Friday, January 29, 2010

On The Mend

Just a quick post to say that Mr. Hola/Ollie is recovering well.

We are having an arctic blast the past few days so all the horses have been kept indoors (yesterday had -20 f windchills). Thankfully our barn is heated around the 40 degree mark. So I let Toby and Ollie out for a romp in the indoor arena naked so they could have a good roll and work on their itchies from wearing a blanket.

The photos are not the best quality due to the poor lighting in an indoor arena but it's enough where you can see Ollie put on quite a show...

with his typical rear:

Hola C Bright 1/28/10


Hola C Bright 1/28/10

and running around farting:

Hola C Bright 1/28/10

Hola C Bright 1/28/10

Toby kept egging him on by biting and kicking at him in play-not that Ollie didn't deserve it by going after his halter or sniffing his behind. Those two LOVE to rough house.

I'm simply pleased to have two wonderful, happy, healthy boys!

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Back to Dressage!

ok - back to blogging about my and my OTTB's simple efforts at dressage...

Let's start with the 20 yr old former racer turned hunter/jumper and our lesson. Toby was feeling darn good about himself. The minute I got on he started to crow hop around the indoor arena. He wanted to roll and let loose. Betsy hadn't arrived so I got off him, untacked him and let him rip. He immediately rolled then got up to buck and fart his way around the arena. Once he got that out of his system, I tacked him back up and began my lesson with Betsy. Needless to say he had some energy but was very tense and really never relaxed.

We are continuing to work on getting him into and keeping him in a good frame. I can get him into a nice frame much quicker but keeping him there seems to be the challenge. He tries every trick in the book such as pulling, inching slowly upwards with his head and neck, etc. I'm trying very hard to maintain his limits and keep him round.

If you need a short nap, I highly recommend this rather boring video of our work:

While the video may be boring, I think it's fun. I love riding and learning. I know I'm not the best out there but I have the time of my life doing it. Isn't that what riding is really all about?

Now let's talk about Ollie and his leg. I had left thinking his infection was under control. Well, this is what I came back to...

Lots of proud flesh sprouting and super ugly. I called my vet, Tanja Molby, for her help. I emailed her the above picture and she immediately put Hola on antibiotics and she outlined a cleaning regime for the wound. By this morning it had shrunk down to 1/2 the size it was. Tanja rules in my book! For many reasons including some outside of her medical practice! One main reason is for her stance against horse slaughter and that she petitioned her own organization to change their stance on it. She also rocks for taking a stand against people who misuse her services and advice to take advantage of people's good will on the internet (perhaps this gal will straighten up her act now).

So Hola will get better quickly now that he's on his antibiotics, which I managed to get for free thanks to the generosity of Meijer's!

I call Hola, Ollie most of the time so that's why the meds say Ollie on it. I had to sign for it since the meds were going to a minor. ;) I showed the women at the pharmacy counter some pictures of my gray man. They were duly impressed and had a better understanding why he receives 13 tablets twice a day.

I'm grateful to Meijer's for their generosity and fantastic program for free antibiotics for people's pets. It's cool that horses are included in the program! Just goes to show you that horses are thought of as companion animals too...

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Lexington Living as an Equine Photographer

I'm on my way home after some quality time in Lexington. I continue to look for boarding places and the only ones I can find are jumping barns - ugh... I will keep on looking since I have time.

My fiance, Matt, has an interesting job which I enjoy tagging along when possible.

As a professional photographer in Lexington, Matt's primary business comes from shooting photos for the big farms in and around the area. Their focus, of course, is on their "big boys" - aka the stallions. One farm that calls on Matt's photography skills is Pauls Mill. Matt has taken many of the photos on their website of this stunningly beautiful farm but this time Pauls Mill was looking for a stallion conformation shot of their stallion US Ranger.

