The Jog

This post was originally published on Academie Duello’s blog in May 2013, and is part of a series detailing the requirements for the Blue Spur, or second rank of the Mounted Combat program.

Horsemanship Level 2: Leading at the Trot

At level 1 we asked that you demonstrate how to safely lead your horse for the simple purpose of moving him about from stall, to cross-ties, to arena.  You can review this here. For level 2 you will also need to demonstrate leading at the trot.

4. Lead in hand, walk & trot.

The most common reason for needing to lead your horse at the trot is to detect lameness and gait faults.  This might be done for the vet during an exam or at an event as a soundness check and is either known as trot-up or ‘the jog’.  In-hand classes at shows also ask for the horse to be trotted to show off his obedience and the quality of his gaits.

When trotting for a soundness exam the same safety rules apply as when leading at the walk: have the excess lead-rope folded, not looped, in your left hand; use your right hand to lead the horse; and jog beside your horse’s left shoulder so he doesn’t step on you or move into your space.  For the trot you will want a slightly looser lead than at the walk to allow for his larger movement.  This will also keep you at a safer distance.

Most horses will trot if you start to jog beside them.  If your horse doesn’t immediately move into a trot, use a verbal command, or a cluck.  You can carry a long whip in your left hand and tap his quarters behind you if he is particularly reluctant.

The Trot-up

The jog or trot-up is a formal display of soundness done at national and international calibre horseshows.  In three day eventing the horse is jogged before judges and vets on the first and last day of the event.  The horse is immaculately groomed and shown in a snaffle bridle.  It is also a chance to show off the rider’s style, and these days some riders do the jog in Ascot hats and high heels.

For the formal jog, start as you would for a regular trot, with the excess reins folded in your left hand, and your right hand holding both reins 6-12 inches below the bit.  As your horse starts to trot, drop your right hand and and place it behind your back, holding the reins and whip in your left.  This allows your horse to move freely and demonstrates that you aren’t dragging or holding him back.

The larger your horse, the more you’ll have to move to get him to show off.  Take long, springy, rhythmic strides which will encourage him to do the same.

next week: grooming

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Happy NaNoing to all my writer friends.  If you are churning out a novel this month, may your words flow freely, your plots be mathematically precise, and your characters grow and change in marvellous and unexpected ways.

And don’t forget to use that leftover candy as fuel!

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A day in the Life

This post was originally published on Academie Duello’s blog in May 2013, and is part of a series detailing the requirements for the Blue Spur, or second rank of the Mounted Combat program.

Horsemanship Level 2: Routines of the Horse

There are many different equine lifestyles for the domestic horse, from grazing loose on the range 24/7, to kept in a barn with a variety of supplemental feeds, and everything in between.  At level 2 we don’t expect you to be able to descibe all the various horsekeeping options:  you simply need to know the routine of your own horse (or the horse you typically ride).

3. Know the routine of own horse:  feeding, grooming, exercise.

Your horse’s feeding and exercise regime is dependant on her stabling situation.  A horse that is kept on pasture requires very little, if any, supplemental feed, will get sufficient exercise to regulate energy and maintain base condition, but will still require grooming to check for injuries and keep the coat and hooves healthy.  A horse that spends most of his time in the stall or paddock will require hay and possibly grain, will need to be exercised daily, but may be easier to groom.  Whatever your horse’s routine is, be prepared to explain how it relates to the stabling situation.

Here are the questions you’ll need to be able to answer:


  • How does your horse get fresh clean water?  Bucket, automatic waterer, trough, stream?
  • What is the source of your horse’s forage?  Grass, hay, or a combination?
  • How many times a day is your horse fed hay?  How much?
  • What type of hay is fed?  Local meadow hay, alfalfa, timothy, hay cubes?
  • What types of concentrates, if any, does your horse get?  Oats, pelleted feeds, beet pulp, cob, etc?  How much?
  • How does your horse get salt? Block in stall or paddock, granulated, or as part of complete feed?
  • Are there any other supplements such as oil, joint or hoof supplements, daily medications etc? How are they fed?
  • Does the feed situation change seasonally?

Feed charts in the stable often given rations by volume, such as ‘1 scoop of pellets’ or ‘2 flakes of hay’.  However, it’s better to be able to answer these questions in terms of weight, such as ‘1200g complete pellets’ or ‘3 lbs hay’.  If you don’t have access to a scale, your barn manager can probably tell you the actual feed weights.


