Monday, April 28, 2008

Clifford - Day 13

Well, Day 10 went great. I rode Clifford for an hour and he was just like his old self. I remembered why he earned the nickname "Zoom Zoom". I was holding him back. A truck went by us up the hill, and he even wanted to chase it like he used to do. It was our best ride in a couple of years.

Yesterday I took him out again. He was a little slower than he was on day 10. He did stubborn tricks of trying to turn around. He was, quite frankly, a brat. He didn't feel stiff. I think he needs to build up some strength in that leg, and I had read somewhere that the best way to do this is to trot over long distances. So I was asking him to trot a lot.

We had a bad fall while trotting a couple of years ago. It was when he first started having serious problems with the knee. That day, he stumbled, HARD, and I went somersaulting over his head. I hit the ground rolling, thinking for sure he was going to fall or step right on me. But when I looked up, he was standing off to the side. He had avoided me somehow. But I was sore for a few days after that. I have fallen off this horse A LOT over the years and normally I am not worried about it. But this was different. I've been really timid about going fast ever since.

But yesterday, I wasn't worried about it. We trotted. I knew that if he was stiff, I would feel it. His trot has always been rough. He kept doing a little skip-hop type thing, trying to break into a canter. I think a canter might be easier on his knee. And he has always preferred to canter anyway. But I wanted him to stay in a trot.

We went for an hour, mostly at the walk. When we got back, he showed no signs of stiffness or wanting to limp. I have not seen him limp at all now in over ten days.

I am officially at the halfway point of my test run now. So far, so good.

A Treat for Horse Lovers

My friend Polly has a beautiful new website!

Thursday, April 24, 2008

Cliffy and Me

Amanda took a few pics of Cliffy and me yesterday. The weather was so lovely! Boy it is sure nice to see spring finally arrive. Clifford was really good, just walking around and posing with all that tempting spring grass under his feet. As usual, he put his ears up the moment he saw there was a camera. He's so funny!

"Mom, where are your boots?!"

Girl's Day Out

Little sis Amanda has been spending a few days here. We had a blast! Here are a few pics from yesterday.
Back-to-back fun!


Monday, April 21, 2008

Cliffy - Day 7

I took him out and longed him both directions for a good 20 minutes today. He was not nearly as enthused today, but it was hot, he is fat, and this was work! Plus, may have been sore from his antics yesterday. He walked and trotted. He stumbled a couple of times, but that's normal for him when he's out of shape and his feet are long. I noticed some stiffness/discomfort when he was using the leg at a canter. But when I walked him to cool down, he did not limp at all. I thought that was a good sign.

I will be able to tell more when I get him under saddle. He had worked up a little sweat. He was grateful to quit, and I left him standing in the cross ties while I went and got the camera. Then I led him out, stretched him and dropped the lead rope. He immediately put his ears up and started posing! He is such a ham!

This is one of the pics I took -- I airbrushed the black lead rope out.

Sunday, April 20, 2008


Clifford has had a couple days off due to my packed schedule but we got out today.

This is Day 6 of the new product. I'm going to give it 30 days and just see what happens. I took him off the glucosomine supplement so I wouldn't confuse myself about what was working. I want to wait and see how it works before I say anything or recommend it.

Lately it has been pretty disheartening to see him hanging back when he sees me get the halter out. He doesn't want to work. But today he was more like his old self. He stepped right into the stall and stuck his head into the halter.

His stifles were clicking and locking, but that is normal for this time of year when he's fat and out of shape.

We walked down the road with the dogs. On past occasions he has started to limp on the way back, so I have opted to take a shortcut home. Today, he clopped along happily with me looking around at all the budding leaves. A couple of four wheelers drove past us. He's seen those things so many times it doesn't faze him at all, of course. We reached the corner where we normally turn around, and came back.

It was clouding over and a cool little breeze was kicking up. As we turned down the long driveway, those four wheelers came buzzing back up the road. Clifford sprang straight up and did an about-face in mid-air, landing in the opposite direction to face them, while I still held the lead rope.

This is one of his classic tricks and he was just playing a game, pretending to be "ascairt". But he has not performed this stunt in a couple of years. My laughter has always tended to egg him on, and now he began doing a piaffe beside me, blowing and snorting, eyes all ringed in white. We got to the base of the hill with him still prancing and arching his neck.

"Okay," I said. "I'm gonna let you go. Ready?"

I unhooked the halter and he took off, blasting up that hill with his tail up and the dogs in hot pursuit.

I ran behind him swinging the lead rope and he did a beautiful extended trot all around the back yard, his tail flagging, in that floating gait I haven't seen in so long.

