Demon Age 2 news

I’ve made some decisions on this one.

1. The title is likely to be what I had in mind a few years ago. Since the end of Tiger Born leads into a focus on the dagger Nadia carries, the dagger used to take the spirits of many half-bloods, I’ve made that the starting and ending points for the story. Because the spell Nadia used was designed to pull the spirits of the person whose blood it drew, it is known as a spirit blade. From what I’ve written (around 3/4 done with the first draft), I am leaning towards titling this second book Spirit Blade.

2. The second news I have is a release date, or at least an approximate time–September 2014.

3. Last of I’m going to try something different–serialization. I hope to begin work with the artist in a few weeks for the cover. With luck, he’ll be done by July, depending on his schedule. At that time, I’d like to try something different with this. I sort of did it with Phantoms but that one easily wrote itself into two distinct novels. This one, however, doesn’t, but I can still make that work.

Here’s what I plan to do…The full version will be available as stated above, but leading up to that, I’d like to start releasing the novel in four parts starting in mid-late July and every other week, which would take to early September. They would all use the same cover with the additional note on them of “Part 1″, “Part 2″, etc. The full novel wouldn’t have any of that. In the description it will say “Part x of 4″ and at the end, I will provide an availability date of the next part and of the full version, so readers can stop at any time and wait until the full version if they prefer.

As for prices, here’s what I expect to do… Part 1 FREE ($0.99 until price-matched at Amazon). Part 2 $0.99. Parts 3 & 4 $2.99 each. The first part will be a lengthy free sample and the full ebook will be a little cheaper than paying for each part individually, but readers can sample up to half the book early for only $0.99 that way. I will do what I can to set up pre-order availability for the full novel.

The only way this will change is if the story ends up longer than I’m  currently planning, but for now this is looking like it will follow these plans.

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the massive hoof thrush treatment product review post

Just what the title says is what you’ll find in this post after my experiences…

First off, I’d like to rate my product preferences for treatments:

#1 WHITE LIGHTNING

White Lightning’s many options now available from GrandCircuitInc.com.

This is the most effective treatment I have found. Pros–it kills everything except healthy tissues. Cons–price (expensive) and a lot of work with having to thoroughly clean the hooves to make this effective.

I have been mentioning this in all my trials and tribulations with treating Beau’s deep thrush. After a treatment, he can walk off sound, but his frogs have deep-seated disease that is hell-bent on staying. WL is the only treatment that consistently has given up good results.

Purchase directly from grandcircuitinc.com or from horsehealthusa.com (my preference–free shipping with orders over $75). I’ve tried the gel and didn’t see any improvement from it. I’d stick to the liquid soak.

#2 NO THRUSH

No Thrush powder available from Smartpakequine.com in either 2.5 oz or 5.5 oz. bottles

This is my second favorite choice of products for treating thrush. Pros–dry powder useful for coat fungus as well as thrush, can be used without washing hooves. Cons–expensive (prices seem to have jumped recently but I don’t know why, possibly supply-demand because it is effective), it may not get into all the places thrush thrives, doesn’t stick to dry hooves.

I’ve had only modest success with this and only use it in wet conditions between WL soaks. It doesn’t stay on the hoof very well. If you have severe case, I don’t recommend this product, but for mild cases of thrush, it can do the job. For coat fungi, it works great! Much easier and less messy than prescription creams from the vet.

#3 TRIPLE ANTIBIOTIC OINTMENT + CLOTRIMAZOLE (ATHLETE’S FOOT/JOCK ITCH CREAM) (aka Ramey’s Goo)

The brainchild of barefoot trimmer Pete Ramey, these two ingredients together kill bacteria and fungi. Mix equal parts together and stuff into a syringe–I like 35 mL because it’s the largest that I can use one-handed. Pros–cheap (you can find generics on Amazon for less than $2 per 1 oz. tube if willing to buy in bulk), stays on, effective, gentle on all tissues. Cons–mixing and getting into the syringe takes a little time and patience.

I have found this treatment effective, but on my boy’s problem hooves, it doesn’t go far enough. Like the No Thrush, I tend to only use it on days that I’m not soaking in WL. On less problematic cases, I can see it being very effective.

And now to go on to other products that I have used and tried, starting with soaking boots.

#1 ZIPLOC GALLON FREEZER BAGS

Not much to say. They can be bought in Target, Wal-Mart, and many grocery stores. Pros–inexpensive, readily available, perfect size for average or small hooves. Cons–noisy (please desensitize your horse before attaching any plastic to any part of their bodies!), need to double bag or wrap with duct tape to prevent too much leaking and they often still break so you’ll be using a lot.

I had to work my horse up from one hoof which was frightening but not jumping out of his skin (he’s been desensitized with grocery bags and other plastic stuff) to having all four soaking at once. Your easy to find food storage bags are great for hoof soaking and freezer bags are heavier than regular Ziploc bags, but you’ll be replacing them after each use.

#2 DAVIS THE MEDICINE BOOT

The Medicine Boot by Davis, available from Smartpakequine.com and many other equine retailers

These are great for soaking with water but not so much for treating, unless you put the bagged foot inside the boot. Pros–reusable, fairly cheap for what they are. Cons–liquids can splash out the open top, can be hard to get hoof inside but a little oil on the back of the boot can help, also requires some desensitization of the horse because they are a strange thing being attached to their hoof especially if they move their foot and water splashes out.

