Monday, December 3, 2012

Holiday Spirit and Other Fun Projects

 I've been having a good time lately with my work.  Holidays are coming up and some of my clients want to share in the spirit.  Here's the beautiful St. Bernard, Nana (think Peter Pan) who will be competing in the Eukanuba Dog Show this week!

Then we had my cancer surviving friend Carrie (she's inspiring) with the love of her life, Melvin.  He's the cutest boxer!

And I'm all about black labs!  Fetch obsessive, crazy faced black labs.  Amos has taught me all I know about their crazy habits.

And sometimes I'm hired to take photos for lasting memories before tough decisions have to be made.  In this case, this beautiful horse had a neurological problem that could not be found nor resolved.  He would collapse without warning.  The vets couldn't find the source of the problem and these are some of the top equine vets in the world.  This young lady had to make a tough decision because he was a danger to himself (he could break a leg when he collapsed) as well as to others.   It's tough to do these photography sessions but it's also very meaningful and important to the owner.

This family of pugs had the elderly stateman of their group going into his last days.  He's the one laying down.  The other 6 were also documented on a very blustery day - thanks Sandy...

Of course I still photograph the cuties at the Lexington Humane Society...

And then there are certain events that we document every year since I've met Matt...  This is the Blessing of the Hounds at Shaker Village here in Kentucky.

Finally,  I have fun with the four foals I've been following since their births back in April.  They are now weaned and getting so big.  I decided to put together a video showing their growth over the past 6 months.  This young girl has the most personality of them all...

Toby and Ollie are doing well.  I have more time to get back in the saddle now and anticipate writing about our adventures soon!  :)

Thursday, October 18, 2012

October In Kentucky

This is simply the most beautiful month in Kentucky.  The rolling hills of central Kentucky mixed with the colors of the hardwood trees.  It's incredible.  It's also a popular time of year for photography. 

Matt and I have kept ourselves out of trouble by photographing the races at Keeneland

Working on the farms taking pictures of certain weanlings:

Making some new friends along the way:

and getting a ride on my guys when I can.  Toby has been such a good boy for me...

I love fall!

Friday, September 14, 2012

Sales In Action

The Yearling Sales are unbelievable!  So many people from all over the world coming to one place to look at the Thoroughbred yearlings.  All with the hope of a magic touch in their selections.

At Warrendale Sales, we've had many big name owners, trainers, bloodstock agents and pinhookers come through and look at our horses.  Adele Dilschneider, who owns many horses in conjunction with Claiborne Farm such as the Breeders Cup Classic winner and only horse to beat the great Zenyatta (Blame), came through several times as she narrowed down her list.  We've had Barclay Tagg, Gretchen and Roy Jackson (Barbaro's owner), Doug Cauthen (brother to Steve Cauthen who rode Affirmed in his triple crown conquest), Todd Pletcher, the list goes on and on. 

My job is to greet the people who come in to view the horses, let our grooms and handlers know which horses to get out for them and find a spot to view the horses.  Sometimes it can get really crazy with a lot of people coming to see our horses and a lack of room and timing things so we have enough showmen to walk the horses.  While this is going on, we may have vets coming in to perform a vet check on a horse for a potential buyer.  So we're juggling people and horses all day long.  I come home exhausted every night! 

Adele Dilschneider and her bloodstock agent, Jane Dunn, view one of our horses.

Kitty Taylor, the principle owner of Warrendale Sales keeps her eyes on the action as several groups are out viewing their selected horses.

One of our showmen stand a horse for a potential buyer.
I've been amazed at the people who come through.  We've had many Japanese and Russians come through.  I even had Jaguar Hope's owner/trainer come through one day!!  I was so excited about seeing him and being able to tell him face to face how Jag was involved in the War Horse movie.  That totally made my day!

While we are showing, we also have horses that are preparing to go into the ring.  They get the royal beauty parlor treatment so they are spit shining spectacular.  We use all the horse show tricks to whiten up any white markings and shine up their mane and tails.  They have been brushed so often that their dapples gleam in the light. 

A Bernardini/Caroni filly gets shined up before she heads to the sales pavilion.
All of the staff work very hard and very long hours at the sales.  We still work and show horses while the sales are going on but we keep 1/2 an eye on the television monitors as one of our horses goes through the ring.  At one point, one of our horses was the subject of a bidding war.  This Big Brown colt brought the gavel down at $825,000.  He was the 2nd highest bid for the day.  We all watched as he went through the ring on our tv monitor in the barn.

The barn crew watching the action in the sales pavilion as one of our horses goes through the ring.

