Volunteering and Sightseeing

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Lovely mountain views in the new George Morris Grand Prix ring at Tryon International Equestrian Park.

It was a real bummer to have to withdraw from the WindRidge Horse Trials where Willow and I were going to make our recognized debut. But truth be told, I was not feeling 100% confident about competing one week after returning from AEC, so I might have actually dropped down to Starter level regardless. Either way, Willow has had some rest and is back under saddle. She’s irritated to be only walking and even more irritated to have had to take Fey on a walk with us yesterday, but she seems very sound and is no longer sore when palpating the area, even though there is still a slight knot.

Since I wasn’t riding at the show I figured I’d go volunteer and I had a blast! My friends Cindy de Porter and Rob Mobley were working the event, and I met several other lovely people and handed out some business cards for photography and announcing. The numbers at WindRidge are not  high, but it’s a really nice event. There were plenty of locals and some others that came up from Georgia and even one guy that was training in the area from Ohio. The courses and footing are great, the atmosphere is low-key and easy, and even though the weather was crispy in the mornings, it was a beautiful weekend.

I ended up being very busy. Rob had set up a PA system through the walkie-talkies and I am proud to have been WindRidge’s first ever announcer. I received a lot of compliments and people said how nice it is to have updates about scores and courses as they are happening. The system with the walkie-talkies was great because I was mobile and not locked into position in a room or a booth attached to a microphone and amp. At WindRidge, I could make announcements as I moved from point A to point B and could choose where to place myself on cross-country for the best view. There was some interference with other channels but that’s fixable for future events.

In addition to announcing all three phases, I helped steward the dressage ring and scribed for the judge in show jumping. I’m glad I volunteered, as I got to know the organizing committee there and it’s always such a great learning experience watching/working an event.

On Sunday we finished around noon and a bunch of people loaded up to drive 20 minutes to the new Tryon International Equestrian Park, which I’ve heard lots of great things about. There was a good turnout for the $100,000 Grand Prix with lots of seats filled by locals and 36 competitors in the division. I got there just in time to hear the dedication of the grand prix ring to George Morris, who was in attendance to accept the honor. I remember first hearing about the planned construction of the park at the USEA Convention last year, and while there is still some construction going on, the “guts” are all there. The rings are beautiful with little walkways and viewing areas between them so you can watch two rings at once. The barns are incredibly beautiful if lacking in a little airflow (the ceilings seem low to me, but there are fans installed in all the stalls). My favorite feature, however, is the mountain views. Western North Carolina is so pretty and I’m glad the natural beauty of the area is showcased at the park.

It remains to be seen what kind of eventing, if any, will be set up at the new park, but it’s nice to have this facility nearby to bring some business to the area, promote equestrian sports, and provide a new activity for locals. See more at www.tryonhorseshows.com.

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Fey’s Birthday Pictures

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Finally, FINALLY. I’ve had this girl since mid-June and it took me this long to take reasonable photos of her. But, I really think she’s blossomed in the last several weeks, so the timing was right for her glamour shots. She also had her fourth birthday on August 31. But I’m a bad mom and totally forgot to make her a cake.

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This is not an ideal conformation shot (above) because she’s parked out all silly with her right hind, but I think she looks just gorgeous anyway. She has such a lovely long neck and great proportions. But then again I’m biased.

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I think Fey has a very distinct eye and facial structures that remind me of Sam and Camden (Cor Magnifique, Fey’s sire) and all the others from the Gosch clan… intelligent and wise. She’s an old soul.

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Fey loved having her own photoshoot and posed nicely for the camera when she wasn’t getting snuggles from Katie.

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I remember reading her story and watching a video of her when she was born. It’s crazy to think she’s with me now. She’s so friendly and a joy to have around. I think she’s going to be a wonderful mom!

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Recognized Debut Postponed

Sadly, mine and Willow’s recognized horse trials debut has been postponed. She suffered a minor injury during a jump school and will have a couple of weeks off work. Luckily, the vet confirmed that all the important structures in her leg (bones, tendons, and ligaments) are in perfect shape. She just knocked herself and has a contusion (bump) that is really sore. I get these all the time when I turn corners too quickly or forget about the locations of heavy furniture in the house.

It took a couple of days to get an appointment with the vet, so it was stressful not knowing what was wrong… that it could be nothing, but it could also be something serious.

