Sunday, June 30, 2013

Farmgirl Sisterhood

June greetings!

A new member of Mary Jane's Farm - Farmgirl Sisterhood, I look forward to meeting and following fellow Sisters, as well as sharing blog posts, including interviews of Famous People (writers, poets, authors, equestrians, horse breeders, farm/stable managers, master painters, photographers, artists, and much more...)! 

Stay updated via Press Releasescheck out Serendipity, read contributions from other writers/poets in Sharing, and enjoy your visit to my Freelance Archive! 

I'll be posting my attempt to earn Mary Jane's Farm Merit Badges..and connect with everyone at the next Glamping...!

If you'd like to have your blog featured via my blog, or be a guest and interview, send me a message! 

Thanks for connecting and following!

'HorseSister' Gina #5281

Sunday, June 16, 2013

Barbara Morgenroth, Equine Author

Barbara Morgenroth is an internationally acclaimed author of fiction and non-fiction. Formerly from New York City, she now lives somewhere else. Barbara envisioned a career as a globe-hopping photojournalist, but after college she determined her hop muscles weren't global strength so turned to writing. No life experience is safe from her keyboard and Barbara has proven that being a magnet for story material may be over stimulating to live through, but it's all ultimately research….

Welcome Barbara!

You love horses. Describe your past/present horses…

Since I had a stable where I taught riding, I’ve had quite a number of horses in my life. I had a terrific Pony of the Americas. Those were great experiences and I loved the kids who wanted to be around horses.

I like warmbloods. I had an Anglo-Trakenher, and a Dutch Warmblood. While I have had a couple Thoroughbreds, that’s not quite as good a match for me. I love ponies and had a gray Welsh pony named Gwen. She was adorable.

What books have you written?

I started my career in traditional publishing writing books about horses and riding, did some YA (Young Adult), then I worked in television for a while, then I returned to books and did adult and nonfiction. Then I switched to digital. It’s been a wonderful learning experience.

EBooks by Barbara Morgenroth

Bad Apple 1
Bad Apple 2: Burning Daylight
Bad Apple 3: Rise
Bad Apple 4: Certain
Flash of Light
Bittersweet Farm 1: Mounted
Bittersweet Farm 2: Joyful Spirit
Caprice's Totally Screwed Up Wish
Just Kate
Pass or Fail
Blue Raja
In Under My Head
Almost Breathing
Not Low Maintenance
Unspeakably Desirable
Fly Away With Me
Nothing Serious
Murder Is Exhausting

Dream Horse
Summer Horse

Jingles All The Way

The Ice Cream Parlor--History & Recipes
Verrines: Sweet & Savory Parfaits Made Easy

Where is your favorite place to write?

My favorite place hasn’t been found yet. I just have an office like most people.

What are you currently writing?

Bittersweet Farm 3: Wingspread is my current YA project. It focuses on two sisters, Talia Margolin and Greer Swope, at the family farm and their riding coach, Lockie Malone.

I wonder if you have a dog....

I have had Bullmastiffs for quite a few years now. They’re very easy to live with disposition-wise even if they are so big they block the hallway resulting in massive traffic jams. I have 2 Bullmastiffs now so it’s nearly impossible to get through the house.

Where have you traveled in the world?

I’ve been to England and Ireland. The countryside in both is spectacular. Ireland especially, with the rolling green pastures. You can’t help but think how perfect they are for horses.

Where is your favorite place to be?

Santa Barbara California has a nearly perfect climate—if it rained throughout the year it would be perfect—and is gorgeous. There are ranches and horses, mountains, oceans and incredible vistas. I haven’t been to Southern France but I imagine they are similar.

What is your best advice for aspiring writers?

Read a lot including the classics, read a couple books on screenwriting, live life and put some thought into your work.

List ten things about yourself that no one else knows....

No one? I’m not likely to tell any secrets on the internet.

I quite like fountain pens although the ink cartridges dry up before I use them.

I think I can get through the rest of my life without eating fish.

I love glass. I know it’s everywhere but art glass can be beautiful.

I love silent movies and am very glad Turner Classic Movies runs them once in a while. If they would air them when I am not writing it would be even better.