Big Brown/Cold Awakening colt that sold for $825,000 and was the 2nd highest price at the sales that day.  He was bought by Demi O'Byrne and will probably be trained by Todd Pletcher.
We were pretty proud that our horse brought so much money! 

Well I have to head back to the sales which continues through the 21st.

Friday, September 7, 2012

Keeneland Sales

An empty Keeneland Sales Pavilion

For the next 10 days or so I will be working for Warrendale Sales  as a card person.  I'm not so sure I can explain it very well until I actually do this job. As I've been told,  potential buyers come to the barn and fill out a card and check the boxes for the horses they would like to see.  They hand the card back to me and I coordinate the viewing of the horses with the handlers and other card people doing the same for other potential buyers.   I get so nervous with new things but I think I can handle this and survive.  LOL! 

In the meantime, here are some photos we took today at Keeneland where horses were arriving for the sales and things were busy with last minute spruce ups! 

My boss at Warrendale Sales - Kitty Taylor

Horse people are dog people too.  Sometimes a reminder needs to be placed on where your dogs can and cannot go...

A nice looking Dynaformer filly arrives to the Warrendale Sales barn.  She's hip #935.

Inside the sales pavilion, the seats are all assigned to those who will be in attendance.  Besilu had purchased Royal Delta for quite a bit of money last fall...

Vinery's barn is well decorated and ready for the horses to arrive.

Worker for Hill N Dale Farm do some primping on one of their yearling sales horses.
This will be a new experience for me and a whole other side of the thoroughbred industry that I know very little about.  Should be fun and a great learning experience!!  Wish me luck!

Sunday, September 2, 2012

Where Have I Been?

Busy.  That's where I've been.  Very busy.  Life as a small business owner is very different from life working for a large sports organization.  I have to be my own marketing department, IT department, Accounting department, etc.  It takes up a lot of my extracurricular time such as blogging about my horses and even working them.

Matt and I have other blogs like this one, this one and this one which help us get our business names out there and on top of each of those blogs are corresponding websites which we are always keeping them current and setting them up best for google searches.  It's a lot of our time. 

So in prioritizing my life, my small photography businesses have to take precedence over my own "for fun" blogging. 

Another reason I haven't blogged is because of an experience I had with a trainer who happened to stop coming to Lexington and notified us in a very poor manner - like not at all.   And the organizer, whom the trainer dropped, was left with the dirty work of notifying all of us and being a very good sport in a not so good situation.  The organizer gets my kudos, the trainer...  not so much.  I didn't want to blog immediately about this situation because I was so let down but after some time, I realized I was still annoyed by it all.  So I'm writing about it here to get it out of my system.   Phew.  I'm done with it.

Toby and Ollie are doing very well.  Toby is sassy and dappled out.  Ollie is F-A-T and mellowing out. 

I don't have too many photos of me riding because Matt hasn't been out to photograph us in a long while.  But Ollie has been good when I'm working him consistently.  This past month, I haven't been working him at all due to other things (see first paragraph).  I did take a lesson with Julie Congleton, who is infinitely patient with us.  She helped me with some drills I can use to help Ollie learn to leg yield.   Ollie is a very insecure horse and he tries to anticipate what you're going to ask him.  But after awhile, the novelty of the leg yield wore off and he would relax into the movement.  Anything new for him gets him jazzed up but when you repeat, repeat, repeat he gets better and better and better!

Oddly, the biggest novelty for me with Ollie this summer is taking him on walkabouts the property.  The farm where he lives is over 100 acres so there are lots of fields for us to cruise around in.  He's familiar with the fields so he's not worried when we are out of sight of the barn.  In fact, Ollie is much better on these mini trail rides than Toby!  Ollie relaxes, takes a really nice walking stride which makes my hips move like we're keeping a hoola hoop up.  I love it when he gets all relaxed like that!  One of the other girls at the barn will go on rides with us.  She hops on Toby for me and we can go for a couple of miles around the property.  I turn on my GPS pedometer and can see how far we have traveled.  It's very cool!

Ollie isn't perfect by a long shot and we are moving at a snails pace with his training.  That's ok with me.  He's my for fun project and we don't have huge expectations and goals.  He is moving in the right direction and I've been super proud of him and his behavior lately.  He's a good horse and a trier!  I just have to be ok with the fact that when I don't work him, we have to start over again from the beginning and work our way back to where we were.  Sometimes, I think this helps him to reinforce things and builds his confidence.