I do like these for soaking in water but not for the WL soaking because of the open top. WL is effective for the gas that is produced to kill the organisms, so you still need to wrap in plastic and tap it shut, whether you insert that into one of these boots or just let it stand with the bag on it.

#3 WHITE LIGHTNING SOAKING BAGS

WL soaking bags from GrandCircuitinc.com

These are heavy plastic bags that can be flattened on the bottom to accommodate every hoof. They are tall but can be cut down, as the WL gas only needs to treat the hoof. I wrap around the pasterns with duct tape to seal in the gas. Pros–heavy plastic, large (one-size fits all), reusable. Cons–price ($8 for 4 bags, about the same price as two 30-bag packs of the Ziploc bags mentioned above), not much more durable than Ziploc freezer bags.

I like these bags and expected them to last through many treatments. Unfortunately, none of them lasted through more than two treatments. Part of that is because my horse has become so desensitized that he doesn’t care if he moves his feet wrapped in plastic or rests them. The pressure from the toes, I believe, is what caused them to tear enough at the seams to leak.

And last, there are other products I’ve mentioned which deserve a little attention…

1) REVLON STAINLESS STEEL NAIL GROOMER

Limited availability but the best nail groomer for using on hooves, by Revlon

Let’s face it–most of us who are this concerned for our horses are ladies. And even if you’re not, you can always order online if you’re too embarrassed to purchase in the store.

I’ve said it many times in my thrush-fighting updates that this tool is my single most important in my kit. It’s stainless steel, so it’s durable. That long neck to the tiny scoop can get into the deepest crevices, and trust me when I say that I have found crap where you wouldn’t expect it, thanks to this. The flat side is a great hoof pick and its rounded.

I keep a few on hand as back ups, since I’m prone to misplacing things. Unfortunately, I can’t find them in the stores any more and Amazon only has them as an add-on item. I wish Revlon would continue with these, because this is the best I’ve found.

However, there’s another alternative. My husband has something very similar, which is where I got the idea. His tool, however, is marketed for modelers–he works on strategy gaming miniatures. So, if you can’t find this, look in modeling supplies at a comics/gaming store or hobby store. I might have to do that if I ever misplace all of these that I have on hand.

 

2) GROUT SCRUB BRUSH

Premium Grout Scrub Brush by Scotch Brite from Target.com

This and many like it are great for scrubbing out collateral grooves and central sulci in those thrushy frogs. However, I don’t recommend it on very sensitive frogs. If your horse tries to pull away from these stiff bristles, switch to a plain toothbrush, my next item of choice.

These grout brushes can be found in the cleaning aisles at discount stores and supermarkets. This one is currently $4.49 from Target.com. You’ll have to replace it once the bristles become flared, but that takes a while.

3) PLAIN TOOTH BRUSHES

4-pack Up N Up toothbrushes from Target.com

I’m not talking the fancy heads designed for cleaning teeth and gums but the plain bristles of yore, the ones we had when we were kids before all these newfangled fancy teeth cleaning systems were available. (My dentist has made a mint off of me.) Nothing fancy. Cheap and even available in multi-packs.

The pack shown is only $3.94 from Target.com, the same pack I bought for scrubbing my horse’s frogs. They’re soft and gentle on sensitive tissues. When he objects to the hard bristles of the grout brush or I need to get deep into his central sulci, which the grout brush is too big to squeeze into–we’re working on this with getting his hooves clean so his heels open up–I use one of these. I scrub his hooves clean before soaking in White Lightning, and these brushes are very helpful.

Those are my recommendations in the fight against thrush. It’s a long battle for us, but I hope my experiences can help you win the race faster.

 

 

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Let nature be your guide

As if I hadn’t already become a barefoot believer, an observation I made lately has really solidified what I’ve been learning from my reading…

Since taking over complete care of my horse’s hooves, his whole body is improving, particularly in the sacrum that always had to be adjusted–his right hind hoof wants to be shorter than the left hind if each hoof is trimmed according to its individual shape. This brings his right hip down in line with his left and explains why since I took over care of his hooves three months ago that we’ve hardly needed a chiropractor, and when I did have him out, he was impressed with how well Beau was aligned in his lower back. My horse’s problems of the last few years are fading away and it blows my mind! I actually have a normal horse.

As I read in some texts on barefoot trimming, farriers trim hooves in preparation for a shoe, whether they nail one on or not. Well, they also tend to try to force each hoof into a mold and make one mirror the other. Nature doesn’t work that way. We’re all crooked. In a horse, however, the body will compensate to make up for weaknesses. In Beau’s case, his right hind leg is apparently longer than his left and the compensation comes out in the hooves with their uneven height. Not by much, mind you, but noticeable. I wish I’d taken a picture now. You’ll have to take my word for it.

Now, if only we could knock out this thrush once and for all, life would be all unicorns and pink clouds for us. We’re still treating 2-3 times a week with White Lightning  and I feel like we just can’t stay ahead of it, at least not when the ground is wet, as it has been since the snow that fell over this past week.

Ugh! We were doing so well before that stupid blizzard-that-wasn’t-truly-a-blizzard on Monday and the extra few inches that fell two days later.

