Moving horses and living with autism

Kobeejo

This should be old hat for me. In the over 13 years I have owned my horse, we have moved 12 times! That doesn’t mean we have moved almost once a year; just that each move has had various durations. One of my very first large, lifelong dreams was to own a horse. I was one of those “horse-crazy” girls for as long as I can remember. At age 39, that dream came true. My horse has aided me in dealing with my autism (Aspergers to be exact) and he has been my rock throughout some of the toughest and loneliest times of my life. But, it has not been easy.

Because I am plagued with autism, my social skills are less than adequate. Quite frankly, they stink! Asperger’s is, on the autism scale, known as the “genius gene” and far onto the highly functional end of autism. I’ve had my IQ tested. I definitely received the “genius” level, but what exactly does that mean? For me, it means I see so far out of the box (so to speak), that most cannot even fathom what it is I can “see.” I seem to just know things before they happen. I am not sure how, as I am scientific minded and not spiritual at all. But this brings me once again to my horse.

When I finally decided I could afford a horse in my life, I started to look. A few trainers at the stable where I took lessons helped me. They knew what I wanted.

“Preferably a Paint (one of my favorite breeds), registered and showable.” ¬†However, I was adamant, that no matter what color or breed, I refused to accept a grey or white horse!! I like a nice shiny clean horse. Whites and greys are a nightmare to keep clean. Plus, at the time, I simply didn’t like the lack of “pizazz” associated with a dull color scheme.

But, sometimes, things don’t happen as we plan.

One of the trainers came to me one day. “I found the perfect horse for you,” she said. She went on to explain he was a double registered Paint/Pinto (Paint is the breed, Pinto refers to the horse’s markings). Then came the clincher she saved for last… “He is grey and white.”

“Nope!”

And I was dead-set against this horse. I refused to even go look at him! After a week of guilt trips, she wore me down. I agreed to go and see him JUST to say “no” and shut her up once and for all. And so, she and I and a trainer I’d been working with, went to see him. I stepped out of the truck, feeling all cocky, ready to turn this horse down immediately. We walked into the barn, down a short aisle entryway.

“There he is,” she said, and moved aside.

His stall was diagonal from the aisle we had just walked into. And through the vertical steel bars, he lifted his head and one light brown eye spotted me. I did not even see him; he was mostly hidden within the closed-up stall. Nowhere to peek his head out, nowhere to see any full views–just a small back window with bars and full bars along the front of the stall and door. But that eye caught both of mine and from there I can’t easily explain what happened. Something came over me. A feeling. A warmth. Peace. And I knew, beyond a shadow of a doubt!!

“That’s him! That’s my horse,” I said.

“Don’t you at least want to ride him?”

“I don’t need to,” I said, “but okay.”

He was a highly trained hunter/jumper and I was a lifelong western rider. To ride him, I had to get into a jumper saddle. Not a comfortable place for me. But he made me feel safe. I walked him around the indoor arena and offered him a bit of a trot. I was still a rather unskilled and unbalanced rider in an English saddle. But his gait was smooth and the moment I felt even a bit off-balance, he stopped.

And that was the beginning of horse owner history for me.

The nightmare came in the guise of boarding stables. As I have not the land, zoning, nor money for a barn of my own I have had to rely all these years (over 13 at this writing) on boarding stables and people’s back yard barns. As a person with very poor social skills, this has ended in one disaster after another. And, as I got to know and bond with my horse, we developed a communication beyond anything describable in mere words. I know his every thought, feeling and need without relying on body language or guesses. And, as he has aged, his needs change, as do mine. My need is to give him everything he desires as a horse…and that includes not being stuck in a small box 16 hours a day! At near 25 years old now, and plagued with Cushings, Insulin Resistance, laminitis and even founder, I have become very particular about his boarding situation.

