these two men, she vaulted over the pasture gate.


Is she part kangaroo?

Apparently, mules excel at standing jumps. They compete in Coon Jumping; it’s a popular tradition, especially in the South and stems from when raccoon-hunting mule riders would drape a blanket or tarp over the top wire of a barbed wire fence and ask their mules to jump it instead of finding the gate and losing time. This I did not know. Watch record-setting coon jump video.

I eventually got her saddled, but the guys had to back off. Slowly, the whole saddling-up process has gone from 90 minutes to 30 minutes. But like anything else, it can be two steps forward, one step back. Or over.

PICT0104--Coon Mule Jumping Contest at Ferrum College's Blue Ridge Folklife Festival

Freebies Galore

This year is shaking out nicely for NickerNews and BestHorsePractices. And we’re happy to pass on our success to readers in the form of freebies. (Congrats to Robin, who won the free Masterson Method DVD and handbook, a $70 value!)

prizepackFor a limited time, you can enter to win Redmond’s Daily Gold (a five-pound supply), AND a bag of premium, organic Slipstream Granola, AND a pair of fabulous Darn Tough socks of your choice.

Heck, we’ll throw in some Eco Lips lip balm and a few other treats for good measure.

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