A Trail Rider's Dictionary

I present to you a non-comprehensive dictionary of common phrases and words often heard during trail rides.  These may be somewhat useful should you be writing about someone going trail riding or wish to go on a trail ride yourself.
The words and phrases are not in alphabetical order, but arranged in such a way that as you progress through a trail ride, you may use them in the order in which they are presented.

Let's Go Trail Riding Sometime!
A phrase used by horse people to indicate that they would like to meet up sometime in the next 3 years.  Also used to replace common phrases like "hello" "goodbye" "I like you" and "I'm just trying to be nice".

Can You Go Riding *insert date*?
 99% of the time, the answer is no.  Some other important (but not as exciting) event will have been already scheduled.

Would You Like to Ride One of My Horses?
Translation: I have more horses than I really need, but I don't want to sell any them, and they all need exercise.  So having someone else ride with me kills two birds with one stone (or exercise two horses with one ride).
Note:  Can also be used to save on time.  If one person gets straight off work at 5 and meets the person who left earlier and got the horses ready, then there is more time for actual riding.

What you should do, but don't.  Everything's probably still in the trailer tack compartment from last time, anyway.

Caked with mud.
What your horse is when you go out to get him in the trailer.

A death-defying process consisting of blood, sweat, tears, handfuls of grain, squeezing past large animals while in tight spaces, and lots of regret.

"On My Way"
The text you send as you leave the house while wondering if you forgot to bring anything important.
What you do as you unload your horse and talk to the people you're meeting about how you don't ride enough and why don't we meet up more often and how nice/horrible the weather is and please ignore the messy tack compartment and the filthy horse, haha.

Tacking Up
When you finally remember what important thing you forgot to bring.

Tightening the Girth
A customary ritual you preform before getting on your horse.  There's no real value in the process, as your girth will still be incredibly loose at the first hill.

"Which Way?"
Usually asked once you climb in the saddle and begin looking for the entrance to the trail.  Also repeated multiple times during the trail ride.

"The Trail Goes This Way"
A blatant lie.

A sheet of paper with squiggly lines depicting where you need to go.  For convenience, you keep it in your pocket, where sweat, creek water, and rain will turn it into a soggy mess.  Sometimes it's kept in your truck during trail rides, so it doesn't get wet.

Fly Spy
A sticky substance that you spray on your horses and in your face so you smell weird and attract flies for the entire ride.

You either forget you brought it with or you forget to bring it at all.

Steep Incline
Where the trail goes.

Huge Mud Puddle
Where the trail also goes.

Pile of Rocks
What the trail doesn't bother to go around.

Hanging Gardens
The mouthful of long overgrown grass that your horse keeps in his mouth during the entire ride.

Severe pain in your knees, thighs, back, and neck.  They do be polite and take turns, though sometimes they attack all at once.  Getting out and walking can help relieve the pain, but getting back on the horse afterward is an even bigger pain.

Noise you make when your horse spooks at nothing and jumps halfway off the trail.  Or when your horse decides to lay down in the creek crossing with you still in the saddle.

Die of Laughter
What the other riders do when your horse decides to lay down in the creek crossing with you still in the saddle.
A Snack
What you conveniently left in the car to keep the map and water bottle company.

Mushed Packet of Crackers
The only thing edible in your saddlebags, unless you enjoy rotten apples.

Lots of Fun
How you describe the trail ride to your family when you get home.

Look forward to going trail riding now?  Trust me, it's lots of fun!

Equine's Explained // Colab with Lily Cat

As a big part of this whole equine month on Saver of Memories deal, I have a colab with Lily Cat!  Be sure to trot on over to her blog and check out her post on the colors of horses.  It's pretty neat!  (She's also a relatively new blogger, so be sure to follow her and check out her other posts!)

Today I'm talking about the different kinds of tack.  Which is pretty fun because I love riding in all kinds of styles and types of saddles.  This will mostly be geared towards fantasy writers, and how you can use different kinds of saddles to add realism and worldbuilding to your writing.