Flip-flops on men. Not a good style choice.

I love amusement parks. What a great idea.

I love old advertising posters. 

I didn’t know I could love bluegrass music until I heard Sarah Jarosz.

I don’t like a corded mouse.

I love my Nikon camera but I think everyone who knows me knows that.

Follow Barbara…

Saturday, June 8, 2013

Angela Norton, Equestrian

Homozygous black straight Egyptian TC Moniets Legacy (The Minstril x Bint Bint Moniet) 
Breeders Sweepstakes Nominated Sire; SCID clear; 
Sire of Champions in halter and performance; Offering frozen semen worldwide.
From Dallas, Texas, USA, currently living in Gilmer, Texas, Angela Norton is the proprietor of Diamond Magic Arabians, an exclusive ranch producing award winning horses….

Welcome Angela!

How was your recent visit to Thailand?
Thailand is a beautiful country, and the people are amazing.  It's called "the land of a thousand smiles" for good reason.  Everyone I met was friendly, kind, and generous.  Everywhere I looked, I saw beautiful flowers, lovely decorations, smiling people, bright colors, and intricate designs.  Thailand is also a land of contrasts.  The new and innovative stands alongside the ancient.

...and the horses there?  
I was amazed by the variety of breeds represented, and saw excellent quality among the horses on the 3 farms I visited.  I met the President of the newly-organized Thai Arabian Horse Club, which I'm told includes about 25 members who actually own Arabian horses, and many more people who are interested in the breed.  At one farm, I saw 5 beautiful Arabian stallions representing 5 famous sires, including Padrons Psyche and DA Valentino.  The same farm also had several outstanding Arabian mares, including a lovely grey mare bred by Om El International, who had an incredibly beautiful filly at side.  I will be interested to see future foals from this breeding program.
Dr. Shet Meksumpun, breeder/owner, with two of his purebred Arabian mares.  
The grey mare is the filly's (below) dam; this mare was bred by Om El International. 

Did you ride an elephant in Thailand?
The elephant is a magnificent animal, and I enjoyed our 30-minute trail ride through the jungle, which culminated in a walk through the shallow end of a lake.  The ride, however, is much different from a horse or camel, because unless you are the animal's trainer, you don't actually sit on the back of the elephant.  The trainer sits behind the elephant's head and guides the animal, while the other riders (usually two) sit on a bench seat that is centered on the elephant's back.  It's quite interesting, as the motion of the elephant sways from side to side.  We walked up and down some rather steep hills and crossed water deep enough to swim in, but never went faster than a walk, and I never felt "connected" to the elephant, as I do when riding a horse.  Still, it was a great experience, and one that I will always cherish.  The kindness of these "gentle giants" is humbling, and I was glad to see the native Thai handlers treating them with respect.

Angela's Thailand elephant ride (notice the machete)...
When was your first introduction to horses? 
My parents grew up in the country, and had ranch horses as part of their childhood.  So, very early on, I was given a rocking horse, cowboy boots and hat, and all my early fantasies involved riding.  I learned to read early, and one of my first "favorite books" was Marguerite Henry's wonderful Album of Horses.  I fell in love with Arabians when I was about 3 years old, and saw my first live Arabian horses at the annual State Fair Arabian Show in 1964.  We attended that show for four years, and always went into the barns to see the horses "up close."  The first time I looked into the big, beautiful dark eyes of an Arabian horse, and touched that soft, silky muzzle, I was addicted for life.  When I was 6 years old, my family bought the land where I now raise Arabians; we moved here when I was 11.  Along the way, I had Shetland ponies, a Paint mare, and a Quarter Horse gelding ... but I dreamed of an Arabian.  When I was 15 years old, those dreams came true.  I was given a 4-month-old Arabian colt, who became my best friend and beloved companion for the next 32 years.  His name was Thunder Magic (Thunder Bolt x Fadjura) and he was bred by Diamond R Arabians of Allen, Texas.  He taught me so much, over the years ... he was my first show horse; together we won our first blue ribbon in an Arabian native costume class; Magic hated jumping, but would do it for me if I really, really wanted him to; I had no idea how to ask for a sidepass, but together we learned to negotiate obstacles, and even occasionally won a trail class; he carried me through my first dressage lessons; we went on many all-day trail rides in open country, including some where I had no idea what might be found over the next hill; and he helped me teach my 10-year-old stepson how to ride.  On the last day of his long and happy life, Magic taught me how to let go of my dreams.  Remembering his love and the wonderful times we had together gave me strength to build new dreams, with another wonderful Arabian horse.  I still miss my beloved Magic; he will always live in my heart.

