Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Wild and Wooley!

I'm back in northern Michigan preparing for the boys big move and taking care of personal business and general business matters too. But the weather has gotten in the way of things for me. Let's just say it's fierce!

This tree took out a transformer. What a loud explosion that made! It fell in the alley near me. Thankfully no one was injured.

With wild weather events, a photographer instinctively goes into action because you'll get shots like you can't get on any other day. So off I went to "the big lake." That's what we call Lake Michigan. In Traverse City, I live very close by to Grand Traverse Bay. This bay is nicely sheltered and rarely gets big wave action. So I decided to head out on the 30 mile drive to the Point Betsie Lighthouse. I KNEW there would be some great photo opportunities if the waves were big and if there was some sun. I wasn't let down! But first I had to get there. Many trees were down on the roads and at one point I had to drive off the road to get around one tree. Thankfully I drive a 4 wheel drive pickup!

Once I arrived, I had to get myself out to the beach. I hadn't planned on the sandblasting I was about to get. I had a skull cap on, the shell of my Columbia jacket and had to walk backwards out to the beach. I got a break once I was far enough where the sand was wet. So I took pictures...





And then I tried for the "big picture" when the sun came out and made it breathtaking!


I turned around and took a picture into the sun and towards the sand dunes. Just look at the sand blowing around! It hurt like the dickens!



And finally I got this shot with a bigger lens that is my favorite of the day. I got sand in my eyes, ears, nose, inside my shoes and in my bra (not kidding!) but it was worth it.


So what does any of this have to do with my horses? Well not much. I saw them, took a long time attempting to clean them of the caked on mud and couldn't get over how wooley they are now (pun intended)! They are two big fuzz balls! And they look great! We have them fattened up for the ride to Kentucky. We have all assumed they will lose weight on the trip. So they are ripe for traveling! I didn't dare take a picture of them because 1) it was dark and 2) they were still looking like a good shade of pewter from the mud. I had wanted to ride them but the high winds were just too much noise in the arena and spooky for the horses. In fact, the roof of one of the run-ins came crashing over to the arena wall! Crazy and not safe conditions to ride. Oh well...

I can't wait to get them to their new home. They will LOVE IT! Now we just need the winds to die down so we can make it down the highway...

Monday, October 25, 2010

Some Days Are Crazy

I'm going to be heading north to bring the boys down to Kentucky and their new home. I'm very excited about this.

In the meantime, Matt and I have been taking lots of pictures. One day we were all over the place! We started out at Old Friends. We had an idea for a shot for Smokey Stover and wanted to try it out. We couldn't find Smokey anywhere but we did catch a horse named Early Pioneer and his buddy whose name we didn't catch...

Then we continued on our way to Nuckols Farm to get pictures of 2001 Kentucky Derby winner, Monarchos.



"Mo" is very well loved at his home. He was busy begging for mints from his handler and showing off for us. He has a big personality.

Then we were off to the races at Keeneland. We got to shoot the Jonathan Sheppard trained, Fugitive Angel win Valley View Stakes (G3):



We took a ton of photos in one day!

I loved that we also caught some good emotion at the track, like this groom taking Ariana D back to the barn after winning an allowance race. He was so proud of her! He talked and talked to her with a huge grin on his face all the way back to the barn.


It was a fun day but by far our coolest photo came the evening before when we snuck out to Old Friends to scope out photo opportunities and we caught Judge's Case running in his paddock at sunset...


You just have to love horses...

Wednesday, October 20, 2010


And I'm not talking about the changes I'm going through with my life (marriage, move, etc). I'm talking about the changes a foal can make in a short time frame.

Do you remember meeting this sweet face last April?


Here he is today.



Isn't he cute?!

He's only about 7 months old. And check out this '09 yearling. He's gorgeous! It's amazing how quickly they grow.


Tuesday, October 19, 2010

New Homes

I found a place for the boys to live! It's GORGEOUS! They will have stalls in a lovely converted tobacco barn and join 4 other horses at a private home not far from where I live and not far from key places for us (Keeneland and Shadwell Farm). The owner has a daughter who is very active in 3 day eventing. They have a beautiful large outdoor arena with a few jumps. They know about many small dressage shows in the area and can help me meet other dressage/eventing fans. I won't do eventing but it might be fun to do some cross training with Ollie!

The best part about this farm are the turnout paddocks. Toby and Ollie will spend their springs/summers/falls in a 9 acre paddock with the other horses. In winter they move over to a 50 acre field which is their hay field. My guys won't know what to do! It's been a super long time since Toby has been in a field with any substantial grass! Fall will be a good time for them to try it out since the grass isn't growing. In fact, with this drought it's flat out brown and dry. And if the lush fields are too much, there are 3 one acre dry lots with run-ins. It is a self-care facility so my guys will really get to know me much better... :) Pictures will come once they are moved in.