I'll start off with the two most popular saddles - English and Western.

English is most common.  It's a fairly lightweight saddle, and is perfect for trotting around, jumping, galloping through fields and over big jumps...basically, your typical English saddle is a great all-around saddle.

All-purpose English saddle.  There are other kinds, but I don't have many English pictures.  Not many people ride in them where I am.

Western, however, is a little more practical, especially if you're writing for some medieval-type world.  You've got a horn to hang things onto if you're going on long adventures.  Saddlebags can be tied behind.  And they're simply more comfortable.

More of a traditional Western saddle.
Trail-type Western saddle.

That being said, Australian saddles have recently become fairly popular, especially in the trail riding world.  They are super comfortable, have lots of places to clip and hang things from, and the poley's in front of your legs help keep you in the saddle.

An Australian-Western hybrid - the most comfortable saddle I've ever ridden in!

A more traditional Australian saddle, plus a horn.  Ignore the short stirrups, I had a short friend riding.  :)

There is also the endurance saddle - lightweight, super comfortable, and kind of customizable.  Want the minimum?  They've got English-type endurance saddles.  Looking for something not as heavy as a Western or Australian, but also want a horn and more saddle leather around you?  They've got that as well.

Super comfortable, with lots of places to hang and tie things!

Treeless saddles.  These are super neat.  Basically a saddle, but it's just entirely made of cloth.  They weigh only a couple pounds and fit just about every horse, since they don't have one certain shape.  They can slide around more, if you're not a balanced rider, though.  So take warning.  :)

The treeless saddle I've been riding in for the past two years, which I use on every horse I ride, including friends horses.  It's so comfortable, so light, and nice to throw it up on any horse and go riding!

My friend's treeless saddle.

But how can you use these in your writing?

Firstly, describe them without directly naming them.  You can't just state "and she threw her western saddle onto her unicorn."  Now you need to figure out how and why there is a western saddle in your fantasy world.

Use a couple key words to describe the saddle that horsey readers would pick up on.  Hanging something across the horn would instantly give an image of a western saddle, as would tightening a cinch.  Making sure the girth is snug, and pushing up the flaps to lower the stirrups makes one think of an english saddle.

Also, you can worldbuild your saddles.  Maybe a character from one country has a lighter saddle because they have limited resources and make saddles with as little leather and stuff as possible.  Another character has a heavy-duty saddle with lots of rigging - they spend lots of time traveling and have extra saddle bags and packs and pouches.

You can learn a lot about a rider and even their horse by looking at the saddle.  Is the saddle worn?  New?  Stained from weather?  Carefully cleaned?  Is it expensive, or just a "no-name-brand and falling apart" saddle?

Arabian saddle I photographed at Kentucky Horse Park.

Third, not every saddle will fit every horse.  Saddles are built off of a tree.  This is a sturdy chunk of wood that the leather is sewn onto.  It generally retains its shape.  So a narrow tree will fit a horse with a narrow back, and a wide tree will fit a stocky horse with a wide back.  And so on.

So you can add realism by having a rider switch horses...and need to find a new saddle.  And then they can complain about the fit of the saddle being different from what they're used to.  Being in a strange saddle can be awkward...especially if you suddenly need to ride into battle at top speed.

I hope this post gave you a few ideas about little bits of realism you can add into your stories.  If you have any questions, drop a comment below or send me an email or contact through the blog form.  I'd be happy to brainstorm with you and point you on your way.

Sidesaddle I found at a local auction (kinda wished I'd brought it home...).

