Goodreads Book Giveaway

The Hazel Tree by Julia Debski

The Hazel Tree

by Julia Debski

Giveaway ends May 01, 2014.

See the giveaway details at Goodreads.

Enter to win

Monday, December 31, 2012

Looking Back (2012)...

As I'm writing this, I really have no New Year resolutions. Probably not the best, I realize. However I'm hoping as I type, I can come up with them.

2012 has been a strange year. Lately, every thing has been blending together. I don't remember if I went to Emily's this past summer or if it was 3 years ago. Then after some careful photo searching, I realize it was only this year.

Generally, I'd say some weird and fantastic stuff happened this year.:

I went to the Conyers Parelli Event and froze my butt off and learned some cool stuff.

I turned 16 and got to spend my birthday with my godfather and his family up in DC.

I visited Vanderbilt University in Nashville.

Mika wandered into our life and found a home in my heart.

I got my driving license over 6 months after I turned 16.

I had my first lesson from a Parelli Professional Robin Harris (which I failed to blog about because I suck.)

Emily came up for 4 days to work with the ponies and I.

I flew to Charleston and back all by myself. I had a fabulous time reconnecting with old friends.

I finished my very first novel., Cinderella Wolf.

I became much more comfortable with my beliefs, my personality, my sexuality, and just myself in general. (See below!)

Sharlie, Casper and I did a dance of 'two steps forward, one step back' pretty much all year, but we came out in a much better place than where we started out.

I discovered a dozen new TV shows I love, which has also got me moderately interested in screenwriting and maybe writing for television.

This man (see below) became my new role model in many different aspects of life. :)

Samantha and I became closer than we've ever been before.

I attended my first Colleen Kelly clinic! (And failed to blog about that too. Cause, I repeat, I suck)

I participated in GISHWHES 2012 and met some fabulous friends.

What else am I missing?

Overall a pretty fab year. There were bad things too of course. Barn drama, math class, junior year, and emotions running high are always bound to bring negativity. But I could write an entire post just about that. But this is to focus on the GOOD things.

So yea. Thank you everyone for a great year. It was pretty damn fantastic. Cheers and see you when the ball drops!

xoxo Julia

Sunday, December 30, 2012


   So I have referred to GISHWHES several times in the past, and promised to tell you about it. Well this is that promised post.

   The Greatest International Scavenger Hunt the World Has Ever Seen.

   It was created by the actor Misha Collins to bring his fans from across the world together to do and create strange and wonderful things. It is for a good cause, supporting his charity "Random Acts of Kindness".

A surprisingly accurate definition.

   My personal experience of doing GISHWHES for the first time was a breathtakingly fabulous one. It is very hard to describe if you have never participated in it. I can tell you about the tasks we did (posing next to a taxidermy moose head, reciting 'The Raven' to a crow, making armor out of pounds of cooked spaghetti  etc...) but the entire feeling of the week long scavenger hunt is something beyond words.

A cucumber kilt and kale jacket made by Nikki and Chelsea

  Most daylight hours were spent creating, weaving, gluing, crying, trying to stay awake, laughing, and cursing the existence of Misha Collins. Nighttime was spent plotting, planning, calling businesses, crying, not sleeping and cursing the existence of Misha Collins. 
I'm not even joking. I think Samantha and I probably stated how much we hate Misha over ten times a day. Of course, we love him and were happy to be doing GISHWHES. But at that very moment, with sticky slimy spaghetti in a giant pot waiting to be woven, we hated him.

Posing by a taxidermy moose head.

   I think one of the best bits of GISHWHES is not the tasks, the 7 days of craziness and inspiration and creativity. No, it was the friends I gained from the experience. Our team was made up of 15 girls.

Spaghetti armor & pistol
We are Team Trenchcoat:

1. Julia (myself)- TN
2. Samantha- TN (she lives about 5 minutes away)
3. Cheyenne- TN
4. Hailey- VA
5. Maura- NJ
6. Loi- PA
7. Symone- WS
8. Hannah- MT
9. Nikki- MI
10. Chelsea- MI
11. Alicia- CO
12. Fiona- Ireland
13. Annie- England
14. Maria- Portugal
15. Lucy- Australia

   We were scattered across the world and yet we all became friends. Our ages varied from 14 to 29- a fifteen year age difference. Yet we all had so much in common that we worked well as a team. Now of course there was headbutting. In a group this size, personalities clash. But we were able to keep the peace most of the time.
Jensen Ackles's "Blue Steele" look, done by Hannah

   Personally, this group of girls became like a family to me. I could be completely and utterly honest with them on things. And they made me laugh. God did they make me laugh. There was more than one occasion where my face began to hurt or stopped breathing and almost fainted. I get along better with some than others but I can say that each and every one have a special place in my heart.

