Saturday, August 12, 2017
Photo credit: Pixabay
Stripped of Their Childhood Innocence: How Two Recovering Addicts Moved On from a Dark Past
Children are small and innocent. Their biggest life choices are whether they want chocolate or strawberry ice cream, cheese or pepperoni pizza. Unfortunately, some children aren’t that lucky. They deal with childhood traumas that set the course for their adult lives. We spoke with two recovering addicts about how their sexual molestation led them to seek solace in the arms of drugs, and how they broke free from that embrace and found help.
Some of us were fortunate enough to grow up with loving and supportive parents. Harold’s were the opposite, and the one person he thought he could turn to for help violated him in the most unimaginable way.
“I grew up in a home with domestic violence: I was verbally and physically abused. I was sexually molested when I was 8 to 10 by our family’s priest,” Harold said, adding, “At the time, I couldn’t process it. I started drinking at a very early age, probably my early teens. It helped me to bury the pain.”
Harold felt like the odd man out. He was bullied in high school for being different. Harold was gay, but felt like he had to hide from the world.
“I was bullied and tried to be someone I wasn’t — I dated women, drank heavily, smoked pot and took ecstasy,” Harold said.
To deal with the pain, Harold turned to harder drugs such as meth and cocaine. Thinking a move would fix his problems, Harold crossed state lines but found himself homeless and selling his body for drugs — until he was diagnosed with HIV and paranoia. It was at this point Harold sought help.
“I realized that when I was younger, I hadn’t processed the trauma and pain that I had experienced. Instead of processing it, I had numbed it with the drugs and drinking,” Harold said. “It took time to work through it, but it was so important for me to do that in the process of my recovery.”
Overcoming his past and his addiction was hard, but Harold has some helpful advice for anyone who may be walking a similar path to his.
“I’d tell them to hang in there. You’re about to go through one of the hardest times of your life. It is going to be painful, it is going to hurt, but it’s going to be worth it,” Harold said.
Like Harold, someone Angie should have been able to depend on to protect her robbed her of her innocence.
“I had a major trauma in my life when I was 11 years old: I was raped by my step-father. After it happened, I told my mother, and she made me promise not to tell a soul,” Angie said.
Like every child, Angie grew up. She married and had two daughters, both of whom tested her patience. With everything going on, she began having flashbacks to her trauma, and nightmares kept her awake at night. She found rest with a prescription from her doctor — or so she thought.
“I would take my Ambien and go to sleep and I didn’t have to think, I didn’t have to remember, I didn’t have to feel, and I didn’t have to worry. When I took the pills, I didn’t have to be a mom or a wife. I would just go to sleep,” Angie said.
Eventually, Angie began taking pills morning and night. Despite pleadings from her husband to go get help, Angie continued, convinced that she wasn’t addicted. One morning, she had a wake up call.
“Finally, I woke up one morning — it was a Wednesday — and I only had two more pills left. I started having anxiety about not having enough. When I wasn’t taking the pills, everything would come rushing back to me,” Angie said.
Angie called her husband and told him she was ready to go to rehab. She found the help she needed at the Treehouse in Texas, and faced her past head on.
“I learned I was a very brave person. I dealt with my trauma the best way I could deal with it, and I asked for help. I denied help for so long, but in asking for help, I was brave,” Angie said.
Angie says that the key to moving forward after any sort of betrayal is forgiveness.
“You don’t have to forgive the person that did it to you. But you can forgive yourself. And you need to let someone in to help you with it, because you can’t do it all on your own. And that’s OK,” Angie said.
For Harold and Angie, addiction wasn’t a choice. They became addicted in an effort to block out the pain. The truth is, there are other positive, healthy methods to deal with past trauma. With help, you can break free from the negative embrace, and find yourself a better person for it.
Constance Ray started Recoverywell.org with the goal of creating a safe place for people to share how addiction has affected them, whether they are combating it themselves or watching someone they care about work to overcome it.
Sunday, August 6, 2017
|(c) Paulina Stasikowska, Artist|
Horses in Art: An Interview with Artist Paulina Stasikowska
Archived Article from the May 2017 Issue of Arabian Finish Line
“Art and horses are a very important part of my life.
