Monday, March 31, 2008

Today's Project - Palomino Morgan

"Dapples", a Morgan mare. This is oil pencil and conte on black, about 11 x 6".

This is on eBay.

Sunday, March 30, 2008

The Ultimate Dog Lover

Chicken Soup for the Soul publishers are coming out with a new dog book called The Ultimate Dog Lover, and I just found out that not one, but two of my stories have made it into the final round of submissions.

One story is about Cavar, my police dog, and the second is about Scorch.

I will have final word on their acceptance by May 30th. Keep fingers crossed!

Saturday, March 29, 2008


We took a little ride this evening. The red winged blackbirds serenaded us as we clopped up the road.

Clifford was happy to go; in fact he stopped me from taking his halter off. He mashed his lips against mine and stood there for a long time, gently flipping his upper lip against mine. He had a glazed over look. I half expected him to slip me the tongue.

Finally I convinced him it was time to quit kissing and get the bridle on. I kept a loose rein, allowing him to drop his head and plod along. He did not have the usual spring in his step, but wasn't limping either.

We went a couple of miles down the road and then came back. As we approached home, he got a little frisky and wanted to pick up the pace. I let him trot a little, then he slowed to a canter. I wondered if a canter is easier, less jarring on the knee.

I haven't treated him with anything yet besides supplements. But I had a call from my friend, longtime Morgan trainer Sandy Crechiolo, who gave me lots of encouragement and referred me to a local vet that she said was very good with joints.

On to the next phase!

Today's Watercolor - Leopard Appaloosa

I have a funny story about this painting. (Well, at the time it wasn't so funny.)

I used masking fluid as usual to keep the white areas white. I had highlighted the edge of the horse's face on the right, with a dark green background. I painted all around the mask, which took a couple of hours, and then I pulled the mask up.

The mask, as it came up, took the top layer of paper with it! The tear spread far into the green area and ruined the profile of the horse.

I attempted to remain calm, looked at it for a minute, then took it to my paper cutter and simply trimmed the green part off. The funny thing is, I think this looks better! It was a happy accident.

It's in my Yessy gallery here:

From a distance, with the lilac highlights, I think it almost resembles a floral.

Friday, March 28, 2008

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Kerry Airatude

Today is Airatude's birthday! She's fifteen. It's hard to believe I've had her twelve years. As I wrote in "Clifford", I first saw her when she was just a baby, trotting by her dam's side. I was smitten then, but had to wait three years to get her. She and I have taken an incredible journey together. She has been a total joy and has added so much to my life. Here she is begging for mints with her brother!
Happy Birthday, 'Tude.

Today's Equine Art

This is Gayle, a Morgan mare who has lived with my friend Pearl for 22 years. The portrait is done in oil pencil on black charcoal paper, about 9 x 12".

Monday, March 24, 2008

Today's Project - Sophie

A chestnut Morgan mare owned and loved by Lori Lambie. This is primarily conte crayon (with a bit of oil pencil) on black paper, approx. 9 x 12".

Saturday, March 22, 2008

Today's Project - Friesian

My friend Kristi and I saw some Friesians at the Expo in Lansing last weekend. They were stunning. I'd sure love to see one performing some upper level dressage maneuvers.

Anyway, I have soundness and dressage on the brain these days -- I am sure looking forward to the day when Clifford is up to doing some more ring work. We did just basic stuff but he could sidepass and did a beautiful collected canter. He was very supple.

But I digress. This piece is about 9 x 12", highlighted in blue and purple. It's listed on eBay as I continue with my experiments of color and textures and techniques in equine art.

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Clifford and Stem Cell Treatments - Part 2

Clifford knew something was up this morning, and was not exactly cooperative. Usually not one to shirk an adventure, today he was coy and difficult to catch. I tried coaxing him with grain and treats, but when he saw the halter coming at him he'd turn and bolt. One time he stepped on my foot. I finally stood next to his Dutch door and said, "Get in there!" and he walked in. I swung the door shut behind him. Once he was locked in the stall, he stood in resignation as I entered and put his halter on.

He loaded into the trailer with no problem, and we were off, driving through the cold mist up to Lansing.

MSU's equine teaching hospitals has wide hallways and big, roomy stalls, but to Clifford's chagrin, no shavings to roll in. Still, my friend Rose appeared and then soon other techies gathered when they found out Clifford was fetching a cone in his stall. As soon as he had an audience, he visibly cheered up.

Dr. Caron is a tall, thin fellow with a somber demeanor, thinly disguising a sharp wit. As Rose and her gaggle of techies stood giggling and whispering around Clifford, he looked at me and said, "Do you want me to call security to come and get these guys out of here?"

We watched as he led Clifford out of the stall and trotted him up and down the generous hallways. Clifford was obliging enough.

"It looks like he's got a little muscle atrophy in that leg," Rose murmered. "It's thinner than the other."

"Really?" I squinted at Clifford but couldn't see the difference. The way he was moving seemed all right, but then the tech who led him did the flexion test, pulling his foot high so that his leg was bent sharply at the knee. She let go, and then when she asked Clifford to trot with her, he limped.

"We'll get some pictures of this and see how he looks," Dr. Caron offered. He turned and left the room.

Clifford went in for x rays and Rose and I hung out, drank coke, and talked about horses.

When Clifford's pictures were finally up on the lighted screen, I could see not one bone fragment but what looked like other chips floating in the same area. Dr. Caron looked on while Dr. Kimberly Roberts gave me the rundown. "His body is compensating for the arthritis, but I took a picture of his right leg so you can see how it's supposed to look."

Sure enough, the left knee by comarison was rough around the edges, all the way from front to back.

"He's not moving too badly," Dr. Caron said. "Are you riding him?"

