Tag Archives: photography

Herd Bound Mares

Last night was a funny farm night 🙂  It’s about time too – work has been kicking my butt lately – thanks to a lawsuit we have very limited time to get a LOT of work done, basically major overhauls of our whole system.  Then management decided to be proactive by having us get our stuff in extra early – effectively cutting out three weeks of development and testing time.  I managed yesterday to get pretty much 90% of my stuff completed, and so left work feeling pretty good (of course today is not much better, though thankfully it’s production problems, which at least are more interesting to work on!).  Either way, I was tense and stressed when I left yesterday, so an afternoon out in Adamstown was pretty much exactly what I needed.

First up was Miss Sister.  Some people came out to look at her, and I’m pretty sure it’s not quite the right fit for what they need, but it’s always fun to see her anyway.  I pestered her a little bit about mane pulling, and sat there tugging on hair and not letting up until she stood still.  I figure if she starts to learn that standing still gets discomfort over with sooner, it will be a good lesson for her.  I hopped on her but she was quite fresh (it’s been what, months? Since the last ride) and my gut was saying it was not a good day to ride her too long.  She gets forward, and wants to tear around when she’s fresh, and if you hold her back she gets a little cranky.  It would be fine if I wanted to spend a half hour at a hand gallop, but with all the rain the ring really wasn’t up for it.  All that said, she really is kind of fun and interesting.  But herdbound, and quite unhappy to be pulled in by herself.  I think some more visits and work with her are in order (at least the weather is finally nice!)

Since they were looking for a hunter type horse, I thought I would pull Minnie in out of the field too.  Minnie, for those who don’t know, is Katerina’s daughter, a lovely dark bay mare with no white, just like mamma.  I’ve been salivating over her for a long time, because I’ve thought she was beautiful and my type of horse (but aren’t they all?).  When she first came to CANTER she was ridden a few times (and very good) but then managed to get a pasture injury that landed her in the horsey ICU and cost a fair amount of money to fix up.  Then she sat in fields, which has been all she’s done for a while.  I don’t think this horse has been ridden in a year.

Of course by the time I got halfway across the field, the whole group had migrated not only to the far end of the field, but to the other side of the gigantic hill, too.  I kind of wanted to turn back, but at that point, it’s almost like you can’t.  The whole “I’ve come THIS far!” thing was coming into play.  I tried to run, but Ariats are NOT made for running (truth be told, my old Tredsteps were much better, but when life gifts you ariats, you wear them). My toes were throbbing by the time I got up to Minnie. 

Then came the walk down the hill and across the field, which just seems impossibly long and tedious.  As soon as we got away from the main group of horses, Minnie started acting… well… obnoxious.  She wanted to go back, and wanted no part of being separated.  I’ve noticed this a lot with the mares, and it made me miss the geldings (really, I’ve never had one of the geldings do this to me!).  At this point I really wanted to throw in the towel, but as always, if you give in, it just makes it worse next time, so we kept going in fits and starts, a few times she tried to pivot away from me and run back, and a few times she tried to pivot INTO me and run back.  I was getting pretty testy by the time we got to the gate, but once we were out of the field she began acting like a lady again.

I turned her out to let her trot around a bit, and as always had to smile.  She’s a pretty mover even being very out of shape.  Of course, she was also working herself into a good sweat, going back and forth all anxious about where her buddies were. 

So of course, that means it’s a PERFECT time to ride, right?  Why not.

I listen to my gut a lot, and it hardly ever makes sense.  I’ve been on pretty easygoing horses and just had that feeling that maybe getting off now would be a good idea.  I can also look at a mare running frantically around a pen neighing her fool head off and think, “this is a GREAT idea!!!” 

My visitors had to go, but I’m pretty sure they might think I’m a little crazy.  It’s OK.  It’s totally true. 

So I grabbed the tack and wandered back to the ring.  Minnie immediately came to me at a trot, hoping I would save her (from what? from me?) and I had her tacked up in about ten seconds.

Over to the mounting block, where for sure there would be some shenanigans… except… not so much.

Ho Hum

She shifted her weight but then stood there till I asked her to move off.  I swear that as soon as my butt hit the saddle she stopped worrying about everything else and being upset, and just focused on what I wanted (well, except for wanting to stare out at the field a lot). 