I can't imagine my life without them.”
From Poland, Paulina Stasikowska has been painting portraits of animals for many years. She has captured the charm, excitement, and passion of animals for people from around the world. A horse enthusiast, Paulina’s portraits of horses are well-known for their subtle detail, exquisite lines, and soothing aesthetics. Interested in art as a young child, Paulina began drawing in early childhood, when she was around four-years-old.
GM: Specializing in equine art, you must love horses. What is your horse history? PS: I have always liked animals because I grew up around them. I first went to the stables when I was 10 years old because at the time it was my greatest dream to ride horses.
I probably inherited this passion from my great-grandfather, who was a polish uhlan [cavalryman]. He had many horses and loved them very much. After my first visit to the stable nearby, I felt something wonderful. I fell in love with the horses. It seemed to be in my blood.
|Paulina and Bonita|
In the year 2000, I bought my first set of soft pastels. At the beginning when I used them, my drawings looked rough as I pressed down the pastels too heavily on the paper. I haven't had a teacher or any classes so I had to learn by myself how to draw, using them by trial and error. The learning process took a long time, but I had exceptional perseverance.
In the meantime, I finally managed to become a horse owner. This was one of the most memorable moments of my life. My first horse is a mare and I’ve named her Bonita. She is now 13 years old. We spend as much time together as possible. She inspires me every day. I think that I owe many things to her being by my side. She gives me the energy to get through the difficulties of life.
GM: Bonita sounds wonderful! Horses do have the power to help us deal with life’s challenges. Your passion and appreciation for horses is exhibited in your divine art. Describe your studio where you create...
PS: Nowadays I draw in a small room in my flat, where I have good natural light and all the necessary things; a comfortable chair, a big desk, copious amounts of soft pastels and of course a nice cup of coffee.
GM: Do you have a muse that inspires and drives your creativity?
PS: As I said before, my muse is my horse Bonita, but I now also own two cats that also appear in my drawings from time to time. I enjoy drawing different types of animals, but horses are still my favourite motif. I am also sometimes inspired by music.
GM: Some artists paint every day, while others paint when they feel in the mood. What enhances your motivation and do you paint every day or when the mood strikes you?
PS: When I was younger and had less experience, I had to be in the right mood and have strong inspiration to start drawing something interesting. Now I only need a comfortable place, a piece of paper and some pastels to get me started as drawing has become a part of my weekly routine.
GM: You use a wide variety of colour and hues. What medium is your favourite to work with?
PS: I like to experiment with paintings using various materials and techniques. I have used other types of pastels, charcoal, watercolours and more, but by far the soft pastels are still my favourite tool. Many years later since I started using soft pastels, I still discover new ways to draw and express myself with them.
GM: The world is full of equine artists, but you have a special way of bringing the essence of the horse into a room. What techniques do you use to capture the beauty and fluidity of horses?
PS: What is my special way of bringing the essence of the horse into a room? I think I try to capture a horses’ soul. It's very difficult. They say that the eyes are the mirror of the soul and when you draw the horse’s eyes you have to remember that.
I endeavour for perfection in drawing but I still want to keep improving my skills. Art and horses are a very important part of my life. I can't imagine my life without them. It gives me power and a good attitude in life and helps me perceive the world in many different ways.
GM: Do you have a favourite painting of your own collection?
PS: I’ve created a special series of horse drawings which I’ve called the “Magic Horses” because I can use much more of my imagination compared with more detailed realistic portraits. The Magic Horses series allows me to show the volatility, lightness, and huge scale of colours, although the drawings appear unfinished. There was also a time when I experimented with fabric paint and painted horses on clothes, it was great fun!
GM: What are you currently painting?
PS: I'm currently working on my own collection of horse portraits. The first one will be my mare Bonita; she has priority over others :)
Connect with Paulina…
|(c) Paulina Stasikowska, Artist|
|(c) Paulina Stasikowska, Artist|
|(c) Paulina Stasikowska, Artist|
|(c) Paulina Stasikowska, Artist|
|(c) Paulina Stasikowska, Artist|
|(c) Paulina Stasikowska, Artist|
Wednesday, August 2, 2017
Tuesday, August 1, 2017
Gentle Giants: Whispery Pines Percherons
By Gina McKnight
Archived Article from the July 2017 Issue of Florida Equine Athlete
No duplication without permission
“They are my best friends. I cannot even describe how much I love them.”
