In which Jack expresses his opinions

Jack has been a busy boy recently… each week we have been both a dressage and a jump lesson (that we trailer out for), sprinkling in massage and chiro appointments to keep him comfortable. But still, going from light work to being in a program like that takes some getting used to. The golden boy has changed so much physically that the saddles I got fit to him upon purchase in June no longer are a perfect fit. This plus other things have made him a little sore, so while I’m off to Fair Hill this week he’s going to get some down time. And a reflocked saddle. And a shoulder relief girth. Seriously, the things we do for horses.

opinions, we has them.

One of the fun habits Jack has picked up that has specifically shown me where he’s sore is shoving. Like craning his neck to wherever you are, putting his nose into you, and pushing you with that big noggin of his. While not so charming (and I have been consistently telling him this, to no avail), it has been helpful (silver lining?) in indicating to me exactly his likes and dislikes. Things that will earn you a shove include putting the saddle on, pressing on anywhere sore (i.e, his back), bath time, and tying him in the trailer. Some of this I am attempting to remedy the situation, other times I am forced to tell him how expressing his opinions that way is going to be rewarded with my own opinions- and he isn’t going to like it. We’re still working on communicating with each other, and hopefully after his couple weeks off will instill a better attitude in him.

Documenting Fair Hill 2015 | PC: JP

Meanwhile, Fair Hill. I’m heading up north Wednesday to support a friend in her Young Event Horse competition, and staying through the 3*** and beyond. My plan is to do some photo shoots while I’m in the area, and I can’t wait to see actual sweater weather and all the fall colors. I would love to connect with any other bloggers out there too, so please let me know if we can meet up!

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Musings from the Olympia Warm-up Ring

As part of my night at the Olympia Horse Show in London, I purchased a ticket to go visit the warmup ring backstage. This was essentially a spectator area filled with tables and seating and its own personal bar (which you know I took advantage of on my way out!).

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So before the final class of the day, the 1.55m Martin Collins Christmas Tree Stakes (not to be confused with the Mince Pie Stakes – not kidding), I scuttled down (or rather, up, over, down- very confusing to someone who’d already had a glass of wine or two) to the warmup arena to watch the big names go.

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PS of Sweden made an appearance!

PS of Sweden made an appearance!

I think one of the most interesting things about showjumpers is the variety of tack that they employ. I saw every combination of hackamores, drop nosebands, figure 8’s and double bridle variations, and that was before even looking at the bits. The most popular bitting option appeared to be a gag bit, but I did see a few standard snaffles here and there.

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Other trends included leaving a patch of hair on the sides of the horse (like above), something I hadn’t noticed before in other disciplines but surely to avoid any spur marks that might eliminate an otherwise clear pair.fb-england2016-66-copy

Besides the horses themselves, it was fascinating to watch the riders warmup so differently from one another. Many would take a medium sized oxer (say 3’3″ to my eyes) and then go over a small vertical like below. I would have loved to pick someone’s brain to know the reason for the small vertical, but alas, I never found the opportunity.

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Others, like the horse below, would repeatedly stop their horse in front of the fence. My guess would be to get their horse listening and on his haunches, but again, I really can only speculate.

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As you can see, I took the opportunity to document as much as I could without being absolutely obnoxious, and enjoyed chatting with the other Olympia-goers about their horses and their favorite riders and horses. It was awe-inspiring (because let’s be serious, I am never going to have to prepare for a 1.55m track) and educational to see all the differing approaches in the warmup ring, and amazing to get to see some of the world’s top riders up close!

Lots more photos to come!

 

 

 

A ride through London

After wrapping up my work duties Friday afternoon, I spent the rest of the day searching for the myriad items my family and friends had asked me to bring back for them (lamb stock cubes, Lady Grey tea, mulled wine infuser bags, etc). After successfully finding a grand total of zero of these, I instead girdled my loins and prepared for a very horsey day in London the following morning.

