redroanchronicles: Juno - Drowsy (juno)
Today's horse.hack is going to blow your mind. Seriously. This is my best invention ever.

Are you ready? You'd better be ready for this. Maybe sit down. Brace yourself.

I just oversold it, didn't I? You're going to be disappointed. I take back when I said before.

It is awesome though. I would go so far as to say that on a scale of one to eleventy, this invention scores a perfect super-rad.

Okay, here it is. Really. For real.

If your mind isn't blown yet, it's because you don't yet understand the full scope and wonder if this amazing amazingness. Let me explain. This is an IKEA FRAKTA shopping bag. IKEA is of course that well-known wonderland of attractive and affordable Scandanavian furniture and other housewares, that kingdom of fantastically unpronouncable products and delicious, delicious meatballs.

Learn more about this marvelous, versatile and amazingly amazing hay bag beneath the cut! )
redroanchronicles: Juno - Kiss Me (Default)
A few weeks ago we got our first real snow of the winter. It's gone now, a victim of unseasonably warm weather, but while it was actively happening I ventured out with my camera and captured a few photos of Juno and her pasturemate Sienna. You'll find quite a few beneath the cut.

The snow is softly falling )
redroanchronicles: In Harness (in harness)
I was sorting through my "photos to process" folder -- which as it turned out contained folders up to two years old -- and came across a few shots I thought I might share. Today, I have no witty commentary to offer you. The best I can come up with is "OMG WTF BBQ PONIES!"

More photos beneath the cut )
redroanchronicles: Seasons (seasons)
Autumn is by far my favorite season; the combination of the bright fall color on the trees, the sharp bite in the air, the smell of burning woodstoves, the crunch of walking through fallen leaves, the bare branches of the trees, fogging breath and steam rising off the hot springs... there's no end to the natural wonders of autumn. It's got the best holidays (Thanksgiving: it is all about eating!), and the shops start stocking in the best of all possible foodstuffs, like baked goods with pumpkin in them and chocolate oranges and peppermint cocoa. The photo opportunities are endless and pretty much golden. The only thing that would make autumn better was if it was longer; here in the mountains, it seems to be finished practically in the blink of an eye, and I'm pretty sure I'm going to wake up one day soon and there will be a few feet of snow on the ground.

On the other hand, the fleeting nature of the season is pretty good for prompting me to get out of the house and take some photos, before all the spectacular color vanishes until next year. I've been wanting for years to visit one of those pumpkin patches that also has a horse-drawn cart (I don't really care about pumpkins, if I'm honest, aside from caring about how delicious they are), and when I saw one advertised in the newspaper recently, I just had to go. I made a little time on the last weekend of the Chimney Rock Farm pumpkin patch, and drove out to photograph some harness horses, which as a bonus, turned out to be Suffolks, a breed I'm not I've ever actually seen in person before, and definitely haven't photographed.

Beneath the cut: More draft horse photos, fall scenery, and a trip to Piedra Falls )
redroanchronicles: In Harness (in harness)
Awhile back, I went to the local fairgrounds to watch a couple of my coworkers tackle a bit of team sorting. The locals get together every week or so when the weather is good to get some practice putting their horses onto cattle and honing their own cattle-sorting (and counting!) skills.

More photos beneath the cut )

For more images from team sorting at Red Ryder fairgrounds, check out the full gallery.
redroanchronicles: In Harness (in harness)
There are a lot of things that we can learn about ourselves and our horsemanship just from watching horses together in a herd. There are enough books on the subject to fill a library these days, but sometimes it's the simplest things that impress me the most: the way horses cooperate thoughtlessly and easily, as if there is never a reason for lasting discord.

More photos beneath the cut... )
redroanchronicles: In Harness (in harness)
Yesterday morning I visited Pagosa Springs' local horse rescue, LASSO, to take some pictures of their animals... it's about the only donation I can manage these days, my budget is running so close to red. I had a great time hiking around 60 acres of gorgeous forest on the search for a herd of geldings... who we finally found back at the barn, the little devils! It was well worth it when we finally did find them though, because they're a pretty photogenic bunch. (And we had the pleasant company of an entourage of cats as we tromped around the property in search of horses!) The late-morning light started off okay and turned increasingly brutal as the day ticked on toward noon, but I managed a few good shots.

more photos from LASSO beneath the cut )

LASSO is engaged in a hay drive to help support LASSO's own rescues and local horse owners facing financial hardship over the winter. To donate, or for more information on adoptable horses, visit their website at
redroanchronicles: In Harness (in harness)
I've got a whole list of incredibly in-depth, thinky articles I need to write about all the breakthroughs I've been having in my horsemanship and myself. But you know what? I just can't do it right now. I can't even look at the list, much less write any of those things. Some days it's all you can do to drag yourself out of bed, much less make yourself useful. (Upstairs neighbors, please try sleeping at 4am instead of rearranging furniture. WTF are you doing up there, building a makeshift nuclear reactor?) Some days, there is simply nothing for a blogger to do but post links to some horse-related awesome via youtube. Enjoy.

Ever wondered what it's like to ride cross-country, but don't actually want to risk death and maiming like actual event riders? That's why they invented the helmet-cam, I'm pretty sure. Here's Peter Atkins riding at Ocala CCI* 2010.

Klaus Ferdinand Hempfling, with his horse at liberty in the wilderness. I don't know much about Klaus Hempfling, but I've been poking around a bit and I'm kind of fascinated. If I could say nothing else of him, I could say this: unlike basically every other horse trainer out there putting out a video, Hempfling apparently understands the necessity of production values. (Well, okay, Parelli gets that too. But I feel I shouldn't mention them on account of I work there. It's like... favoritism or self-referentialism or... some other word I made up. By which I mean our videos are good and you can buy them.)

Edward Gal aboard Moorlands Totilas put in a jaw-dropping performance at World Dressage Masters 2009. I don't really know much about dressage except that I like to watch it, but you know a pair has finished a nice round when every movement looks both flawless and effortless.

This crazy sport seems like a natural extension of the old British canal-boat horses, except ten times more rad. Yeah, I just used a word straight out of the 1980s. It is RAD, you guys.

A Ride in Middle England: 10 days and 250 miles of horse touring in the UK. I wish I could get Horse and Country TV here in the States. RFD is not nearly as awesome.

This demonstration of garrocha is impressive, and then you notice that he doesn't even touch the reins and your mind is BLOWN.

This working equitation speed test in Portugal is compared in the comments to the extreme cowboy race, only this looks, you know... much more difficult. And the horse is gorgeous, unlike American "cowboy races" where everybody's riding Quarter Horses. I'm sorry, okay? But I just don't like Quarter Horses. I'm prejudiced. I'm a breedist and I think Quarter Horses are the most boring horses ever bred.

The Metropolitan Mounted Police at Olympia. The part where they take off their saddles while riding still impresses me, a dozen viewings later. I am never, ever going to get tired of watching this. Ever.

Lorenzo the Flying Frenchman. You know what? I have to support any guy who calls himself "the Flying Frenchman." That's just too awesome. You're all, "Oooh, that's beautiful, a young man and his horses frolicking in the ocean waves! I wonder why they call him the Flying--" And then you see him roman-riding with six in hand, and you realize that though you may one day be known as a war hero for your sacrifices in the war against the jellyfish (it's coming people, prepare yourselves), you will NEVER be as awesome as Lorenzo the Flying Frenchman. You can also watch his performance at Olympia. I'm beginning to sense that this London International Horse Show is something I need to attend.

Western vs. English showdown! Or is it Western ♥ English? It's hard to tell. It's one big inter-disciplinary lovefest, is what it is.

Do you enjoy the Musical Ride? Of course you do. It's Mounties on horses. What's not to love? If you enjoyed that (and I know you did), you might also enjoy the King's Troop Royal Horse Artillery, which does a Musical Drive, and you know what? Those maneuvers look harder with teams of six and cannons. CAAAAAAAAAANNONS! I'm shouting a lot today, aren't I? It's just because I'm so excited about the cannons.

In other news of awesome videos, some time ago the ex-roommate and I were watching a program of highlights from stadium jumping at Spruce Meadows, and there was a clip of a rider -- I could swear it was Ian Miller, but my google-fu is turning up nothing... maybe it was Rodrigo Pessoa? -- who loses his reins halfway over a very large combination jump, and just goes on to jump without them. It was kind of epic and I wanted to share it, but I cannot for the life of me find any reference to this online. Anyone know what I'm talking about? Got a video link? It was pretty sweet and I want to share it with the world.

