Sunday, February 28, 2010

Sunday Stills: Fruit

This week's challenge sent me to the refrigerator and the bin full of Phantom's apples. I used the macro setting and held the camera in the bin. I loved the effect of the refrigerator light. I used the limited editing abilities of the Kodak EasyShare program to crop and enhance the pictures. These are the shots that I think turned out the best:

This is the ultimate destination for these apples.

I slice up several carrots and one of the apples and tote them to the barn in this bag. After I've ridden and returned Phantom to his paddock, each of Phantom's neighbors gets a piece of carrot in their feed trough and the rest of the goodies are dumped into Phantom's. The Goober Boy always goes straight to his feed trough on the days that I've been to the barn when he's brought in for the night. Otherwise he makes a nose dive for his hay.

See how others met the challenge at Sunday Stills.

Friday, February 26, 2010

Mirror, Mirror....

Thanks to Tracey and Marilyn, we have had mirrors set aside to place in the arena for (select one): (a) Our viewing pleasure; or (b) Our demoralizing torture.

It's taken awhile to get them placed. Other projects took priority, and there was the issue of how and where to mount them. The largest mirrors are plexiglass, the smaller ones are sliding closet doors. After much thought and research, Chris and Susan secured the large mirrors to plywood and Wednesday was the day.

Selecting the location.

Upsy daisy.

The large mirrors in place!

Today I introduced Phantom to the mirrors -- from the ground using the longe line (no fool, I). Standing at the in-gate he gave the mirrors the hairy eyeball, but once we got closer he became enamored with the handsome gray Arabian gelding who was staring back at him.

Too funny. Phantom touched noses, nickered, and closely examined the "other" horse.

One of the tall, skinny closet mirrors was affixed in the corner at the end of one long wall. Since we previously had a mirror situated similarly at the opposite end of the arena, Phantom merely admired the handsome gray anew.

I was concerned that Phantom might spook at the sudden appearance of "another" horse beside him as we came down the long side beside the mirrors. However, it seems the problem will be the opposite. On the longe line he stopped suddenly to visit with the "other" horse.

Zorro apparently had a similar response to the "other" black horse. Genevieve says he did a forehead plant against the mirror. What a handsome running Quarter!

Next comes the trauma of watching myself in the saddle. *sigh*

Wednesday, February 24, 2010


I have little photographic or video evidence that I actually ride Phantom. So I was pleased when Kim brought her camera to the barn last week.

These pictures capture a typical schooling day. Phantom's mane is past due for brushing and re-banding. I took his tail out of its winter braid, so it's kinky and humorous. My cozy old fleece vest is coated with hair. My half chaps have been re-stitched so many times I've lost count.

Here we are inside the arena -- possibly the ugly sitting trot before I get my act together.

After I got a semblance of connection inside, we went outside to enjoy the unseasonably warm weather and our wonderful outdoor arena. Phantom bogged down and I had to get him in front of my leg again.

Ahh. Closer to what I was after.

Walkin' and talkin' with Genevieve as we cool down.

Phantom likes his buddy Zorro. They really are salt n pepper!

I'm still hoping to get Em back to the barn for a photo session. This time without me in a sling with a broken wrist, and with Phantom freshly bathed. Check out Em's remarkable work at Shared Glory.

Anyway...I now have evidence that I really do ride the Big Goober Boy. Not as well as I could, but I try. And he gives so much in spite of me.

Thanks to Kim for sharing her snaps of us!

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Sunday Stills: The Letter "G"

We're having gorgeous, spring-like weather here in the Pacific Northwest. Not such a good thing when hosting the Winter Olympics, but wonderful for getting out the camera. So of course I toted mine along to the barn for this challenge.

Gray Grazing Greedily on Green Grass.

Alliteration overload -- but talk about meeting the challenge! This photo was taken at kind of a funky angle, but I think it works.

Glint of sunlight.

Grain room.

And my favorite for this challenge -- one of those lucky captures.


Scar, one of the newest members of CEC's Critter Control Staff, was bound and determined to get at the barn swallows returning to their nests. I don't think he can get there from here, but not for lack of trying.

See how others met Ed's latest challenge at Sunday Stills.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

What Horse Folks Can Accomplish

Last summer, Barn Owners Susan and Chris had the opportunity to upgrade our outdoor arena. Mark of Efficient Arena laser leveled the site and added layers of sand to create a marvelous, year-round riding area.

Unfortunately, by the time the arena was finished, the remaining funds didn't allow for the purchase of enough railroad ties to completely encompass the area. So ties were placed at the corners to contain the sand, and spaced along the long and short sides to mark the borders.

Fast forward to February 2010. The Wilco Farm Stores sale flyer arrives and there, amidst the farm gear, railroad ties are priced at $14 each with a membership card.