The entrance to Hyde Park Stables

The entrance to Hyde Park Stables

So Saturday morning, I threw on my winter jods, caught the tube, and made my way over to Hyde Park Stables. As I breathed in the smell of horses, I put on my loaner paddock boots and helmet, and filled out paperwork describing my experience level. I was then introduced to my mount for the day, a moustached fellow named Ivan.

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We then mounted up, my tour guide Katie aboard a tall ISH-type guy named Sovereign, and we walked across the road to Hyde Park.

Sadly, they wouldn’t let me wear my GoPro camera, which resulted in a bit of sketchy one handed riding while filming with my iPhone. The GoPro probably would have been safer, but ya know, whatevs. Katie and I chatted about, what else, horses, as we rode around a sadly very foggy Hyde Park.

A rough idea of our path

A rough idea of our path

Katie was a student in London and had previously been a horseback tour guide in Kenya, and while we navigated crowds she regaled me with horror stories of dealing with the un-horsey public and wild animals in Africa (the former of which there were more stories!). At every opportunity, we would break from a relaxing walk into an increasingly brisk (on Ivan’s part) trot, which made the ride way more satisfying than your average ride-a-plug-tourist-ride. Once Ivan realized what we were about, his personality became more and more apparent, and I actually had to ride to keep him from leaving the much taller Sovereign in the dust.

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Crossing the road after catching up to another group

Sadly, the hour long ride was over in a flash, and before I knew it we were heading back to the stables. I loved on Ivan and told him what a good, fun boy he had been and handed him off to the staff (that’s a weird concept!) so he could get a warm mash and stuff his face with hay.

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Being curious about how a stable in the middle of the city works, I then proceeded to hang around like a bad smell and investigate the stables themselves.

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As you can see, they utilize every inch of available space. The horses are either in small stalls or bays and no stall seems to be shaped like the others. Tack and boots are stored over the horses’ heads, and I’m told that at night some of the saddles are removed from more rambunctious occupant’s stalls. The horses don’t have fields, so they are taken out several times a day to stretch their legs and get adequate exercise, and all seemed happy and shiny and full of personality given their jobs. Each horse rotates between working in London and a holiday field where they spend a few months eating grass and getting fat and muddy.

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My ride was a wonderful way to view London and get a reprieve from the busy work week. I think I probably had a stupid smile plastered on my face the whole time, and I would whole heartedly recommend this experience to any horse person who finds themselves needing the smell of a barn amidst the busy London streets!

 

Fair Hill Bound!

I’m packing up my gear and heading on another adventure this weekend- but this time.. with ponies!

While I’m not looking forward to the comparably frigid temps in Maryland compared to the mid 70s we’ve been blessed with here in Carolina this week, I am looking forward to several things:

  • Friends
  • Wine
  • Horses
  • Making new friends (who presumably also like wine and horses)

Anybody from blogger land going to the horse trials? Leave a comment if so and let’s meet up! I’ll be the one toodling around with an adult beverage in one hand and a camera in the other.

Photography Friday: Architecture

I had so much fun going through my archives last week, that I thought I would do a few more posts that include some of my older stuff. I’ve been blessed to have the opportunities to travel quite a bit, and like any good tourist, have documented much of the amazing architecture I have seen along the way. Here’s a sampling of some of that work.

Inverness, Scotland

Inverness, Scotland

St. Michael's, Aldershot, England (this is the church I was christened in, among other events in my family's history!)

St. Michael’s, Aldershot, England (this is the church I was christened in, among other events in my family’s history!)

Sarrastro's, London, England

Sarrastro’s, London, England

Venice, Italy

Venice, Italy

Clifford's Tower, York, England

Clifford’s Tower, York, England

Cinqueterre, Italy

Cinqueterre, Italy

Yorkminster Cathedral, York, England

Yorkminster Cathedral, York, England

Il Duomo, Milan, Italy Not really architecture, I just loved these candles!

