Saturday, November 24, 2012

In which we want to shoot Santa Claus, and yoga poses are needed

We wanted to do a photo shoot with Santa Claus to promote the Endurance 101 book.

Every time, every ride...including reindeer rides!

Santa Jim was willing, and we rounded up a plain-colored endurance horse and some festive gear for the session....

...but the weather forecast for the weekend was dismal:  

"Darkness, followed by dimness and intermittent lack of light," said the weather-guessers at NOAA.

"Gloomy, rainy, wet and horrible," said the television forecasters.

"We're all gonna die!" moaned the farmer's almanac.

Santa Jim was undaunted.  

"How about Saturday?" he suggested.

So, we all met up on Saturday.  And guess what?
Santa Jim and "Jingles" (aka Ariana) and NO RAIN!
 Endurance Santa clearly has a little magic 
when it comes to the weather!

I stood behind Monica to take this shot
Santa Jim is new to the whole "photo shoot" gig.  

Fortunately, Monica is a pro.  

Under her deft direction, Santa Jim and Jingles 
Monica directs Santa Jim in the art of holding a book for the camera

and Sirie (aka "horse handler girl") and I (aka "book girl") worked together to create some neat images.

Monica is clearly a yoga master.
This is a pose called "standing tripod"
 To create a neat photo like this:

"Read the part about beet pulp again, Santa!"

requires some very strenuous gymnastics like this:
"Knee-level Tripod" pose
 To minimize excitement while shooting the photos of Santa reading-while-riding, we opted to use an "invisible sidewalker":  
Yes, you can see Sirie in this picture...

Although producing blue sky and natural light is beyond our powers (and way beyond our budget), making Sirie and a rope invisible is just a matter of technology.  

Sirie and the leadrope will magically disappear.
Ain't technology wonderful?

Here's a sample of Monica's artistry, shamelessly stolen from the Triangle Ranch Communications Facebook page.  

You might enjoy the rest of the album titled "I shot Santa", located HERE.

Yo ho ho Ho Ho Ho, y'all!

Friday, November 23, 2012

In which there's sad news from an old friend who's far away but in our hearts

Radio silence from a blogger is rarely good news, and I worried when the friend who writes the Horse Crazy American blog hadn't updated in more than a week.
On the trail at Alpine, 1999-ish
The news is sad:  she's lost Baasha.  Please go visit her blog post and leave a note.  The link is HERE.

Myself, I will always remember Baasha on the day that he and lytha and Madeline rode the Ride and Tie at Cascade must be almost ten years ago, because Mads is now a grown-up lady teaching Social Studies in Texas!
Maddy and Baasha, 2002-ish

In some way, although I know that time has passed and circumstances have changed, to me I think that Baasha and Mads will always be the same as they were that day:  ears up, eyes up, eager for the trail ahead.

Sunday, November 18, 2012

In which Patty needs a horse that's not too tall, not too green, not too nuts...

It's been a long road to travel, looking for Patty's new horse.

Shoulder too steep, length of stride too short
We started back in August, reading Craigslist and Dreamhorse and trying to sort out the horses that were worth driving to see from the horses that are not suitable.

The Village People helped with horse selection, of course.  We spent endless hours combing through conformation photos, text descriptions, and a wide variety of videos.

HINT:  a video should show the horse moving.  Not just the horse's head.  The WHOLE horse.

You would be amazed how many people don't "get" that.

When we found something that seemed likely, a couple of the Usual Suspects would go look at a horse.
Lameness issues.

If we liked what we saw, we'd shoot our OWN pictures and videos and send them to Dory.

If she says a horse is "cute", we gotta go find another horse. 
If Dory liked what she saw, she'd go look.  

If she liked the horse IRL, then we'd send pics and video stuff to the vet.

Jerry has been Patty's vet for more than 25 years.  We trust his judgement.

If the vet liked the pictures and videos, he'd come out and evaluate.

Jerry was an endurance vet for a long time--he is the person who suggested that Dory and Patty might enjoy the sport.  That was a few years ago.

We weren't just looking at the physical, although that was the "first line of defense."  Patty needs a horse that's not only capable of doing the job (endurance), she also needs a horse that is short (so she can get on when she's tired and a horse that is well-sprung to support her poor knees. 
High flight-index
The knee-thing was interesting to me.  My knees are fine, so it doesn't occur to me to want a well-sprung horse.  
Too narrow
I've discovered that a narrow-built horse is much easier on my hips, which are my personal weak-point. Riding a well-sprung horse makes my hips and back ache for days, but riding a narrow horse makes Patty's knees sore.  Who knew?

Too "pony."
Patty isn't looking for a "top-ten" prospect, but she wants to start with a horse who is built sturdy enough for the game.  She's never gotten to shop for an endurance horse before; all her prior mounts have been assembled from parts they had standing around in the pastures at home.
Base-narrow in front (and lame because of it)

I'm not so good at the physical evaluation (although I've learned a lot from the shopping process).  I do look at feet, and crossed several horses off the list when I saw wonky angles or crumbly horn tissue.  A bad trim is correctable, but an endurance horse needs a good basic foot to do the work.

Bad feet
In several instances, we didn't see conformation flaws 
Built downhill/croup high

until we got home and looked at the photos.  
Knock-knees and duck feet

Sometimes, a horse might be physically suitable, but maybe not a good emotional match. 

No emotional connection here.  This is a really nice mare,
and she's still available at SAFE, will make a great dressage
or trail horse for somebody.  But not for Patty.
After contacting more than 80 owners about horses, and actually laying our eyes on 26 animals in two states, we finally have A WINNER:
Say "hi" to River, everyone.

She's Short.  She's Sane.  She's Sweet. And she's (well-) Sprung!

River came from a local rescue after getting hauled out of a bad situation a few years ago.  She is probably about seven years old, and probably mostly but not entirely Arabian.  She can be registered as a Pinto.  Her weight is now good, and her ground-work is good.  She has not yet been started under saddle...that should happen this week!
Smart, personable, food-oriented

And she makes us smile.  

River Wannacookie!