"Not very much. I took him for a three hour ride last fall and it was too much for him."

They went on to explain that, while they were not opposed to trying the stem cell treatments, and it might help him, they would suggest first attempting more conventional methods - - Steroid injections and bute.

"Well, I want to do things the right way," I said. I've never been a huge Bute fan because I've heard it's a temporary solution that can lead to overworking the horse and greater problems down the road. But, there is no cure for arthritis.

Had I been really adament about it, they would have gone ahead with the stem cell treatments.

The stem cells would be removed from a spot near Clifford's tail, shipped to California where the cells would be isolated, then sent back and injected into his knee. The process would take a few days. They might help, or they might not make a difference.

"Would they do any harm?" I asked.

"No, other than you run the risk of infection in the injection areas," Dr. Caron said. "I'd like to see what stem cells would do for him, but I hate to use your horse as a guinea pig just to satisfy my scientific curiosity."

"Actually the guinea pig thing doesn't bother me, as long as it does him no harm... And especially if it benefits someone else."

I also was thinking, of course, that it would make a great chapter in the next Clifford book, Part 3.

I learned a couple more things about stem cells that I never knew: One, the injections would have to be repeated -- one would not provide permanent relief. The second thing was, in race horse Be A Bono's case, his injury was pretty fresh. Clifford's knee was fractured years ago. Stem cells may be more effective in a more recent injury.

There has been so little done with stem cells -- thanks to the expense -- that there is no way to predict how they would affect the patient.

So, in the interest of doing things the right way, I will follow their suggestion and try a less expensive and more conventional method -- steroids -- before I do any trail riding with Clifford this summer. Meanwhile I'll continue to view stem cells as an alternative. I definitely haven't ruled it out and in fact, am viewing this as a hoop I have to jump through to get there.

Monday, March 17, 2008

Today's Project - White Mares

"Four Sisters" is in oil pencil/conte on pink charcoal paper. This one is a little different, color-wise as I have mixed in blues and purples to compliment the pink background. The painting is about 8 x 10" and listed on eBay.

Thursday, March 13, 2008

Clifford and Stem Cell Treatments

Here's a picture of Clifford I took the other day. He was running up to the barn for dinner. Does this look like a horse who has arthritis?

His knee is horrendous. It's big and lumpy and ugly. But with the way he's been ripping around lately, one would never know there was a problem.

Determined to find out more about stem cell treatments, I asked my friend Rose to get me a name. Rose works at the small animal blood bank up at Michigan State University. I finally got a referral to Dr. Caron today up at MSU and emailed him:

Dear Dr. Caron,

Clifford, my Morgan, has bad arthritis in one knee, and a bone chip. He's got basically no cartiledge left. He's 17.

I have heard great things about stem cell treatments for just this type of injury (specifically with a race horse called Be A Bono) and was wondering if you could tell me anything.

Please feel free to e me back or call. I look forward to hearing from you!


His response came less than ten minutes later:

Ms. Bailey,

We are not yet using stem cells for this purpose here, although it would not be that difficult to do so. I suspect that to compare your horse to Be A Bono might not be completely accurate - arthritis is a progressive disease and it sounds as if your horse has rather more severe disease. As such, results might not be all that you might anticipate. Nonetheless, I would be happy to examine your horse, discuss his past history and treatment and learn of your aspirations for him. An appointment can be made with our reception staff - 517-353-9710

I immediately called the number and spoke to Carol the receptionist, who, it turns out, has heard of Clifford. "Aren't there TWO books?" she said.

"YES!" I yelped. I was so excited that someone had actually heard of the sequel!

"My daughter has them!" she said. "I'm going to have them call me when Clifford gets here, so I can come down there and meet him!"

So Clifford is going in on Tuesday at 10 am, possibly as a guinea pig, and our trot down the Stem Cell Trail begins. He's never visited MSU before. I can hardly wait to see what he thinks about this!

I was warned by my "horsey" friend Chris that MSU is expensive. (Hello?! Who was up there every month two years ago for dog chemotherapy?) Read my lips: I DON'T CARE. Any time you start thinking about veterinarians and drugs and therapy and experimental treatments, there will be words of caution from friends, not to mention the vets. It's Dr. Caron's job to be cautious. But he doesn't know Clifford.

I know this is the right thing to do -- I can feel it. The answers will come. The money will come. And I will have my horse back.

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Today's Project - More Ponies

This pair is done on tan charcoal paper, about 9 x 12". It's listed on eBay.

I did this to accompany my pony on black for note cards as a set, but now I think I should have done these on black as well!

C'est la vie!

I had kind of throttled back on doing horse art for awhile because someone told me I couldn't compete. "There are just too many great equine artists in the world." I was dumb enough to let this discourage me -- and then recently I realized it's not all a big contest!

It's kind of funny how the universe rewards these epiphanies, because lately I'm having more people ask about having their horses done. I feel very blessed.

Monday, March 10, 2008

Today's Project - Tennessee Walker in Oil Pencil

This is Dollar, a TWH. He's a blue roan but looks black. He was commissioned by my friend Dianne. Her house is done in southwestern type colors; sage and rust, so I had fun picking complimentary colors to put in the painting.

Dollar is a lovely horse. He was a sort of rescue; about 100 lbs underweight when Dianne got him. He'd been shown in the south and has scarring from cuts on his hocks like they do to make them pick their feet up higher in the ring. (I can't remember what they call it.) He's living the good life now!

This is oil pencil about 12 x 16".

Tuesday, March 4, 2008

Today's Project - Dark Pony in Oil Pencil

I became so enamored of the last project on black that I just had to try another one. The practice is all good since I have an upcoming commission on black - YAY! Just waiting for the larger sized paper to arrive.

Anyway, here's a Shetland pony. He is listed on eBay.