Il Duomo, Milan, Italy
Not really architecture, I just loved these candles!

 

We’re off to give my siblings college tours! Hope you guys have a great weekend!

Photography Friday: For the Birds

Today I decided to reach into my archives for some non-equine and non-canine material. It seems I’ve always been drawn to photographing birds, and here are some of the images I’ve captured over the years.

One of my first photos from Design School... Canadian Goose, circa 2008

One of my first photos from Design School… Canadian Goose, circa 2008

 

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Swan at Stourhead Estate, England. Fall 2011

 

Another Stourhead swan. 2011

 

Crows on a fenceline. Stonehenge, England. 2013

Crows on a fenceline. Stonehenge, England. 2013

Have a wonderful weekend!

In which Britt returns from Florida, and goes to Pittsburgh

That’s right, I arrived home yesterday from the land of sunshine and richly costumed theme park employees, and am currently blogging from a slightly more dismal, dank office in Pittsburgh. *sigh*

But let me regale you with my tales from Florida! Warning- there are LOTS of photos in this post!

My best buddy (also a fellow equestrian, who used to join me in terrorizing the hunt country on our Haflinger steeds) and I did Orlando on a budget- which means we took the train down to Florida instead of flying. If you’re curious, it’s 13 hrs by train from NC to FL.

On our way!

On our way!

We got there, then napped (sleeping is somewhat difficult on the train) and decided to save all our energy for the next day- Disney! Now, I haven’t been to Disney since I was little, and really didn’t remember a thing about it, so I was pretty surprised by the level of detail that went into the atmosphere, and many of the special effects were pretty jaw dropping. For instance, I always thought fireworks set to music were nice, but the music would be atmospheric rather than aligned with the visual pyrotechnic display- Disney’s firework show was brilliant- I don’t think I have ever seen timing done so well!

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The next day we went to Universal- the highlight of my trip because I am oh-so-into Harry Potter. Obviously. We arrived as they were getting ready to open the gates, and of course headed straight to Potter land before all the other obsessed Muggles got there and spoiled the fun.

Let me just say, if Disney world was jaw dropping, the effects inside the Castle ride were heart stopping. I still have no idea how they acheived some of the 3D effects they did. It was very well done, so much so that we went for a second trip later in the afternoon.

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Monday we caught some rays (can you believe it was 80 degrees there? paradise!) and then went indoor skydiving! This was possible with a giant wind tunnel, and an instructor will stand on the net and help you get in the correct position so you actually float in the air! The wind is obviously incredibly strong, so you have to wear ear plugs, helmet, and a badass looking flight suit. And, if you walked 2 miles in the blazing sun to get there and you can’t get your rings off because your fingers are like sausages, you also get to wear a glove a la Michael Jackson.

Anyways, the whole floating thing is actually a lot harder than it looks. In order to stay up, you have to relax your spine, drop your waist, bend your legs to a specific degree and hold your arms in a certain way in front of your face (or like me, go for the Thriller pose, embracing the Michael Jackson theme). It sounds easy until you add all the wind and the fact that there is nothing that compares to trying to float in space, so your body has zero idea what is right or wrong! I started to get the hang of it my second time around (we got 2 turns each, 1 minute each turn), but I have a new found respect for the people who do acrobatics doing the real thing! Wow!

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We toasted our new found skills with a glass of wine at Maggiano’s that resulted in a free meal plus dessert (winning!) and hopped the train back to Raleighwood. I got to spend one night with my guy, quickly see Foster, and here I am again in Pittsburgh the next morning! Phew! Lots of traveling, but I am so glad I got to go on such an adventure-packed vacation! Mischief managed!

Liebster Award

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So, about a month ago I was nominated for a Liebster Award by fellow equestrian blogger exechorselover. I came across her blog via a former eq club teammate’s blog and have enjoyed following the stories of her horses (including an Irish mare!) and other fun pets! So thanks, exechorseluver for the nomination!