  • How often is your horse groomed and when?
  • When is your horse given a complete grooming, and when is he just quartered or set fair?
  • How does the grooming routine differ in winter, spring and summer?

A complete grooming is often done after a ride, when the pores are open and scurf in the coat rises to the surface.  Quartering is a quick grooming, usually done before a ride, to check for injuries, clean out the hooves, and make sure the saddle, girth and bridle areas are clean.  Setting fair is often done when a horse comes in from the field, or first thing in the morning, and is a quick check for injuries, the adjustment of any clothing, like rainsheets or flymasks, and the removal of any burrs or other pieces of the countryside stuck in manes and tails.


  • Does your horse get daily turnout?  For how long, and in what size of field or paddock?
  • If your horse does not get turnout, how does he get daily exercise?  Longeing, free longeing, riding, hand-walking?
  • How often is your horse ridden?
  • How many rides a week are schooling in the arena, and how many hacking out on the trails?
  • How often does is your horse entered in shows or competitions?
  • How does your horse’s exercise vary between seasons?

Exercise has a huge effect on horses’ mental states.  A horse that is kept in a stall or small paddock will often have too much energy, which makes him ‘hot’ or difficult to handle.  If your horse has variable turnout, you will probably notice she is much calmer when she is getting regular turnout than she is when she is kept in the stall or paddock.

If you use a school horse and aren’t aware of all his other activities check with the horse’s owner or the barn manager to find out what his daily schedule is.

next: leading at walk and trot

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Special on Pulp Literature Issue 16 till Hallowe’en

The Autumn issue of Pulp Literature is spectacularly spooky this year.  It contains no fewer than two ghosts and one ghost town, three very different end-of-life experiences, ghouls in coffee shops, unidentified monsters in the subway, and of course, the latest excerpt of Allaigna’s Song: Aria.  All at a scarily low price of $2.99 on until Hallowe’en!

Pulp Literature Issue 16, Autumn 2017

With authors like kc dyer, Brandon Crilly, Rina Piccolo, Patrick Bollivar, Susan Pieters, Oak Morse, FJ Bergman, Mel Anastasiou, Leah Komar, Greg Brown, and Glenn Pape, this is an issue you don’t want to miss!

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Come and say hello at the SiWC Author Signing!

I’ll be signing copies of Allaigna’s Song: Overture (as well as Pulp Literature issue) at the Surrey International Writers’ Conference Author Signing, this Saturday, October 21st, from 5:30 – 7:00pm.

The event is free to attend, and you can meet authors like Jack Whyte, Diana Gabaldon, CC Humphreys, Susanna Kearsley, JJ Lee, kc dyer, and many more.  Books will be available on site, so it’s a perfect opportunity to get a head start on holiday shopping!

SiWC Author Signing
Saturday 21 October, 5:30 – 7:00pm
Sheraton Vancouver Guildford Hotel
15269 104th Avenue, Surrey, BC

See you there!

Jack Whyte dispensing advice at a previous SiWC signing. Photo by Sandra Vander Schaaf

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Next Allaigna Instalment Out Soon

Verses 6 & 7 of Allaigna’s Song: Aria will be release soon in Pulp Literature Issue 16, Autumn 2017.  Here’s a snippet …

Verse 6:
The Bard’s Bail

The sun was unseasonably bright and cheerful, I thought, given my mood.

I couldn’t fathom what had possessed my self-appointed squire, Raddick — despite the eagle and a half worth of small coins I’d given him to complete his shopping errands — to attempt instead to steal a leg of cured mutton hanging from a butcher’s stall.  I learned the reason later:  it was his pressing sense of obligation to me, wanting to save me a few coins and lessen the burden he made on my purse.

Of course he was already in the stocks by the time I’d spotted the commotion across the market square and pressed my laden way through the crowd.  All of his purchases and his purse had been confiscated by the guard, and, after I bought Raddick’s freedom, I had further negotiating to do to release his possessions.  They were lighter by at least a third than they ought to be, but I had no way of proving it.

I loaded him up with my shopping as well, and sent him, shamefaced from my scolding, back to where Dog camped a league outside town.  The reason we had separated in the first place was so I could buy new underclothes, and that task was still unfinished.