Kellie and Sam Rettinger, owners of Whispery Pines Percherons in Kingsville, OH, have been involved in the equine industry their entire lives. I ran into Kellie and Sam last Spring at the Ohio Equine Affaire. Sam Rettinger grew up with draft horses and began driving and showing at a young age. In addition to showing, Sam currently trains their horses to work at the couple’s farm and complete logging projects. Kellie Rettinger grew up riding and showing Quarter Horses in hunt seat, western pleasure, gaming, and cutting. After meeting Sam more than ten years ago, she began to drive, ride, and show draft horses in saddle seat, western pleasure, and Roman riding classes. The Rettingers bring their horses to several events each year to show in different hitch and riding classes. They also provide carriage rides with their Percherons for a variety of events including weddings, birthdays, hay rides, and winter sleigh rides.
Welcome Kellie and Sam!
GM: With an impressive horse history, your riding resume is amazing. When was your first encounter with a horse?
KR: Sam and I both have a family steeped in horses, our first encounters were as babies Sam with his grandfather and myself with my mom and dad. We were both hooked and in love with horses before we could talk.
Sam learned everything from his Grandpa Dick Stasiak. He was an amazing horseman. He had had and shown draft horses his whole life, and started Sam at two years old with draft horses. He competed at many fairs and owned Clydesdales, Belgians, and Percherons. Grandpa was a local legend and known for being a true cowboy. The knowledge that was lost when he passed was great.
GM: Your Percherons are lovely. Describe your stable, your horses, and your daily routine...
KR: Our farm is a working farm, we have nine head total. We have about thirty acres, make all of our own hay, have tie stalls and box stalls and pasture. Our barn is full of tons of harness and collars. Describe my horses........??????? lol…well they are my best friends, I cannot even describe how much I love them. They are our world. They all have different personalities and make us laugh on a daily basis. Several of my biggest characters are Tony, Ace, and Hawke.
Tony is the happiest horse that I have ever met! He is such a willing worker always aiming to please. He is sweet, loves attention, hates his baths, has a soft eye and sometimes is mischievous. He is loved by many people and is the leader of our six-horse hitch. He is the ruler of our pasture even though he is not the biggest. We do not have favorites in the barn but Tony is very special to Sam.
Hawke is so funny, he is quirky, loves to play and show off, and buck....A LOT! He has been my long-time cart horse and has seen me through a lot. Hawke is also a willing worker, he lets me ride him, and he always has my back. He loves his baths, is a jack-of-all-trades horse and just fun to drive. He is in the swing of our six. Sam bought him for me and I fell in love immediately.
And then there is Ace... He is quite the legend. He was the first horse that Sam ever bought me when we first started dating twelve years ago. Ace is the horse that I learned to drive, ride, everything. He is one of the most beautiful horses I have ever seen, and still the "man"! He is famous at our local fairs where people just come to the barn to see Ace. I have put him through a lot; costumes, riding, accidents, ups, downs. You name it, Ace has done it. He loves pulling and still performs like he is three. Ace hates his bath and is also quite mischievous. He is the wheel in our six. He was our Grandpa’s favorite, and Grandpa is buried with a piece of Ace’s mane. This horse has taught me so much.
Daily routine consists of chores morning and night. Working horses, cleaning barn, and all depending upon the weather, the horses going to the woods to log with Sam and Dylan. Dylan is the worker. I have logged with Sam before, but I also work full-time in nursing at our local hospital.
The rest of the boys are all quite amazing as well, each one of them special in their own way.
GM: So big, yet so humble; Percherons have a reputation for being gentle giants. Can you share an anecdote about one of your Percherons?
KR: After a long day of showing at the Fair - it was sweltering hot outside - we went to the midway to get some ice cream, I bought the biggest ice cream cone I could get. We went back to the barn to check on the horses, a little girl wanted to pet Ace. So with ice cream cone in hand I opened the stall door so the little girl could see him. That horse reached right around me and stole my whole ice cream cone!!!!! This thing was huge!!!!! The little girl thought that was hilarious and laughed and laughed! Have you ever seen a horse get brain freeze? Priceless! LOL! His face made us laugh so hard. Needless to say, I am careful where I take my ice cream cone!!!