I don't know if this is due to the increased exercise, increased sweet grain (to mix with the new supplement) or the warmer weather. Or maybe he's just having a really good day. I am staying cautiously optimistic but boy, it was really neat to see him jumping, bucking and playing with the dogs like he used to do!

Tuesday is his birthday. He'll be 17.

Thursday, April 17, 2008

Today's Project - You Know Who

The funny thing is, even with having him for 15 years, I have never painted Clifford. The only renderings I've done of him (or Tude for that matter) are the black and white drawings for the book illustrations. Why is this? I'm not sure. Maybe they are too intimate and I'm afraid I can't capture them.

Anyway, this is the first color portrait I've ever done of Cliffy. It's conte and oil pencil, on black pastel board. It's taken from one of my favorite photos of him. He was actually running for his life in the picture. We had turned him out with my cousin's big bully Arabians up on Drummond. While the herd embraces Trudy, they run Clifford off. This day, he was galloping full blast straight toward me, with them in hot pursuit. Though he was pretty freaked out, it made a nice photo!

Today I took him for a walk, a couple of miles along the road. It was sunny and warm. He was pretty content to walk along with me and didn't do any limping. I am trying a new product on his arthritis and waiting for results. Will write about it if things work out well.

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

The Morgan Horse Calendar

Well, the images are finally all loaded and the calendar is done! I am ordering my own copy. I've been very happy with the quality of products from Zazzle so far. Here's the link:

Monday, April 14, 2008

Today's Project - Morgan Filly

Prada Blue is, yes, a Morgan. Are you sensing a theme here? *smile* Actually I am accumulating some pieces in a horizontal format for my Morgan Art Calendar.

Prada belongs to Theresa Kroells, who generously sent me some neat photos of her. This is pastel, about 9 x 12".

Saturday, April 12, 2008

Today's Project - Morgan Stallion

Here is Michelle Dilley's stallion, Nemour's New Horizon. This is pastel and conte on dark green charcoal paper. I think this painting turned out having a sort of "colonial" feel.

I am still debating over how to cite him, as his call name is, "Butkis"! :-)

Thursday, April 10, 2008

Today's Project - Buckskin Morgan

This is Primavera Brio, a buckskin stallion. This is done in conte crayon on black charcoal paper, about 8 x 10". Brio lives at Gab Creek Farm.

Wednesday, April 9, 2008

Today's Project - Mona the Morgan

Here's Polly Smith's mare, Mona, again. This palomino Morgan is so beautiful that I'd have no problem doing many more drawings of her! This is oil pencil and conte on dark green charcoal paper, about 9 x 12".

I Won An Award!

Every now and then we all need a little boost, a word of encouragement that we are doing the right thing. The most effective of these comes out of nowhere! That's what Victoria Cummings has done for me with this award.

I admit to feeling a little overwhelmed lately with Clifford's knee problem. He is worse this year than ever. I am saturated with options and advice, but continue to take one day at a time, in what I hope is a progressive effort to treat him in an intelligent way.

A love for a special horse is so different from any other kind of love. It is so good to have the support of those who understand this. Thank you Victoria!

Tuesday, April 8, 2008

Today's Project - Julie the Corgi

Today's project is my friend Pearl's Corgi, Julie, in oil pencil. I think this girl looks like so much fun. Every photo I see of her is just brimming with personality.

My friend Pearl is an artist who does beautiful weaving. She travels around the country showing dogs and selling jewelry at her booth. She has a website:

Friday, April 4, 2008

Today's Project - Maine Coon Cat

I took a quick break from the equine art to try the "pastel on black" technique on a cat. I haven't done any cat art in awhile; perhaps attempting to avoid my Hall of Shame. Or, maybe because I've discovered that I can actually sell my equine art! YAY!

Anyway, I always liked Maine Coons. I had a few friends who bred them and enjoyed watching their kittens grow into these enormous, gentle creatures. Many of them have the most laid-back, affable personalities.

This pastel painting is on eBay.

Thursday, April 3, 2008

Yesterday's Ride

We had a glorious sunny sky here in Michigan yesterday even though the breeze was bitterly hanging on to that whole winter idea.

I saddled up Clifford, and the dogs raced ahead joyously as we took a slog down the road. I use the word, "slog" not only because of the mud, but because that was pretty much Clifford's attitude. I thought his knee might be a little stiff. We got to the corner, which was only about a mile, and I started to turn him back.

Just then Cujo (not his real name), the neighbor's big German shepherd came bounding out, barking stiff-legged with his hackles up. Through the trees I could see a woman walking toward us. The dog bounced at her aggressively and she hesitated. She stood perfectly still as the dog took a couple more hops and stood a few feet from her, barking a loud warning.