Up into the trot, and she was WONDERFUL.  Magical, even.  She has a nice forward going feel, but her stride is long enough that it’s very comfortable for me.  Horses like, say, Rosey, are always a little hard for me to adjust to.  They don’t go fast, but their strides feel quick to me and it’s a huge adjustment.  Minnie made me feel right at home.  We did some figure eights and circles, and I found her remarkably easy to steer.  A lot like my own horse, actually.  You just kind of think about where you want to go, tighten your hand on the outside rein, and voila! you are turning.

Judge, Here's Your Winner!

Disclaimer:  My independently minded left arm is at it again, I see.  *sigh*

I found Minnie to be really remarkable in her acceptance of contact.  She went pretty much the same whether I had a feel or not, and when I dropped the reins a bit she just stretched out a little.  She started out the ride jawing the bit a lot, kind of like a green horse who hasn’t had a bridle on in a while (huh, imagine that!) but as soon as we started working she stopped and was very nice and quiet with her mouth.  Really, within minutes I felt totally confident riding her on a very loose rein and even adding leg.

Hey! It's a Monkey on Horseback!

The canter was actually much better than it looks there.  She has (again) a nice slow feeling stride, and is very directable.  She picks up both leads and I suspect will do lead changes very easily.  I felt comfortable both in a little half seat and sitting – she didn’t seem to mind either way.  It was just so comfortable that I couldn’t stop grinning. 

When I got off I was exploding with enthusiasm.  Here’s a mare who hasn’t been ridden in… I don’t even know. Seriously.  A lot of them I can say with confidence “four months!” or “six months!” or “yesterday!”  Not so much here.  It’s been at least a year as far as I know, and probably longer.

If she’s that good straight out of the field, while all worked up and anxious, with little fitness and not a lot of flexibility, all I can think is that she will be show-ready in no time.  Put some butt and back muscle on her and she’ll be a star.  I texted Allie immediately: “hey my saddle fits Minnie.  That means she’s mine right?”  Yep. I was THAT happy.  I seriously want this horse for myself, in a really big way.

Of course, I wonder if maybe I’m really fickle, because each time I get on a new one I’m really excited about it… but with Minnie I felt like I could take her to a show next WEEK and it would go well.  She’s beautiful, will clean up very nicely, and was just so freaking easy to ride!  She got every good thing possible from Kat, but with a better hind end and balance (seriously, cantering Kat was possible, but it wasn’t nearly such a delightful feeling!)

It was one of those rides where I totally forgot how crappy my day had been up until then.  The sun was setting, the clouds all pink and purple, she was magic, and there is actual green grass coming up everywhere.  Exactly what I needed this week, and exactly what I needed to motivate me to get my butt over there more often.

This isn't a good picture, but the dorky grin on my face makes me laugh.

There’s A Light In His Eye

So I was going through the photos from Leo’s photo session last night, and in between my thoughts about his conformation and such, I couldn’t help but keep noticing that he really has something special.  ‘Yeah yeah yeah, we KNOW! You keep saying that!’ says everyone and anyone I’ve talked to about this guy, but really.  I mean it.  He has some very noticeable conformational flaws, but he doesn’t appear to know it, and it seems like in every picture, his eyes just have this great spark and his expression is that of a horse who wants to do great things.

First, a series of conformation shots.  Of course, taking them by myself is hard and it was difficult to get him in the right position, but you get the idea. 

leo - 01

leo - 05

He kills me.  The face is just the cutest thing ever.  Of course, I’m biased because whenever I see him I usually get to spend about ten minutes just cuddling his head – he loves that.  In any case, in motion, as I mentioned yesterday, he’s actually pretty cute, and so proud of himself!

Look at me go!!!!

leo - 09

leo - 07

He’s so perky.  I can’t wait for his foot to be better from his abscess, because I think he wants to go for rides.  This horse is going to be so much  better than people might think… mark my words!  🙂

Ask and Ye Shall Receive

Warning, this will be a little photo-heavy.

I got a comment from someone the other day asking for updates on the best horse ever, Mikey Moo. So, though I was planning on doing a very quick check out at Club Paradise for Horses, I brought along my camera to do a run-down update on all the horses I could find out at the Funny Farm.