GM: As a competitive rider in state and national events, what is different about showing draft horses vs. Thoroughbreds, etc.?
KR: Showing drafts vs. Thoroughbreds. Well I know there is much that goes into other riding disciplines but...there is nothing like going on the road with a six or eight horse hitch. I cannot even begin to tell you how much work goes into what we do. I started over four months to prepare for Equine Affaire! Organization can sometimes be difficult, but we make it work. We literally bring everything but the barn out on the road with us. LOL! Because we are involved in so much we require to have all different types of things. We have a semi-truck and trailer, camper, enclosed trailer, and a flatbed trailer that always goes out on the road with us. We have anywhere from six to ten people who travel with us.
There is much work that goes into all of this and it is not just Sam and myself. We have a crew of family and friends to help us. Each person plays a special role for Whispery Pines Percherons. To get ready for the six, each horse takes well over one hour of preparation from braiding, bathing, harnessing, grooming, etc. Without these people, there is no Whispery Pines Percherons.
GM: Showing in saddle seat, western pleasure, and Roman riding classes sounds fun! Which is your favorite event to compete in and who is your go-to horse for your favorite event?
KR: I love everything that I show in whether it be a ground drive obstacle or the six or riding. But if had to choose what some of my most favorite moments are. One of my first would be driving the six. That right there is a rush! I am very proud to drive it because not many women do. I know Sam also loves driving it, too. He is completely amazing when he drives, he is just natural at it. He feels the horses through the lines. It is like it is exactly what he was born to do. Roman Riding is something I have wanted to do my whole life and was just downright awesome. You feel like you are riding on top of the world. One of my favorite horses to show is Candyman. He is such a proud horse and really turns it on when we hit the show ring. Sam loves showing Tony.
GM: Tack. Lots of large tack for large horses! How do you keep it all cleaned and polished? Does each horse have their own set of tack? What does a set of tack for each horse include?
KR: There is so much that goes into tack. Each horse has their own harness especially fitted for him. Each harness weighs well over 150 pounds. We probably have well over twenty harnesses - between work and show harnesses. Each set is used for something different, from work to parade, to wedding, to show. Much goes into cleaning and oiling the leather and keeping the chrome polished and shiny. We all take part in the cleaning. Each set includes bridle, collar, hames, 2 tugs, backpad, belly band, britchen, and chest piece. Not only that but when you start to hook multiple hitches you have different parts of harness for the different hitches. And then the lines, single, team, unicorn, four, six, eight.
GM: Taking a carriage ride pulled by a Percheron sounds enchanting. You provide carriage rides for all types of events, including winter sleigh rides, weddings, and birthdays. What is the best way to schedule an event?
KR: I love having the carriage business!!!!! We get to let someone experience our horses on a personal level, and it allows us to bring our love of horses to the world. We get to share in some peoples most important days in their lives and help celebrate holidays and birthdays! All events are scheduled through me.
GM: Let’s talk about Percherons and horse logging. Truly, it is a skill to be able to tether Percherons to a log and guide them through the forest. There must be a lot of training involved. Do the other others play a part in training novice horses for logging? When you purchase standing timber, do you use the horses to pull the logs out of the forest?
KR: My husband Sam does select harvest of mature timber. He uses the horses to skid the logs out of the woods. This method is extremely low impact on the land. It is quite amazing to watch Sam maneuver through the woods all while the horses are pulling logs that can weigh up to 8,000 pounds. Dylan Loomis that works for us also skids as well. I have also skidded before too. Sam and I train these young horses to begin a career in the woods. You have to have a smart, attentive, strong horse to work in the woods. The versatility and willingness to work is what makes the Percheron breed so awesome. They have the grace and beauty to pull a fine carriage but can also work all day in the woods or in the plow.
GM: Do you have advice for those who are new to the horse industry looking to purchase Percherons?