And so, we move once again because I cannot afford the full care service at his current barn. The new place is far from our ideal, however. The stall is too small, there’s no shelter in the paddock and once more he will have to remain inside at night (in winter and bad weather). However…. with me being on disability and TRYING hard to make it as a writer, this place is affordable (rough board, meaning I do the care, which I prefer anyway). He can also stay out on nice nights (though with fall coming, these will be getting fewer). The rules are very lax, which is important as I have, through the years, developed methods and ways that work for my horse and I. Full service¬†(full board as it is called here in CT) barns have their own way of doing things, which makes sense, but has never worked for us.

So… as soon as I find someone with a trailer to move him the 14 miles from one barn to the other, we will be once more, on the road again!

 


Cat in the Book and the Birth of a Novel

If your cats are as much family to you as my cats are to me, and you’re writing a book, even a fiction novel, you can put your cats into your book as characters. Anne Rice put her dog Mojo in several of her vampire books as her character Lestat’s companion. George R.R. Martin (Game of Thrones) even wrote his turtles into one of his books. It’s not strange, nor is it corny. So, if you’re thinking about adding your favorite feline into a novel, go right ahead. I actually placed several of my cats, a dog who passed on and my horse into my latest novel, Beyond Every Mirror.

When I wrote the story (which began as a short story) in 1980 (yes, 1980)… I was a young teen in school. I sat in the back of the class and wrote many short stories. This one in particular, however, remained within my heart and was very special. It never left me, so 16 years later, I turned it into a novel. In the novel version, I wrote in my cat Sammy, my favorite cat at the time. I love all my cats, but sometimes one cat in particular holds a bit of a special place just above the others. For me this was my Sammy.

Sammy

Sammy was the first of my own cats to put into a novel

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I also placed my Doberman at the time, Dillinger. I loved horses, so I added a horse, though back then I did not own a horse yet, so I made one up. I took one of my favorite breeds, an Andalusian (black rather than the typical white), and named him Camelot.

Unfortunately, the first few drafts of my novel went nowhere and the book ended up in a drawer (so to speak). I had pitched the novel at conferences I attended in the 1990’s and early 2000’s but the cross-genre (fantasy-romance) did not yet exist, and no one was willing to put their money on a newbie author in a genre that was not there.

Finally, after quite a few years, not only did the genre finally come into the marketplace, but it was growing by leaps and bounds. It was time to “dust off” Beyond Every Mirror and do a re-write, then try again. I attended a writer’s conference and spoke with an agent and an editor, who both showed quite a bit of interest in the book. But I wanted to re-work it first. It was so old and outdated and I needed to bring up to the times.

Enter Phase Three of this book’s life. I pretty much rewrote the entire book! My writing skills had grown massively during this time and I knew what I wanted to do to change the book around. By this time, both Sammy and Dillinger had long passed on, and I wanted to put my present kitties into the book, the last Doberman I had (who was extraordinarily unique) and of course, my horse!

I placed many cats, not just one, into the book. Sammy was still there, of course, but my kitten Lucy and several of my other precious felines made their way into the pages of this novel. Though I still kept Camelot in the book, I knew by this time that keeping one horse is almost an impossibility (and to a herd animal, cruel in some ways), so I gave Camelot an elder horse friend… My elder Paint, Kobeejo!

Kobeejo

My registered Paint horse, Kobeejo, was added to the book, as a companion to an imaginary horse that made it into the first drafts.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The book is finally complete, all animals accounted for, and I am doing a once-more read-over, then printing a B&W draft to send to friends, media and others in order to get blurbs and opinions before I send the manuscript off to the agent and editor who had asked for it originally. You can sometimes find adventures of the animals within the main character’s blog, Dane’s Dark Myst.

So, don’t be afraid to “write what you know” and add your pets to your books. It may help keep them immortalized.

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Holiday Photo Shoots!

Now doing Christmas Photo Shoots in Connecticut and southern MA! I also will make your personalized Christmas cards! I will come to you for a personalized Christmas Photo session with your pet, kids, horse, whatever. All photos are fully edited for optimal quality. No extra charge unless you want something special, such as a different backdrop, etc. (want your horse to be one of Santa’s Reindeer? I can do that!). Photos, portraits, etc. I will come to you. Northeastern/Northcentral CT and southern MA. http://www.flickr.com/photos/kj-photography-65/