We’ll keep on keeping on, however. The WL works the best for him. It’s just a matter of winning this race in keeping the thrush away long enough for his hooves to heal fully.

As for riding, we’re taking it day by day, but at least we are riding.

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what’s up…

A few things…mainly word counts.

Work-in-progress #1 got a bit stalled, so today I switched to WIP #2 and added about 700 words. Tonight, #1 got moving again. Not as easy-peasy as my kids would say, but still progress.

WIP 1 (Demon Age Book 2) is currently at 72,000 words while WIP 2 is around 2,900 words and will be a shorter work, likely a novella. I’m hoping to finish both first drafts by early summer, but one never knows, like the little block I had to contend with over the last week.

I also wanted to say that if #2 continues to develop, I’ll have a perfect lead-in to Nemesis. That’s your first hint of what’s to come.

And up in the saddle…

I’ve also been up on my horse lately, riding again. AT LAST! He’s still having some hoof issues, but everything I read says that movement helps the healing. I’m getting him moving, but the healing will take time. He has a lot of hoof pathologies and is out of shape, so we’re taking it easy. I’m doing all I can. Studying barefoot trimming to care for his hooves myself, treating for thrush, and having the saddle adjusted are paying off in a much happier horse willing to work. I haven’t had this cooperative of a horse in a couple of years, so the last week has been amazing for me. I think I appreciate it all the more because of our struggles.

Getting fed up…

I’m going to be shuttering my Facebook author page in a few months. At least when MySpace lost popularity, it wasn’t because they turned to scamming users for money. You can pay to boost posts but they still don’t get shown to all of a page’s fans. Not only that, but a lot of fans are fake accounts, whether one pays for page likes or not, so the real fans don’t see all of a page’s posts anyway. I’m beyond fed up. The only reason it isn’t shut down already is to transition fans to my Twitter feed (you’ll find it on the homepage at melanienilles.com), this blog (which is also shared on Twitter), and my new release notification list (which sometimes is used for random giveaway drawings!). I’m seeing even “liked” or popular posts decreasing in reach in the last few days. FB has f***ed itself into what will become oblivion since its stock went public. It’s all a scam for money now, imho. I’m sorry to anyone who likes FB, but I’m sure you’re not seeing all the pages you like in your feed.

That’s all I have for now. I’m sorry I don’t have more writing news, but in the midst of first drafting, there isn’t much to share, especially when the story keeps changing on me. Be sure to check back here (or follow me on Twitter) for updates!

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Demon Age 2 update

TigerBorn200I don’t have a confirmed title for the second Demon Age novel (aka WIP #1 or current WIP). I do, however, have a confirmation that the cover artist will be the wonderful Brit who has done my Legend of the White Dragon Series and the first book of the Demon Age Series (Tiger Born)…Paul Davies. The current project should have a cover sometime this summer.

I’m currently around the 70,000 word mark on this and expecting it to be around 100,000 words (give or take 10K). My goal is to have the first draft done by Easter, but early May is most likely. The book will be out before October 2014.

Other plans are also in the works…

Before the release of the second Demon Age book, I hope to write and release at least one shorter work, yet to be written. I know–don’t count your chicks before they’re hatched. I started another story a month ago that’s lingering around 2400 words, nearly a first chapter. It’s still a good idea that I want to do but a novella length (think Shards, When Angels Cry, or the Adronis novella lengths). I’ve also been considering a third Adronis novella, which I would write after that. Another short work in the Starfire Angels-verse as a springboard into Nemesis (SA: Revelations Book 3) is the current plan for this year’s writing. I’d like to get Nemesis out in spring 2015. Then I want to get back to the Demon Age series–it’s becoming epic in scope with this current WIP–and at some point begin the Shadow Realm Saga, which got put aside because the Demon Age series was easier to step into.

Don’t quote me on this. Creativity is fluid. The muse is easily distracted with shiny new ideas, like the dog in Up–”Squirrel!” I try to keep her on a plan but sometimes she gets us sidetracked. It will be interesting to see how close to my goals I hit. ;)

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why I write so much about my horse

I realize I’ve had a lot of posts lately about the horse. He’s been going through a lot of heel pain both because the farrier took his heels too low and because of infections in his frogs (soft triangular tissue from the heels towards the toe of the middle of the hoof). After dealing with the ulcers, this was the last thing I needed. It’s been on my mind a lot, because he’s so important to me.

My husband knew horses were my main focus when he met me and he supports me in keeping the big guy. I’ve had horses since growing up on a farm/ranch, where I showed in 4-H as something more to do than moving cattle.

My horses (and other animals I’ve had throughout my life) have made me a better person. Animal people have been proven to be more empathetic and compassionate towards others of all species. (It’s a fact–science has proven this!) My kids taught me patience but my animals gave me comfort without judgment whenever I hit rough patches. In the last thirty years, I have only been without horses for three of those years while I was in college.

I don’t have a lot of money to keep a horse, and I do board. If I couldn’t afford to board, I’d have my horse fifty miles away on my parents’ farm, but that would be less than ideal conditions for his special needs and for my riding goals. I’m blessed that my husband and family support me.