KR: Get in touch with the Percheron Horse Association of America. They can refer you to people who can assist. Go to your local fairs and try to meet people, check out draft horse sales. Do some research. Check out breeders, try to learn from everyone.
GM: What does horsemanship mean to you?
KR: Horsemanship means to me the ability to earn their trust, build a relationship, become a team and to truly understand what he thinks. Respect them and never lose patience. Sam and I love what we do! We love horses so much and feel so lucky to be able to do what we do. We work very, very hard, but it is all worth it. I feel like horses make us better people, everyday spent with our horses is a great day.
One of my most favorite quotes by Ronald Duncan
" The horse. Here is nobility without conceit, friendship without envy, beauty without vanity. A willing servant, yet never a slave."
Connect with Kelly and Sam…
Gina McKnight is an author and freelance writer from Ohio, USA.
Saturday, July 29, 2017
From Logan, Ohio, meet Author L.E. Hutchinson! L.E.’s first book Footprints in the Dust (Monday Creek Publishing) was launched earlier this year. Now, with her first book in the hands of readers, she is on a book tour throughout southeastern Ohio. Visit with L.E. at the historical Sherman House, Lancaster, Ohio, Sunday, August 6, from 2-4 p.m...
GM: What is the premise for your new book Footprints in the Dust and who is your target audience?
LEH: The setting takes place in Putnam County, Ohio, during the Civil War era, 1860 - 1865. The main character is Sylvester Wilson Jeffrey, who is known as S.W. throughout the book. The basic concept is how one family struggled through hard times, love, and despair during the Civil War.
The Target Audience is for adults and young adults.
GM: How much of your own life is intertwined into your writing?
LEH: Based on the many stories that my Grandmother shared with me about her father (my great-grandfather), as well as stories about her own childhood, I wanted to write a book to widen and expand my love of family.
GM: Considering all of your characters, who is your favorite character?
LEH: All of the characters seemed real to me and were of great value in the story. I really enjoyed writing about Lily and the dangers she faced as she plotted and planned the escape of the two slave women and many of her other brazen acts. S.W. had to be my favorite as he was the lone survivor of the war.
GM: How do you maintain thoughts, ideas, and scenarios for future novels/books?
LEH: I have so many ideas floating around in my head right now. Some ideas stick in my head like glue while other ideas need to be jotted down. Lots of research and bouncing ideas around to get feedback from other people always helps and keeps me grounded.
GM: Who are your favorite writers/authors?
LEH: Dorothy Garlock, Beverly Lewis, Wanda E. Brunstetter, John Steinbeck, Carolyn Keene, (all the ghost writers for the Nancy Drew Series), but most of all Louisa May Alcott for writing Little Women.
GM: What are you currently writing?
LEH: The Little Red Airplane with Firecracker Andy and his awesome dog Airedale Archie.
GM: What are you currently reading?
LEH: Sting in The Tail by Chris Dyer
GM: Do you have advice for novice writers?
LEH: Don’t quit writing. Don’t quit dreaming. To young people, keep a journal, a diary, write letters, send letters or make your own cards to send to your friends and family. In spite of all the new technology most folks love getting personalized notes and cards. There’s power in the written word.
GM: In a nutshell, and as a writer, what is your philosophy of life, living, and the pursuit of happiness?
LEH: Keep busy, keep moving, be constructive, think positive thoughts, be that person who inspires other people, show kindness and bring joy to those around you. Use your voice, your words, your smile, your human touch, (a pat on the back, a hug, a handshake, a kiss on the cheek). Your good deeds will always come back to you in unexpected ways.
Footprints in the Dust is available in eBook and Paperback…
Friday, July 28, 2017
The Journey Home
A film about one group of veterans, their community, and PTSD.
Help us tell this story.
Help us make this film.
- DONATE. Every dollar counts, and all contributions are tax-deductible. Donate online on the Veterans Brotherhood's PayPal page, or send a check to: The Journey Home, 313 4th St., Pennsburg, PA 18073
- SPREAD THE WORD. Post links to this website and our video trailer on your social media and tell your friends.
- HOST AN EVENT. Invite us to make a presentation at your community, professional or other event. Host a gathering in your home to screen a special preview. Contact us at: email@example.com.