Because horse people will read your books.  And while we may not publicly call you out for writing horses and riding and saddles and stuff incorrectly, we do notice.  We know when you make mistakes, and we also know when you've done your research (or even have horse experience).  So take warning and take the extra couple minutes to do a google search or email a horsey friend.  Make your books even more well-written.  :)

Blogging Anniversary Q&A Part 1

It's the post y'all've been waiting for!!!
Filmed on location after a Ride and Tie race...
Featuring my real face and voice...
Featuring Sarah's real face and voice...
And Evan's...voice...
And lots of wind and sun and post-race grime...
I present: the vlog!!!
This is the first video; about halfway through filming Sarah's phone cut off, so we finished on my phone.  That video can be found on Sarah's blog, so don't forget to check that out once you're finished here.
Anyway, enjoy!!!
Important Notes:
~My Dad really is a safe driver.  We just like teasing him about his tendency to drive with his knees and stuff.
~Apologies to Rakayle for mispronouncing your name.  *blushes*  I'm just sooooo sorry!
~If anyone wants a screenshot of our faces the moment the canopy was airborne, here it is in all it's glory:

~Don't forget to run over to Sarah's blog for the second part!!!!
And a very big thank you to all our blogging friends.  Two years is too short a time amongst such admirable bloggers and writers.  Love each and every one of you!!  Thanks for all your support and comments and for beta reading and putting out amazing posts of your own.  Y'all are amazing!!

10 Reasons to try Ride and Tie

I'm sure most of y'all know that I do the occasional Ride and Tie race.  Sarah and I have mentioned them a few times in our posts and you might even have seen some pictures.  And while we're not experts, we do have a number of races under our belt.

So today, as part of Horse-Month on Saver of Memories, I'm going to talk a little more in depth about Ride and Ties.

What is Ride and Tie?

Long story short, it's a team race.  A team consists of two people and a horse.  The people take turns running and riding the horse.  The horse goes faster, so after an agreed upon distance/time, the first person gets off and ties the horse to a tree.  Then that person starts running on ahead.  The other teammate eventually catches up to the horse (who's been chilling and resting at the tree), mounts, and takes off after the original rider.

After passing and switching and tying (the people have to switch places at least 6 times, per the rules), all three members of the team leapfrog all the way to the finish line.

Why Ride and Tie?

Horse people shake their heads and ask "Why run when you can just ride the whole way on your horse?  Running is tiring!"  And then running people laugh it off and say "Why do I need to get on a horse?  I can already run the whole distance, thank you very much!"

So why try a Ride and Tie race?

Good news - I have compiled a list.

One - You don't actually have to race.

Sounds like fun, but maybe you don't like to ride your horse that fast?  Or maybe you consider yourself to be a slow runner?  Well, Sarah and I spend quite a lot of our races hiking (granted, we walk with a purpose and don't drag our feet; but we're not booking it along at a sprint, either).

If you want to just walk/trot the distance and have a relaxing time, go for it!  Just tell the race manager you're planning to take it slow, so they don't worry that you got lost.  :)

If you want to still trot along, but don't want to be part of the take-off at the beginning, just take your horse out of sight and wait until the other competitors have all started.  Then head out and go at your own pace!

Two - You don't actually have to run/ride equally.

Rules state you have to switch 6 times and at every vet-check (there are only mid-race vet checks if you do the longer distances).  You don't have to divide running and riding evenly.

This is part of the Ride and Tie strategy.  Where is each team member the strongest?  Have a good downhill runner?  Someone who likes charging the uphills?  What about your horse?  You can have the runner riding when the horse will just be walking, and have the better rider doing most of the higher speeds.

If you're a horse rider, you can find a runner to team up with, and just hike a quarter mile at a time while they get a breather on your horse.

Three - The Ride and Tie community is amazing.

I've never met such a more friendly group of competitors.  They've got the "if you're out here, you're a winner" attitude of runners, mixed with the cheerful encouragement of trail riders.  They're happy to see new faces, and they will try to convince you to try longer distances.  If you have any questions or want tips, they're ready to help.

Trust me, they'll make you feel welcome.

Four - Changing Places Feels Good

When you're riding long distances, it can be painful.  Your knees start cramping, your back starts aching, and the saddle just isn't as comfortable.  So it's really nice to get down and stretch your legs every mile or so.  And then, once you're getting tired of running and want to just sit down...there's a horse waiting for you!