The award is basically a way to acknowledge bloggers with readership under 200 and recognize new blogs to advance this as a form of social media. At the time of my nomination I had really just gotten into blogging (more than 1 post per month), but now that there are a *few* more people checking out my posts I’ve decided it’s time to act on my Liebster Award!

The rules: 

1. Thank the Liebster Blog presenter who nominated you and link back to their blog.
2. Post 11 facts about yourself, answer the 11 questions you were asked and create 11 questions for your nominees.
3. Nominate 11 blogs who you feel deserve to be noticed and leave a comment on their blog letting them know they have been chosen.
4. Display the Liebster award logo.
5. No tag backs.

Eleven facts about me:

1. I have minors in Italian and Psychology. They do me no good on a daily basis, but it gives me great pleasure to read Italian menus.

2. I have never had a bay or (true) chestnut horse.

3. When I was a kid I used to do Elvis impersonations for fun.

4. I can’t help but pronounce the ‘ia’ in miniature… “min-eeh-ah-chur”

5. Singing is my favorite. People who know me in the real world probably know this. Outside, maybe not. Although I do have lots of hits on a random Christmas song I auditioned with! (warning: it’s super awkward!!!)

6. The Redwood Forest is the next travel destination on my bucket list.

7. HGTV is my jam. Seriously. I love it.

8. I met my husband on a Spring Break cruise in the Bahamas.

9. I was a Girl Scout for 20 years. I have my Gold Award (Eagle award equivalent) and everything.

10. Lasagna is my favorite food. My friends called me Garfield as a kid because I ate it so often.

11. I have the best friends, family, and animals ever! Wouldn’t trade them for anything. ❤ !

Eleven questions to answer:

1.  What caused you to start blogging?
I really started blogging after being inspired by the blogs I was reading- it seemed a great tool for tracking memories and progress on various projects. In my case I thought it would be great to be able to track the evolution of our house from foreclosure to home, and to compare notes in Foster’s training!

2.  What was the hardest thing you have ever walked away from?
When I first entered the job market after graduating I was applying to both design positions as well as working student opportunities (as a dressage rider). I received an offer to work in the UK for a great dressage trainer right around the same time I was offered a full time graphic design position here in NC. I accepted the position at home because my then boyfriend and furbabies were here, but sometimes I wonder what my riding would be like if I had gone! Disclaimer: I do NOT regret staying here, and am so glad I did!

3.   What do you wish would change in your every day life?
I seriously wish I could find the motivation to work out every day! Or even a couple times a week! But unfortunately I like my horse and sleep a lot better than the gym.

4.   If you review your blogs, what are you most passionate about?
Oh that’s easy- horses. 🙂

5.  If you had to start a new blog on a total different subject, or a specific subject what would it be?
I guess I would keep the same blog but rename it something more equestrian related!

6.  What was the best moment of your life?
That’s a toughy. Getting married was pretty fantastic *g*. But I can think of one moment in particular when I was so overwhelmed with happiness that I can’t forget. When we were shopping for my first horse (after graduating from the Haflingers) my mum showed me a photo of a chestnut piebald mare showjumping in England. It was just one photo, and she never mentioned it again, but I was smitten- I memorized her markings and doodled her into every notebook I had daily. Then one morning, months later, we were checking out a new barn I would be training at. We were meandering through the stalls and my mum paused in front of one. I took a peak in the stall and recognized the face- it was the same mare! I asked my mum disbelievingly if it was the same horse and she whipped out a camera and said, “It is! Surprise!” I broke down into a melting gross puddle of happiness. That was Merry, and she was a very special horse to me!

7.  Where would you live if money and family were not an issue?
Europe. Likely England thanks to the dual citizenship or Italy to practice my Italian. That would be grand!

8.  If you could be a superior athlete, what would be your sport?
Oh I would definitely stay in the equestrian world. While I don’t think I have the guts to be a 4* eventer (Training level, maybe Preliminary, will be fine for me!), I could definitely enjoy dressage or showjumping at the highest levels.