I set off, head down, grumbling at the inconvenience and cost of being liege to even one dim lad.  I had only made fifty disgruntled paces when a large firm hand settled itself on my shoulder.

“Hold up a bit there, lad.”

I came to a slow stop and gave an even slower quarter turn of the head, just enough to see my interlocutor.  It was one of the city watch:  not the thick-jawed clerk or the hoary veteran I’d dealt with for Raddick’s release, but the one who’d been sitting at the back of the guardroom, whetting and oiling his sword.

Some rusty instinct began screaming at me to run, but I didn’t pull back from the hand, which I felt would only tighten if I did.  I simply stood, knees bent, weight on my toes to see how this new development would hinder me.

He walked to cross in front of me, that enormous hand never letting go of my shoulder as if in some strange madrigal.  He held me at arm’s length, studying both me and a sheet of parchment in his other hand.

“Nalen, is it?” he asked.  It was the name I’d used to sign Raddick’s release; but it was also the name, so foolishly close to my own, that I’d given at Doniver’s camp.  He must have felt the involuntary quiver that ran through me, for his grip tightened.  “Ye’ll need to come back to the guardhouse wi’ me,” he said, not unkindly.

My feet were glued to the cobbles, resisting the gentle pull on my shoulder.

“Naught to fear, lad,” he encouraged.  “A simple misunderstanding.  Ye’ll not be punished.”

Fear warred with curiosity.  What could that parchment say, and what did it reveal about me?  With practice borne of many sibling battles, I dropped down out of his grasp and twisted up again, snatching the parchment from his other hand as I hurtled off across the public square.  The curiosity had hurt me, though.  The twisting motion I’d used to reach the parchment had sent a twinge of pain through my knee, not to mention costing me a heartbeat of time.  Sometimes I still wonder what difference that fraction of a second might have made.

As it was, I only just missed escaping down an alley as a drover backed his oxen into it.  I tried anyway, hitting the cobbles with my already sore knee, and scrabbling like a lizard between the cart’s moving wheels.  I was almost home free when that large muscled hand clamped down on me again, this time on my ankle, and pulled me out like a load of washing against the washboard cobbles, not nearly so gentle this time around.

“I said, lad,” he puffed, once he’d pulled me upright by the collar.  “Yer master don’t plan to punish ye.  But make me run like that again and I might do it for him.”

Pre-order your copy and save $2

Pulp Literature Issue 16, Autumn 2017Pre-orders of Issue 16 are $2 off until September 1st, so shotty your copy before midnight.

It’s a fabulous issue, with cover art by Akem, a feature story from kc dyer, short fiction from Erin Kirsh, FJ Bergmann, Susan Pieters, Brandon Crilly, and Patrick Bollivar, Magpie Award-winning poets Oak Morse, Leah Komar, and Glenn Pape, a brand new Stella novella from Mel Anastasiou, and a whimsical new cartoon that I just adore from Rina Piccolo.  Find it here

Compostela: Tesseracts TwentyAnd if you’d like to get your copy signed, join us on September 18th at the Cottage Bistro on Main Street.  I’ll be there, along with kc, Erin, Akem, Sue, and Patrick, plus several authors from Edge Publishing’s Compostela: Tesseracts Twenty, edited by Spider Robinson and James Alan Gardner.  Authors include Roxanne Gregory, Rhea Rose, Linda DeMeulmeester, Cat Girczyc, and Guy Immega. It’s a joint Edge/Pulp Lit launch, and as usual there will be plenty of good food, good beer, and good cheer!

Save your place at the Pulp Literature Autumn Launch by RSVPing below. See you there …


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Tonight’s the Night: Allaigna’s Song Launches!

Allaignas SongIt’s been a long time coming … I started writing Allaigna’s Song: Overture (well, just Allaigna really, because I didn’t have a title and I didn’t know there were going to be three books) over a decade ago.  It went through about 13 drafts before I started serializing it in Pulp Literature and since then its been edited, copy-edited, proofread, and generally tinkered with many more times.

So yeah, this is it — the day I release it to the world in its final form.  Set in paper, if not in stone.  No more changes.

Which means its time to party!

The launch is being held at Steamworks Brewing Co. in Gastown, beginning at 6pm.  Come hungry because the food is great … as is the beer!  We’ll eat and drink first, socialize a bit, and then have some readings from several Pulp Lit authors including Issue 15’s Brenda Carre, and our poetry editor Daniel Cowper.  Then there will be signings and DOOR PRIZES!  Be sure to print your free RSVP ticket to enter.