- JOIN US. Attend a Veterans Brotherhood meeting. See our schedule on our Facebook page: facebook.com/vetbrotherhood/
Tuesday, July 18, 2017
Book Two The Rocket Series
From Rocket with Love
Release Date July 29, 2017
Currently living in the UK, author Chris Dyer is in the midst of writing poetry, prose, non-fiction, horse remedies, and much more! A chance to meet up with Chris to talk about his writing, his love for horses, and things in-between.
GM: When did you realize you wanted to become a writer?
CD: I have always written even as a child, not consciously I don’t think it was just something I did and enjoyed. I remember we had a very strict, rather large French mistress at school and I had been working on an uncle’s farm over the school holidays and had become fascinated with the rearing of pigs… and decided that writing a book on pig rearing (I was young and it never came to fruition) was far more interesting and constrictive than learning French and so instead of following the lesson was engrossed in writing a passage on the reproductive cycle of a pig. Unfortunately, I had not realised she had been standing behind me asking me something like how to say open the door in French (which was probably a phrase I would never use anyway) but I was so in my own world I didn’t even notice. I received two strokes of the cane for not paying attention (our school was a great school in truth but did believe in discipline) and my embryonic career as a writer binned. It didn’t stop me though and I used to write loads of short stories and then when we were given English homework would use them if we had to write an essay. So pretty well always. It wasn’t though until recently that I started to get serious. I think the problem is it is such a difficult industry. It is easy to write but difficult to get someone to read it… especially if they have to pay for it. You normally get the response of… ohh you wrote a book… do you have a copy you can let me have I would like to read that… which is a bit self-defeating as you are going to work and then paying someone to do so!
GM: Describe your writing regime; do you have a muse or other inspiration that drives your creativity?
CD: In honesty, I think everything that surrounds one gives inspiration. Music, people, animals, life that all give you something if you just take the trouble to look. I don’t think there is really one thing that creates for me. I see a couple hand in hand and it gives me an idea, I see an animal looking lovingly at someone. I tend to be quite observant and study my surroundings a lot. But then I also go into a sort of trance like state where I drift off into my own world where I completely blank, I think if I didn’t the down side of life would be too much to bear. So, in short everywhere and everything inspires me.
GM: Your first volume in The Rocket Series is Sting in the Tail released earlier this year. How much of your own life with horses is weaved into the script?
CD: This is a difficult one. I have always denied this but I think you do put a little of yourself in your characters. Most of my friends say it is me but I think that is an exaggeration. As I say you are bound to put a little of yourself in the characters but I tend to “pinch” bits from other characters that I know or meet and blend them altogether. Having spent a great deal of my time around horsey it was quite easy to take bits from others to make the person I wanted on the pages. Some of the stuff in the book is bound to be about you as a person and one’s own experiences but it has to be remembered that it is still a fiction so just a little of me maybe.
GM: What future books are coming in the The Rocket Series?
CD: From Rocket with Love is soon to be released and then Storm Brewing, I also have an idea to follow that with Both Barrels, that though will I think be the last in the series. I am quite pleased with From Rocket with Love as it really is very different and I think a little surprising. It’s like everything I suppose JK Rowling wouldn’t have written the follow ups to Harry Potter if there was no demand… so if people buy the book… well maybe it will inspire me to do more… I have a couple of ideas so we shall see.
GM: Do you plan to write a book about your other horsemanship adventures?
CD: I was thinking of trying to compile a book of bedtime stories for children and a know Your Pony book that I am writing with someone else, I think it will be good when it is finished… well I hope so!
GM: I know you have written several prolific poetry and prose books this year. Amazing reads with great reviews. What other books have you written?
CD: I have several other books in the Something series to come as I enjoy doing them, it is great to be able to put all one’s emotions and opinions down, you can say whatever you want in whatever form. I have also written a book called Plant Potions and Oils for Horses a subject that is dear to my heart. I have always believed that we do not use the resources that are under our noses and in fact I consult for a fantastic company called Cavalor based in Belgium that have a really open mind and I formulate remedies based on natural resources. They are extremely demanding in their testing of products, which I like, but also they are prepared to invest in researching the formulations I produce for them. They have several products coming out this year that will have been formulated by me and I am quite proud of that fact.