I knew Cujo lacked confidence, hence the behavior. He was scaring this woman and he knew it. But I was also privy to the fact that the owner had been doing bite work with him with a local K9 officer -- and I didn't know if this meant that now the insecure dog thought he had permission to bite.

I sat quietly on Clifford watching this poor woman. I was in a bit of a quandary. Cajun was staying with me and Clifford. But if I approached that dog on the horse and he didn't back off, it would surely give Cajun incentive to give him a good old fashioned whuppin'.

A second later Cujo noticed us watching, and dropped his tail and ran home. The lady came around the corner and gave me a nervous smile. As she walked toward us, this gave Cujo incentive to pursue her and now he stood at the corner barking at us all ferociously.

"He's pretty scary, isn't he?" I said.

"Yes, he sure is!"

I decided it was time to get off the horse, tell Cajun to stay, and chase that dog home. I held the rein out to the lady. "Would you mind holding him for a second?"

She backed away quickly. "Oh, I'm deathly afraid of horses."

"Oh, you are? All right." I sat up. "Well, let's just turn around and head back then."

I really didn't want to reward this dog's bad behavior by leaving. I especially didn't want him coming after us, because there was only so much of this that Cajun was going to tolerate. But I had no other choice. I turned Clifford around and we walked slowly away. Fortunately, we got off easily because Cujo did not follow.

The lady said her name was Connie and she lived down the road a piece. "I have to go back that way," she added.

"We'll walk you back," I said.

Connie was hitting a pretty nice stride that evenly matched Clifford's. I kept him on the right shoulder of the dirt road, and she stayed on the left. We talked pleasantly as we walked along. She said she had quit smoking in January, and was now trying to exercise more by walking every day.

"How long were you a smoker?"

"20 years."

"Wow! Good for you!"

Between this and the way she had faced that big scary dog, and now was walking the road with a scary horse, I could see that Connie had moxie. I liked her right away.

We headed along the road and looked at the farmer's fields, and talked aboutneighbors we knew, and how the land had changed over the past years. Connie was taking a pretty long walk. She wanted to go to the end, which was two miles away.

A car approached us from behind. "Car coming," I said to the dogs, and they quickly flocked to Clifford's side. The car passed slowly between Connie and us.

"Those dogs are really good," she said.

"Most of the time," I agreed.

Clifford had not been this direction in a long time. We don't usually go that way because the dirt hits pavement and then there's nowhere else to go. This was interesting for him. His ears were up and he looked around. He probably liked having the company too, because his stride lengthened and pretty soon he started to feel like his old energetic self.

I talked about Clifford and told Connie stories of his tricks, and the books, and told her about Morgan horses and how funny they are. We finally reached the road's end and then turned back. The chilling breeze cut into us as we headed back. Since now we were going homeward, Clifford's walk was even more vigorous. Connie was picking up the pace too.

"Is this too fast for you?" I said.

"No, this is good. But I see he likes to go faster up the hills!"

Another car approached, and this time, Connie moved over behind Clifford to let it pass.

The road stretched ahead, and as we passed our driveway, Clifford stepped irritably sideways. He was nearly bumping into our new friend in his effort to convince me to head homeward.

"Stop it!" Then I added, "That's our driveway. He thinks he needs to go back there and have supper. He thinks I'm starving him."

We walked up the little hill toward the corner, and as we topped it, I saw a herd of eight or nine deer bounding across the road in front of us, in full flight mode with tails up. Then, I saw why. Cujo was in hot pursuit, stretched out flat and running after them. The entire group bolted across the road and flashed through the cornfield into the distant woods.

"Well, I guess we won't have to worry about him for awhile," I said.

We rounded the corner anyway and escorted her up the hill until she was safely past the house. Then we stopped to say goodbye.

"That was a great walk!" I said.

"Yes it was! Come again sometime. I'm going every day with my husband and we'll have a group sometimes."

"I might have a business card here," I reached into my pocket and found one. I held it out to her, and she stepped right up without hesitation and took it. She even stood by Clifford for a moment, although she didn't touch him. To my surprise, he was a gentleman and didn't attempt to sniff, kiss, rub, nibble or otherwise mug her.

As we parted ways, I called back to her. "That was very brave of you!"

"Well, I've been walking with him for awhile!" she said.

At the corner, Cujo was still nowhere in sight. Clifford snorted happily as we headed for home.


P.S. The picture is actually of Cajun, whom I captured mid-bark. He was just playing.

The dog is being reported to the Humane Society.

Wednesday, April 2, 2008


I just received my first giclee print from my gallery on Imagekind. I am so pleased with the quality! Prices are reasonable too.

This print is signed and on eBay.

But if you don't care about signature or certificate of authenticity you can order them right from the gallery: