Monday, September 1, 2014

Mystyc

My mother used to tell people: "Jennifer hasn't met a horse she doesn't love."  

I suppose that's true in a general sense, but in all my years of riding, I've only been truly, deeply, passionately in love with a small handful of horses.
Mystyc is not on that list.
Don't get me wrong.  There's a lot to love about Mystyc.  She's a good girl, a sweet girl and a really pretty girl.
She hasn't been an easy horse for me...
 but from our first ride...
to our last...
it's been a mostly good eight months. 
As it turns out, eight months is all it's going to be.
At this time last year, Mystyc was for sale.  Her owner took her off the market after I started leasing her, but I always knew that she could be for sale again if the right home happened to come around.  
Now it has.  As of yesterday, Mystyc belongs to a teenage girl who is already truly, deeply, passionately in love with her.  I wish them both the best.

Sunday, August 31, 2014

Prop days

Weekends have become prop days.  Last weekend's project was overly ambitious and remains unfinished.  This weekend I decided to try something a little simpler.
This might find its way into Jenni's scene class entry...
or it could be used in an ice bucket challenge.  Only time will tell!

Saturday, August 30, 2014

Knot-head

Tiffany sent this progress photo, complete with a creepy sweet note from Jose, a couple days ago.
Any normal person would have been delighted, but like Snickers, I am a knot-head.  I couldn't warm up to that extremely vertical headset.  Snickers was a such an opinionated pony.  Even when she was on her best behavior, that nose was out at least a little bit.  
I played around with it in Photoshop, and then I broke the news to Tiffany:  Snickers needs to be decapitated.
Fortunately, Tiffany is as awesome... 
as Jose is creepy.
I like this so much better.  That four degrees really makes a world of difference!
Sorry about being such a knot-head, Tiffany.  
Snickers and I will try to behave better from here on in!

Friday, August 29, 2014

Quarter Horse racing

In addition to owning the world's best cowpony, my friend Andrea works an editor for the Q-Racing Journal.  In honor of this weekend's All American festivities, she offers this look at the sport of Quarter Horse racing.  Thanks, Andrea!

Quarter Horse Racing

by Andrea Caudill

Quarter Horse racing is a niche sport within the world of horse racing, but is practiced around the world. It is most popular in the United States, Mexico and Canada, as well as South America and Australia. The “drag racing” version of horse racing, Quarter Horses run very short distances at very high rates of speed. Typical races are 220 to 870 yards. The most popular races are 300-350 yards, but the “classic” distance is 440 yards – a quarter mile – and where the Quarter Horse’s name originates from.

The best horses can hit a top speed of 55 miles per hour within a sprint race. Unlike Thoroughbred racing, Quarter Horse racing is timed from the instant the gates open (Thoroughbreds get a running start). The world record for 440 yards is :20.274.
Ruidoso Downs, in the mountains of Southern New Mexico, is one of the premier Quarter Horse tracks. These photos were taken during the All American trials. In Quarter Horse racing, for some of the prestigious stakes races, owners pay periodic nomination fees on young horses to nominate them to the stakes races (in this case, the All American Futurity and All American Derby), starting when the horses are weanlings and continuing as they get older. If they’re still nominated, to get into the stakes race, the horses must run trials. The ten fastest times from these trials get to compete in the stakes final. The All American Futurity is worth $2.6 million, and about 280 horses competed to earn one of 10 slots to race in it. The final is always on Labor Day.
Handsome Jack Flash, who won last year’s All American Futurity and was running in this year’s Derby trials. You can see how close he is to the Smarty Jones mold! He’s earned $1.48 million for his owners/breeders, and he is a sweet fellow.
The finishes in QH racing are often close. Here is a good example…there are 3 horses in this photo (can you find them all?)
The tack can range from, as in this case, minimalistic – just a bridle with a flash noseband and saddle….
….to blinkers and racing wraps….
….sometimes even a nasal strip (as made famous by California Chrome!)…. 
….and something called a flipping halter, which you can see hanging underneath this horse’s head. The gate/break is very important in QH racing. They run a rope through the ring in the flipping halter to keep the horse from rearing or getting unfocused. Obviously the rope comes out when the horse breaks from the gate.
A closeup of a pretty head and a racing bridle.
Morning gallop.
Another morning gallop.
Please visit www.aqharacing.com for more information about Quarter Horse racing. There is a link that leads to the All American page with news, photos and bios of the qualifiers, and www.qracingvideo.com is available free through Labor Day so you can watch some Q racing free of charge!

Thursday, August 28, 2014

The Book

Earlier this summer, I had the great pleasure of judging the Original Finish Performance division of the 2014 MEPSA International Championship Show.  Today I received a copy of "The Book" as a thank you for all my hard work.
The Book's main purpose to provide results to all the Championship Show competitors.  
It does this in fine style, with pictures of all the champions. 
Mostly, though, The Book is one hundred and twenty eight pages of model horse hobby awesomeness.  There is something for everyone, including fiction, breed and artist profiles,
tutorials, 
and a wonderful how-to by my friend, Anne Field, who is also the editor of this amazing publication.
One of my favorite things about the model horse magazines of yesteryear was the ads.  The Book has those, too...
and they are wonderful!
This Book, like MEPSA itself, is truly first rate.  I am proud and honored to be their Featured Artist for the 2014-2015 show year.
Kudos to Anne Field and all the other members of the MEPSA Board on another great year of photo showing!

P.S. The MEPSA Championship Book can be purchased at Lulu for the extremely reasonable price of $34.

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Confessions of a messy tackmaker

It's been a long time since my work desk has been this clean.
I found Erin's missing bridle... 
but I still haven't found what I was looking for.

Monday, August 25, 2014

Snickers

I met Snickers the day I returned Cinnamon to Tom Sawyer Day Camp.  It was 1983 and I was fourteen.
One of my classmates had leased Cinnamon during the previous school year.  By December, she'd lost whatever interest she'd had in riding, and I had taken over Cinnamon's care.  It had been a wonderful six months, and the only thing that made losing Cinnamon bearable was the fact that I, too, was going to spend the summer working at Tom Sawyer.
At that time, the Tom Sawyer horses were boarded in a pasture at Flintridge Riding Club in La Canada, California.  There were nearly thirty horses in the pen, but my eye was immediately drawn to little Appaloosa pony.  Her bright chestnut coat was heavily roaned, making her look almost pink.  She lifted her head and fixed one white rimmed eye on me.  My heart skipped a beat, and I thought, "Oh, if only Dawn had leased that one!"
Immediately, I banished that traitorous thought.  Cinnamon was such a nice pony.  I would never wish away my time with her.  Besides, on closer inspection, the new pony wasn't all that special.  She was really small with a common head and a ewe neck.  She wasn't nearly as pretty as Cinnamon.  No pony was.  Cinnamon was the best.
All of that was true, but still...  I couldn't stop thinking about the roany pony.  She was the first horse I asked about when camp started the next week.  

"Oh, that's Snickers," Ginger told me.  "She's a knot-head."

That seemed to be the general consensus.  None of the returning staff had anything good to say about Snickers.  Because I desperately wanted to fit in, it wasn't long before I, too, adopted the party line.
And you know, she kind of was a knot-head.
But... I like knot-heads and secretly I continued to like Snickers.    
As the summer drew to a close, prospective leasers came to try the camp horses.  One by one, all the "good" horses found winter homes.  Cinnamon was one of the first to go.  That was no surprise.  She really was a nice pony.  
Fortunately for me, Snickers was not a nice pony.  She was a knot-head, and no one wanted to lease a knot-head.  Eventually she and the seven other unclaimed camp horses were trailered to their winter home at Siason Stables in Duarte.   I went with them, and for the next nine months, Snickers was mine.
To be continued.