Monday, September 8, 2014

Writing, Grammar, Spelling or I Can't Believe You Wore Those Pants

Just have to clear this one up. Then, I can just refer readers to this post as needed.

When I started Mugwump Chronicles I wanted to share some stories, think through training issues, and gripe.

I hoped for an audience, because I wanted to know if I wrote well enough to earn one.

Being the needy soul I can be, I hoped for affirmation that my secret desire to write was more than a pipe dream.

I got those things and thank you for that.

For me, the blog became a place to go and just...write.

After a while it became a place to share with others. Ideas, stories, thought, dreams, and I just loved it. I received emails with great stories and started posting some. More often than not, the writer would say, "Please clean this up for me," or, "I know this isn't very good, but..."

It made me nuts. Some of the best stories I read were written by people with vast experience, amazing tales and often, little to no education. Their voice, clear and beautiful, still came through the errors, often the "mistakes" gave their writing a tender awkwardness, a local flavor, a taste of a different world. They wouldn't let me share them because of their fear of ridicule.

Then, I fell into writing the Fugly Blog and some of the nastiest bitches the trolls. 
We'll skip the bits trashing my daughter, my choice of riding discipline, and my love of a breed that is notoriously built down hill.They went crazy on my awkward sentences, spelling errors, structure, you name it. It soon became clear, there is a world out there that equates getting A's in 8th grade Composition with knowledge about horses.

I quit writing the blog because I hated those people. They made me feel insecure and sad. They weren't worth my time.

I worked on my writing constantly. I had journalism technique shoved down my throat at a fast and furious pace by my extremely patient editor at the paper. I studied, went to workshops, talked to journalists, columnists and so forth. 

I met other writers, some good, some bad, some boring. I learned that writers can be mean, jealous, petty and crazy stalkers. They can also be lovely, funny, and generous when sharing their knowledge.

I threw myself on the mercy of teachers to help me learn the pieces I had daydreamed through in school. I read blogs, books, teachers reference books and books about writing. I kept my personal education off this blog, because it's about dogs and horses.

I found out the best writers to come out of the school system are children who are allowed to write, to express themselves and tell their stories without correction on spelling or grammar. When those very important parts of writing are treated as a separate education, creativity flows and the writer learns, with time, to blend them together.

I read blogs and other social media where people go to ridiculous lengths to ridicule writing mistakes. There are web sites, FB pages, blogs and who knows what else, dedicated to mocking people trying to communicate.  

My automatic response is, WTH is wrong with you? Shut up and let me listen, read, write, share, explain. 

I made Mugwump Chronicles a safe place to visit. Tell me your story, your idea, your experiences and don't be afraid of being criticized for your ability to write. 

To me, this is the same as mocking a stutterer, or a heavy accent, or grownup with a second grade education. I hope if your Grandma heard you behaving that way she would slap the shit out of you. 

Currently, I still work hard on improving my writing. I think I'm getting better, but my education comes from outside this blog, from people, events and places I've researched and am comfortable with. Places about learning the art of writing. This blog is where I think and talk.

When I write here, or post other writers, I'm always excited to check the comments and see where they go. When a comment starts with an edit for grammar, spelling or structure it makes me feel exactly like the nerdy who kid finally got invited to the cool kids party. The kid who spent hours trying to dress just so, then walked into the party, shaking, terrified but still filled with hope, and is immediately laughed at for the hay in her hair an the horse manure stench emanating from her shoes.
I think there are many others who feel the same.

Read the blog, read each other, disagree, agree and share. Or don't. It's up to you. But let this be a safe haven to write in. I already told you guys to call me out when I need to go throw rocks. Now I'm going to insist on this one. Let the stories flow and leave the grammar alone. 

It's just a blog for goodness sake.












Wednesday, September 3, 2014

Bred for the Job










My first cowhorse was ranch bred Sonita.

She was big, red, freckled, had lots of chrome and attitude.

Those who know me, know her.

She was a life lesson and then some.