Five - Any Horse Can Do It

Yes, breeds like Arabians have a natural advantage, but a Ride and Tie horse can be any horse that is in decent shape, is calm, and stands tied to a tree.  A slower horse that doesn't freak out while being passed on the trail and stands nicely at the vet checks can make your race much easier than dealing with a hyper horse for the whole event.

If you can trot the flats and the not-so-steep slopes, you'll be just fine.  There's no need to gallop the whole thing.  You're not riding the Black Stallion.

If you're worried about tying your horse, then don't.  You can do flying ties which is basically handing your horse to the other person without tying the horse.  If you both stick together and run/ride at the same pace, you can just take turns riding and running and never even stop to tie the horse.

Six - There's Always Equathon

If you really think this sounds cool, but just can't imagine getting on a horse or running a distance longer than from the couch to the fridge...try Equathon.

Same concept: two people and one horse on a team.

Except the horse and rider go out first.  They compete the distance on their own, like a mini little endurance ride.  Then they cross the finish line and get their horse vetted in.  Once the horse is checked over and reaches pulse criteria, the runner goes out and does their entire distance.  Once they finally cross the finish line the race is over.

You can also race in an Iron Man Equathon and do both: ride your horse, vet them in, then have someone put your horse away while you run out to do the running portion!

Seven - You Get Cool Swag


Eight - It's Fairly Inexpensive

You don't need to spend extra $$ on some fancy tack or clothing.  Just show up in the same ol' saddle you've been riding in - you and your horse are used to it!  Wear some comfortable shorts or leggings, and run in whatever kind of sneakers you prefer.  A water bottle in a saddle bag should be enough if you're doing a short race, but if you do a longer distance you might want to invest in a running pack to carry extra water in.

Nine - It's Something New to Try

If you're just a trail rider who would like to try something new, but aren't too sure about those 30-mile endurance rides or scary trail challenges, give Ride and Tie a try!

If you're a trail runner who would like to try something new, but aren't too sure about those Spartan races or mud runs, give Ride and Tie a try!

Ten - Boasting Privileges

How many people do you know who do this sport?  Wouldn't it be fun to try explaining this to friends and family.

Them:  You did a what???
You:  *grins madly while displaying your glossy photo of you running in a horse helmet and chasing after your racing partner who is riding a horse in running shorts*

Bonus - It's fun!

Okay, I'll be honest.  It's hard.  I've run in hot races.  Cold races.  Wet races.  Sometimes you wonder why you decided to come out and race at all.  But then you see the finish line, and you remember the beautiful scenery...jogging through a section of bamboo...trotting your horse along a nice long flat...and it's all worth it.  Because you're out there with your horse(s).  You're out there with your friend(s).  You're out there alone with nature.  You're out there with other people just as crazy as you are.

And it really is fun.

Want to learn more about Ride and Tie?  Check out their website for more information and to see if there is a race near you!*  And then scoot over to Sarah's blog to get 50 tips to conquer your first race!

*And no, I'm not getting paid to advertise this or anything, lol  Just spreading the word.  :)

Penprints Flash Fiction Dash // The Chosen One

It's that time of the year again - the Penprints Flash Fiction Dash!  The amazing Rosalie Valentine organizes this fun challenge.  She sends out the prompt, and participants have to use it to create a flash fiction piece (under 1000 words).

For the record, I really stink at flash fiction.  And I also forgot that I even had to write this.  So I wrote this while sitting on the floor of a hotel restaurant and decided not to edit because I'd already set myself up for failure as it is.

But enjoy it anyway.

My Prompt.

People tease me because I never wear armor.

I laugh off yet another wide-eyed squire. “I was too fast to get hit! Metal plates and chain mail only slow me down!”

People also think I’m mad.

Perhaps they’re right.

Martha always said we had to do our best to protect ourselves, but all the protection she wore didn’t stop the Red Queen from killing her. And I walked away alive.