First off, this sounds like a minor undertaking, but trying to photograph attention starved thoroughbreds out in a herd while in knee-deep mud is a challenge. And though today was the first day of Winter, here we call it Mud Season. In MD, I’m pretty sure that mud actually falls from the sky as its own special form of precipitation. It is everywhere, and it is nasty.

Fortunately for me, within moments of my arrival all the horses in Giant Field #1 came thundering down the hill for a visit to the water. One minute, it was just me and a sea of mud. The next, I was surrounded by over a dozen running, kicking, and snorting horses spooking at the huge wind gusts and jockeying for space around the waterer. I think the part of my brain that is supposed to say, “hey dude, twenty horses are galloping down a muddy hill directly toward you and kicking at each other, you may want to move” doesn’t work very well.

Once they were settled, I started snapping pictures and visiting.

Roseyness

Roseyness

First up was her loveliness Miss Rosey. Rosey has gained an appreciable amount of weight now that she’s at the Fat Farm, approaching (but not quite) the standard set by Klondike. She is also now barefoot (no doubt aided by the mud) and wins the cleanest horse of the day award. She is far, far too ladylike to bathe herself in such muck, unlike the hooligans she’s been hanging out with lately.

blog-02-wekNext we have the lovely and ample Wek. Wek thinks very highly of herself, and I noticed during the stampede to the water that she seemed to be acting the part of Lead Alpha Mare, except that no one else was taking her seriously. She reared and kicked, trying to drive everyone away, and after a few moments she seemed to think she had succeeded- except that everybody else still got to the water before she did. In any case, Wek may be headed for a future involving a grazing muzzle, even though it’s not spring yet. I think the only horse at the farm who can currently match her girth is a lovely and sweet Belgian gelding whose name I don’t know.

Call Sister

Call Sister

Call Sister, a young mare who arrived over the summer, is finally looking like she’s exhaled. She was the only one in the group who allowed me to just walk up without pretending to make a fuss about it (they were using the wind as an excuse, I think, sure that I was not a person but actually some mud monster that had just crawled out of the ground). Sister is looking great, physically, and hopefully we’ll have her further evaluated soon. In the heat she sounded like she had a breathing issue, so she will be scoped for that before we see what she does under saddle.

Whisper and Cecil

Whisper and Cecil

Here we have a flashy chestnut two-for-one special of Whisper and Cecil. Whisper, who is the love of my life, made me a little sad today by reacting to me as though I were the aforementioned mud monster, shying away and not letting me get a hand on him, which is very unusual. He eventually gave in, but it took a little effort. Cecil, on the other hand, is the definition of predictability- a somewhat curmudgeonly fellow (hey, he’s earned it, as far as I’m concerned!) typically pins his ears at you and blusters, until you make it clear you don’t actually want anything from him. Then he’s all sunshine and roses. He’s looking quite sound on his bowed tendon, and his feet are finally starting to look far more normal.

Minnie and her mum

Minnie and her mum

And here’s the plain bay two-fer. I think (don’t hold me to it) that this is the lovely Minnie Ball (on the left) with her mother. I could be wrong, because there’s a whole slew of plain bays out there. But I’m pretty sure I’m right. Minnie will hopefully be coming in for evaluation and riding soon. She started off with a bang, when she came to us about a year ago, but then she injured her hock, necessitating thousands of dollars in surgery and vet care, and has had a bit of time off to recover. We’re pretty excited to get her in- in motion she’s lovely, exactly the kind of pretty hunter type I historically lust over.

<edit>  OK, oops.  Here is where, the first time through, I posted a pic I thought was Admiral, because he had pretty eyes and a Mikey muzzle.  But actually, Admiral isn’t back yet.  And it took me several minutes to sort out, but the horse I thought was Admiral I think is actually one of our volunteers’ horses. Oops.  Well I knew it was a thoroughbred, anyway, which counts for something, right?  In any case, Admiral will be back soon, in all his adorable pestness <end edit>

And… speaking of adorable pests, it’s time for the Mikey show.