I hope you’ll come out and celebrate with me tonight.  I’m looking forward to that first beer immensely, and the second one even more.

Pulp Literature Summer Launch
Monday 10 July, 6 – 9pm
Steamworks Brewing Co. 375 Water St, Vancouver
Free to attend, but please RSVP

Eventbrite - Pulp Literature Summer Launch

Pulp Literature Issue 15 and Allaignas Song

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On the Mark(ings)

This post was originally published on Academie Duello’s blog in April 2013, and is part of a series detailing the requirements for the Blue Spur, or second rank of the Mounted Combat program.

Horsemanship Level 2: Identification

Part II: Points, Colours and Markings

Last week we looked at breeds and types, which is the most general way of identifying horses.  This week we’ll narrow down and look at more specific identification.


Your horse’s anatomy forms an important part of his identification and is helpful in communicating with others.  You might have to tell the vet over the phone that your horse has a cut on his near hind gaskin, just above the hock; or you might  make a note on his identity sheet that he has a few white hairs behind his poll on the off side.  For Level 1 we asked that you know 20 simple points of the horse.  For Level 2 you’ll need to know them all, including the external parts of the hoof.  They can be found on the frontispiece of your Manual of Horsemanship, and by searching ‘equine anatomy’ online.  To test yourself, take a few quizzes, like this one:

Colours & Markings

For Level 2 we don’t expect you to know any more coat colours than necessary for Level 1, but we do want you to add markings into the mix.  Markings are white areas on the legs and face, black spots within those areas, and black areas on a non-black horse, known as points (not to be confused with anatomical points, above).

Face Markings

Star, strip & snip

A blaze & white lip

Star: a patch of white on the brow which does not extend down the face.

Strip or Stripe: a thin line of white running down the nose, which may or may not be connected to a star.

Blaze: a wide swath of white running the length of the face, approximately as wide as the nasal bones.

Snip: a small white patch on the muzzle

White lip: a patch of white on the lower lip, sometimes from a blaze that continues all the way down the muzzle

Bald face: white that covers the front of the face past the width of the eyes.

Leg Markings

In general leg markings are called socks, but they are further defined by their height.

Coronet: a band of white hairs just above the hoof

White heel: white on the bulbs of the heel only

Half-pastern: white which does not reach the fetlock

Sock: white which is at least as high as the fetlock, but does not reach the knee or hock

Half-cannon: a sock which goes approximately half way up the cannon.

Stocking: a sock that reaches at least in part past the knee or hock.

Unlike human hosiery, horse’s socks have irregular tops, so what may appear to be a half-cannon on the inner surface of the leg, may actually be a stocking on the outside.

Ermine Spots: black spots on white leg markings.

This Selle Francais stallion has a sock and stocking on his forelegs, and half-cannons on the hind. You can see his black legs above the socks, as well as his black mane, tail, ears and muzzle.

Colour Points

These are the black areas which help define horses like bays and buckskins, and are often present on young greys as well.  The five colour points are: tips of ears, muzzle, mane, tail, and legs.  Not all bays and buckskins will show black in the muzzle and ears, but mane, tail and legs will always have black.  Some horses will also show a dark dorsal stripe, which is a continuation of the tail colour, running along the spine.

Defining markings is never cut and dried, and what is a sock to one person is a half-cannon to another.

Colours are also slightly vague with variations like rose grey, strawberry roan silver black, seal brown, etc.  However, I find the genetics of coat colour fascinating.  This is not a requirement for any of our Horsemanship levels, but if you are interested in learning more about coat colours and genes you can play with this fun colour calculator:

 Next week: routines of the horse

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A review in the hand is worth …

What does an author need as much as whiskey, solitude, and a spouse with a steady income?


In today’s market, books live and die based on the eyeballs that chance across them online, and the more reviews a book has — good, bad, or indifferent — the more eyeballs will bounce that way. Eyeballs translate to sales, and sales translate to more whiskey, which translates to more books.  It’s a win-win situation for reader and author alike.

If you’ve read and liked a book, do the author a favour and leave a review on Amazon or Goodreads.  Even if you don’t have time for a written review, a simple star rating is a huge help.  You’re also doing fellow readers a favour by letting them know where to find their next great read.