I wish I could have a horse without problems, but horses are biological, not mechanical. They need time to heal from injuries and can’t have parts replaced to improve their performance. Unfortunately, I took the word of a farrier that my horse needed shoes and kept them on for three years. I finally had no choice if I wanted to get to the root of the thrush I was finding when I realized during his ulcer respite that he was landing toe-first. He had terribly contracted, long heels and long toes. When I made the decision to go barefoot, I switched farriers to someone a little more conscientious and who took time to examine his hooves, but even that farrier was still a farrier, certified though he may be. Farriers are taught to use shoes to fix problems. Barefoot trimmers work with the hoof as it is.

I grew up not having shoes on my horses because I couldn’t afford it. Heck, we were lucky to find any trimmers to go out where my parents live. I watched and learned a little, at least enough to keep my horse’s feet from cracking and flaring. They were never lame, or if they were, I was too ignorant to notice or it wasn’t severe enough. But they did just fine without shoes and had good feet.

My poor boy has suffered because of my trust in “professionals”. He’s benefited from their expertise, but they’re only human. So am I, but I still blame myself for not doing more to educate myself sooner. Now, we’re both suffering–him for healing from all the issues I feel like my ignorance has brought on him, and me for not being able to fully enjoy the reason I have him. Dressage is a fulfilling partnership full of joy from the harmony of being able to work with such an athletic and powerful creature. There’s something about the movement of the horse beneath you performing at its best that can’t be beat. I want that back.

This is what I’ve been feeling for a long time. When Beau was not quite two, he had influenza, then developed allergies. I did all I could to manage those. Then at five, he had suspensory injuries and we spent months recovering from that, only to have him get ulcers the next summer and not be the same for a year to develop ulcers even worse the summer after (last summer) and then go out of shoes and have all this thrushiness to contend with.

For only moments have I seen my horse at his full potential. I feel like we’ll never get to where I had hoped to be. Somehow we managed to get into a pretty solid Second Level schooling routine a couple of years ago, but it’s been sketchy since. I get depressed a lot because of all this, because I had big dreams with him and it seems like they will never come true. I still have our ribbons from two years ago, when we did get to show, hanging on my wall next to my desk, but they seem to be taunting me now.

Somehow, part of me still holds out hope. I can’t afford another horse, but I’ve realized that I’m not meant to have another horse at this time. I believe there’s a purpose for Beau being in my life, teaching me to deal with all these issues. Whether it’s patience, humility, diligence, determination, or all of them, I can’t say. I believe everything happens for a reason and that Beau was destined to come into my life for something. I can only continue pressing forward, doing all I can to try and turn circumstances around. He recovered from the mild chronic suspensory desmitis and the ulcers. And treating for thrush has even eliminated allergies (unless he gets a flake of hay with mold in it; the people who feed are careful about checking hay before feeding but it does get past them on occasion).

I keep pressing on, hoping for the turnaround on this, but it is a big challenge for me. I’ve invested a lot of time and money, but he’s like one of my children, a living creature with needs. I wouldn’t trust anyone else to provide those needs. I know him inside and out after six and a half years. In that time, I did have thoughts on occasion that I wished he would die to save us both the suffering, but I still did all I could for him and he’s still here. It sounds cruel to think that, but I was at the end of my rope. Now, it’s even harder but I’ve realized that I don’t want to have to look for another horse. I want Beau. I want my horse. I’ve put in too much work to give up and he has recovered from worse issues.

Like I said…patience and diligence. I’m now telling myself that this is the year of recovery and next year we’ll be back on track and I’ll know how to keep him at his best for the rest of his life and hopefully a glowing career in dressage. It’s the only way I keep myself going, along with getting in the saddle when I can. I need that but what time I’ve managed isn’t enough. This whole experience is teaching me more about myself than I ever expected, and maybe that’s what a higher power is trying to show me. I can’t say, but it sure feels that way.

That’s what I feel about my horse. Non-horsey people may or may not understand. I get that, but I’m telling you from my heart that this is who I am and why it’s important to me.

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hoof infections…not just thrush

You can’t see it in the frogs, so you think it can’t be thrush. There’s no smelly black goo. But your horse isn’t moving quite right. You see a toe-first landing, maybe just every few steps or maybe all the time. Or short-striding. Your horse just isn’t moving like he/she used to. Yet your horse isn’t acting lame, x-rays are clean and maybe you splurge on an MRI which shoes nothing. Rest and limited movement don’t improve matters.

Guess what? It could be as simple as a frog infection.

DETECTION

How do you detect a toe-first landing? 1) in loose soil, dirt is kicked up at the walk as the front hoof (or likely both hooves) lands; and 2) the leg will straighten after landing. Watch the knee as the hoof lands. It shouldn’t snap straight on or after the landing but should be straight before it lands so that it doesn’t move on or after the landing until the horse picks up its foot again. (This latter is how I see it best, because it applies on any footing.)

This is the issue I have been having with my horse, but I’ve made some discoveries I’d like to share in my seemingly constant battle. A word of warning–I am not a veterinarian or certified farrier. What I describe here is only my experience after researching extensively. I advise if you have any concerns, consult a trusted veterinary specialist and/or qualified farrier. (Unfortunately, none of them advised me on this, which is why I’m sharing it.)