Define 'classic Arabian, live-in-your-tent' classic horse...  
The Arabian horse has long been known as "the oldest domesticated breed" and "the progenitor of the light horse, foundation of all riding breeds."  Perhaps because of this long association with people, particularly in the harsh environment of the deserts, Arabian horses are strong, with great stamina, and are known for winning endurance rides and long-distance races.  The Arabian also loves people, loves attention, loves to be petted and handled.  If the owner loves the horse and spends time with him, many personality traits will appear, some of which might astound owners of other breeds.  My gelding Magic was playful, affectionate, and craved human companionship.  He would run to meet me at the fence, even if it wasn't "feeding time."  He loved being petted and scratched and hugged.  He also loved having his picture taken.  He would turn his head toward a camera and pose.  He also loved giving rides to children, especially around the show grounds.

This is why I love to show my Arabians in open shows ... to combat the false impression so many people have, that "those crazy A-rabs" are "wild" and "spooky" and "can't do nothin useful."  When the same horse shows in halter, English pleasure, Western pleasure, trail, Western riding, costume, and other classes, sometimes being ridden by small children, and does his job calmly every time, people do notice.  When that horse is a beautiful, purebred Arabian, he often makes new friends for the breed.

Me and my first Arabian, the grey gelding Thunder Magic 73091 (Thunder Bolt x Fadjura) taken May 1982 at the Gardendale Horse Show, Gardendale, Texas,
winning our first costume class.
What do you look for when determining 'perfect conformation'?

The perfect horse has never been born, but good legs are the foundation of any equine athlete, so I look first for straight legs with large, strong joints and enough bone and substance to be able to carry a rider across country safely and comfortably.  The horse is a rear-engine drive biological machine, so a long, deep hip with good muscling is important.  A deep heart girth and broad chest are also valuable, with a large windpipe and large, flaring nostrils.  I also prefer a shorter back, which seems to be harder and harder to find.  The average horse of today has a much longer neck than the average horse of the 1960s, but most of these longer necks seem to be connected to longer backs as well, so there has to be a balance.  The perfect horse would have a long, well-shaped neck connected high up on a well-defined wither, with a long, sloping shoulder; this horse would also have a short, strong back with well-sprung ribs, strong muscling over the loin and croup, a long, deep hip, and excellent, straight legs with low hocks, short cannons, strong knees, long well-sloped pasterns, and strong, well-shaped hooves that are a "matched set."  The horse would stand straight and square, well-balanced, with no toeing out or toeing in; no cow hocks or sickle hocks, not camped-out behind; and this horse would have a long, smooth stride at all gaits, with no winging or paddling. 

Finally, to be a good Arabian horse, we also want to see a beautiful, short, dished head with large, dark eyes set wide apart; small and well-shaped ears that arch inward at the tips; a fine muzzle with large, flaring nostrils; fine, dark skin; beautiful, strong cheekbones; large, round jowls set far apart; and straight teeth that meet properly with no overbite and no undershot jaw.  The topline of an Arabian should be relatively flat, compared to most other breeds, without a sharply peaked croup or "rafter rear;" the neck should have a natural arch with a fine, graceful throatlatch that allows a natural headset; and the tail of an Arabian horse should be carried high, like a flag, particularly when the horse is excited.  Overall an Arabian should give an elegant appearance of both type and substance.  I must confess that I do not own a horse with "perfect conformation" ... in more than 50 years of studying photos and attending horse shows, I have only seen a few that came close to my ideal.  But horse breeders continue to strive to produce better and better horses, closer and closer to the ideal.  There are many more excellent Arabian horses available for purchase today than there were in the 1960s, and horse prices have not increased at all.  It is truly a buyer's market, and anyone who is looking for a horse today has a good chance of finding a really nice Arabian at a very reasonable price.