Nikki standing with a piece of advice in front of a famous land mark.
I was never really a social person, one who went out and looked to interact with people. I'm basically a huge introvert, extremely shy and nervous in public places or around strangers. With friends, of course, I can be much more relaxed. With these girls, it didnt take 6 months, or 3, or even just one. It took one weekend. One weekend and I was just as relaxed and familiar with them as I was with friends I've had for YEARS.

Nikki makes a Jello Angel
Made by Nikki

A 'fanmade' website Jared Padalecki would make about Misha Collins.

Crow hunting with Poe (aka Samantha)

The things I learned during GISHWHES are countless. Like people won't always slam the door in your face if you ask for help. But they also can, and when they do, they do it rudely. I learned there are no crows willing to listen to an entire reciting of 'The Raven' in the entire Tennessee Valley. Or hey, maybe Chattanooga isn't all that bad. We do have a fabulous bookstore downtown that has dogs staying there.

A dog reading Kant, and Samantha, Mom and I reading Dr Suess.

We didn't win GISHWHES, but it doesn't even matter now. We pushed our comfort zones so far and wide, we are all much better people because of it. I still hope to meet some of my wonderful team members during the next year or so. Others I plan to stay in contact with for a very long time to come.

Hailey's fabulous hair

 GISHWHES 2013 is supposed to take place during the summer, which is very exciting because most of us are students and thus don't want to flunk out! (Something that came very close to happening for a few of us!)
We may split into different teams as we found out that some of us are much more serious and focused than others, which there is nothing wrong with, but why cause friction when none is needed?

Thanks to GISHWHES, I'm now working on a memoir of sorts to have self published for our team to keep as a souvenir. I'll always be thankful to GISHWHES and I definitely plan to do it for as long as I can!!

A proud Taco and Burrito and their little baby. (Thanks Hailey!)

(What did you think of some of our wonderful photos? These are a few that I could dig up. We did over 20 items, consisting of photos and videos! Look for Team Trenchcoat!!)

Hope you had a wonderful Christmas!
xoxo Julia

Monday, December 17, 2012

Misha Collins

Misha Collins. This time last year, I wouldn’t have even blinked at the sound of his name. He was nobody. But now? Today? He’s my hero. There’s really no other way to put it. If it wasn’t for him, I wouldn’t have felt this need to be a bett
er person. If it wasn’t for him, I wouldn’t be planning to save money for charity next year. If it wasn’t for him, I’d have never found my team and done GISHWHES and found my second family. He’s changed the way I think about marriage, about having children, about charities, about people, about helping others, about confidence, about fame, about acting and family and expressing yourself and… I could go on.

Misha Collins is a name I will remember - and a name I want everyone else to remember - until the world ends.

Thursday, December 6, 2012

Current Projects

So I've been juggling quite a bit lately (and doing quite well so far if I do say so myself)
But to keep you informed, here is what I've been doing.

1. Finishing & editing Cinderella Wolf. (200+ pages of chaotic first draft)
2. Writing, editing and assembling a memoir about GISHWHES. (More on this later)
3. Read "Get Known Before the Book Deal" by Christina Katz
4. Read "Writing a Romance Novel for Dummies"
5. Begin new book under the working title "The Project"
6. Begin applying for scholarships

Also, let's not forget school and final exams (2 weeks left before the holidays) as well as Christmas presents and cards and I've actually been talking and making more new friends than I have ever had before so its really chaotic and my head hurts and I just want to sleep.

Also, I'm taking the ACT this saturday. I'm not nervous. No, really. I took a prep class for it where we took a practice test every two weeks so nothing about it scarees me anymore. I just don't want to dedicate 4+ hours of my Saturday morning to it.

Thingys coming up.
Book review on "Get Known Before the Book Deal"
College list
Update on the editing process of CW (which is killing me btw)

K yea so I'm going to go take a nap now before dinner. Bye!!

Friday, November 23, 2012

Time to Evolve

Hello all!

I know, it has been forever and a day. I am awful. Throw tomatoes at me, I won't object!

Anyway, I've been away writing a novel, keeping my head above water in school, a sprinkle of horses, and reading reading reading reading reading. Oh yea, and I also participated in the Greatest International Scavenger Hunt the World Has Ever Seen. But more on that later!

Anyway, as I've been reading, I have been coming up with lots and lots of thoughts- thoughts I would love to share on here, but as this is a "horse blog", that hardly seems appropriate. So I keep the thoughts to myself and continue waiting for something to blog about.