I wasn’t entirely sure what exactly happened. She was jumping around really well through a fairly challenging grid exercise. She snaps her knees up to her eyeballs and has discovered she can make the horse strides and really goes for it. We were almost done (it’s always when you’re almost done) and she jumped a little disorganized through, so I turned around to do it once more. We completed the grid, turned the corner, and she started hopping. I got off immediately and she seemed to walk out of it on the way back to the barn. She hadn’t knocked any rails down or hit anything hard enough for me to notice and think “ouch!”, so I was really afraid that she landed badly and strained something. A knot appeared almost immediately and then the swelling creeped up her fetlock and the heat was intense. Compare the photos below (left is the injured left leg, right is the happy right leg) and you can see the difference where there is a bit of “fill” high on the outside of the left fetlock.

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So for the next several days we iced, poulticed, wrapped, and kept her on stall rest, which means we did a lot of this:

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The swelling did decrease, but the heat did not. Both Willow and I were thankful that she was cleared to go back outside with her friends and prescribed a few weeks of Previcox and rest.

I’m bummed to have had to withdraw from WindRidge but very relieved that Willow is fine! She’s tough and I’m sure she’ll be ready to get back to work soon. She loves her job, but I’ll have to find her a good pair of boots for jumping from now on!


Windridge Photos

Wind in Mane Photography Photo

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Photos of Willow and I riding at the Windridge Schooling Show have been posted. Click here to see the whole gallery. I apparently forget how to smile, but Willow has a number of awesome expressions, and some really nice moments in all three gaits. Good girl pony Willow!


Will You Please Try to Spook My Pony?

I was going to wait until after the event photographer posted photos to post this update, but it’s taking way, way too long. So no competition photos to show with this post, which is over a week late now. Sorry!

After the three-phase at Chestnut Creek, I was keeping my eyes open for another opportunity to get the pony into the show ring before our first recognized event in October. As it happened, the very location where that event will be was having a schooling horse trials August 24.

Willow had had a few days off while I was on vacation, so it didn’t seem fair to do a full three-phase. My biggest concern was getting her more relaxed in the dressage ring, so I sent off a last-minute entry to do two tests and skipped the jumping altogether. I think we were the only ones in the whole show to do dressage only.

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Thinking really hard about canter transitions.

Our goals were to improve upon our previous score of 43.7, get our leads, and be relaxed in a busy environment. So I was really bummed when I got down to the warm-up only to discover we were the only ones there. Dressage was running so far ahead of schedule that by the time I’d warmed up and my actual ride time had arrived, I was still all alone. Not too mention the dressage was really secluded with jumping and stabling located too far away to be a distraction. This was not what I wanted at all!

I approached the teenage girls who were stewarding the ring and asked them if they could do me favor. “Do you think you could try to spook my pony while I’m in the ring?”

“What? Really?”

“There’s no one here! I want her to have distractions and work through it.”

Laughing, they agreed, and stayed behind “A” dancing and waving their arms around. I told the judge so she wouldn’t fuss at them. I think she was a little weirded out my request, but this is why you go to schooling shows!

Willow was unfazed by the dancing. She was relaxed and tried really hard to be obedient. She got an 8 on her entrance and really good marks on her trot work. She’s just getting to where she’s strong enough and comfortable sitting a bit in the canter and is learning how to keep her balance and rhythm. It’s nice but it’s not perfect. In the collective marks the judge said she was a little flat at the canter and resistant at times. However, we got both our leads and the left lead transition was so nice (7!) it surprised me a little.

Right after we finished our first test, kids on ponies and all their parents and trainers swarmed the warm-up. Willow woke up a bit, we practiced a few more canter transitions, and went right back in the ring. The humidity had also increased considerably by then, and we were both suddenly very tired.

I did not ride her as well as I could have in the second test. Intro C and Beginner Novice B have a lot of transitions between letters and then a couple random transitions at letters. I was not 100% confident in how well I knew where the transitions were supposed to be, so I wasn’t really preparing her for them. Sorry, Pony! I got a couple late transitions, and then, holy crap, I got an error. My second one ever, I think.

We did our free walk in the wrong place. On the up side, we had a few extra seconds to walk around and do it again, so she had better stretching and freedom, scoring a 7 on her free walk (“some overstep and stretching”), which she got a 4 on at Chestnut Creek (“short steps, no stretch”).

At this point Willow was a little dull to my leg, but she was maintaining a great rhythm. Right after my error, we just had to pick up the trot at K and turn down the centerline. As we faced the warm-up and I lifted her head, Willow saw something, momentarily became a giraffe, and almost stopped completely. Meanwhile I’m asking for the trot and she doesn’t even hear me. Laughing and pony club kicking, she finally trotted, did a surprisingly balanced turn down the centerline, and halted straight at X.