At what age do you begin training?
I do imprint training at birth, as taught by Dr. Robert Miller.  Then I work with my youngsters as often as possible, using the techniques described by John Lyons in his wonderful book, Bringing Up Baby.  I may begin longeline training even before weaning, but at first the baby only walks in circles, stops, turns, and walks.  Since having both hips replaced, I no longer ride my own young horses, but I will send them to a professional trainer at anytime after the horse's fourth birthday, depending on the individual horse's maturity, size, strength, and mental readiness.  I want a trainer to treat the horse kindly, and ride them gently, gradually building up to an hour or more per day, 5 or 6 days a week.  After a month or two of daily riding, the horse should be safe for me or anyone else to ride, in controlled situations.  Of course, if the horse is to be shown, much more training will be required.

What training method(s) do you use?
Dressage is the basic foundation of all riding, but I tend toward "backyard dressage" (and I love the book of that title, by Mary Twelveponies).  The object of training is for the horse to move freely forward, with the hind legs reaching well up under the horse, and to gradually develop balance, "self-carriage," lightness of the forehand, a light feeling of contact, and a prompt response to cues.  The goal is for the rider to think, and the horse to move, calmly and smoothly, with very little time elapsed, and little or no visible signal.  Of course, such lightness and communication requires many hours of teamwork between the individual horse and rider. 

Whether the horse is intended to be ridden Western or English, he will be started in a bosal or snaffle bit, and he will be ridden with the dressage principles of balance, free forward movement, and lightness always in mind.  Actually, I think any horse can be ridden in either or both Western and English tack (hunter and dressage); every Arabian horse I have ever owned and ridden has done both.  I also think that the same horse can and should do "main ring" classes and dressage classes, at the same show, if the rider is that ambitious; and I think it is good for a show horse's sanity (and might help prevent colic, ulcers, and stable vices) to also go on leisurely trail rides, around the farm or elsewhere, on days when he isn't showing.  My current show horse loves trail riding; he also shows in Western pleasure, hunter pleasure, lower level dressage, halter, sport horse in-hand, and occasionally costume or trail class; he has ribbons in "all the above," including a Regional Reserve Championship in halter AOTH with his previous owner, and he loves carrying a small child in leadline classes.  He is currently being shown in hunter pleasure and huntseat equitation by a 12-year-old beginner rider in local open shows.

What is your current stable configuration?
I'm actually semi-retired.  My last 5 foals were born in 2008; with the drought and skyrocketing price of grain, with hay at $110 per round bale, I decided not to breed any more until I sold the young stock that I already had.  I sold 10 horses two years ago, including a Padrons Psyche daughter and a young black homebred stallion who were exported to Thailand; and I sold two more horses last year, so I currently have only 13 Arabians here at my farm, plus my show horse, who is boarded at Triple Creek Ranch in Hallsville, TX. 

Of the 14 Arabians I currently own, 6 are "geriatrics and special needs," including my stallion, 4 mares & 1 gelding; 3 are young mares; and the other 5 are geldings, ranging in age from 5-10 years.  All of the young geldings are available for purchase.

My last stallion, now retired, is 28-year-old Ibn Hisan, a black Egyptian-Crabbet cross who is by a straight Egyptian *Morafic grandson and out of a Raffon daughter who was full sister to the dam of Huckleberry Bey.  I thought that was an interesting pedigree, and he is a wonderful old horse.  His past includes showing in harness, being used as a working ranch horse, trail riding, dressage, and being ridden bareback around my pastures by neighborhood children.  Because of a spinal injury, Ibn Hisan is no longer able to sire foals, but he enjoys his retirement, in a large pasture with a lovely grey mare, also age 28.  Her name is Angelfire Shahna; I bred and raised her; she was sired by my first stallion, Shah Dorsaz, and was my first futurity show horse.  I also have a sweet bay gelding, Angelfire Beau, who is 27 years old and has been Shahna's close friend for all of that time.  He shares his pasture with a 25-year-old grey mare called Amy (Silver Satinn) who produced 3 wonderful foals for me (2006-2008) and has earned her retirement.