Mikey waits at the gate

Mikey waits at the gate

For those who don’t know Mikeymoo, here’s a quick recap. Long ago, in a land far far away, lived a little tiny racehorse named Mikey. In his last race, Mikey crushed a bone in one of his ankles in the far turn. But the Racing Fairy favored Mikey, and sprinkled him with magic dust, which heartened and strengthened him. He fought back, and battled on, and with a rush he battled his way into first place, winning with spirit that not even Secretariat could equal (I’m biased).

Best Horse Ever

Best Horse Ever

Though the racing fairy had blessed Mikey, she couldn’t do much about his connections, who didn’t really want a horse with a crushed ankle. So in stepped CANTER (and Mikey’s Fairy Godfather, who had to put some money down to ensure his safety), and he has been with us ever since.

dec21-012Mikey has turned out to be sort of a mascot. He’s got loads of personality and will follow you all the way across the giant field and back. When we take him out for grooming, he often plants his feet at the gate, refusing to go back out (even though he’s often spoiled and won’t stand still for grooming and attention either). Today I made a novice mistake, and carried cookies out to feed Mikey. Naturally he made a beeline for the gate when he saw me coming. So I gave him the cookies right away. Note: when people say it’s a bad idea to take treats into a herd situation? Believe it.

What followed was really just ridiculous. Mikey already follows you around, but if he knows you have treats? Forget it. My mission to photograph the other horses in the field was foiled over and over again by the overzealous attempts on Mikey’s part to get more cookies.

Kasper (and Mikey)

Kasper (and Mikey)

See that butt in the background? That’s Kasper. Moments before, Kasper was looking at me, until Mikey wheeled around and kicked out at him, saying “HECK NO! that’s MY cookie dealer! Find your own!” So Kasper turned around and pretended he wasn’t interested, so that he could avoid any more beatdowns. Following this photo, Mikey followed me (he plays tag, did you know? If I ran, he chased me, except then he’d try to get in front of me and herd me almost, like, “no, we can’t go see other horses. You’re MINE today, comprende?”)

blog-13-parkermikey This is where I tried to get a picture of Parker, the new guy. He might win the Dirtiest horse of the day award. But I couldn’t get a clear shot for judging. Again, moments before, the subject of my photography attempts was standing calmly at attention, until Mikey decided we were TOO CLOSE and had to be seperated. They are HIS COOKIES and no one else can have ANY. Do you hear me?

Gutenburg being Chased Away

Gutenburg being Chased Away

Yep. My first attempt to photograph Gutenburg… and Mikey chased him away. So how did the next attempt come out?

Like This

Like This

So anyway. That’s Gutenburg in the background. He came in with little Stevie Colbert, and the two are going through a pretty similar process, in terms of “recovering” from the rigors of racing. Gutenburg, though, hasn’t had to contend with illness, so is a bit further along on the fattening up process. Unfortunately Mikey is not allowing him any extra caloried in the form of cookies.

I finally escaped Mikey and went to see the last few guys in a smaller field.

Klondike

Klondike

Klondike is looking pretty good. His feet are still a bit of a mess, but not as bad as they were when he first came back. He’s as fat as ever (though no competition with Wek for Fattest TB Award). He also is sticking up for himself a little bit- Truckee usually commandeers all the attention when I visit, but Klon wasn’t having it today. He wanted some face rubbing, and he was going to get it, and NO other horse was going to stand in his way. I have to admit I miss having Klondike at Southwind- he just is the sweetest thing since cheesecake. I sometimes consider what it would be like to own him, but the prospect of owning TWO horses with the dispositions of labrador retrievers is a little daunting.

Truckee

Truckee

Truckee, as usual, is hard to get a picture because he’s got to be all up in your bidness all the time, much like Mikey. I’m sort of glad they’re not together at the moment, or my foray into that field could have had a bad outcome. I’d have been needing police or fire assistance, or something, for sure.

blog-16-punchLast but not least is the wonderful Rutledge Punch. This horse’s turnaround has been so amazing- just a few short months ago, we were starting to be really worried about him. He looked awful: skinny, stumbly, and generally unhappy. He’s blossomed. And not only that, but word is that he will be heading for an awesome foster home in the Annapolis area. This horse thrives on attention, so this will be a perfect situation for him. I’m so happy to see him doing so well. 🙂

And that, folks, is that. I have a few riding updates on Afton, and hopefully some photos of Steven to share somewhat soon, but this was a lot of typing, so I will save that stuff for tomorrow, it’s past my bedtime!