I couldn't afford to purchase enough railroad ties to finish the arena (even at the bargain price of $12 each for 20 or more). However, I could afford to buy a couple of ties, and if I could do so -- maybe the other boarders could too. Fortunately, when not working at home, Chris works at our local Wilco store. So I went in earlier this month and asked the cashier if I could buy two railroad ties for Chris to deliver to CEC. She confirmed that Chris and I were acquainted, I made the purchase, and the cashier held the loading slip to pass on to Chris.

It worked!

So I e-mailed the CEC Barn Bunch with my idea. If we each bought a couple of ties apiece we could fill in some of the gaps around the outdoor arena. A few of our folks own trucks, but most of us have cars that aren't suited to hauling around farm gear. I told everyone that I had made arrangements for Chris to bring home the ties at his convenience and suggested that they might do the same.

The Barn Bunch came through like gangbusters! As of today, both long sides of the arena are completed!

We have a good start on filling in the gaps at the short ends, and I believe there are still a few more ties for Chris to pick up.

We can now walk, trot, and canter without fear of scattering the sand out of the arena!

Now, I thought I knew most of the boarders at CEC. We have a daytime group and an after-work group, but our paths cross on occasion. And, as is the norm at most barns, if you don't know the owner you know the horse. However, I have yet to meet Anonymous and I have no idea which horse he or she owns! But Anonymous went above and beyond to help us complete the arena.

It's amazing what Horse Folks can accomplish when the call goes out. And the boarders and riders at CEC are the greatest.

Monday, February 15, 2010

In Memory

Dick Francis
October 31, 1920 - February 14, 2010

Horseman and Author

After leaving the realm of mystery fiction following the death of his wife, Mary, Francis returned to writing with his son Felix as co-author.

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Valentine Ramblings

My Valentines are my mother and the two males in my life, Phantom and Indy.

I presented my mother with her Valentine gift a little early, since it included a cyclamen plant that I wanted to give her before I killed it. We saw a cute little metal plant holder in the shape of a Jack Russell at the mall last week, so I bought it for her then. However, I had to find some pretty flowers to put in it, which I did earlier this week.

I came upon these bits of "heart warming" news in the February/March issue of Modern Arabian Horse that may be of interest to horse folks.

Patrick Swayze Scholarship

The Arabian Horse Association announced the scholarship at its annual convention in Reno, Nevada. To be awarded annually each spring, the scholarship will go to a youth involved with Arabian horses and who aspires to a career in the performing arts. The program honors the careers of Swayze and his wife Lisa Niemi in dance, theater, and movies. An initial pledge by Iron Horse Farms and Trisha Phelan of Canton, Ohio, launched the program.

Donations to the Patrick Swayze and Lisa Niemi Scholarship can be made via the Arabian Horse Foundation.

Endurance Race Documentary

Arabian Silk: Horses of Endurance is a documentary that was a finalist in the Reno Film Festival where it won the Audience Choice Award.

Christine Lazzarini, the Producer/Editor of the documentary, wanted to create an interesting storyline rather than a training film. The documentary took over two years to film and edit and follows the life of one horse and his owner. The film provides a brief history of the Arabian horse and includes footage from several 100-mile races.

You can view a clip and trailer for the film at Gypsy Moth Productions.

Although I have no interest in pursuing the sport, I have a lot of respect for the competitors in sanctioned and monitored races. It's one event where the rider can't turn over the horse to a trainer and just show up for the competition. Horse and rider alike must condition for the distances traveled as well as develop into a trusting team. "To finish is to win," is the motto of endurance racing, where the Best Condition award is as valued as First Place.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

What's the Purpose?

All Horse Stuff , Grey Horse Matters, and Camera Obscura recently made postings about Rollkur, a phenomenon apparently unique to dressage.

Although I currently ride dressage, I'm not very active in the dressage show world. In fact, I had never observed or heard about Rollkur until the controversy heated up of late. So when I looked into it, I reacted much the same as I do when I see TV ads promoting reality shows about beauty pageants for five-year-olds. I gazed in disbelief making the same face I do when I step in a dog mess at the park.

What in the world is that all about? And what's the purpose?

The video clip on Camera Obscura credited to Nadja King regarding the physical effects of extreme flexion is hard to watch. In fact, I stopped the video before the end. Just looking at the horse's expression was enough. The poor animal couldn't even see! The horse's head had been placed in such an unnatural position that its eyes were practically in its eyebrows.

I don't understand what is to be gained by placing the horse in a position that makes it impossible to see where it's going and difficult to breathe during an athletic effort.

I guess it's human nature to take things to extremes. Give us a domesticated animal and we'll breed it and handle it in ways that Mother Nature never intended!

Sunday, February 7, 2010

Sunday Stills: Hot Sauce or Salsa

As this is Super Bowl Sunday for most folks, salsa and chips will be in high demand. I don't really give a fig about the game (I know, heresy). I don't have a fave salsa recipe because I am not enamored of cooking. And normally there is no salsa in the house -- not because I don't love chips and salsa...but because I do!