Conformations shots are exceptionally important in advertising the stallions. You want to show off their highlights the best way you can, try to catch the eye of the potential customer but it must also be a uniform shot so that one stallion can be compared with another. This is traditionally a left side conformation shot with the front right leg back slightly and the right back up slightly, ears pricked and the head not too high. Just look at this photo of leading sire, Giant's Causeway (or any other thoroughbred stallion in the registry).

The owner of Pauls Mill called Matt and asked him to try to get a shot which might be a little different but not too different... Something to make his stallion pop! The owner of Pauls Mill had his staff shine and buff US Ranger and Matt came out to work on the shoot Friday afternoon. It was foggy and misty outside - a HORRIBLE day for an outdoor shot.

The plan for the shot was to use their breeding room as a back drop (it's the end of a renovated old tobacco barn beautifully converted to the stallion barn). Matt brought some flashes mounted on stands, pointed them at the horse who would stand in the doorway. The flashes had a colored filter on them to mimic sunlight. Yes we can create sunshine! Then the camera was underexposed for the conditions so that when the flash went off, the horse would be lit up and perfectly exposed and everything else around him would be dark.

This is what it looked like when Matt was shooting:

There is one farm staffer holding the stallion, one helping with the leg placement and removing dust and such off of him, me with a tape recorder of horse whinnies to prick his ears.

US Ranger was pretty good. We had a tough time getting his ears pricked but he wasn't too bad about setting his legs. He wasn't perfect but he wasn't too bad. And WOW is he gorgeous!! Huge, muscular, solid built, sigh...

This is what Matt ended up with for a conformation shot...

I think that is such a cool shot of a cool horse!

Matt is also asked to shoot photos of "the babies" at some of his farms. This is a test of patience! As you can imagine, foals, weanlings and yearlings suffer from the "wiggle worm disease" and just need to be on the move all the time. To get them to set up with their legs in a certain position, looking in the right direction and their ears pricked is a challenge at best. We shot some pictures of a couple yearlings and we discovered that my tape of horse whinnies was too much sensory overload for them. One of the yearlings had to be shot with a buddy standing nearby just outside of the shot to settle down.

Matt's client needed the photos right away so we couldn't wait around for the sun to come out. Therefore Matt created sunshine with his flash and filter. Amazingly, the pop of the flash didn't bother a single horse.

And probably one of the biggest challenges come with the newborns. Not only do you have to set up a new born foal but also the foals dam. Again, patience and understanding is needed or you'll go crazy.

This little guy is a little more than 24 hours old. This is my shot of the action behind the scenes but you can see he is perfectly set-up for a left side conformation with his mom's front legs showing between her foals front and back legs. Everyone struck the pose like professionals! Mom's a super model and proud to show off her first baby... ;) The little guy is so new that his legs are still working out the kinks from being folded up tightly inside his mom. So cute!

It was fun to tag along with Matt and it also gave me a new appreciation of the work behind a simple conformation shot!

Friday, January 22, 2010

Who Let The Dogs Out?

My exploits this week have taken me from dog sled races to a welcome party for an overachieving thoroughbred stallion at a prestigious breeding farm.

I'm fairly certain my boys have been goofing around with their fellow nose-picking buddies in the paddock during this time. The weather in Traverse City has been very nice for a change.

I heard there was going to be some dog sled racing in a nearby town last weekend. I thought that would be fun to photograph and the day was going to be nice. I had to check it out. I had no idea what to expect. I found out it's a great family sport! The first races were for kids who seemed to have big cheering sections...

dog sled-3

and families that love their dogs

dog sled-21

dog sled-25

dog sled-26

The dogs LOVE to run. Their excitement is palpable and they let out their high pitched barks in their anticipation of the run. These races ranged from 3 to 13 miles depending on the number of dogs and category. I learned that in the long race the mushers were allowed to have up to 20 dogs! Boy you better have faith in your lead dogs that they will listen to you. That's a lot of dogs to have working together. Here's what an 8 looks like:

dog sled-30

And this is one of the larger teams with, I believe, 16 dogs:

dog sled-19

The musher must be at least 3 or 4 horse lengths away from the lead dogs.

dog sled-39

It was really fun to shoot the races.