Trail Rides Gone Wild

Well, not really really wild, because Rose is fine on trails…

Today we went for a mosey with Allie, on TRUCKEE!, and Lisa on Woodmeister, figuring a mosey would be good as she’s been getting some work lately.  We headed out and everything was going very well.  Truckee needed a little help getting over having other horses go away from him (Lisa wanted to jump the tires with Woods, but when she went ahead, truckster got a little worried).  Working on that for a few minutes, though, Truck got over it. 

Rose has been through that drill enough times that it’s old hat, of course.  However, she still needs work as far as being Camera Horse.  We tried to take some pics of Woods jumping, but Rosey (while not being worried or being bad) did not understand that full stillness and cooperation are vital assets for the Camera Horse, and as a result we got a lot of this:

Woody Conquers the Tires

Woody Conquers the Tires

After this, we wandered around the woods for a little bit, then decided to go back to the good part of the stream, so we could practice wading (which again, Rosey mastered the last time out, but the boys are… well, distractable).  We arrived in the water, and Rosey happily led the way down the stream, when… well… video speaks for itself:

Gotta hand it to Rose, she paid absolutely no mind to their shenanigans (if you think Woody also did not want to lay down in the water, you’d be wrong) and rolled her eyes at them.  She was smart, and decided that the grass and greens on the bank of the stream were far more interesting than the idiot geldings and munched until they had all recovered their wits.

Back at the barn, we hopped over the little log and the ditch a few times, and suffered through another green moment (they’re getting rarer and rarer!).  We also decided that since she is packing on weight like a champ, it was a good time to take a new conformation picture.  Of course, this is not easy.  A lot of people like to critique our attempts at conformation pictures from the track, but knowing how hard it is to get a good one at home, I have to make the point that it’s not so easy getting feet lined up and lighting right and the horse not standing in a hole and the right perspective so they don’t look weak-butted or short-legged… In any case, since I am going off on a tangent, I will simply pop in a few of the better shots. 

I am not impressed with your empty hand.

I am not impressed with your empty hand.

I seem to be leaning.

I seem to be leaning.

Focus? What?

Focus? What?

The point of all that?  Well, she’s gaining weight and getting pretty, don’t you think? 

A Trip to the Funny Farm

Hooray for us! Rosey’s blog has exceeded 1,000 hits and really, we’re just getting started! Today’s entry is just a fun one, we didn’t go for a ride today, but I went with Allie and Deidra to the Farm for Recovering Canter Ponies, so that we could visit the goonies and also spend some time talking to a reporter who is interested in writing a story on CANTER.

Because visiting these horses is such a hoot, I decided to basically let them speak for themselves and fill the rest of this entry with pictures of their gorgeous selves.  Enjoy!

Here, let me help you with that halter thing...
Here, let me help you with that halter thing…
like teenagers at the mall, we take self portraits of ourselves

like teenagers at the mall, we take self portraits of ourselves

Deidra gets the "hey, me! me! Pay attention to me!" treatment

Deidra gets the "hey, me! me! Pay attention to me!" treatment

 

The gorgeous new girl (a 3 yr old filly)

The gorgeous new girl (a 3 yr old filly)

 

Wek has gotten gorgeous! And gets some scratchins

Wek has gotten gorgeous! And gets some scratchins

 

Bid makes sure he'll be part of the story

Bid makes sure he'll be part of the story

It would be easy just to spend all day visiting these guys.  They are just so goofy! And it’s so interesting how they change- sometimes when they arrive, they don’t want to be caught and are rather antisocial (case in point, Wek).  As they start to exhale and relax, they just get happy.  And then when they decide life is pretty good, suddenly they realize people are cool, and worth their time.  And then you finally get to see what their real personality is like.
Tomorrow, the plan is a nice trail ride with Miss Rose. I will attempt the mounted video-taking if anything interesting happens, but I’m not quite as talented with that as some others among us are…  till tomorrow!