Last weekend I answered my hankering and let Paul do the cooking. Pineapple salsa? I had to try it.

"Whole grain" corn chips?! That must be healthy!

Hmmm. Now that I've got the chips and salsa out, maybe I should finish them off.

Visit Sunday Stills to see how others answered Ed's challenge.

Saturday, February 6, 2010

Happy Birthday for Linda

For the CEC Christmas party gift exchange, I wrapped up a sampling of my greeting cards. These are leftovers from my own holiday cards. I make a sketch, have about 50 cards printed up (blank inside), insert a holiday greeting, and whatever is left over I can use for other occasions.

My cards were a hit at the party and traded furiously until retired. Go figure. I can sketch a bit, but I'm not a fine artist.

However, that didn't stop Chuck. He requested something for wife Linda's birthday. Linda had a tight grip on my cards until they were "stolen" from her by Marilyn. These women seem so nice until you see them during the gift exchange! :-)

Anyway, Chuck saw that Linda liked my cards so he secretly e-mailed me photos of their half-draft mare, TuMay. The following was my favorite picture:

This is the sketch I made:
I had twenty-four cards printed up and then matted and framed the original sketch for Chuck to give Linda with the cards. He was very pleased with the results.

I don't consider my sketches as my salable ability. It's my writing that I thought was my marketable skill. I actually have an employment record as a writer. But I guess I have a minimalist sketch style that results in a recognizable subject matter.

You never know....

Meanwhile, I'll keep plugging away on Legacy, and expand on my new start with Water Tribute.

Friday, February 5, 2010

El Nino Day

We experienced one of the mildest Januarys on record in 2010. So far this winter we've had one day of snow that lasted only long enough to snarl the Portland metro area's evening commute. Today, while the east coast is hunkering down under blizzard conditions, we are enjoying a sunny warm day with very strong Spring vibes.

The farrier stopped at the barn to do four of the horses. Phantom was good, per usual, for his trim and reset front shoes. Finn and Pugsley got trims, and our Renaissance Arabian, Bay, was scheduled for four-on-the-floor (shoes all around). Jan took her lesson from Trainer Tracey in the outdoor arena, while Phantom and Pugsley were allowed to free graze following their sessions with the shoer.

I ran an errand on the way home and decided to give Indy a treat so we could both enjoy the day. Memorial Park is our largest (I'm pretty sure) city park and it features a leash-free area for dogs, soccer and baseball fields, access to the Willamette River, as well as picnicking facilities. I was pleased to find the leash-free area occupied by small, albeit feisty, dogs. No labs tackling and rolling the the other dogs. Goofy Indy turned shy on me, but he did eventually run around a little with a min pin. We then completed a circuit of the park before coming home where Indy ran and ran around the house in excitement. Um, wasn't that what the leash-free area was for?

With our thus-far mild winter, the daffodils are half-grown, a neighbor's camellia has blooms, and the roses are sprouting leaves. We may yet get experience a burst of cold weather, but it's hard to believe on a day like this.

El Nino years do have a price. The mountains are low on snow pack, upon which we are highly dependent in the Pacific Northwest. Not only is this a bummer for the upcoming Vancouver Winter Olympics, but we depend on snowmelt to power our hydroelectric dams, supply irrigation and domestic water, and provide summer recreation. In past years, Mother Nature has been known to make up for the deficit in snow with an abundance of spring rain. A full reservoir is a full reservoir.

Meanwhile, as an icy cold front batters the east coast, we'll soak up as much Vitamin D as we can while we splash through the puddles and slip in the mud.

Monday, February 1, 2010

Vicarious Sidesaddle

I've never ridden sidesaddle and doubt I ever will, but the vintage pictures of ladies in their flowing riding habits have a romantic appeal. I've long had an interest in costume history, and I can't remember a moment when I didn't love horses. Talk about the perfect combination!

I recently began following Riding Aside and I am thoroughly enjoying Julie's postings about the challenges of riding sidesaddle. She shares collectible art prints, discusses historically accurate turnout, and displays the amazingly beautiful accoutrements of riding sidesaddle.

If you think riding astride is a challenge, imagine riding aside wearing a constricting corset, yards and yards of skirt, and dainty crochet gloves. Oh yes -- while keeping your chignon tidy and cueing the off side of your horse with only a cane or whip.

My favorite sidesaddle tale involves (if I remember correctly), the Arabian national championship show, a refurbished antique hunting sidesaddle, an historically accurate riding habit, and a Jack Russell puppy riding in a small basket attached to the saddle. The judges were flummoxed by the presence of a live dog in the class, but I believe they allowed it and the competitor won the class.

Talk about panache!

Take a gander at Julie's blog to revel in another era.