Sir Thomas!” The squire refuses to leave me be. “How come I have to wear my breastplate? They won’t let me spar without it. But you went into battle with just your shield the day we won the war. I want to be like you!”

I tugged crooked, scarred fingers through my hair—or what was left of it. Old age pulled away more of me as the years whirled on. “I’m the Chosen One, boy. The prophecy said I would live, and so I did.”

He raised a dark eyebrow. “You could jump off a cliff and still live? Just because of some words on a scroll that said it?”

Yes. No. Probably.” I flapped a hand in his direction. “I don’t pay much attention to the prophecy. It’s been fulfilled. Over and done. Not that it was very informative to begin with. Didn’t even cover half of what really had to happen for us to win the war.”

Really? What happened?”

I should have kept my mouth shut. With a nod to the squire, I jabbed my hat on my head, gathered my scrolls, and marched off as best I could with my limp.

Thirty years I’d run, but now I could barely manage a lively trot. Yet another thing the Red Queen had taken from me.

You can’t just mumble something and leave. I have to know!” The squire grabbed my elbow, and I twisted on my heel, staring right into his mismatched eyes. Strange eyes. Blue like the sky melding with brown, like when the horizon bent to touch freshly-plowed earth.

The scrolls tumbled from my grip.

Confounded prophecies and their specifics!”

With a rushed apology, the squire scooped up the scrolls, but I only cared about one—the small little scrap, with loopy, drunken handwriting. I pushed the squire away for a moment, shifted my weight to my good leg, and scanned the lines again.

Black-hearted blackguards! It’s the right one!” I lowered the scroll and stared at the squire again. “Who are your parents?”

He shrugged, adjusting his grip on the handful of scrolls. “They’re dead. Long dead.”

The corner of my mouth lifted in a grin. “Got any friends?”

Yeah. A few.”

Say goodbye to them now.” I closed the scroll. “Because you, my boy, are the next Chosen One. Read for yourself.”

He took the offered scrap, scanned the lines, and narrowed those foretold mismatched eyes. “This is really about me?”

Of course. The eyes. The lack of parents. Growing up as a squire in the household of the King. Perfect for leading Antrelle to her next victory.”


Yeah, you.” I took a step forward and stopped. Botheration. If he’s the Chosen One, that makes me the teacher. The one who guides him to his path of greatness. The one who dies. “Do you have a sweetheart?”

What’s that got to do with this?” The squire’s ears burned red. “That’s none of your business!”

I tugged the chain around my neck, the engagement ring barely weighing down the twisted metal that kept it forever close. “Tell her you love her. Sooner. Don’t wait. Or you may never have the chance.”

Does that...what does the prophecy say? Am I going to die?” He flung his hands in the air, sending scrolls flying across the hall. “Sir Thomas, what do you mean?”

You’re the Chosen One, boy. You’re not going to die. Read the prophecy.”


Why aren’t you wearing armor?”

I opened my mouth, but the usual answer died on my lips.

Corran, the Chosen One, stared down at me from atop his battle stallion. His mismatched eyes took in my tunic, jerkin, battered shield. “Do you have a death wish, Sir Thomas?”

A flash of metal on his left hand caught my attention, but he blushed and slipped his fingers into his stallion’s mane.

So you asked her? Good.” I ran my fingers along Martha’s chain. The blood had long been cleaned off of it, but sometimes I thought I could still smell her perfume.

You don’t have to come with me,” Corran tilted his head towards the battlefield. “This isn’t your story anymore. It’s my prophecy.”

I closed my eyes. “I’m done running, Corran. It’s time for me to be a human again, and meet my end like everyone else.”

If it’s my time, then it’s my time. After all, I was The Chosen One. And I know my story.

Hope you liked it!  Don't forget to skip over to Rosalie's blog in a few days and check out her wrap-up post.  Loads and loads of Flash Fiction to read!!