There is one very important part of all of this: Commit yourself to your horse’s well-being. This is about him/her, not you. They do not exist for your convenience but you are responsible for their care. You must put aside your ego and your pleasure for their sake. They can’t give 100% if they don’t have it to give. And they’re value is more than financial. “There’s something about the outside of a horse that’s good for the inside of a man.”-Winston Churchill. A happy horse is a blessing. An unhappy horse is dangerous.

Also, if your horse is shod, I would advise pulling the shoes off. (Start with Pete Ramey’s site for more on this.) Shoes will interfere with properly cleaning collateral grooves, at least from my experience. They also prevent the hoof from normal function–yes, I have become a total barefoot advocate after having shoes nearly ruin my horse’s hooves–and that normal function includes a normal expansion/contraction cycle with each step.

If you do prefer shoes, at least consider keeping them off until your horse has recovered soundness without them. Personally, I’ve found that when my horse has footing problems, hoof boots do a better job than shoes of alleviating any difficulties.

GET IT TOGETHER

Now to put your treatment kit together:

  1. bucket (1/2 gallon ice cream buckets are the perfect size, in my experience, and getting to the point of an empty bucket…yum!)
  2. grout scrub brush (narrow, stiff bristled brush)
  3. plain, soft bristle tooth brush (can be purchased in multi-packs)
  4. cotton balls
  5. gauze roll or flat squares (to be cut to desired size)
  6. scissors
  7. hoof pick (preferably one with a brush on it)
  8. duct tape
  9. plastic gallon freezer bags
  10. cuticle pusher* (not necessary, but they can be so handy for hoof stuff)
  11. 12-15 mL syringe with the curved, tapered end* (not necessary, but I’ll explain more)
  12. Soak of choice–mine is White Lightning. I purchase the 64 oz. bottle from horsehealthusa.com and an equal amount of white vinegar from the grocery store.

I’d like to add that item #11 I bought from my local vet but it’s the exact same syringe I’ve had from the oral surgeon for cleaning the holes left after wisdom teeth extraction. My horse has DEEP collateral grooves by his heels. Flushing them with water is the gentlest way to clean where the brushes can’t reach. Scraping with picks and such only tend to irritate the soft tissues deep within that are so thin that the nerves of the corium are exposed.  If your horse doesn’t have this problem, count your blessings and move onto the next step. If they do, the secret to not making your horse more sore is flushing with water rather than picking out where the brushes can’t reach.

PREPARATION

Next, I like to prepare the “boots” I’m going to use. Since it’s been cold this winter, I’ve been making boots out of duct tape. I’ve found that four long strips that can reach around the sides of the hooves from coronet back to coronet band barely overlayed lengthwise will cover the bottom of my horse’s hooves with shorter pieces for around the toes and heels. You may need to use less or more depending on hoof size (pony vs. draft).

Once I have four “boots”–yes, I do all four hooves, because infection isn’t just in one or two hooves but in all four to varying degrees–I prepare my treatment.

For the treatment, I cut gauze–either the large squares unfolded and cut in half (minus the papery layer) or a roll, again cut in half because you don’t need much–to the length one heel bulb, around the collateral grooves to the point of the frog, and back to the other heel bulb. Once I have four pieces (one for each hoof), I place them in a plastic bag with three cotton balls for each hoof (or two cotton balls plus one cotton round for each hoof). Into that, I’ll mix 3 oz. of White Lightning and 3 oz. white vinegar (to activate the WL). This will be my treatment dressing.

Once that’s ready, I clean the hooves.

CLEANING AND TREATING

Minimum soaking method:

This will be pretty straightforward. You’ll need the bucket, brushes, hoof pick, cuticle pusher (if you have deep collateral grooves and/or central sulci), boots/bags, syringe, and the WL soaked items above. Oh, and your horse better be good about having their feet handled, or you could be in for a fight. On the flip side of that, your horse could be giving you trouble handling his feet because he anticipates pain.

Some people advise scrubbing with soapy water, but even in the somewhat heated barn, mine froze over the winter and I realized it wasn’t necessary to effectively treat my horse’s hooves. Besides, it creates one extra step and mess. I’ve found a quicker, simpler way to do this:

  1. Fill the bucket about half full of water of whatever temp your horse prefers. I tend to prefer lukewarm, and so does my horse. They can feel it on their feet.
  2. Drop a toothbrush, grout brush, and syringe into the bucket.
  3. Set the boot/bag, plastic bag of WL soaked dressing, and bucket of water within your reach near the first hoof. (I like to start with the worst-case hoof so it soaks at least a little longer than the others.)
  4. Using the hoof pick, pick the hooves as clean as you can get them. If you have a pick with a brush on it, those are great for clearing away debris. I also use the cuticle trimmer to get into the deeper places of the hooves. My poor boy has very deep collateral grooves. But I have to be careful not to be too aggressive or what little healing the tissues gain will be lost.
  5. With the grout brush wet, scrub along the collateral grooves. Be sure to dip the brush in and out of the water to rinse it several times until it starts to rinse as clean as the water. If your water gets too dirty, you either a) didn’t pick out the hoof clean enough, or b) have a really dirty hoof. In either case, you’ll need to dump the water and get fresh water before continuing. You want the frogs pretty clean to make the treatment as effective as possible. Note: if the horse is particularly sensitive, he/she may not allow you to scrub with the stiff grout brush. jump to #6.
  6. After using the grout brush just around the frogs, switch to the toothbrush to get into the sulci and grooves until the little trickle of water flowing off is no longer brown.
  7. Set the brushes aside and fill your syringe. I have small hands; I’m only 5 foot 2 inches. But I can fill a 12 mL syringe one-handed. You don’t want to set the hoof down while its wet or you’ll have to scrub all over again! Press the tip of the syringe into the deepest crevices of the hoof and squirt it out, flushing out debris that might be stuck deep inside. Believe me, if the infection has been around long enough, the grooves will be deep (and likely the heels will be long too, to try to grow away from the infection).
  8. Once the grooves and sulci are flushed clean, you can drop the syringe back in the bucket and set that aside. While still holding the now-cleaned hoof off the ground, pull the WL-soaked items bag over and grab a cotton ball or a cotton round soaked in White Lightning out and tuck it into the central sulcus of the frog.
  9. Still holding the hoof, pull out the gauze and unfold it–tricky when its wet, I know, but if your horse will let you set its hoof on your knee without pulling away, you can use two hands briefly to set the gauze around the collateral grooves of the frog. Once the gauze is in place, I like to use the cuticle pusher to press it as deep into the collateral grooves as I can so that it wraps around the point of the frog and comes out the crevices at the heels.
  10. For extra WL, I place one soaked cotton ball over the deepest points (in my horse’s case, near the heels) on either side of the frog.
  11. Before my horse gets tired of standing three-legged, I grab my boot and wrap it around the hoof.
  12. Straighten up and hope your chiropractor is available the next day!
  13. Repeat steps 1-11 three more times.

The directions for White Lightning suggest soaking 30-40 minutes. I go at least forty, but it doesn’t make much difference to go longer, in my opinion. I’ve found that as long as it’s not muddy in my horse’s dry lot, he’ll be good for 3-4 days. He can’t go any longer than that, however, unless we have a dry spell or extreme cold (which is dry). I am currently treating twice a week using the method described above and it is working.

I usually see a marked difference in how my horse moves within three days. The softer tissues of the hoof heal THAT fast! However, growing a new hoof is another matter. It takes nine months to a year, even longer (depending on various factors), to grow a whole new hoof.

Soaking (NORMAL) method and alternative cleaning:

Instead of cleaning with a bucket and scrub brushes, although you may need those a little, here’s something else I tried (24 March 2014), now that Beau will tolerate all four feet in plastic bags at the same time: Put about 5-6 oz. of water in the inner of double or triple bagged gallon freezer bags and slide the hoof into a hoof boot (I regularly use Cavallo boots, so this worked nicely). Adjust the amount of water for how loose or tight the boot is so the water doesn’t squeeze out the top of the bag but does cover the hoof. You may have to duct tape them around the horse’s pastern to keep the water from splashing; scary enough to have plastic on their feet, much less water shooting out when they move (yes, btdt). Get all four hooves soaking like this, and if your horse isn’t too scared by it–my boy is used to plastic bags around his feet at this point :-/ –hand walk him for about 5 minutes. The water will slosh around to clean the hooves for you, especially into any deep grooves like my boy has in his hooves. Even two minutes can be enough to loosen up the deepest dirt and crud. But be careful. I would strongly advise that you have desensitized your horse to plastic before doing this! If you have soaking boots like the Davis boots, that would be an alternative to hoof boots, but I’ve yet to try those with hand walking.

After a little hand walking, you can pull each individual soak off and easily rinse or scrub any remaining grime from their hooves. Get them as clean as possible to make the treatment most effective.

And the most effective way to treat is to completely soak the hoof in 2 oz. White Lightning + 2 oz. white vinegar (to activate the WL). I like the gallon freezer bags for that. Freezer bags are more durable for soaking than many alternatives and more flexible and cheaper than soaking boots. To make sure they don’t tear, you can wrap them in duct tape. Once they’re on, you’ll want to duct tape them up securely around the pastern. And if you’re like me and have a horse which needs this regularly, you may want to then stick them into a soaking boot instead of or on top of using duct tape. In the long run, it will be cheaper to invest in soaking boots.

A FEW MORE NOTES

The first is the process I’ve refined over the last few months. It gets cold here in North Dakota, so I didn’t want to completely soak my horse’s hooves if I didn’t have to. As long as I get the frogs cleaned up well and get the WL soaked gauze and cotton deep to where the treatment is needed, my boy has been doing quite well but now that the weather is warmer, I’ve going back to soaking in bags again. It’s far more effective with better results.

I was having a problem for the longest time with keeping my boy sound. I was seeing improvement and then having setbacks. This went on for weeks until I finally figured out what was happening–the tissues are so thin that even scraping his hooves clean was irritating nerves but not doing anything was just as bad. It was a lose-lose scenario. I was only cleaning his feet every other day, so I wouldn’t cause any damage, but we’d still have setbacks after he’d be landing 99% sound and moving out again. That’s when I decided to flush with water instead of trying to scrape out the deep down crud. However, since his collateral grooves are over an inch deep under the heel bulbs, I couldn’t get an ordinary syringe into where it would be most effective. That’s why I asked my vet’s office for a hooked, tapered end syringe, but they also gave me a nasal attachment for a regular syringe. The latter works but is a little thicker, so I can’t get it as deep into the grooves without pulling aside the frog from the sole.