My straight Egyptian mare, MB Noramses, age 19, is expecting a foal in September of 2013, and I'm also hoping for foals from CBA TSavannah and Diamond TSabrina next spring, all to be sired by the homozygous black straight Egyptian TC Moniets Legacy. My favorite mare, also now semi-retired, is 24-year-old Diamond TSable; she has the pedigree that I wanted for more than 30 years, being related to my first Arabian, Magic, through his dam, Fadjura.  The two young mares that I hope to breed to Legacy for next year (CBA TSavannah and Diamond TSabrina) are both daughters of Diamond TSable; my third young "future broodmare" is Amorosa Hisanna ("Rosie"), the 2007 daughter of Ibn Hisan and Silver Satinn.

My geldings include:  TA Alandro ("Alex"), 2003 bay (*Kordelas x *Ala) who is my show horse; 
Diamond TSeraph, 2005 bay (DE Mohumed Ali x TSerena) ridden dressage and Western and has completed an ACTHA ride;
Marshal Matt Dillonn, 2006 grey (MS Summer Flame x Silver Satinn) ridden Western and hunter/dressage; has talent for cutting or reining & enjoys trail rides;
Diamond TSaber, 2007 bay (Ibn Hisan x Diamond TSabrina); and
Cheyloh al Hisan, 2008 chestnut (Ibn Hisan x BA Cheyene).

I'm also excited about the opportunity to offer frozen semen worldwide, from the homozygous black straight Egyptian stallion
TC Moniets Legacy (The Minstril x Bint Bint Moniet).  Legacy, who died in 2009, was a Breeders Sweepstakes Nominated Sire; SCID clear; and sired Champions in halter and performance.  His offspring are known for good minds, trainable dispositions, athleticism and versatility, as well as being beautiful, and with the added allure of his rare black color.  Legacy's stud fee at the time of his death was $1500, but through a special agreement with his owner, Suzy Foss of Gold Creek Arabians, I am able to offer breedings to Legacy, with a live foal guarantee, for just $750.  All foals will be black, from black mares or from non-Agouti chestnut mares, and regardless of color, Legacy foals are wonderful family horses.  Many are used for pleasure trail riding, ranch work, and natural horsemanship projects, as well as being show horses or dressage horses or endurance trail horses.  Legacy is enrolled in the Sport Horse Nationals Payback program, also:

What makes 'Diamond Magic Arabians' different?   
50 years of dedication to the Arabian breed, by a horse-crazy kid who never outgrew that first, starry-eyed addiction.  My goal is to find the best possible, loving, forever home for each horse that I produce, and to help as many people as possible find their "dream horse," wherever that horse may be.

What does horsemanship mean to you?
Horsemanship, to me, means communication, with love, which flows both ways between a person and the horses she meets.  Horsemanship is an endless process of learning and practicing, which leads to growth and development of the skills that allow horses to understand the horseman, as the horseman gradually learns to better understand the horse.  We who would be horsemen know that we are fortunate to have the love and companionship of these beautiful athletes.  There is no thrill greater than those found on the back of a willing and well-trained horse, who executes your wishes almost before you have time to translate them into requests.  The true horseman doesn't need to think about how to ask the horse to do something; he or she just rides the horse and thinks about doing the thing, whether it is sidepass, piaffe, or turning back a cow ... and the trained horse feels the intention in the hands, the legs, the seat of the rider, and executes the movement with willingness, impulsion, and confidence.  True horsemanship is seen when the horse and the rider perform as one, and it is beautiful to watch.

Connect with Angela...

Monday, June 3, 2013

Andrew J. Keir, Author

Available in Paperback & Kindle

Originally from Glasgow, UK, Andrew J. Keir is a world-class, award-winning writer. Now living in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates, Andrew is the author of Bloody Flies, a fascinating novel that continues to draw controversy…

Welcome Andrew!


Did you always know you wanted to be a writer? 