Toby, on the other hand, has been getting friskier and friskier lately.  He can be a total handful to bring up to the barn in the mornings for feeding.  He jigs the whole way up and pins his ears at Ollie and tries to take a swipe at him.  He has entered remedial training lately to get him out of this bad habit.  Ollie has been the saint.

Toby had one incident from heat this summer.  He started to act agitated in his stall, wouldn't eat his hay and was calling for Ollie who was visible to him in the stall right next to his.  I brought Toby out of his stall and hosed him down.  He was fine after that.  I immediately went out to Home Depot and bought a 2nd box fan for his stall and hung it on his door.  It's his favorite fan.  He stands with his head right into it most of the day (we bring the horses in during the day due to heat and to get them off the grass for awhile).  He's been fine ever since.

Toby has to wear shoes on his front feet.  He has very weak hooves and stomping on hard dry ground for flies is just too much for his feet.  So he gets his shoes and we like to photograph our farrier in action especially when they are new shoes and not a reset.  The sparks flying when filing down the new shoes makes for fun photos! 

So there we are!  They are doing well.   I'm not going as quickly as I'd like with Ollie but we are continuing to move forward.  Once in awhile I think about bringing in a professional trainer for him but I just can't have him go to another barn.  He'll have total melt down and the trainer probably won't get too far with him because he'll be so worried and stressed out.  If only I could find a regular rider to come to our place...  :)  Secretly, I wish Erin Hamer was nearby because I'd put her on my ADHD pony in a minute for training.  :)

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Progress Takes Work

Ollie, Toby and Davey enjoying time in their summer paddock.
Ollie and I are still progressing nicely albeit slowly.  

James came back to town but I wasn't in town to participate in the clinic.  Matt and I had gone to Baltimore for the Preakness Stakes.  So Ollie and I are continuing on with our work with the goal of strengthening his back, getting him to relax his jaw and accept the bit, and overall getting him to relax under saddle.  We'll get with James on his next visit.

Our routine has been fun for me.  I'm still using the long lines with him and he's really looking good.  We have to work harder for a nice bend when we go to the right but every horse has a bad direction.  To break things up and to get him to trust me, we make small ventures out around the property.  So far he's been good but we've not been out of sight of the barn with out Toby being with us.  On those days, I take them both out for a hack.  I ride Toby and pony Ollie.  We ride the perimeter of their big field where they spend the winter.  I have a pedometer with a GPS on my cell phone and it tells me that a perimeter loop is 1.2 miles.  It's nice rolling hillsides so it's good for working out both horses.  We do it all at a walk/trot.  Toby is horribly out of shape and I'm really trying to get Ollie to do things quietly so this is all good.  Plus walking up and down the hills will lengthen and strengthen those back muscles.

I'm really enjoying having a focus with my horses and setting goals.  Plus it's all happening at the right pace for Ollie to "get it".  I'm feeling good about our progress!  Even Ollie is feeling good about it!

In the meantime, Matt and I have been crazy busy.  We had the Preakness Stakes for starters:

Followed immediately (like the day after the Preakness) by the High Hope Steeplechase at the Kentucky Horse Park. Yep! We drove back in time for the 1st race at 1:30pm!

And now we are playing catch up! This week I get to go visit my foal friends at Adena Springs. I love doing this work! Meet my little filly friend SomethinAboutLaura - Bernardini '12. We will be following her up until she turns 1 yr old. We started when she was just a couple days old. In this video she's about 7 weeks old.

Finally, do you guys think we'll have a Triple Crown winner this year?!

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Our 2nd Clinic! How We Performed!

I finally feel as if I'm on the right track with Ollie!  We are progressing beautifully right now!

I think it has started by having him at a nice quiet barn with lots of pasture time in a really good pasture.  Both Toby and Ollie have super silky coats, lots of shine and all the signs of excellent health.  Then I think working with James Houston on a monthly basis works well for me.  James is patient, kind and very helpful at getting both Ollie and me prepared and ready to move forward in training.  I can't begin to explain how helpful long reining has been for both of us..

James came in the week of Rolex 3-day.  This is a tough weekend for me because we end up going to Churchill Downs (a 1 hour and 15 min drive) for the morning workouts from the Derby contenders, then spend the afternoon at the Kentucky Horse Park for Rolex.  Crazy busy.  Thankfully, the clinic organizer worked with me to fit me in.  James came to us!  Now this is an absolute exception but it's because I'm pretty committed to working with him on a consistent basis.