Also, in my research and in my observations, I have come to realize that my horse’s hooves are decontracting because of treating the infection in them, and they really open suddenly, leaving cracks between the heel bulbs that usually fill back in within a week with new growth. Eventually, the heels should also come down, but you’ll have to stick around for those updates.

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Ebook sales!

Tiger Born is on sale through March 23rd at the Apple iTunes store.

This month only, my Adronis novellas and Dark Angel Chronicles books are free and 50% off at Coffee Time Romance.

And I’d like to offer this teaser from Tiger Born:

Je’Kaoron’s gaze fixed on her, his hands clasped loosely before him. “You’re persistent. I’ll give you that. What is it…Je’Rol?” He froze and the expression on his face brightened. “Ah, no. They said you had a warning for Lord Je’Dron.”

Warmth rose from under her collar. This wasn’t how it was supposed to be, but she didn’t know Je’Kaoron was so high ranked in Je’Dron’s order. Think!

Amusement softened the lines of his face and he distracted himself with the scepter in its holding sconce on the wall. “You think I’m betraying one against the other.”

Panic swept through her but she took a deep breath and let it out slowly.

“Partially correct. I would never betray High Lord Je’Dron. Only his brother believes otherwise. Yes, I was aware of you in the garden, Huntress. What I wasn’t certain was what you understood. Our Lexic is commonly spoken around humans. I expect many understand. We are not ignorant.” He returned from the scepter after a touch brightened the stone.

“I…never thought you were ignorant.”

He stepped close so his warm breath hinting of raw meat made her nauseous, but she choked down the reflex.

“You do well to remember that.” His quiet words carried a hint of menace, but those eyes never hardened, and his voice returned to the easy tone he started with. “I’ve lived long enough to know humans who understood. You’re no exception. You wouldn’t know that Je’Dron might be in danger if you hadn’t understood…My purposes are not yours to know.” As if the threat had been nothing, he stepped away with a casual grace. “Now the question is what do you have to gain by coming?”

She caught her breath and reorganized her thoughts with the revelations he’d given her to return to her purpose—finishing Je’Rol.

“You’re no threat to us. Your mandate is to eliminate half-bloods, like Je’Rol. But High Lord Je’Dron would not allow that.”

She didn’t think he would, but as long as she was there, she would be close to Je’Rol. When the time was right, she would act, giving up her life if that’s what it took to gain the satisfaction of finishing her task.

Je’Kaoron could think all he wanted about her and demon hunters, even Adepts, but she wasn’t going to give in to him.

Still, this visit felt less like an interrogation and more like a test. He already knew everything. If that’s the way he wanted it, he could figure it out for himself.

Je’Kaoron’s pale blue eyes met hers with a knowing smile. “And I doubt you really want that.”

Hot and cold raced through her like the conflicting emotions his statement aroused. Je’Rol had ruined her life. “He deserves to die.”

“So you say, but what do you feel?” Those eyes burned through her, and she looked away while trying not to fidget from the confusion inside her since seeing Je’Rol again after all those years. The light press of a finger beneath her chin tipped her head up to the soft lines of his face. “I see a woman who has never moved past the pain of love lost. Why are you really here, my lady?”

His words hit too close to the mark, but she couldn’t give up her mandate to eliminate half-bloods. Je’Rol deserved to die; she meant it when she said it. He’d killed innocent people and would kill more. She’d almost been added to that list days ago when the blood rage took over; he’d seen that. It had all happened so quickly, and that proved the threat he posed. Obviously, Je’Kaoron had known a way to bring him out of it, but at some point, that would no longer be possible and Je’Rol would live like a predator whose hunger was never sated.

She knew her answer and jerked away from his touch. “To finish my task.”

Je’Kaoron sighed and shook his head. “Je’Dron will never allow it.”

“I’ll hear it from him.” Je’Kaoron only delayed her. And she would tell Je’Dron of his betrayal. Despite his smooth explanation, he would betray Je’Dron, and that would endanger the Adepts. She couldn’t allow it.

“I see.” He stepped to the door and pulled it open. A demonlord stood in the doorway in white and black robes similar to Je’Rekun’s the day he had called her to escort Je’Kaoron with the fugitive Je’Rol to the palace. It had to be Je’Dron.

Once again, she fell to one knee. “My lord.”

“You heard?” Je’Kaoron asked.

“Yes.”

Her blood ran cold. If he heard everything she had said, they had no reason to trust her. What would Je’Dron do knowing she was really after Je’Rol? Was he attached to his son? Impossible. He had sent Je’Rol away. He was a demonlord. They didn’t care about their offspring. Je’Rekun had only been guessing.

Look for the next book in this Demon Age series later this year!

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March updates

I’m still here. I tend to go in spurts on updates or expressing myself. Here’s just some of what I’m doing.

1. The current WIP (Demon Age #2) is going well. The current word count is just under 60,000. I’ve had to change the ending a few times, but now the story has solidified its footing and I have an ending planned that will really bring everything together. It’s the in-between now and then that still has some planning to do, so that could change a little, but I don’t foresee it changing much anymore.

This is the way all my stories go. I think I know what I’m doing and then the story takes a different turn from my original idea somewhere along the line so I adjust my outline. I’m flexible that way. I guess I’m a planner but also like to let the story grow organically with the outline as a guide to keep a central focus.