Don't Give Up

For the month of June, Saver of Memories is going to be full of equine-related posts!  I actually didn't plan this ahead of time; I just noticed that I had two different joint posts about horses coming out, and decided I would just have some fun and make it a monthly theme.

Because horses.

I'm going to kick off the month with a quick chat about bravery.  And yes, this ties in to horses.

Confession time: I'm afraid of horses.

Yes.  I, Julian Daventry, who has been riding for 10+ years, done countless riding adventures, ridden barely-trained horses, and is an avid horse lover...I am afraid of horses.

Well, kind of.  I'm afraid of falling.  Of getting hurt.  I'm afraid the horse will bolt, or will buck me off, or I'll in some way or other regret being on the back of a horse.

And it's not without reason.

I've had two horses that bucked frequently.  One that had no brakes and another that couldn't be still.  I've had a spooky horse and a horse that liked to spin his riders off.  I've worked through buddy sour issues, horses that wouldn't load, horses that kicked, horses that just plain were ornery.  And for a nervous, timid rider, these horses probably don't sound like a right fit.

But I didn't sell them.  I kept riding them.  I got back on after every fall (including those nasty spins).  I prayed before my rides (and prayed a lot during them, too.)  I pushed through my own fears.  My Dad encouraged me.  My sister helped me.  My friends cheered me on.

And you know what?

I just got braver.  And the horses got even better.

I worked through my problems.  Pepper stopped bucking.  Nugget calmed down.  Bree stopped spinning.  Cord relaxed.  Spirit became braver.  Suzie stopped freaking out.

Sometimes you have to just offer up a quick prayer and then buckle down and do the very thing you're worried about.  Get on that horse.  Go out and ride him.  

And yes, sometimes there will be bad days.  There are days when the horse gets spooked.  When the horse has extra energy to let loose.

But you keep riding.  And you keep moving on.  And you don't give up.

And one day you look back and realize just exactly how far you've come.  There may never be a moment when you realize something's clicked, but you will know that things have been much better then they were before.

And that's what bravery is.  It's saddling up and going out there even when you're afraid.

May Wrap-Up

May was warm (finally)!!!  And I loved every bit of it.  Things are happening out on the farm.  The chicks are outside now, Sweetie the Calf is learning to lead, new fences are being put up, and the grass is growing!

I am now able to cross off the first thing on my Yearly Goals list: I did my first Ride and Tie with Bree!  Sarah, Evan and I got together for a race and had quite a lovely time.  Because the weather was rainy, only four other teams came, and they all did the 30 miler distance, so we were racing ourselves.  But the 30 mile course loops onto the 9 miler, so we still got the experience of getting passed by and chasing other teams along the trail.  Bree was amazing.  He was calm and well behaved for the whole trip.

Sarah and I also filmed the vlog for our 2-year blogging anniversary.  So that was loads of fun, despite a few little slip-ups (you'll have to wait to watch the video to see what I mean).

Also went to Canada for Presbytery.  Which included lots of stops along the way for hiking, seeing friends, and checking out Niagara Falls at midnight (cuz what else are you supposed to do when you roll in at midnight and can't wait until the morning??).

Favorite Read of the Month

I did read a number of great books this month, so this high honor is going to be a tough one to bestow.  Romanov was good, and I really enjoyed it, so I may have to go with that.  I finished the Allegiance Trilogy, which it took me a while to get into, but I did finally enjoy it by the end.  Also read Porch Swing Girl, which I had first expected to not like that much, but again, by the end, I fully loved it (and now I'm craving shave ice).

Reading Plan

I know this seems boring to y'all, but it's helpful for me to know that I have to make a quick update.  Still on track.  :)

The Inevitable Photo Dump

Mwahahaha enjoy!!!!

On the way to the Ride and Tie - check out my tiny rig parked with the big guys!

Super awesome Ride and Tie team!

I think Toothless has adopted all the little baby chickens!

Traveling to Canada - only made it a few hours before we had to stop and check out the river!

Big lake in WV.

Niagara Falls - at night! 

And yeah, this was pretty cool!