In the meantime, I'm helping Matt out with photography. He had a wedding to shoot last weekend so I went to Keeneland and covered the races for EquiSport Photos.


This is Mimi's Bling who won the Buffalo Trace Stakes last Friday. I just read that she will be offered for sale in the Fasig-Tipton select sales in November!

On Saturday, Lentenor raced. Lentenor is a full brother to Barbaro which always brings a lot of attention to him.


He has that "don't-mess-with-me-because-I'm-a-Dynaformer" look about him. He didn't put in a good race this time around. Maybe next time.

The feature race was the Queen Elizabeth II Challenge Cup Stakes. A beautiful dark bay filly won named Harmonious. I was thrilled when I looked in the camera and saw that I captured this:


I LOVE the details! It's not the kind of shot that get's published - but this one is.

The racing is fun. But it's also fun to go to the breeding farms and the training farms. Like this morning when we got to go to Ken McPeek's farm called Magdalena. It was such a pretty morning!


I have some visitors coming tonight and tomorrow. Some of you may know my friend Alex Brown and his website. He'll be here for a couple nights to catch some Keeneland action. Should be fun and I'll be sure to take photos!

And as a sidebar, if anyone has any advice for introducing two adult cats to one another let me know! Pita (my 14 yr old female cat) is slowly being introduced to Monster (Matt's 6 yr old male cat). So far it's been fairly good but Pita keeps wanting to run back to Traverse City. Sigh...

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Keeneland Opening Weekend

There's no place like Keeneland when it comes to racing...

Opening weekend and the air was full of excitement. The weather was perfect, the grounds were beautiful and the horses were ready to run.

The opening weekend is chock full of stakes races and many are the "Win and You're In" for the Breeders' Cup. The Breeders Cup is the first week of November so the timing makes sense to have the "Win and You're In" series early in the meet at Keeneland.

We had been visiting the barns in the morning and taking pictures of some of the runners in the upcoming races. One of the prettiest runners has to be Get Stormy. He'd be great in the show ring because of all his markings (aka bling). Here's a photo of him being ponied back after his gallop work one morning. The mornings have been cool which tends to make the horses a bit friskier.


We stopped by to visit one of our favorite trainers, hall of famer Jonathan Sheppard, and the stars in his barn. He has Project Rose, Fantasia and Informed Decision. In this photo, assistant trainer Barry Wiseman, is cold hosing Informed Decision's legs before she is cooled out (hot walked) around the shedrow.


Barry Wiseman is one of the nicest guys on the backside of the track. We chatted with Barry while Matt gave him some photos of him working Informed Decision the other morning. Half kidding, I mentioned to Barry that one of my dream jobs is to hot walk the Sheppard horses during the Keeneland meet. Well guess what... I may very well be called upon to do so! I have already been called as a back up for someone he called at the last minute in case she couldn't make it! She was able to help out and I didn't get my chance. Next time...

Before we knew it, it was time for the races!



Matt and I enjoyed the stakes races and the weather. The crowds were great too! My goal was to shoot tight shots so that's what I did...

Wise Dan with Rafael Bejarano wins The Phoenix Stakes:


Rafael Bejarano celebrates after his win on Wickedly Perfect in The Alcibiades:


One of my favorite jocks, Julien Leparoux wins on Silver Timber in The Woodford Stakes:


and my other favorite jockey, Ramon Dominguez, won The Shadwell Turf Mile on Gio Ponti:


T-I-G-H-T shots!

Now I'm on my way back to Traverse City to bring my cat to Lexington and make preparations for my boys to make their move at the end of the month - WOO HOO!

Saturday, October 9, 2010

Dressage Freestyle Finals

I have been hugely busy with my work and bouncing around with equestrian activities in and around Lexington.

I got back in time to watch the dressage freestyle finals at the World Equestrian Games. We literally drove from the airport (had a Lyle Lovett sighting in the terminal) to the Horse Park. I had a seat WWWAAAYYY UUUPPP in the nosebleed section but enjoyed being part of the crowd and seeing these amazing performances in person.

There was a definite international crowd as many languages floated about in the air.

My favorite ride of the evening was the very entertaining Spaniard Juan Munoz Diaz and his horse Fuego XII

While they may not have been the best technically, they were (by far) the best in charisma and personality. The crowd LOVED them!

Then Edward Gal and Moorland Totilas came out. Everyone seated around me made remarks to the effect of "This is why I came tonight." They were amazing and I felt so privileged to have been able to see them in person. It was fantastic!

His ride was good but not his best, in my opinion. However, it was still one of the most technically correct rides of all and his scores showed that. Crazy good!

The downside of the show reared it's ugly head after it was done. The lines to get back to our car along with the lines to get out of the parking lot and the traffic on the roads were just a nightmare. It took us over an hour and we didn't wait for a shuttle to our parking lot, we walked it.

I haven't been able to get back to the Games since last week. Now it's time for Keeneland and I'll have so much to post about that... :)