And while you're at it: entertain me! (Dance, monkeys, dance!) Share a link to some awesome horse video I might not have seen. I wish to make it my mission in life to watch every single awesome horse video that the web has to offer. It's the sort of job that lasts a lifetime, but as a dedicated student of the horse, I'm okay with that.
redroanchronicles: Juno - Drowsy (juno)
It occurs to me that that last set of photos was kind of formal. I like formal, but sometimes you've got to cut loose a little. Sometimes, I am told, you need to break out the pink paint and glitter and help your horse to be far more fabulous than he has ever been before. Here in Humboldt, we like to do that with the HERO Ride for Life. In addition to being very brightly decorated, the participants are also raising money for cancer research with every lap they and their horses take around the racetrack at Ferndale's fairgrounds. Because I was in Eureka shooting photos of that Pony Club show, I only caught the last hour or so of the Ride for Life, but I still got some great photos of the local horse community coming together for help fund the race for the cure. HEROs of Humboldt, I salute you.

I tried with all my might to get the perfect photo of that last horse -- something about his dark face, dark tack and blue eyes just gave me the shivers in a good way -- but this was the best I managed, and the focus isn't where I wanted it. (Shooting events with a lens that doesn't auto-focus with my camera body is both awesome -- for lo, it zooms! -- and soul-destroying. Oh, the shots I could've had if I were faster on the focus...) Does anyone know this horse and rider duo? (They're also pictured here, in a shot where you can actually see the people.) I'd love to have another chance to photograph this horse.

If you haven't yet had enough pink, there are more photos right over here.
redroanchronicles: In Harness (in harness)
As an equine photographer in the American West, there are some facts of life that I just have to accept. One of those is that most of my opportunities to photograph equine athletes in action are going to also involve ropes, shank bits and chewing tobacco. And I'm okay with that. Honestly. It's just that deep down in my soul, at the very heart of me, there's a little voice crying out for braids and breeches and helmets and a shiny row of neatly turned-out horses.

Thank you, Lord, for the Pony Club. Blessed is the Pony Club, where the photo opportunities are made of solid gold.

I love the Pony Club. I mean, I love the Pony Club. The style of horsemanship they teach is rather more traditional than my own, but I'm constantly impressed that the Pony Club always stays true to its basic mission, which is to make these kids better citizens in the equestrian world, and to require them to have actual knowledge of horse care and behavior, rather than just riding. My fondest wish is that I had been able to do Pony Club as a whippersnapper, but since I didn't have the chance, I'm happy to lend my support to my local Pony Clubs in all of their endeavors. (For any of you who might be reading in Humboldt County, the Lost Coast Pony Club is based in Ferndale, and the new Six Rivers Pony Club is just starting up in Eureka. If anyone has an interest in either club, drop me a line and I'll send you contact details. Or for anyone in any area who has an interest in Pony Club, you can visit the national organization's website to find a club in your area.)

The adults are there to mentor the kids. The kids are there to be amazing.

The horses are there to lend a little class and respectability to the proceedings. They have that effect everywhere they go.

These Pony Clubbers, adults and kids alike, were truly a credit to their organization: the show classes ran like a well-oiled machine, the horses on the whole seemed fairly happy and well-tempered (though I'd love if flash nosebands weren't such a fashion), and I went the whole day without seeing anyone streaking by on an out-of-control horse, striking or otherwise berating a horse, or displaying any of the other forms of bad behavior that sadly I have often witnessed in events all over the west. The adults and instructors were supportive and helpful to their students and fellow Pony Clubbers without being overbearing, and the general sense of good cheer remained steady throughout the day.

If I had a dapper cap, Lost Coast Pony Club, I would tip it to you. Job well done, and you looked darned good doing it. I couldn't have been prouder unless I had in some way made a real contribution to your success. BRAVO.

For more photos from this event, check out the full gallery here.
redroanchronicles: Rhapsody - Gilded (rhapsody)
I'm glad that we had that talk, about my secret love of kids. (Or at least kids on horses.) Now I feel I can be completely honest with you, and that means admitting that although I go to horse shows with the aim of selling parents on prints of their children riding horses, what I really love is taking pictures of just the horses.

I love their faces. I love their manes and tails and the various fancy and non-fancy variations thereof.

I've never been much for bling, but today I LOVE THE BLING, because it makes the photos so interesting.

I love the solid horses, and the paint horses...

I even love the ponies with tiny little people on top.

I love the looks on their faces, and I love imagining what they're thinking. Are they just gliding along, performing by reflex while their minds are daydreaming away? Are they taking mental notes on their latest novel? Are they thinking wistfully of hay fields and sunshine, or are they concentrating on annihilating the competition?

I especially love the details. You might have noticed. I sort of have a thing for the close-up.

[Edit: I failed to mention that you can find the full (very, very full) gallery of images from this latest playday here. I also got some great shots at the previous playday, which you can find here.]
redroanchronicles: In Harness (in harness)
As some of you may know, I am a child-hating curmudgeon.