James was impressed at how Ollie was comfortable and accepting of working on the long lines.  He noticed improved muscling in Ollie's neck and was upbeat about our progress.  Woohoo!  Ollie was great on the long lines.  Then I got on.  Ollie became anxious and we spent our time getting him to relax and understand that we're not asking much of him.  We would trot for a bit then walk, then trot, then walk.  Repeat and rinse.  Ollie got better but the weather was unseasonably cold and he was frisky.  So for the next few weeks, it's our project to get Ollie to trust me more and I ask him for simple things that he can become confident with doing while I'm on his back. 

Here are some photos and a short video from our work:

If anyone is interested in seeing what I've been doing since this clinic including IMMEDIATELY after the clinic - just check out our photos!


 Our Capture The Light Equine Photography Workshop

Little Mike leads the field through the first turn in a wire to wire win in the Woodford Reserve Turf Classic.

And the Derby and Oaks Weekend

Monday, April 23, 2012

What's Been Going On?

April is crazy busy for me.  I have so much going on now that the weather is much nicer.  We've been doing work at a few of the farms with foal photos.  They are so cute but they sure can be a handful!  One of the farms has hired us to get "cute" foal pictures as well as some video and to follow them until they  become yearlings.  So I was practicing...

The mare is by Marquetry and is so cool looking and her foal is the very last foal for Slew City Slew as she was the only mare to become get into foal by him last season. He is now pensioned.

Ollie and I haven't been good students for our upcoming clinic this week.  We haven't been able to do much work but when we do, he's been very good on the long reins.  I'm also getting much better at it myself.  He's had a sore SI joint so the time off his back has been good.  I just wish I worked him more so he would strengthen his back as well.  His back seems to be bothering him less right now.  I'm hoping to be able to help him with chiropractic work and massage and keep him from getting sore again.

But being the thoroughbred that he is, he enjoys having a job at all times.  He has learned to help with cleaning his stall.  

We'll give you an update on our clinic when it happens on Thursday and Friday. Yes - it's also Rolex weekend and the Kentucky Derby is only 2 weeks away!

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

James Houston Clinic

What a great weekend I had!  It was my first clinic with Ollie and I can guarantee it won't be our last.

Thanks to my friend Kelly Gage, we got hooked into the James Houston Clinic she was organizing.  I seriously felt that we were just too much of beginners to go but I was completely wrong.  I just needed to get over my self consciousness and accept that I wanted to learn more so I can be a better horseman.    Once I got to that point, I was all gung ho for the clinic.  My sole goal was to gain more training tools so Ollie and I can improve when I work him at home. 

I went out in the morning to see some of the other riders and to see what little things I could pick up.  It's always fun to watch other riders because I feel you can always learn from watching.  On the first day, I was the last rider to go so I had some time to watch before I had to trailer Ollie over.

Once it was our turn, and James turned his attention to us the bells went off in my head.  I was nervous!  Why on earth would anyone become nervous in a clinic?!  But there I was being a nervous Nellie for me and my horse.

I wanted Ollie to be worked by James and we quickly found out that we'd get the furthest by working him from the ground.  Ollie didn't want to flex with his jaw AT ALL.  In fact, he was being a total pill about it.  Part of it, I think was that he was nervous too.  But James did his magic using long reins and Ollie turned right around and became quite nice after a short while. 

To quote my husband from his blog post on "Capture The Light" - Our friend Kelly Gage sponsored a private clinic featuring James Houston, a quietly confident English instructor. James had Ollie under his spell in a few short moments, seemingly telepathically. Pretty amazing stuff.

 James is "quietly confident" and he had a wonderful way with Ollie!  Sympathetic, listening but also pushing him to work as well.  It was amazing to watch.

I was so pleased with the work James and Ollie had gone through. Our plan for day 2 was to teach me these tools.

Day 2 and back for more.  Our ride was right after lunch so I had no time to watch the other riders.   I got Ollie cleaned up and ready to work again.  He wasn't too excited about it and fussed about going on the trailer.  He lost the discussion and we got him the short distance over to the clinic.  And back to work he went with James.

On day 2, Ollie was a much more pleasant partner and readily went to work.  James was very pleased with him.   That meant it was time for me to learn how to long rein.

I made a 3 minute video with a tune everyone will know.  Isn't long reining just like line dancing???

Overall, I felt we had a great clinic with James.  He taught me a valuable tool to use with Ollie to help him strengthen his back and help his flexibility - especially to the right - without the added problem of a rider.  I'm not very elegant at long reining yet but just give us some time to improve.

James will be back next month and I plan on going again if I can work it around my busy schedule.  April happens to be the Keeneland race meet time and every weekend is a busy workday for us.  I hope I can fit Ollie in with James at least one day on a Sunday.  We will figure it out.

Since I'm all about photos, here are a few more from our clinic experience.