Until I actually LOOK at the things I have posted lately and noticed they have absolutely nothing to do with Sharlie and Casper, nor my Parelli Journey. At which point I have to think about this blog and how to keep it alive.

To be perfectly honest, I love this blog. I've managed to feed it and keep it breathing for over three years, something I'm pretty proud of. But back 3 years ago, it made sense to have a horse-only blog. My life revolved around horses.

Now, however, I am multi-dimensional. I have many interests. Writing, horses, reading, and many other things! So why should I limit this blog to just horses, especially when that isn't enough to sustain it?

So I've come to a decision. I will be working from now until Christmas to slowly re-organize and redesign this blog so that it can accept all corners of my life now, not just Sharlie and Casper.

Of course, I will still post about them. But now I will be able to write about more things! :)

Also, spread word to friends and family. I do love followers (a bad habit, sorry) and love feedback! And the comment section is rather...empty. :(


Friday, October 26, 2012

Date A Girl That Writes

Date a girl who writes.
Date a girl who may never wear completely clean clothes, because of coffee stains and ink spills. She’ll have many problems with her closet space, and her laptop is never boring because there are so many words, so many worlds that she’s cluttered amidst the space. Tabs open filled with obscure and popular music. Interesting factoids about Catherine the Great, and the immortality of jellyfish. Laugh it off when she tells you that she forgot to clean her room, that her clothes are lost among the binders so it’ll take her longer to get ready, that her shoes hidden under the mountain of broken Bic pens and the refurbished laptop that she’s saved for ever since she was twelve. 
Kiss her under the lamppost, when it’s raining. Tell her your definition of love.
Find a girl who writes. You’ll know that she has a sense of humor, a sense of empathy and kindness, and that she will dream up worlds, universes for you. She’s the one with the faintest of shadows underneath her eyelids, the one who smells of coffee and Coca-cola and jasmine green tea. You see that girl hunched over a notebook. That’s the writer. With her fingers occasionally smudged with charcoal, with ink that will travel onto your hands when you interlock your fingers with her’s. She will never stop, churning out adventures, of traitors and heroes. Darkness and light. Fear and love. That’s the writer. She can never resist filling a blank page with words, whatever the color of the page is.
She’s the girl reading while waiting for her coffee and tea. She’s the quiet girl with her music turned up loud (or impossibly quiet), separating the two of you by an ocean of crescendos and decrescendos as she’s thinking of the perfect words. If you take a peek at her cup, the tea or coffee’s already cold. She’s already forgotten it.
Use a pick-up line with her if she doesn’t look to busy.
If she raises her head, offer to buy her another cup of coffee. Or of tea. She’ll repay you with stories. If she closes her laptop, give her your critique of Tolstoy, and your best theories of Hannibal and the Crossing. Tell her your characters, your dreams, and ask if she gotten through her first novel.
It is hard to date a girl who writes. But be patient with her. Give her books for her birthday, pretty notebooks for Christmas and for anniversaries, moleskins and bookmarks and many, many books. Give her the gift of words, for writers are talkative people, and they are verbose in their thanks. Let her know that you’re behind her every step of the way, for the lines between fiction and reality are fluid.
She’ll give you a chance.
Don’t lie to her. She’ll understand the syntax behind your words. She’ll be disappointed by your lies, but a girl who writes will understand. She’ll understand that sometimes even the greatest heroes fail, and that happy endings take time, both in fiction and reality. She’s realistic. A girl who writes isn’t impatient; she will understand your flaws. She will cherish them, because a girl who writes will understand plot. She’ll understand that endings happen for better or for worst.
A girl who writes will not expect perfection from you. Her narratives are rich, her characters are multifaceted because of interesting flaws. She’ll understand that a good book does not have perfect characters; villains and tragic flaws are the salt of books. She’ll understand trouble, because it spices up her story. No author wants an invincible hero; the girl who writes will understand that you are only human.
Be her compatriot, be her darling, her love, her dream, her world.
If you find a girl who writes, keep her close. If you find her at two AM, typing furiously, the neon gaze of the light illuminating her furrowed forehead, place a blanket gently on her so that she does not catch a chill. Make her a pot of tea, and sit with her. You may lose her to her world for a few moments, but she will come back to you, brimming with treasure. You will believe in her every single time, the two of you illuminated only by the computer screen, but invincible in the darkness.
She is your Shahrazad. When you are afraid of the dark, she will guide you, her words turning into lanterns, turning into lights and stars and candles that will guide you through your darkest times. She’ll be the one to save you.
She’ll whisk you away on a hot air balloon, and you will be smitten with her. She’s mischievous, frisky, yet she’s quiet and when she has to kill off a lovely character, when she cries, hold her and tell her that it will be alright. 
You will propose to her. Maybe on a boat in the ocean, maybe in a little cottage in the Appalachian Mountains. Maybe in New York City. Maybe Chicago. Baltimore. Maybe outside her publisher’s office. Because she’s radiant, wherever she goes. Maybe even outside of a cinema where the two of you kiss in the rain. She’ll say that it is overused and clich├ęd, but the glint in her eyes will tell you that she appreciates it all the same.
You will smile hard as she talks a mile a second, and your heart will skip a beat when she holds your hand and she will write stories of your lives together. She’ll hold you close and whisper secrets into your ears. She’s lovely, remember that. She’s self made and she’s brilliant. Her names for the children might be terrible, but you’ll be okay with that. A girl who writes will tell your children fantastical stories.