GM: What are you currently writing?
CD: I am finishing off Storm Brewing, have started working on the follow up to the (working title Both Barrels). I have another that is in the pipeline called Fired Up, again working title that is based on a small farmer come horseman that becomes involved in the underworld through chance. I think it will be okay and make quite an exciting read. I have another called The Hit which I am not sure will ever see the light of day in truth. it is very dark and it is graphic and deals with the darkest side of the underworld. It is quite shocking in places which I wanted it to be as I would like the reader to realise there are a lot of things we close our eyes and ignore because it is so far out of our comfort zones but as I say I am not sure it will ever go to print. Apart from that I have a couple of fantasy novels I am working on that again may one day see the light of day. I am also thinking of doing another book on natural remedies for horses but that is sort of just an idea I have penciled on a scrap of paper at the moment.
I have a couple more poetry books I am working on and have a few ideas. I tend to have a lot of work “started” and then will select which I like the most and concentrate on that. I am not a consistent person if I am honest and tend to be a bit unpredictable, half the time I don’t know what I will be doing or working on from one second to the next! As my publisher knows well and probably means she needs to restock on Valium to cope with me!
GM: Congratulations on all of your award-winning new books! I’m positive your publisher does not take Valium (lol). Do you have advice for novice writers?
CD: I’m not sure that anyone would want to take advice from me! Actually, my advice to others is normally pretty sound, it is me that I have problems with, I seem to have a distinct lack of any sense when it comes to trying to advise myself! I don’t think there is any secret formula that you can use, you just have to go with the flow, write what you think and don’t be restricted by convention. Allow your imagination full rein. Don’t allow rejection to stop you, keep trying, accept criticism with grace and if it is constructive act on it. We all hate to have our work criticised but without it will never improve and always remember that some will like what you do but it will not suit everyone, otherwise we would all write the same and that would be extremely boring.
GM: Back to horses. Tell us about your favorite horse and why they were your favorite...
CD: It would be a stallion I owned, an Anglo Arab. He was the kindest horse I ever knew and would always give his all for you. he would follow me around the yard even past a mare without breaking stride, no head collar, he was incredibly intelligent and we just had a special relationship, we were the best of friends. To show how good he was he was being skipped out one morning and we had some friends visiting and their daughter who was about two had sneaked into his stable without being noticed. She waddled up to him wrapped her arms around his back leg and was hugging the life out of him and he never as much as twitched. Just looked at her looked at me as much to say please get her off my leg. He was the best.
GM: As a former horse trainer, what is key to creating a winning horse, and a horse that will be a well-loved companion?
CD: Learning to relate to your horse and having patience. I trained Arabians and pre-trained Thoroughbreds. I have to tell you Arabians are harder to train as they think a lot more than a Thoroughbred. You really do have to gain their trust. Sadly for me the bureaucracy spoils the job, the small man has no chance against the big owners that have huge resources to back them, though I have to say I did manage to give them a run for their money! It is also about understanding that it should not be a numbers game but about the individual horse. We shut them in a box for 23 hours a day to train them for a few minutes and think that is good enough… I did things a little differently than that. if you told a human athlete he would only have to do a few minutes a day and he would be 100% fir in six or twelve weeks he would laugh at you. For me personally, and it is only my personal view as there are some amazing trainers out there at the moment, horse need a stronger regime to become ultimately fit shall we say, they need patience and the opportunity to enjoy their work not be expected to be at their peak when they are given say a five-furlong workout then expected to run over say two miles. But then we all have different methods mine just worked really well for me.
GM: What does horsemanship mean to you?
CD: Not doing the wrong thing, which we have all done! If you are in a bad mood don’t go working your horse, you will not do the job properly, your horse will sense it and you will end up giving yourself three times more than you need to and making a mess of it. Come back after an hour when you are feeling less agitated. Once you have started something though you cannot walk away keep going to the end and have patience. Take the time to get to know your horse, watch him or her, learn and that means from the horse or from someone who gives you sound advice. The thing about horses is friendship and trust but also being the boss, quite a hard combination to find a happy medium. Be kind but firm, have understanding and discipline and always remember your horse can teach you as much if not more than you can teach them.
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