Then I found myself in Kentucky for a visit. We found out that the brilliant and beautiful race horse, Einstein, was going to arrive at Adena Springs to begin his life at stud.

RAC: AUG 8-09 Arlington Million Stakes

Einstein won 4 Grade 1 turf races, 1 Grade 1 on an All Weather surface and 1 Grade two on dirt. On the Adena Springs hat they show it as Einstein = (G1T*4)+(G1A)+(G2 Dirt)
It's a clever and cool looking hat.

Here is Einstein when he was unloaded from the shipping van:


and heading into to his new home at Adena Springs:



It was really cool to be there when he entered into his new career. I wish him much success at stud. He certainly showed he could compete on any surface and for a long time! He was always the biggest competitor for one of my favorites, Better Talk Now...

Fen and Better Talk Now


Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Why Does He Do That?

It's a rhetorical question.

Over the weekend I went out to the barn in search of photo subjects to practice shooting with a much more complicated camera than my own. I found a very willing subject in Sadie, an english springer spaniel who has great enjoyment over catching snowballs.

She really put on a good show.

While I was out there I noticed that my overly friendly boy cut his leg while rolling.

I cleaned it up a bit and poofed it with "wonderdust" to help stop the bleeding. I'm thinking we are good...

But no! Monday it was a little swollen and by Tuesday it was icky. I've been cleaning it out and tending to him. On Tuesday morning, I gave him a warm water epsom salt pack to draw out the infection. He's walking fine on it and oddly there is no heat but he's super sensitive to the touch. I decided that movement would be helpful and had Betsy ride him. She only walked him and worked on his balance and bringing up his right shoulder when going to the right. He wasn't a very quick study this time.

Towards the end of the ride I noticed that his leg was draining like a river. Clear sticky stuff. In my mind, I'm thinking this is good. The epsom salts drew it out and the movement pushed it out. I cleaned it out again after the ride with wound wash, another warm water epsom salt pack and closed it up with wonderdust. I went back in the evening and he looked much better!

If I could only get him to stop doing this kind of stuff,

he wouldn't get kicked around so often!

Now for a question to you guys and slightly off topic - how does one go about looking for a trainer in a new area? I could use your ideas.

Friday, January 8, 2010

Change Can Happen So Unexpectedly

The holidays came and went. I had a wonderful time through it all but I hated to be away from the boys. I always worry about them when they have to be kept inside due to the extreme weather conditions we experience here in the northwest portion of lower Michigan. I'd rather they be inside than get themselves injured when there are slippery conditions. I did turn them out the other afternoon once the freezing drizzle went away...

I rode both of the boys last night. They were fantastic! Especially Toby. He's always so forward when I haven't ridden him in a while. Hola had major wiggle butt going on but he settled down. He's ultra sensitive to your leg and weight shift. It certainly doesn't take much when you give him a correction!
After I worked them both, I had to have a family discussion with them.
"Men, there are some big changes coming up for us in 2010 and we need to discuss them. Do you remember Mr. Matt? He's the one that came out to take your pictures and played that tape of horse whinnies to get you to prick your ears... Remember?"
Heavy breathing came from their adjacent stalls.
"Well Mr. Matt asked me an important question and I said 'yes' in reply"
Heavier breathing...
"Looks like we are all going to have new last names and live in Lexington, KY by the end of the year. I'll try to find you guys a great place to hang in Kentucky and the winter weather will be so much kinder to us than Traverse City! You'll love it!"
"Toby, your grandsire, Mr. Prospector, came from Kentucky and Hola, your grandsire, Damascus did too! Both of them stood at the famous Claiborne Farm!! Lexington, Kentucky is the thoroughbred center of the world. Again, you'll love it!"
Blank looks...
Now I need to find us a good dressage trainer down there. But I have time and a plan...