Because that is the best part about a girl who writes. She has imagination and she has courage, and it will be enough. She’ll save you in the oceans of her dreams, and she’ll be your catharsis and your 11:11. She’ll be your firebird and she’ll be your knight, and she’ll become your world, in the curve of her smile, in the hazel of her eye the half-dimple on her face, the words that are pouring out of her, a torrent, a wave, a crescendo - so many sensations that you will be left breathless by a girl who writes.
Maybe she’s not the best at grammar, but that is okay.
Date a girl who writes because you deserve it. She’s witty, she’s empathetic, enigmatic at times and she’s lovely. She’s got the most colorful life. She may be living in NYC or she may be living in a small cottage. Date a girl who writes because a girl who writes reads.
A girl who writes will understand reality. She’ll be infuriating at times, and maybe sometimes you will hate her. Sometimes she will hate you too. But a girl who writes understands human nature, and she will understand that you are weak. She will not leave on the Midnight Train the first moment that things go sour. She will understand that real life isn’t like a story, because while she works in stories, she lives in reality. 
Date a girl who writes. 
Because there is nothing better then a girl who writes.

(This does not belong to me)

Monday, October 22, 2012

Stranger in the Stables (Mini Horror Story)

“Stranger in the Stables” by Julia Debski

The fireplace, once cold and desolate, now alight and awake, warming up its two companions of the evening, Elizabeth and Peter, and all was calm and quiet till Peter stood from the carpet, walked about before finding himself at the window before calling over his wife so they could peer out into the shadowy night together to what appeared to be a horse and rider approaching.

The next day, when swinging the barn door open, after a long night of unrest, Elizabeth and Peter were not sure what they expected, but were not quite surprised, judging by the stench, that in stall 11 was an anonymous girl, blonde hair muddied and stained, and her bed of hay the color of strawberry punch, sleeping in the corner, forever.

Southern hospitality wasn’t what it used to be.

Author's Note: This was assignment for Creative Writing, which was to write a short story in 3 sentences. 2 were to be long, and one- the final one- short and clever, as if to give the story an oddness about it. In the spirit of Halloween, I wrote mine as a horror story. Its not very good but I thought I would share as you wait for the Colleen Kelly Blogpost coming up.

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

I Am...(Myself) Poem

I Am... (Myself)

I am creative and overemotional

I wonder about matters of the heart

I hear the chatter of voices in my head

I see dozens of worlds on the tip of my pen

I want to be loved

I am creative and overemotional

I pretend to be so strong

I feel that magic exists

I touched my horses’s lives

I worry I’ll forever be forgotten

I cry when I am helpless

I am creative and overemotional

I understand that humans are dark

I say that some fiction is real

I dream of being always peaceful

I try to be loving

I hope to be loved

I am creative and overemotional

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Cinderella Wolf

My story Cinderella Wolf is available online.

It has over 25,000 reads. 

I would suggest you take a look! :)

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Making Waves

Found this while floating around Facebook. Something to think about?

Thursday, June 7, 2012

Workshop with Emily Larramore: Day 4 (Thursday, June 7th)

We had alotted about an hour and a bit per horse. After a run to lovely Starbucks and being wished a sparkling day by the man working the drive-thru, we started with Casper.

After yesterday's amazing break throughs, I wanted to continue on what we already had, which was cantering bareback and some more Zone 5 driving. Also, I wanted to try and fix our Sharing and Taking Territory and for Casper to give me two eyes and ears more.

We started out with a bucket of feed. While he didn't circle nearly as much as he did yesterday. However eventually we realized that he was more distracted by the feed than he should be. So we removed the feed. Simple as!

We did however share some very special moments when he came to meet me when I was kneeling by the bucket of grain. The photo above will be my new profile picture for Facebook in a few days. 

He was definitley much less distracted with the feed gone and we were able to be more connected. I began some more driving like yesterday. We had a bit more trouble with it than yesterday, but ended on a nice point.