My second cowhorse, Loki, was a Foundation bred mare from a Buckskin breeding program. I had bought her as a project for my daughter and I, with no thought of cowhorse in my head.

 I had some success with her and my daughter did too. She was fast, anxious, sweet, and could slide thirty feet on a good day, 20 to 25 without a thought. She couldn't spin worth a damn. She wasn't very bendy. Riding her was kind of like riding a Grayhound bus in a 7/11, but she dug deep again and again.

 I bought Madonna as a long yearling. She was bred to rein and work cattle. She was and is amazing. I have said more than once, and will probably say again, until I trained Madonna, I had no idea I'd been trying to turn chihuahua's into huskies. She was my first sled dog.

Buying a horse bred to do the sport I was obsessed with was a real eye opener. The hours, months and years I spent riding and training horses the better trainers passed on had opened my mind to the potential in horses, no matter what they were bred for. I developed an interest in unlocking a horse's mind so it wanted to work for me, was willing to try, even if the bones were too heavy, the back was too long or the brains too scrambled. It also had me convinced horse training was hard, hard, hard and so was reined cow horse.

Then, I bought Madonna. She slid, spun and was naturally leaded. I'm not kidding, if I set her up right she just did it. The rest was refinement. The first time she tracked a cow she was so happy she started to buck.

"Don't you touch her!" K warned before I could get all clutchy. She smoothed out the second she saw the cow escaping because of her nonsense and she stopped. That was it. Madonna has been all about the cow ever since.


She wasn't particularly fast, she was quick and agile. I realized when you're on a horse that's on her cow, then you don't need a fast one, because you're never playing catchup.


We went to work with a cutting trainer while K was out of town (oops, busted!). I was worried because she carried her head so high while she worked. The trainer watched for a while and said, "She's naturally so underneath herself she's balancing herself with her head. Stay out of her way, off her mouth and wait, she'll sort it out."



He was right. I worked hard on staying out of her way and she sorted herself out. Breeding makes a difference.

In an interesting twist of fate, I have shown Madonna the least of any of my horses. Economics and illness sidelined me. Except for one miserable failing in Nebraska, she has been in the money just about every time we've walked in the pen. She's lovely.

She's also spooky and bitchy. Dead solid on cattle, in the pen or on a gather, she's so focused you'd think she was a rock.

Take her on the trail, or around the yard at the barn and she's a bug-eyed freak. She's bred to physically respond to movement and boy howdy, does she ever.

During the peak of my years hauling to shows, I was mounted on $900 dollar horses. Once I finally got my sled dog, life bit me in the butt. Madonna hasn't been wasted, not as far as I'm concerned. I was able to study the art of building a bridle horse and given the luxury of taking as long as it took. She's sound, sane (ish) and ready to go if the road to showing opens up again.

I guess, what it comes down to is, as far as life and learning goes, I have always ended up with the horses I needed, at the time I needed them, whether I agreed or not.



Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Brockle and Charlie Go to the Vet



"Bite a Chihuahua! I'm glad to get back in the car. That was awful. Looks like you're next Brockle. Hahahahahaha!!!!"

"Whatever. Can you see me sniffing this bush through the windshield? Yep. Oooh, couple of short dogs peed here, you definitely could have peed higher on the bush than they did. Oh, wait, you missed this one didn't you? So sad, see me sniffing here Charlie? Whoa baby, what is this? A girl dog? Is it true?? She's in heat! Wow Charlie, too bad you missed this, it smells better than a baby eating pudding."

"Let me out! Let me out! Son of a Meter Reader, this is NOT FAIR!!!

"What's that Charlie? Can't hear you locked up in the car like that...you can watch me pee all over this bush though. Ahhhhhh."

15 minutes later:

"Dude, are you OK?"

"Well, yeah, why wouldn't I be? Charlie, I swear, you're turning into such a mailman."

"Weren't you afraid of the blindfold?"

"Um, what blindfold? They petted me and told me I was beautiful."

"Wait, are you telling me nobody stuck their finger up your butt?"

"Nope. Guess they were too busy kissing me and giving me cookies."

"Ahwooo!!!!!"





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