2. WIP #2 that I had started is put aside, because I am just that into #1 again. If I get stuck and need some motivation, I’ll go back to it, but for now, my mind is on the world of Derandria with Nare, Je’Kaoron, and a handful of other new characters.

3. This summer is going to be interesting. I won’t be getting much writing done with my kids home from school and am planning on taking on a few other kids to watch. I’ve never gotten much writing done over the summer, so this is nothing unusual.

This year, however, I’m planning on working on a couple of shorter works just to get something done that doesn’t require a lot of  complex focus the way novels do. Novellas don’t sell well necessarily, but they are a nice exercise in writing. I should be able to get at least two done over the summer. I’m thinking maybe a Starfire Angels story and a third Adronis installment, but that could change. I’d like to see if I could add a short story or two to some of the other worlds I’ve created. Towards the end of summer, I’d like to get started on Nemesis, especially if I end up writing a SA novella. It would make a good jumping off point into that. But I also really want to get started on my ideas for the Shadow Realm Saga.

Still, too many ideas and too little time!

4. On a personal note, I’ve discovered how to get my mind focused again. In all honesty, I’ve actually become a faster writer than I used to be, but I was struggling more and more with my focus. It’s partly why I was doing shorter works and ended up writing Phantoms as two separate parts that feel like two different stories, but I’d like to think that worked quite well. That’s changed for the better now.

Last November, for the first time in my life, I saw a chiropractor. (Wrote about that here.) I’ve been shocked by what a change that has made for my mental state. As long as I can keep my back in place, I feel totally creative and can push out 2K+ words a day (like yesterday) without feeling any effort. When it goes out, however, it’s as if someone’s turned out all the lights but for a tiny flickering candle, just enough to get around in the world but without all the bright colors. I haven’t had any depression the way I used to get, except for the panic attacks that have become a part of my life now; but even those only really come on when my back is out. Having my body healthy is the best medicine.

5. Just for fun, some critter pics:

Dargo at the top of our closet.

“What are you doing down there?”

"My box!"

“My box!”

Pbbbt!

Pbbbt!

 

Let me sleep a little longer...zzzzz

Let me sleep a little longer…zzzzz

*No pictures displayed on this blog are public domain. They are the property of the author. You may not use them without permission.

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horses in entertainment media

Okay, I have this HUGE chip on my shoulders when it comes to portraying horses in our entertainment media, whether movies/television or literature. We’re talking the asteroid that wiped out the dinosaurs huge.

One of my biggest pet peeves is the whinny or neigh in a movie. Every time, I want to smack someone. If a horse rears or falls, they can’t whinny or neigh. First of all, those sounds are meant as greetings. Second, a horse only makes sound by opening its mouth and must extend its throat slightly to allow it to produce an extended sound. A grunt or groan-like sound would be more likely from the effort of rearing, if anything.

The second of my pet peeves is not acknowledging equine reactions, making them seem almost like machines. Horses are living, breathing, emotional creatures. As prey animals, they’ll run a ways from something before seeing if it’s a threat or not, because it’s escape or be killed. However, we can desensitize them to serve our needs, but they still retain their wild instincts. And horses have unique personalities. Yes, person-alities. Parelli people call them horse-analities, but they do share some similarities to people in their basic characteristics, once you get past the prey instincts. They can be dull or sensitive, dominant or passive, intelligent and even stupid (although most horses are quiet capable of figuring out problems, they do range in level of intelligence just like people).

Besides personalities, like humans, they have physical needs. But theirs are different than ours. They must eat more hours in a day but rest less. They need REM sleep like we do, and for that, they need to lie down a couple hours a day. Horses need to eat and drink a lot to keep their weight on, especially if working hard like traveling for days on end (just ask any endurance rider). Leaving a saddle on all the time can cause sores and ruin a horse, especially if a saddle doesn’t fit (because Napoleon Bonaparte didn’t care doesn’t mean you shouldn’t).

Horses also produce copious amounts of manure from all that they eat and can have any number of hoof, leg, skeletal, and muscular problems.

And one of my other big pet peeves is gelding. Look, folks, the definition of “steed” is not stallion. It is simply a mount for riding. That could be a horse, mule, or donkey…or zebra or ostrich or ?? (pick anything rideable). And stallions would make terrible mounts for all but the harshest conditions, such as battle. By nature, their only purpose is to breed and protect their herds. Except for very few, the majority are noisy, aggressive, and difficult to handle. Mares are sensitive, generally quiet, and more adaptable to large groups. Geldings are stable, a little dull but reliable, and much more cooperative. And it would stand to reason that if boys were emasculated as far back as four thousand years ago to create eunuchs, that men figured out that castrating stallions and colts and making them into reliable, steady geldings made better mounts, as well as being able to keep them with the mares without having to think about them breeding. (Geldings may still mount a mare, but they can’t fertilize her.) Yes, stallions were used, but not as often as people like to think.

Unless your horses in your fiction are of a special, sentient species, please be sure to do your research.

As a horseperson of thirty years, these are some of the pet peeves that have bothered me. I hope to write more horse-centric stories in years to come, but for now, all I have are Fireblood and A Turn of Curses, both of them fantasy stories that give special characteristics to the horses.

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