More Photos

I have been as busy as busy can get recently, with back to back to back to back events, working all day and working horses at night.

Luke, Chewbacca, and Jesse are working hard or hardly working, lol.  They are doing wonderfully.

Chewie & Luke have nothing in the plans for the near future.   There *is* a small fun show I would like to take Chewie to, for a good experience with some different classes like cones, driving poles & barrels, and a few others, but I’m not sure I’m going to attend.
Jesse may have a show in less than a week.  So far, it seems like it’s on the books, but the classes are the last of the day, so time and of course weather, will be relevant factors.  I can’t show at 8pm and then expect to get up for work the next morning!  Because of course the show is Sunday. I DO want to go, so we’ll see.

Luke has an appointment at the vet tomorrow for a bit of a work up.  More on that later.

In the mean time, I went out and stretched my camera’s muscles, and put my new 500mm lens to work!  I got very lucky catching a couple of shots of some interesting animals!

Friday night I went out to a local state park that really is a favorite place of mine to go.  I would love to try camping out there overnight sometime.
Many times when I go, I am disappointed that I see very little in the way of animals, but Friday night was wonderful seeing all kinds of new critters that I have not seen at the park before.  In fact, one of them, I’ve never seen in my life!

Driving around, we spotted a gaggle of geese, and not far from them, something didn’t look quite right:

pheasant

Holy cow!  A pheasant… just walking along the road doing his thing!  Yay!

groundsquirrel

We pulled into a parking area and noticed a little critter rooting around in the grass.  Is it a chipmunk we wondered?  A ground hog?  A weird bunny with missing ears?
I had never seen a creature such as this little guy.  I was very happy to be able to get within a good distance (about 30 feet or so) and get some photos of him at 500mm.

Afterwards, I checked out Google and found that this critter is called a Thirteen Lined Ground Squirrel.  How about that?  A new one for me, for sure!

bunny

Standard issue rabbit.

egret egret2

Also got about 40 feet or so away from an egret  before I spooked him and he flew off.  Still got some nice pictures.

 

lamplight1 lamplight2

lamplight3 lamplight7

lamplight6  lamplight4lamplight5

Just a couple photos to share from the Grand Prix jumper event.   I love going to at least one of these a year.  This particular facility hosts 2, each a week apart.  The last week of July and into the 3rd week of August there are fairs running back to back on top of each other, and I’m going to try to attend at least 2.  Somehow I doubt I can make it to all 4, but I am going to try to do some photos and maybe  you will see a cow or two pop up.

On the way out of the showgrounds, I found a swallowtail in the horse path, sucking water, I assume, from the wet sand.

Such a pretty thing!

swallowtail

 

Have a great day and stick around for more updates!

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Massive Photo Overload

OK… I advise you to sit down.  Well, OK, you probably are.

I have definitely been checking off things on my list of goals to accomplish this year, and although some of them failed, like Andy, for the most part, I’d go so far as to say I’m doing pretty darned well this year with doing all the things I had wanted to do, saving for the things I want to save for, and I am definitely getting in the practice photography in overwhelming heaps and loads.

It seems like everything happens all at once, and this weekend was one of the busiest weekends of the year, with back-to-back-to-back events.  In the week before, I did some general practice photograph with my macro attachments, and I got a new lens.

This update is going to be long and picture heavy, so let me start back at the ‘ginning.

With Andy having been sent back to his selling party, I was very disappointed.  Although I do feel like I can train another pony to drive, and I am sad to see Andy gone, as he had a lot of good qualities, I did have to make the decisions I feel best for me, and I stand by my choices.  Although I had hoped to train him, sell him, and use that sale to help fund my truck, I ended up instead taking what I had left and buying a new lens, (which totally blew my truck fund to smithereens, but I remain undeterred mind you).

newlens

I wanted something with a longer reach for photographing wildlife…  so meet my all new Sigma 150-500mm 5-6.3 lens.  It’s not a “high end” lens, it’s just longer, and the price was a lot bigger, too, lol!

 

blackbird  egret

Both of these shots were the first day I went out with the lens, and both were taken at 500mm.

In comparison,

blackbird2

This photo was of the same black bird, in the same location, with my 300mm lens, from about the same distance.

I still need to spend more quality time with my new lens, but I did just get it not long after the holiday.

Also not long after the holiday, I got up close and personal with a Falcon, and no, it wasn’t at the zoo.

In fact, on my way home from the barn, which I happened to leave a little early that evening because I did not drive all 3 horses.  Poor Jesse, he keeps getting skimmed over.  How odd that I don’t drive the 3 I have all in one night, yet I want a 4th to train, right? LOL!

Anyway, on the way home, I noticed a large raptor on the side of the road. I couldn’t tell as I drove by, if it was a hawk or what, but it was rather odd that it was just standing there on the shoulder and not moving, so I pulled over and investigated.  When I walked up to it and it didn’t flinch, I realized it was injured.  Badly.  So I went back to the Jeep, grabbed a spare T-shirt I just happened to have, and..

falcon

… because what else do you do when you find a falcon on the side of the road?  Catch it and bring it home (under a T-shirt, and stick it in a cat carrier).  I called a local bird rehab facility and brought it over there.  They identified the falcon as a large adult female Cooper falcon and it was severely injured.  It had exposed bones in its wing, a broke beak, and it’s right eye was bleeding.  I sure hope it lived, but it was definitely in deep shock and critical condition when I took her to them.

Not even a full week later, I was out driving Jesse along that same stretch of road and had an interesting encounter with a none-too-happy snapping turtle in the middle of the road.  Just picture me, using my driving whip, trying to “herd” the mean turtle that’s trying to rip the whip out of my hand, while holding Jesse, in the middle of the street.  Thank goodness there was no traffic at all that morning, but what an adventure that was.  I did manage to get Mr. Mean Turtle off to the reeds along the shoulder.  Turtles do not herd.

That weekend and all of last week zipped by all too quickly for my taste, but it led me to this weekend, and all kind of photographic adventures.

flower2

This I took in my garden with my macro attachment.  I need more practice with that macro lens, too, but I need to find suitable small things to take!

Then, the next evening, I went to a fair and rodeo about an hour away and had a blast….

lion bengal liger

There was a show there featuring a trick performing lion, white Bengal tiger, and a liger.  Lovely cats!  I love big cats.  It would be a dream of mine to handle or even work with big cats.

As the evening rolled on, the rodeo began, and it presented a whole new type of photographic challenge.

rodeo3 rodeo2

rodeo1  bull1 bull2 bull3 bull4

Fun times!  It was extremely difficult getting the photos to come out at that time of night, with action, and very little ambient light.  It was the first time I’ve ever had to bump my ISO up as far as it would go.  What a challenge!

After the rodeo, I spent some time taking photos of the fair rides, and playing with long exposures!  I LOVED practicing on the bright neon lights of the rides – certainly not often that I get a chance like that either!

ride1 ride2

The following morning, I really wanted to get out and see some Grand Prix level dressage at a show venue about an hour away as well.  Yes, I did a whole lot of driving this weekend.

dressage2 dressage3

dressage4  dressage5

Dressage is just lovely, and dressage horses are truly amazing.  Especially at the Grand Prix level.   Really it was a wonderful treat on a beautiful day to go out and take these photos.  And then, I headed to the barn and drove Chewbacca and Luke.

dressagehead   dressagehead2

(before)                                                             (after)

Here’s another little before and after shot comparison too.  Not long after I first got the camera (a gift from my dad for a birthday), which I think was maybe in 2007, I went out to that same facility and took some dressage show photos.

So, my “before” image was from then, and I was so thrilled with that head shot.  I thought it was the bestest greatest most awesome equine photo evah!  I proudly presented it to my photography club, posted it online, and even entered it into the County Fair that year.  I was saddened that it only won 4th place, and that the people in my photography club did not care for it.  I simply did not understand what the faults were that they were seeing in the image, telling me words like “dark”, “soft”,  “loss of detail”.

Well the “after” image is from Saturday’s show.  Slight improvement, yes?  And yet still, plenty of room for improvement at that.  I would like less shadowing under the horse’s eye, but it’s a crisper, brighter image the clarity is worlds apart.  I highly doubt it’s the same horse, but who knows.

And my photographic adventures do not end there!  Sunday morning I was up pre-dawn’s crack (that would be 4am) to drive 2+ hours to another driving event. I “enlisted” to volunteer, and had the camera handy too.

On the way up, I pulled over to the roadside to take this image across a cornfield

sunrise

Not one of the best images ever, but I do like it…. and the fact that I was conscious enough to take it at just after 5am is amazing.

Just a couple photos from the driving event to share…

cde1 cde2 cde3

Fun times!

Next up will be a jumper Grand Prix next weekend, and possibly a horse show with Jesse at the County Fair… so stay tuned!

 

 

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How Not To Drive CDE

If you haven’t seen this, definitely take a look:

 

In other news, the horses are doing great.  Things will be very busy for me over the course of the next 3 weeks, and you should be seeing plenty of pictures as a result.  I have a rodeo and dressage show in the plans, and I’m volunteering at another CDE, but I won’t be in a position to take photos unfortunately, which is a bummer.

After that, there’s a couple fairs I want to attend, a jumper grand prix, a horse show or two myself possibly 1 with Jesse and maybe with either Chewie or Luke, and who knows what else all coming up in the next few weeks.  Wow!

Stay tuned!

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Horse Show Photos

As typical with me, no updates for a while and then updates every day.

Just wanted to share some of the photos from the show I volunteered at.  Just a couple pics of some of the competitors.  Another show on the agenda in 2 weeks.  Sure hope maybe next year I can actually compete at these myself!

donna1 fjord pair1 pair2 pony1 pony2 pony3

And just for good measure, forgot to post these yesterday.  The boys all working Sunday.

jesse1

Luke1

Chewbacca1

 

 

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Zoo Photos

I hope you all had a lovely Fourth of July Holiday weekend (a long weekend, hopefully for most).

My weekend was tremendously long, involved a lot of driving, and yet amazingly I am not  terribly exhausted, so I must be doing good!  I do feel a bit “dazed”, like how the heck did I fit so much into just a few days, but none-the-less, it is amazing what one can accomplish when you need to.

Thursday night, we brought Andy back.  It was very sad that the first (I hope not last) resale project I took under my wing really seems to have had some bad history.  I’ve been thinking long and hard about my choices with him, and hoping I make the right ones.  Yes, I’m second guessing myself a little – did I give up on him too soon?  Maybe with a few months work he would have been OK…  But ultimately, I do think sending him back to his seller was the right choice for me.  Andy was very fearful and panicky, to the point of bolting and bucking.  I believe he would be a very dangerous horse to drive, far too touchy and afraid.   I believe, having been Amish started, he probably has not had good experiences driving, possibly has been wrecked, and ultimately may have needed a good 6 months turnout before trying again.  I’m not set up to handle that.  I do believe it was in my best interest to send him back.  I hope to get a project pony (take II) next year.

So, our Andy adventure took over 7 hours, when it should have been around less than 5.  I guess I can thank rush hour commute, the night before a holiday, and major construction zone back ups for adding 2 1/2 extra hours to the drive back.  Next pony will hopefully be closer (or delivered!) LOL!

Ugh.

Somehow amazingly, I was still conscious after returning home at nearly midnight, and on the morning of July 4, we got up and took a trip to a zoo.  I finally got to photograph a Bald Eagle!  I’ve been wanting to photograph one all year. …

 

be 1

 

be 2

elephant 1 elephant 2 elephant 3

flamingo

sea lion

tiger paw

vulture

ziplinging

.. I also went ziplining.  The zoo had a small zipline course.  It was fun, but small.  The world looks tiny, though, when you are suspended from a 35 foot line, I tell you!

After spending the whole day on Friday at the zoo, I got back up before dawn on Saturday July 5 and headed another 2 1/2 hours away to volunteer at a horse show.  Cross another goal off my list.  I was timer on cones, and timer on a hazard in the marathon in the afternoon.  I was in the perfect situation to take photos of every competitor, and I’m working on getting through those photos so keep an eye out.  The show went smoothly, only one turn over (note to all – do not use gigs for cones.  Seriously.  Just don’t.), and the weather was beautiful, almost cool, which made it nicer for the hardworking horses, I’m sure.
Sunday I went to the barn (admittedly not as early as I usually do) and drove all 3 horses.  And I have to tell you a little story (speaking of using my heart to judge how well Andy was going to turn out as a *SAFE* driving horse).  Safety is key with a driving horse – they MUST be tolerant and accepting.  Just like the turnover from the show – that pony just stopped and waited until everything was reorganized.

Having one that is so fearful they start shaking, and acts traumatized when something brushes against its hips, sides, or back legs is not a good indication of a safe driving animal.  Likewise, having one that is tolerant of mistakes, problems (like a turnover) or equipment malfunctions, and will still safely do its job (or stop as necessary) is really the difference between a safe driving horse and not a safe one. It’s the difference between a damned good horse and a horse that’s going to get you (or someone else) killed.

As I tried to evaluate Andy over the last few weeks, I thought long and hard about such things, and did a lot of comparing to how Chewie & Jesse were to teach to drive.  Jesse was pretty darned wild when I got him.  He was skittish, impossible to catch (think 2 people, a “containment area” and a lasso), and really just generally had no idea how to be a working little horsey.  Jesse made improvements in leaps and bounds and was driving in about 6 weeks, with 3 days’ a week work.  He’s gone on to be one heck of a pleasure, show, and all around driving horse.

Sunday when I took him out for a drive, I did notice he was chomping the bit a little bit, which is unusual for him.  We were out on the road, we trotted along just fine, stopped as needed, and walked, and had a pleasant, problem free drive.  When we returned to the barn, and I went to unhitch him, it was only then that I realized he had flipped his bit under his tongue.  OK, it’s not as impressive as the Grand Prix horse who jumped bridleless after his bridle fell off during a round. but still, it’s the point of a truly great horse – one that works through equipment failures.  Luke did it for an entire drive through a major equipment issue, and now Jesse did too.  Never putting a foot out of line.

Everything with horses is hit or miss.  Not every horse works out.  Sometimes you get good ones.  Sometimes you get GREAT ones.

The rest of Sunday, I pretty much passed out and don’t really remember much.  I think I went to bed while it was still daylight.  Somehow, I’m making it through the start of the week without feeling too much like a zombie off the set of Walking Dead.

Keep an eye out for more photos!

 

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The Master of Would-Be Half Brained Ideas

Oh, it’s almost embarrassing all the half-baked silly ideas I’ve had over the years to earn a little extra side $… absolutely NONE of which really produced for me.  There are things I want in life very much – a truck & trailer being #1 on that list.  Of course I want a farm, but lets face it, a truck & trailer is more realistic out of the whole list of unrealistic desires I have.

2014 was going to be “my year”.  It was the year I was going to make thing happen.   Well, like so many other things that do not pan out in real life, at least I can say 2014 was the year ” I tried “, right!?

I’m still working through my list of goals, although they are always changing and evolving.  Maybe a truck & trailer fund isn’t so realistic for me this year, but a nice new long range zoom lens could be!

Unfortunately, Andy, the pony I brought home to (try) to train and resell, after 3 weeks, I came to the hard conclusion that he lacks the skills I need in a safe, trustworthy, driving pony.    Neither Chewbacca or Jesse were easy to train.  In fact, after spending 4 months teaching Chewie to drive, I said I was not going to train another one.   That didn’t last long when I decided a month later to crack out Jesse – which involved roping him to catch him.  I think I did OK with them both, in the end, didn’t I?  ;)

I got my feet wet again with started but green horses when I spent a good part of 2013 adding miles and getting a rank Haflinger and a somewhat edgy Belgian a little further in their driving.   I have been itching to get a green pony again to train, and I guess I have very high standards as I look at Chewie & Jesse – not only what they are now as broke experienced horses, but also as what they were when they knew nothing about how to even long line.

Andy did not meet my needs, and I went with my gut on him (which I so often ignore) and decided not to press his driving work.  He was already broke to drive, I was told, but he was very fearful, to the point of panic and bolting (and falling down) about having shafts on him.  Thankfully I have fake shafts for this very reason.  A broken $2 piece of PVC is much better than a destroyed cart or a hospital bill!

Since this was going to be my first resale project, with the intent of selling the pony on to a new (potential beginner) owner, and given his fear, shaking, and panic, about the movement, feel and sight of poles on him, I opted to return him to the seller, so he is gone.
And with him, also gone is the notion of getting another project pony (at least this year) because it’s already July.

Such are the struggles of someone working to support her horse habit and show desires without a second income in the household.  Such a bummer, but I press on.  I remain undeterred, though – I am still eyeing up pony sale ads, and already thinking about getting one in the spring.

I had a lot of fun working this one on the long lines – I absolutely LOVE long lining, and watching Andy work, learn, and evolve on the lines was super cool and super rewarding.  Next year I will hope to find a pony that can handle “step 2″, pole dragging, in a safe manner without panic, after weeks and weeks of prep time.

Chewbacca and Jesse both turned out exemplary.  Neither of them became fearful of their intended job – sure they had moments of confusion, but never outright panic, kicking, running, spinning, rearing, bolting…  And both have gone to do anything and everything under the sun.  I realize they (and Luke) are exemplary equines and truly something special, but I also believe what I ask isn’t too hard and there should be no reason I can’t get a project pony to bring along that can do it.  Like any good partnership, it has to be the right partner and not just for me – for whoever would buy him.  I’ll just keep an eye out – in the mean time, I think a new lens is in order, so more on that after a particular eBay auction ends.

In addition, I have some different plans for hauling myself to shows, since clearly saving the required $$ to buy a Yukon and a new horse trailer is a long, long, long, long, long shot.  It was never in my plans to buy a truck (and trailer) this year.  It was always my plan to use this year to save and spend my horse time training a new one, and volunteering at shows – and I am doing exactly all of those things.  Well, OK the training did not pan out, but I’m still saving (although I’m going to splurge some of those savings on a very expensive lens), and I’m volunteering at shows.