Doesn't he look super handsome and relaxed?? This was the 'crazy uncontrollable horse' two years later... :)

I was still very sore (still am. Still will be.) but I still hopped on Casper. I was excited to canter again! And I literally HOPPED on him. I jumped on him from the ground! That is a first right there! Whoop whoop!

 Cantering bareback on Casper was a very refreshing change because it was easy and natural for me.

Even Emily said that my seat looked great. Also, I wasn't afraid (for the most part) even though it felt like he was going fast (or it felt like it).

There were some troubles with me keeping a loose rein. I would sometimes pull on the inside rein. I think partly to keep my balance when I got a little unstable going into or out of the canter, and also I felt a bit nervous about the panels again.

Casper's turn was up and we ended it on cantering on a nice loose rein!

Sharlie's turn was pretty simple. We did some liberty and refined our Stick-to-Me with stops and backing up.
Online we played with sideways towards, which she was phenomal at! Yesterday we tried it a couple of times at Liberty and she either backed up or did Sideways away so I wanted to correct it before it became a habit.

With the remaining time we tried to get her to lie down again. Unfortunatley she didn't go down this time, but that is alright. It isn't worth losing our relationship over. Who knows? Maybe when I try again next time she will do it! Or maybe she will do it in 3 months. Point is, its just a trick. A really awesome trick that I would love to be able to do, but still just a trick. 
Something I want to pat myself on the back for was when Emily used some ropes on Sharlie's leg to make it easier for both Emily's back and arms and for Sharlie. Emily held Sharlie's leg up tucked neatly against her Zone 3 and held it there the entire time. Despite Sharlie not lying down, she still tried to figure out what we wanted and she didn't freak out about having her leg 'tied'. (Emily was holding it the entire time)

So in fact, it wasn't really playing with lying down. It was playing with EXTREME Porcupine Game! I think Emily said Level 4...? I was very proud about that. VERY PROUD! Sometimes these things happen and you didn't really work on them, or you haven't worked on them in a while and suddenly your horse blows your mind. I love those moments.
Also I forgot to mention that last night I mounted Sharlie from the neck bareback!! How awesome is that? For forever I have been unable to mount either Sharlie or Casper from the ground. (Sad, I know.)

Now I can do both! How fabulous! Mom and I counted up how many hours of play we did with the horses, and we calculated about 18-19 hours! Pretty impressive if you ask me!

Tomorrow at 5:30 am I am flying to Charleston, South Carolina via Charlotte. I am flying by myself for the first time ever. I've flown all my life but it is still scary doing it by yourself. Wish me luck!!

Robin Harris's lesson post will be up by this weekend!


Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Workshop with Emily Larramore: Day 3 (Wednesday, June 6th)

Day 3 

Stolen from Emily

Wednesday started out well with Starbucks and Nutella bagels. The sun was shining and all was well in the world- or our little nook of it.

This morning was Casper's morning.
We started out once again with Watering Hole rituals but it was a lot more challenging than on Monday. He had gotten into a pattern of circling a lot before finally coming in to Say Hello to me, but once I tried to take him anywhere, he left again. Part of the reason he would stay out for such long periods of time was due to my energy, which was high and driving him onwards even though we wanted him to slow down and stop.

This went on for a while, with several attempts at interrupting the pattern. I even sat down for most of it, all in attempt to bring my energy down.
I think the good news is though is that I was aware that I was doing it. I was aware that my energy was high, I could feel it. I just couldn't bring it down. That is an improvement from last summer where I couldn't even get it up at all. (I think. Emily is probably going to chew me out for getting it wrong. jkk. :P)

Finally we were able to move onto the next Ritual: Leading from Behind. In Zone 4/5, I was able to drive Casper at a walk and trot, change directions, and do a figure 8. It was like dancing- a beginner's class for Broadway dancing. 

Mind blowing stuff. I mean MIND BLOWING!! That is Level 4 Liberty right there!! 

After that I haltered Casper again (I learned that I was doing it wrong. I wasn't haltering with a hug.) Emily played with him a bit while I went to go get the helmet and clip-on reins. 

When I had returned, she was playing the Circling game and found a pretty major hole in our game- he would not disengage. At all! At one point his feet were moving and working harder than his mind. At one point he even slipped and fell down! But because of that it got him thinking a bit more, so that he could prevent it happening again.

That was added to our homework list. No circling, then 10 laps of just walk straight. For a long time. LONG TIME.

Then I hopped on and we did some turning and changing of directions, using the steps before the reins very carefully. Once we were both comfortable with each other at a walk, I asked him to trot and something very interesting happened. He began to 'amble'. You know, a special gait- like a gaited horse. And you know what? It was SO smooth. I mean...amazingly smooth.