The Favour

So here’s the favour I’m asking.  If you’re one of the many people who have been reading Allaigna’s Song as its been serialized in Pulp Literature I would be extraordinarily grateful if you could leave a review on Goodreads.  It can be a 1-star, 5-star, or anything in between.  (Be honest!  You won’t hurt my feelings.  Honestly!)

The book launches July 10th, and having early reviews will really help it get up and running fast.

And while you’re there, take a minute or two to review some books by other authors.  We all thank you for it!


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A Breed for Every Need

This post was originally published on Academie Duello’s blog in April 2013, and is part of a series detailing the requirements for the Green Spur, or first rank of the Mounted Combat program.

Horsemanship Level 2: Identification

Horses come in many shapes and sizes; display strange colours, such as chestnut, bay, buckskin and skewbald; have exotic body parts, such as pastern, stifle, dock and chestnut (no relation to the colour); and have other interesting markings such as black points, ermine spots, snips and stockings.

This is not just trivial knowledge used to impress your horsey girlfriend.  Being able to verbally identify a horse is important for clear communication, and vital if reporting a lost or stolen horse.  Colour, markings, and breeds are the simplest forms of identification.  You can pick a horse out in the field by these qualities without having to check the undercarriage for sex, or the underside of the lip for a tattoo.  A knowledge of horse breeds and types lets you know in advance what type of work a horse may be suitable for.

In Horsemanship Level 1 we asked you to identify colours, the near and off side, and  twenty simple points of the horse.  For Level 2 you will need to be able to:

2. Name and describe breeds, points, colours and markings of horses

This week we will look at Breeds and Types, and finish off the topic next week with points, colours and markings.

Breeds & Types

You don’t need to know all the breeds of horses in the world, but you should be able to identify several breeds of each type of horse.  Below are a few examples of each.  Look them up in a good breed book or online and familiarize yourself with their general characteristics and uses.


These are the draught breeds, used for pulling wagons and farm work.  Their ancestors were often used as warhorses, though most have been bred to be heavier and are now larger and less suited to riding than their forebears. Examples: Percheron, Clydesdale, Friesian, Belgian etc.

The Godolphin Arabian was one of the three foundation sires of the Thoroughbred


Traditionally there are only two hot-blooded breeds, the Arabian, and its descendant, the Thoroughbred.  Both are fine-boned, athletic and often considered fiery.  Arabians are renowned for longevity and endurance, and Thoroughbred racehorses are the fastest horses in the world.  These breeds have been used extensively to improve other breeds.  Other breeds which are sometimes considered hot-blooded are the Akhal-Teke, Marwari, Kathiawari and similar older breeds of hot-climate horses.


All other horses except draughts, Arabians and Thoroughbreds, are considered warm-blooded.  This should not be confused with registered Warmbloods, such as the Hanoverian, Dutch Warmblood, Canadian Warmblood etc, which are controlled types with regulated studbooks.  It was once thought a warm-blooded horse was descended from a draught and hot-blooded cross, but this has not been proven true genetically.  Examples: Quarter Horse, Morgan, Appaloosa, Warmblood breeds, etc.


A Shetland mare and foal

The term ‘pony’ is a height classification as well as a type.  Any horse under 14.2 hands high (a hand is 4 inches), or 145cm is considered a pony. This means a small Arabian or Quarter Horse might be classed as a pony.  However, there are specific pony breeds as well.  Examples: Welsh, Shetland, Newfoundland, Pony of the Americas etc.

Light or Riding Horse

Any hot-blooded or warm-blooded horse.


What appears to be a Friesian Horse, 1568.

These are the breeds most directly developed as and descended from warhorses.  They tend to have an uphill build, made for power rather than speed, a cresty neck and flowing mane, and were often used as carriage horses and light draught horses as well.  They are visually impressive and often used in movies as well as haute école.  Examples: Lippizaner, Andalusian (Pur Raza Espagnol), Friesian, Canadian Horse, Knabstrupper, etc.

As you can see there is a fair bit of cross-over within types, just as there is variance within the breeds themselves.  At our barn Jolie, Jack and Flavie are all Canadian horses, but Jolie and Jack are more Baroque in their build and carriage, while Flavie is more of a light draught or riding horse.

next week: points, colours and markings

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