9.  What is one trait you wish you had more of that you don’t?
It would be super convenient if I liked coffee. I unfortunately can’t stand the stuff, not even the smell. Would be much cheaper than my red bull addiction!

10.  What is one somewhat unique ability you have that most people don’t?
Can we call it ‘extreme multi-tasking?’ I have a serious GO button that means I am almost often whizzing around and wanting to complete 129,837,498 things at once. I’ve learned from living with different people that not many people are like this. And thank goodness too; I think if I had to chase around after me I would shoot myself!

Or how about being an eventer that truly ENJOYS dressage? That’s definitely unique! 😀

11.  If you had only five books to read (and re-read) for the rest of your life what would two of them be?
Maybe you haven’t read my post about how much I love the Outlander series 🙂
Nerd alert! I also like re-reading Harry Potter, though I haven’t since the last movie came out.
Otherwise I think I could be happy reading anything by Jane Austen. *adding re-read Pride & Prejudice to my list right now!*

Eleven questions for you:

1. A classic- what are two things you just can’t live without?

2. What types of blog posts do you enjoy reading most?

3. If you were a car, what would you be?

4. Name your personal idol and why you idolize them.

5. What is your dream job? Or if you are already in it, is it what you expected?

6. If you had one talent that you didn’t already have, what would it be?

7. What is your greatest accomplishment to date?

8. Chocolate or vanilla?

9. Do you prefer a team sport setting or individual athletics?

10. Where do you see yourself in 10 years?

11. If you could step into someone’s shoes for a day, who would it be?

Blogs I nominate:

1. Schwooch Adventures
2. Marcey Madness
3. Live Laugh Love
4. From the Horse’s Mouth
5. Caroline Eventing
6. Alchemy Eventing
7. Capital Cowgirl
8. Miss Equestrian
9. Equestrian Bitch
10. Vet Gone Eventing
11. Redesigned by M

Thanks to everyone for reading! I hope as more and more people read they leave me comments so I can check in with everyone! It’s also nice to hear what people think about what I’m posting.  And I hope those I nominate will enjoy the Liebster award as much as I!

The new camera

As I mentioned last week, I finally bought a new camera. My old camera was a Nikon D40, and my first DSLR. It took me through my concentration in Photography at the School of Design and has traveled with me all over the world in the 3 years since, amassing over 25,000 shutter clicks in the process.

Camera with a passport: Capri, Italy in 2008 and Loch Ness, Scotland 2013

Camera with a passport:
Capri, Italy in 2008 and Loch Ness, Scotland 2013

Now, I feel like I’ve taken the most beautimous photos ever some pretty great shots with this camera. All of my portfolio photos came from this camera, and everything I’ve taken at work. It is still functioning perfectly. However, there are a couple features I was starting to miss. One was that the D40 can take up to 3 frames per second. In horsey terms, that means if you hand your camera over to someone and ask them to shoot you jumping you might get a take-off, mid-air, and landing shot. If their timing is good. Likewise, when I was at Rolex, there were a couple really epic moments where I would have loved to get 6 shots off as fast as possible, but my D40 just couldn’t keep up. 3 frames per second just isn’t cutting it anymore.

The other thing I was missing was a video mode. Now, I used to not need this, what with iPhones being so handy and what not, and I used to own a Flip (which I think was destroyed by good ol’ North Carolina humidity). But again, especially in the horsey world, there are times when having a nice HD quality video is really helpful.

My Flip’s Last Video

So I’ve been perusing for a new camera, one that can take at least 6 frames per second, with video mode, that won’t break the bank. Enter the Nikon D7000! It may have taken me several ebay attempts to get one, but it’s minnne!

Oh happy day!

Oh happy day!

I am hoping to take it out to the barn or practice with some action shots of Drake to see what I can do… but I’m so excited! Definitely expect more photos soon!