Mission accomplished! We scored a 36 on both tests, and she would have had a 34 on BN B without my error. That’s an almost 10 point improvement since Chestnut Creek, and this little girl on a big black horse said “that was gorgeous!” which totally made my day. We have some work to do before October, but I’m thrilled with her.

Strengths: Her trot work – wow! She scored 8s on both trots across the diagonal in BN B. She has a really great rhythm and is very elegant. Her balance at all gaits is improving all the time.

What to work on: Flexibility – the right side is my bad side, and I can ask for a little more bend both directions. Keep working on building strength at the canter, which will make for a steadier connection and less resistance in the transitions. Also, erm, learn the tests!

We’re having a lot of fun learning and competing together, but one of my favorite things is just hanging out with Willow. After I cooled her down I went and grabbed a sandwich from concessions, picked up our tests, and chatted with a friend. When I got back to the trailer Willow was happily munching away on hay. She nickered and we shared a bit of sandwich while I called mom to tell her about our test. The whole time Willow played with my hair and begged for bread.

I have to thank Katie from the barn for letting me borrow her rig as my poor Bernadette suddenly ended up in the shop with a bad fuel pressure regulator (my bank account just cried).

I’ll add the link to photos when they are uploaded. We had another adventure this weekend that I’ll tell you about soon, too. Go pony!


Newman/Davis Family Photos

Several years ago I photographed my friend Jennifer and her husband Allen’s wedding anniversary photos and posted several of my favorites on this blog. They have since had two boys, Ben and Luke, and I was delighted to shoot some family photos at Jen’s parent’s farm, which is a gorgeous location for pictures year-round.  Here are some of my favorites from that shoot.

This is actually one of my favorite pics in the bunch. It was the first photo and one of those “happy accidents.” It wasn’t until editing that I realized Jen and Allen were in the background with Luke in the their arms as Ben went wild on the farm.

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The photos of Ben and his grandfather were so very sweet and genuine.

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“Luke, will you smile for mommy?”

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Jennifer and I have been friends for a very long time. She is an amazing, beautiful mother.

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A country boy at heart, Ben LOVES the tractor. He couldn’t get to it fast enough, and the pictures we got there were my favorites of the whole session.

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Ben and his dad, Allen.

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I love this picture – it’s one big group hug. Plus, the kids are quiet, Ben is looking ahead, Allen is grinning wide…Success! Jennifer had this one made into a large canvas print and hung it above the fireplace in their home.

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After the session had ended, Ben was allowed to run wild again. He hasn’t quite figured out how to go forward down the steps, so he scoots down backwards, which turned out to be a great candid photo op!

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Jen and Allen are soon to celebrate 7 years of marriage. Thanks for the honor of taking your family photos!


New Cover – Horse Care Issue

Here is my latest cover photo on the magazine. Can you guess who it is without seeing the caption?

Eventing USA 2014 August Cover
Cover photos are not chosen at random, and the cover for this issue about Horse Care was a tough one for Hannah and I. We didn’t want to pick an obscure competition photo, and since we had used a portrait shot of a horse and rider on the Amateur issue before this one, we didn’t want to repeat the same idea.

Eventually, we geared towards the concept of legs and joints and a healthy looking horse. So then it was a matter of sorting through our thousands of galloping shots we have taken at various shows over the years. The right photo would have to meet certain criteria:

1. Be vertical – horizontals rarely crop well for a cover
2. The legs had to be in a compelling position – the front legs on the ground or in that perfect “D” shape isn’t very compelling or “actiony-feeling” (good phrase, huh?).
3. But the legs couldn’t be the only thing in the photo – we still needed the horse and rider heads and part of the body or else it looked awkward. Hannah created a mock-up with a photo we really, really wanted to use, but it just didn’t seem right. I finally showed it to Cortney and his response was “just legs?” So we trashed it.
4. The angle of the horse and rider had to be right – approximately 45 degrees traveling away or towards the camera (we liked that this one isn’t immediately identifying). Head on shots often look awkward and perfectly sideways wasn’t going to work either.
5. A cover photo also has to have room around the subject for text (like empty grass, sand, etc) and space at the top to put the magazine title without covering the subject up entirely.

We looked at this photo early on, but we never settle on the first option so we kept searching. After several mock-ups we came back to this one, and I think it turned out beautifully. There is also an article inside called Radiograph Review that has a really unique, custom layout. So be sure you check it out when it comes in the mail!

Choosing cover photos is one of our favorite parts of creating the magazine because it really defines the upcoming reading experience. We want you to pick it up and say “wow!” If when I get my copy in the mail I do a double-take and think “awesome!” then I know we picked a good one.