As soon as the realization dawned, as a young child, that people had written these wonderful stories in the library, I knew I wanted to be a writer. Unfortunately, I didn’t “seize the day” to make my dream become reality until I was in my thirties. I’m happy to have rectified that now.

What was the first book you remember reading? 

A Noddy Picture-book by Enid Blyton. I also remember reading, and being read, a lot of comics, such as Toby and The Disney Comic, before graduating on to Batman and the like.

Why is 'Bloody Flies' controversial? 

Bloody Flies is controversial because it tackles the issue of slave camel jockeys. Young kids who were kidnapped from their homes in South Asia and forced to race camels in the Middle East. Because of this, the authorities (In the Gulf) have refused to process the forms that would allow me to sell the book there. The book also ruffled a few feathers because it was the first literary work in English to challenge the ethics of the expatriate lifestyle in the UAE. 

Are you writing a sequel? 

I’m not writing a sequel, for now, because being banned in your main market is not all that it’s cracked up to be. People frequently say to me that banning a book encourages more sales. From my perspective, I can assure you that this is not the case. 

What are you currently writing?

An historical adventure about Cinaed mac Alpin, the first King of Scotland. I’m about half way through and I’m hoping it will be ready next year. I’m pretty sure this one won’t get banned.

How do you maintain thoughts and ideas? 

My journal is very important to me. I don’t keep it like a diary but I do like to fill it with quotes, cuttings and ideas. Sometimes I write my stories longhand in there too, when I have days where I don’t feel like typing. 

At other times, I like to stew over an idea in my head and it can take weeks before I transfer it to paper. 

Where do you like to write? 

In my living room overlooking the hustle and bustle of Hamdan Street in Abu Dhabi. It’s the City Centre, so there is a lot going on outside. Sometimes, when I want a change of scene, I head to a CafĂ© next to the sea. But, when I do that, there’s always the risk I spend more time chatting than writing. 

Do you have a rigorous writing routine or muse?

There’s no muse in my life, certainly no fixed one, but I do have a routine of sorts. I need to procrastinate for hours before I put pen to paper. Luckily I have a procrastination schedule.

Usually, I drop my children off at school, before driving to my club for a swim. After forty laps I read the news, check my emails and social networks, and head for home, where I make coffee and pour myself some fizzy mineral water. Once the computer boots up I’m good for anywhere between one and a half to three hours; and then it’s time to pick the boys up from school again. Once they’re sorted out, I drive to the College where I lecture. 

I never write at night. 

Who is your favorite author?

I can’t give one favorite writer so I’ll give three instead.

The first is Hermann Hesse. His novels always have something unusual, important and difficult to say. But he handles the difficulty with ease and renders the issue, whatever it is, accessible.

Second is Kazuo Ishiguro who wrote Remains of the Day and Never Let Me Go. Ishiguro has it all: style, substance, character and plot, all in a perfectly executed package. 

Third is Cormac McCarthy. McCarthy is stylistically wonderful. His writing is sparse, bleak and driven, and if I could choose to write like anyone, it would be him. 

Any advice for beginning writers? 

Develop a thick skin, strive continually to improve and stick with it for the long haul. People will try to knock you down. Don’t let them. There will be others who will help you. 

List 10 random facts about yourself… 

I married Naomi, in Sri Lanka, on the back of an elephant called Baby Nola.

I’m a Karate black belt.

In the summer, I escape the heat of Abu Dhabi by flying off to the beautiful seaside town of Largs in the West of Scotland. 

My MA in Creative Writing is from the University of Lancaster.

My favorite soccer team is St Mirren FC in the Scottish Premier League.

I’m the father of fantastic seven year old twins.

Killing Vikings is one of my favorite pastimes.

Sashimi is my favorite food.

Swearing is something I do regularly whilst negotiating Abu Dhabi’s crazy traffic.

I was once a stooge in the Ken Dodd laughter show. 

Follow Andrew…

Stuff & Nonsense: Introducing Celeste Parsons, Ohio Writer

Greetings from southeastern Ohio! My name is Celeste Parsons, and I live here on a 48-acre former dairy farm with my husband Jim, our Westie...