I always wondered if he had some Hackney Pony in him- he looks kind of like them- but Emily says that his gait looks more like a Paso Fino's gait!! Hmmm... how interesting. 

That was the first time he had done it for longer than a couple moments, and also he hadn't done it while I was riding before. I really enjoyed it so that is definitley something we are going to be trying to do more of in the future. 

Then Emily suggested something that I never would have thought of to be able to do this summer- even though I mentioned it as a hope for this summer last year- and that was to canter Casper bareback.
This also meant being able to stay on as Casper went into a faster trot before transitioning into a canter. The first few tries didn't work. Each time he would get to the brink, just there, JUST there, but I would usually pull him to a stop because I had lost my seat.
Then, by some miracle, we made it through that barrier and bam! 
We were cantering bareback for half way round the round pen. 
It was amazing. It was such a lovely smooth canter. I didn't even lose my seat at all. 
Just bloody amazing!!

After that we rewarded Casper with eating some lovely grain before returning to the field. So for a delicious morning:
- Zone 4/5 driving at liberty, at the walk and trot, changing direction and figure 8's!
- Cantering bareback!!

That photo above really applies!! ^^

I am so sore.

This afternoon was Sharlie's day! I was able to lead her to the round pen with just the Savvy String which was so cool! She only tried to eat 3 times, when usually its 5, 6, 7 times in the same walk.

She was already interested in me so that she followed me around a bit, without having to play Taking Territory (or at least the sending part) 

Emily encouraged me to do my own thing. So I tried doing some Zone 4/5 driving. I was able to make it to Zone 4 before Sharlie got unconfident. We also did a lot of draw- so Sharlie will almost always trot to me now when I draw her. 

So the next step is cantering at the draw! That is going to take a lot of work, and maybe a slightly larger area. Perhaps the pasture- on a down hill...on a really good day. :)

Emily played with Sharlie at liberty some more and worked on maintaining direction. 

Then we moved online.

Online we played some more with Sharlie lying down. We got SO close. She got down on her knees. Hopefully tomorrow she will go the rest of the way.

Something I wanted to learn was sideways towards me, but wasn't nessecarily set on working on it today. Emily said that it would be alright to do it with her. At first it seemed to confuse Sharlie a lot, and then she just... got it. At first it was one little leg cross over...then a bigger one. Then it was two steps, three steps... even away from the fence!

Ending on a good note on the ground, we moved onto riding. We actually stayed in the round pen this time but I wasn't as nervous as yesterday. Emily said that it was because she gave me other things to worry about- that included Carrot Stick riding and faster/slower gaits. I think it was also partly thanks to yesterday and sort of taking a small hammer and beginning to chip away at the brick wall barrier. And yesterday made a dent!

We mostly worked on staying on the dirt path that is along the edge of the round pen- pretty close to the fence, but not too close. (good way to desensitive me) and a million transitions. That was walk, trot, stop, back up, etc..., but also slow walk-fast walk-slow trot-fast trot.

When I asked Sharles to go into a faster trot, she got a really nasty look on her fact and would toss her head and balk a bit, so we had to work on one-rein stopping her each time she did it. Crazy thing was I didn't feel unsafe.

Sometimes I wonder if even though she was doing that, and I didn't feel unsafe or the need to get off, whether I am overconfident...they say listen to your instincts but what if your instincts are overshadowed by your joy at riding again?

I am not sure that even applies to me. I plan to talk to Emily about it tomorrow morning, because it may not even apply to me. It may not even be REAL!

We ended on a really nice note- some nice smooth trotting in the round pen before I dismounted and we played at liberty with Emily taking photos. 

Aren't they just GORGEOUS?? I hope Casper will make pretty faces tomorrow for her too! I'm not photogenic at all either so kudos to her for making me look decent. And yes, that really is the color of my hair! Fantastic, isn't it??

Also, I forgot to mention that Emily said that Sharlie needs her teeth floated because she is having trouble eating. THAT is why it is good to have people who know more about horses than you do out sometimes- they notice that stuff. I bet you no one else at the stables would have noticed, or mentioned anything to me!

Also found out that Casper's halter is an Arabian size, not Pony. We need to buy him a pony size!

So today was our second and last full day. It was so much fun and we made a lot of progress.
-Sideways towards, Online
- Sideways away, Liberty
- Zone 4 driving
- Trotting confidently in the round pen.

Beautiful Arabian. My chesnut angel.

Workshop with Emily Larramore: Day 2 (Tuesday, June 5th)

Day 2- First Full Day

Despite our best wishes, we did not make it out to the barn at 7:30 am.

This saying may seem pointless now, but read on and you will understand.