In fact, I have a show to volunteer at tomorrow, so expect photos! Possibly I will compete in 2 actual shows in August… heat dependent.  The heat is killing me!!!!  Talk about sucking the life out of me.  Yikes.

I am also going to try to get some firework photos off the lake tonight, if I have the energy, and I’m taking a little field trip for the 4th – so the next couple days will provide a ton of photography practice.

Stay tuned!

 

 

 

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Six Month Driving Hours

I can barely believe what a year this has been so far, AND that it is more than halfway done, too! Yikes!

I recently counted up my driving hours so far for the year, and they are quite sad.  My ADS hours are due in November, and I only needed 7 more hours to hit my 250 hour goal, so I do have that.  Normally, I manage to get in about 120-130 driving hours each year between March/April through November when I stop for the year.

Having 3 single driving horses helps with that!  LOL!  No shortcuts in my driving hours by hitching up multiples.  I have to take everyone out by themselves, and sometimes (when I start early enough and have the time) I will take them all out for 45-60 minutes.  That’s a LOT of driving in one day, and it’s rare that I do it — and it shows.

So far, I’m at only 30 hours this year.  At this rate, it is highly unlikely that I will even hit 100 hours this year, let alone 120 or 130.

That is a bit of a bummer, knowing that I am literally not spending as much time with my horses as I would like to, but I am still spending that time productively and working, working, working!  Working towards goals as always… and speaking of goals…..

My little annual “tradition” that it seems to be becoming is to do a 6 month re-check on my goals for the year and see if I have achieved any of them.  So, here goes – from January 1 post:

* Volunteer at some or all of the regional ADS shows

- Columbus Sleigh Rally  – Done!  Fun!  COOOOLD, but Fun.
– Notara Farm HDT (July) – on the  books!
– Hickory Knoll CDE  –  still to come (July)
– Indiana CDE   — probably not, it’s like a 5 hour drive.
– Villa Louis Carriage Classic  – Still to come (September)
– Columbus Carriage Classic — unfortunately that is this Father’s day weekend, and I cannot manage to get out there.
– Skunk River HDT –  Maybe?…
– Kentucky Classic CDE  –  still on the books!  Fingers crossed!!! This one is in October.
– National Drive — the week following the KY Classic – probably not going to happen.

* Possibly volunteer at some local shows that I used to compete at, too
– Spring Grove
– Boone Co 4H show

Well, I have not yet helped out at Spring Grove.  The Boone Co. Show falls on the same day I’m already booked as a volunteer elsewhere, so that’s out too.

 

* Buy a project sale pony, train to drive, and resell
* Buy a truck
* Buy a trailer

Well… I did get the project pony, now to get him trained and sold.  The truck & trailer probably won’t be on the docket this year, but I sure am keeping my fingers crossed for next year.

So… all in all, I would actually say I’ve met my goals so far for this year, because a lot of the shows don’t occur until the 2nd half of the year.  I was able to convince my hubby to get me out to 1 park this year, so that was awesome to go to!

I guess on my “goal” list I did not mention anything about photography, but I have certainly been managing to hit those goals, too.  I’ve purchase 2 new lenses this year, and a bunch of filters, add ons, and attachments.  I’m entering the largest number photos ever into 3 fairs this year, which is totally new for me:

1 entry to the Illinois State Fair
15 entries into the Wisconsin State Fair
15 entries into the McHenry County Fair.

I’m really looking forward to seeing if I get any results from that.  I’ve been getting out on to nature walks once, if not twice a week.  I’m trying to get out in the early mornings as well as the evenings.  I’ve actually left the house at 430am to go shoot photos.  I’m playing with macro photography and trying to get a little more into landscapes, too.  I just need to find some new locations!

I have plans to photograph at one horse show before June is out.  I’m not sure I have time to do more than 1, but I’ll try if I can.

I also need to add to my goal list that I would like to try to get Andy ready for a show on August  3rd.  Given that he is already broke to ride & drive, I don’t think this is a stretch.  If I’m going to sell him as a show pony, I would like to get him to at least 1 show before I list him!

And, without further ado, here are some photos of all the horses (no not together, they have not met yet).

Andy having a good roll after unloading:

andy1 andy2

 

 

And the rest of the bunch playing around in the arena over this past weekend:

chewie chewie2 dixie dixie2 Jesse jesse2 luke&chewie luke lukenchewie sayinghi

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