Keep Your Options Open


What does a beautiful but traumatized white arab and an artist have in common?  One IS beauty and the other appreciates beauty but there is more to it than that.

When I hear someone say they want to keep their options open it brings to mind a commitment phobic 'player' but we're not talking about dating so that's not it.  Horses don't date and I am married.

The options I am talking about have to do with escape routes.  Horses by nature are claustrophobic and my sensitive arab, due to a very traumatic trailer accident (with another owner) has left her ultra claustrophobic.  Unfortunately when one is domesticated it means needing at times to go in and out of small, dark spaces-  trailers, stalls, barns.  I've been working with Boomer since she came back home almost exactly a year ago on not charging into stalls and a few other issues due to her claustrophobia.  She's doing better but is far from perfect or even average.  But she has not lived an average life.  I've rescued her twice.  Who can blame her for wanting escape routes? 

I've gotten so focused on Boomer's issues I didn't have alot of confidence in her in other areas.  I know she's as smart as can be but figured she'd self destruct when under pressure when ridden.  (She was trained under saddle but because of all that she's gone thru I imagined a flighty, easily rattled horse.) Last year we spent getting her in good physical condition and then building trust on the ground.  That's pretty important when you are talking about a 1000 lb. animal!

I want to ride Boomer this summer so I am getting more serious about doing ground work to see where she is before I get on to ride.  I do know her last owner would get on and ride at a dead gallop on the road.  That's not what I am interested in doing! 

So the goal has been to build trust between Boomer and I so she can feel more relaxed when the stressful situations arise.  She can look to me for reassurance.  And I can feel relaxed that she'll do this... which is equally important!  I have learned she needs to know she has options.  She has escape routes if she needs them.  And the amazing thing is she often chooses to be with me rather than escape.  What a compliment!

What do Boomer's escape routes and options have to do with being an artist?  Well artists like to live in a world with lots of options.  Exploring options is really what creativity is all about.  When I do my art I allow myself to be open to letting things evolve and seeing what develops.  When the art gets too confined then it feels stifling.... and I need to break out of one mold and look into another! 


28 Variations Art Exhibit


My piece in the '28 Variations'

Battle of the Brush
mural painting competition
"Tools of the Trade"
1st Place

I heard an interesting comment the other day about my art.  I did a couple pieces for an art show and a competition that were out of the norm for what some people know me for.  The pieces are pictured above.  It wasn't so out of the norm to me though because I've always done lots of different things with my art until I was given the advise I needed to 'specialize' in order to be more commercial.  So I did.  I stopped doing a variety of subjects and using a variety of mediums.  I found my niche in oil painting animals and pet  portraits.  But I have found as I am doing more commissions I also need to 'break out' and not get pigeon holed into just one thing for my own sake.  Mixing things up leaves me open to areas I want to grow into.  I love painting animals with oils-- no doubt about that but to keep things fresh and to not get 'boxed in' I can relate to Boomer's need to break free when feeling too confined.  So some days Boomer and I enjoy being domesticated but we do that by choice.... the free spiritedness is watching and waiting to kick up her heels when the time is right! 

Spring seems to be an especially appropriate time to kick up your heels so I hope you also find ways to break out and do the same.  I've been riding the last couple weeks since we've had this beautiful weather and it has been glorious!!  I have a mare who I like to ride bareback.... there is nothing like riding bareback to bring the kid out in you!  My closest neighbor's backyard overlooks my riding area.  I wonder if they can hear me giggling when I am riding?? 

Riding and art are great for whatever ails you!  I'd love to hear what fun things you've been doing ... or hope to do. 

Happy Trails!
Sue Steiner
animal artist    

 
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