Tuesday morning was Sharlietta's morning. I was excited to see how she would do with the Watering Hole Rituals, especially when it came to Taking Territory with grain involved. Kara was also coming to spend the day to watch and hang out with us. Fun stuff.

What became evident pretty quickly was that Sharlie was definitley an introvert- and a Left Brain one.

When it came to just playing with the grass, she was pretty good about it. It was once we brought out a bucket of grain- and then later two buckets- that Sharlie really started doing as little as possible to be able to eat the grain. After finding a good stopping place for that morning, Emily pointed out something very important to our little herd.

Sharlie has a lot of respect for me, but not enough rapport. She would rather be with the feed than with me- the feed is the better deal for her at the moment. We want her to be more like Casper in the sense of she prefers my company and being with me than to being with the food.

Once done with the WHR, we did some work to do some small range circles with Sharlie at Liberty. After working with it a bit online and practicing keeping my 'sends' small, we were able to do an entire circle at close range circle (still with disengages.)

Next was teaching her to lie down. Emily took over for this one for the most part because it is physically hard. I was having a lot of trouble just holding onto Sharlie's leg whenever we had tried in the past, as well as keeping my own balance. Sharlie did amazing and Emily is pretty confident that she will lie down by Thursday. The most important thing to remember is to never release on a brace.

Then came riding! Originally we planned on riding with a saddle but then changed our minds.

Now I don't think I ever posted about it on the blog, but back in the summer of 2010 shortly after returning from camp in Atlanta, I was riding Sharlie in the round pen at the trot and my foot got caught in the railings. It was just sort of a freak accident- Sharlie just came in too close on the turn and then BAM. It only took a few seconds, but I was seriously shaken and had a huge fear of it happening again.

So when Emily asked me to drop the reins while trotting and just do a passanger lesson, it was rather frightening at first. It seemed like Sharlie was getting intentionally close to the fence, just to scare me. That of course was not true.

I don't even remember when exactly but at some point I found that I had tears in my eyes. I was so so scared of getting my foot caught again that I was crying. Also I was crying because I was very dissapointed in myself at how little I trusted Sharlie.

Emily pulled me in and we talked about it and discussed comfort zones and phobias. I wasn't afraid of Sharlie running me into the fence- I was afraid that any horse would run me into the fence. It was just much more extreme on Sharlie because it actually happened on her and actually happenned in that round pen.

However once I can get past that fear, the reward will be spectacular. (Does the photo above make sense now?)

Looking for a change of scenery, we moved this party to the arena where surprisingly Emily said I looked a lot more confident and relaxed. Hmmm... Also, one of the main reasons why we were trotting in the round pen in the first place was for me to practice my fluidity. Once out in the arena, I had it down pretty well.


By this time it was already noon and everybody was hungry. After packing both horse & tools away, we went up to Ooltewah/Collegedale to eat at a new cafe that opened up- the 4 Corners Cafe. After a delicious lunch, we decided to go driving and explore the countryside that is Tennessee and Georgia. We drove...a lot.

We made our way south into Georgia and headed eastwards (Varnell area?) with one rule. Don't look at a map. (Something hard to do when 2 out of 3 people have iPhones)

At one point we stopped at a gas station and Emily bought the three of us a lottery ticket each. Both Emily and Kara won 30 dollars each! And I? ...nothing. :(

We were probably driving around the Georgian countryside (All roads lead to Georgia around here) for 2 hours before heading back to stop by Earthfare to spend EMILY AND KARA'S winnings. (As they pointed out throughout the day, they weren't mine. *rolls eyes and laughs* )

We got some cheesecake and salmon before returning home and chilling. We looked at Emily's photos from her Fast Track and other things such as when a friend's foal was being born.

After a delicious dinner (that was for you, Mom) we took Kara home where Emily got to meet Kara's horses and see just what an awesome place it is out there. (I concur)

Then we headed home and pretty much hit the sack. *yawn* It was tiring!

Workshop with Emily Larramore: Day 1 (Monday, June 4th)

Emily Larramore came up to Chattanooga to spend 4 days at my house while we worked with the horses. She arrived Monday afternoon at about 2 o'clock. It was a bit later than expected because Birmingham had some pretty severe storms.

Photo Credit Emily Larramore

First thing we did was go to Tractor supply. Casper had taken quite a beating from another gelding the evening before when there was some temporary rearranging of the pastures so I wanted to go and try to find something to put on his bites. (Luckily, the gelding was moved back and Sharlie was returned to her rightful place of being Casper's high maintenance wife.)

