• Alison Kilvington

MIN452 - A Series of Unfortunate Events

And a stroke of major luck there in the beginning before it all went downhill.

Quite a bit has happened since my last blog post, and the entire world seemed to change within just a few days. I went to Las Vegas and stayed with my sister, had the time of my life, and managed to go back home just in time, a few days before the entire Strip closed down due to the coronavirus. Not long after I was back home, I got an email saying spring break was extended another week, and all classes were online now. Kentucky essentially went on lockdown in less than a week, and I turned 23 years old! Whew!

I am a little bothered that classes have gone completely online, my sense of time is now completely distorted and I often don't realize what day it is. My favorite game updates every Wednesday, so I at least know when it's that day. Otherwise I very easily struggle to remember if it's Tuesday or Saturday. And how can I concentrate on school at all when my bed is right there, perfectly ready for me to sleep in all day? Perhaps it's unsurprising that I have lately been sleeping for 13 hours, quite literally spending most of my days asleep.

Without going into too much detail, I am a moderator for a niche community within the already niche community of equine artists. With layoffs and everything going on, admittedly I have been putting my artistic focus more on this community that I moderate, as I am able to sell designs and doodles I make for income. This is currently my only source of income, and because of that I do prioritize what I do quite a bit. It doesn't entirely cover my bills, but it makes the impact of losing money a little less worse that it could be. I don't even know if I'll even have any money left saved after this is all over. I am experiencing the anxiety so many others are.

I will get this done. Hopefully things will start looking better very soon so that I can find a new job and not have to worry about sacrificing school in exchange to feel economically safe. If it doesn't, I'll just have to figure something out. I have confidence in my speed, as well as the vivid images that are in my mind waiting to be let out. Besides, procrastinating is something that I've been known to do, and I can somehow always manage a good result despite waiting until the last minute.

In the meantime, I realized I haven't actually presented research on horses. If I'm making a world with sentient horses in mind, shouldn't I be doing some research? Well...

With this picture, it can easily be assumed that I already know a thing or two! This cutie is a gelding named Major, who used to be a professional reining horse until he was retired from show horse life and is now living the lesson horse life. He's so extremely sweet and tolerated me grabbing his face to take a selfie. Didn't put up a fight and was very obedient when I went out to his pasture to catch him. He had no mud on him (unlike some other horses I've ridden who were caked...), he actually LIFTED his back hoof for me before I even asked him to when picking his hooves, and stood patiently as I saddled him and then tightened the girth. And while his trot is the bounciest I've ridden yet, I adore his canter.

Now to someone who knows nothing about horses, it may seem like I just wrote complete gibberish. So to illustrate my knowledge, I'm going to explain a few things!

So to start off, a gelding is a male horse that has been castrated. When you brush a horse, you actually have two brushes to keep on hand: the curry and the soft brush. You start with the curry brush, which is just a rough, slightly spiky rubber brush that you use to go across a horse's entire coat in circular motions, ignoring the flow of the hair. The curry is a great tool for getting mud off as well as removing excess hair during shedding season like right now. The soft brush is used after you're done with the curry, and with this one you brush in the direction of the horse's hair. You could think of it as a sort of polisher, and the soft brush is also great for whisking away sweat after riding.

A crucial part to the grooming process is the picking of hooves, demonstrated in the picture below. It can be dangerous and is definitely a strain on the back. You run the risk of an annoyed horse jerking their leg away from you, biting your behind, of getting whacked in the face with their tail. However it is absolutely necessary because a horse's legs and hooves are everything, they cannot live without all four legs. By cleaning out their hooves, you are making sure that no rock or nail or something has painfully lodged itself in the hoof, checking to see if their shoes are loose, of if there's any soreness for whatever reason. If there's a problem, the vet and farrier need to be called immediately.

The girth refers to the strap connected to the saddle that goes under the horse's belly, right behind the front legs where the ribcage begins. This is the strap that keeps the saddle from sliding off onto the horse's side, and therefore helping to keep you on the horse's back and not suddenly on the ground. Horses tend to be finicky about the girth, often filling their lungs with air and inflating their bellies so that you can't tighten it all the way initially. This is why it's important to walk the horse a few steps after you're done saddling to force them to breathe, and releasing any air they were holding so that you can tighten the girth to secure and snug, otherwise you'll quickly find yourself eating dirt before you even get on because the saddle suddenly became loose.

I won't explain what reining is, though videos of what that riding discipline is can easily be searched on YouTube. Hopefully everyone should know what a horse's trot is, and a canter is one of two gaits where the horse's hooves will completely leave the ground, the other being the gallop. Some consider the canter and gallop to be the exact same gait but at different speeds, which is understandable since it's the same leg motions. But I suppose you could call the canter the "lazy gallop". Still pretty speedy though!

Obviously there's so much more to horses, however I hope the knowledge I have provided, curated from years of being a horse obsessed child, will give me credit and prove that I can create a horse-only world that can work with their physiology.


©2020 Alison V. Kilvington