Emily ended up buying some vetrycin, which Emily claims to be some sort of miracle healing water. (Its blue too!) It isn't just for horses- you can use it on yourself too. I had cut my finger yesterday and I sprayed some on and it doesn't look as red or ugly as it should. Also, according to Emily, if you have a sore throat you can use it for that too. It just tastes like pool water. (So if it doesn't work, don't blame me. Blame Em!)

After a quick stop home to change into farm-appropraite clothes, we headed off to the stables! We decided to focus on Casper today because I had just had the lesson with Robin on Friday and hadn't played with him in several days.

One of the main things we were going to be doing this week was Carolyn Resnick's Water Hole Rituals- with a twist.

We started out with Sharing Territory.

Then we continued onto Saying Hello, then followed by Taking Territory with both the grass and a bucket of grain.

The surprise of the evening was learning that Casper actually preferred to be with me than with the grain. It was actually a very encouraging thought, to know that.

Also, we learned that Casper's Friendly Game is a bit broken, especially when it comes to the Carrot Stick. Another thing was that I can have a lot of energy, I just have no idea how to control it. Especially when I have a Carrot Stick with me. I think it almost channels it more- which is not always a good thing as we found out on Monday evening!

Something to always remember:

Your Friendly Game should be equal to your driving phases.

Describe your horse in 3 words.

Casper: quiet, proud, gentle.

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

The Month of June

Hey everyone!

A post a day for four days in a row- Julia what on earth is wrong with you?? Did the rest of the world die and you are alone on Planet Earth with just your computer?

No sillies! Because if that was true, you wouldn't be reading this right now!
(Haven't you missed me? ;) )

With the first of June approaching faster than Sharlie running to a bucket of grain (this is factually impossible. Nothing is faster than Sharlie to a bucket of grain.) I thought I would give you a run down of what my month is consisting so you will understand if there is a lack of posting for certain periods of time.

Also, I just HAD to share the fact that the month of June also seems to be a very horsey month. (Trying to compete with last year's June which included 2 and a half weeks at Kara's. Fat chance.)

On the first of June, Robin Harris (2* Parelli Professional) will be coming to Mercy Stables to give me and another Parelli lady (from Signal Mountain I believe) a few hours lesson. (I think we will be doing 2 hours each.)

Now the reason I ended up doing this was because Robin Harris is coming up this way anyway to give Kara and Brita lessons as well. She is coming up on the Thursday and staying overnight. On her way home to Alabama, she will stop by Mercy.

I have decided to use this lesson as a way to prepare myself for what comes a few days later- Emily coming for 4 days here! June 4-7 Emily is going to come and stay for a sort of one-on-one camp, if you will. I am very excited because this will be the first time that Emily will actually meet Sharlie & Casper.

I hope to use these 4 days to advance and refine my horsemanship skills, as well as simply be able to ride both horses safely and enjoy it. Now more than ever because the opportunity has arisen to go trail riding on the battlefields as well as just on the 300 acres that is Mercy. Also, I'd love to take Casper to a hunter pace at the nearby stables Hidden Hills, just because it is such a great ride! But that is later in the year.

The day after Emily leaves I fly to Charleston, South Carolina VERY EARLY in the morning. I'll be there for a week! While that is not horse related, it is still worth sharing! ;) Jealous?

Aye aye aye...So to summarize.

June 1st- Robin Harris lesson. I am LEARNING.

June 4th- Emily arrives. We are SETTLING IN AND LEARNING.

June 5th- Emily is here. We are LEARNING.

June 6th- Emily is here. We are LEARNING.

June 7th- Emily leaves. I am PACKING.

June 15th (?) - Onwards- Group trail rides at Mercy & the Battlefield. WE ARE HAVING FUN WITH OUR PARELLI HORSES!! :D

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

They Said vs. The Truth: Sharlie

What they all said compared to the truth of now. A comparison.
A story of perseverance, hope, love, fear, and inner beauty.
In a few simple words.


They said she was not worth much.

They said that she could never be a child's horse.

They said she was a problem horse.

They said she would always need a halter on the ground, and a bit while riding.

They said she needed a tight rein. 

They said she needed to be controlled.

They said she could never truly relax.

They said she was an arena horse. 

They said she was a dressage horse, nothing more.

They said she could never 'hit the trails'.

They said she was afraid of open spaces.

They said she could never be taught.

They said she wouldn't understand nor be able to learn Natural Horsemanship.

They said she was disrespectful. They said that she didn't respect humans. They said that she would harm me.

They said she could never be happy.

They said that she needed to be controlled.

They said she would never be a winner.

They said she could never be beautiful.

Well, look at her now.

[**This post was once again inspired by the realization at how lucky I am to have this amazing mare in my life and that all she has done for me.

'The Truth' part of the comparison are the photos. Revel in the irony that is the human species.]