Okay, that's hyperbole. I admit it. I don't actually hate children. (They're just like people, only smaller.) It's just that I don't understand children. I'm the youngest child in my family, and I didn't have one of those childhoods with younger cousins running around or anything like that. I never dealt with people younger than me, so I basically am just perplexed by them. I have no idea how to deal with kids, and since the bulk of my experience with kids is neighbor children shouting "HI!" at me and then following it up with a stream of undecipherable gibberish, I find the idea of being around children kind of intimidating.

Which is why it's a little odd that I harbor a secret dream to start up a horsemanship program for kids. It all stems from that same basic instinct that adults have to live vicariously through their children, except that I don't want to have children (sure, they can visit, but I want to be able to send them home again), so I want to live vicariously through other people's children. I'd love to see kids have the opportunities that I didn't. (So, logically speaking, I should be starting a mounted languages-music-and-baseball program.) And possibly, I've watched too many episodes of The Saddle Club.

Yes, I know I'm nearly 30. No, I don't intend to stop watching The Saddle Club. EVER.

I like to keep an eye on craigslist and Dreamhorse to see what sort of horses are selling and what prices people are asking. Lately there have been a lot of lovely little ponies selling for a song, and I can't help but think how nice it would be to gather them up in one place and teach children to ride on them. (I also have a secret plan to train BLM burros to be riding mounts for children. If I were rich enough to actually implement any of my plans, my life would become a constant series of hilarious follies suitable for reality television.) Normally, the urge to do insane things like teaching kids to ride horses -- which presumably I would do this a good ten or twenty years down the road, when I've actually turned myself into a good rider -- isn't very overpowering. But then I see something like this.

I shot photos at an equine playday recently at my local fairgrounds, and this young lady was riding this cute little pony. And when it came to the gaming section, the pony made it clear that he was familiar with running barrels, and that he was having none of it. He started to... misbehave. He tried to reinforce every stereotype about ponies ever.

His young rider just took it slow around the barrels, kept her cool, kept her seat, and smiled. Instead of losing her temper, she just held her ground and grinned. I'm not sure if she's a member of our local Pony Club, but I wouldn't be surprised. I would love to one day help create riders like this one, the way that my own riding instructor -- who coaches the local Pony Club -- does now.

And this girl wasn't the only whippersnapper out there riding up a storm, either.

I believe it was mentioned that this rider is only five. Her horse appears to be saint-like. They tackled the flat classes and barrels like they'd been doing it all their lives, which for the rider just isn't a very long time. I do wish her helmet was properly fitted and adjusted, though. See? I have maternal instincts after all.

This poor rider did not have a good day -- her pony bolted with her aboard and there was a collision with a fence involved -- but they were still a pretty adorable pair.

So I'm prepared to admit it.

I like kids.

I am prepared to admit to also liking teens, pre-teens, tweens, and other things that end in "eens." (Maureens?)

And yes, I DO believe the children are our future! I BELIEVE IT!

And I think it's safe to say that the future is pretty photogenic.

And also colorful.

Anyway, I guess all that's left at this point is to "teach them well and let them lead the way," which is where I hope to one day come into the equation. Because obviously, they need me. It's not like they're doing perfectly well without my intervention. If I wasn't there to help them, what would they do with themselves? I mean, besides win ribbons and have a good time and stuff.

Going to shows and playdays and whatnot, I've seen a lot of kids who get into the ring and get that fierce and scary look on their faces that means they aren't entirely having a good time. (That was totally me as a child. I feel their intensely-concentrating pain.) I've also seen a lot of kids who are in the ring because their parents put them there, not because they're particularly excited for -- or ready for -- climbing onto the back of an animal. But I figure if you put them in the ring, and things don't go exactly as they (or you) planned, and they still come out of it looking like this rider? Then maybe the kids are alright, after all.

redroanchronicles: Trudeau's Mighty Brow (trudeau-brow)
This is my dog Trudeau.

He is very regal. Very dignified. Sometimes he says that with great power comes great responsibility, and I can only assume that he knows this from experience.

Or else maybe he's talking about my power to give him dog cookies, and my responsibility to do so without delay.

There are more photos of Trudeau under this cut. )
redroanchronicles: Juno - Drowsy (juno)
When we were boarding in Ferndale, I had the opportunity to turn Juno out into a large pasture. (That was before the pasture was turned into a motocross track. Let us not discuss it.) I always liked to stand and watch her after I'd turned her loose, because Juno isn't exactly what you'd call a high-energy animal. In fact, it would be fair to say that she feels running is only appropriate a couple times a year. But put her out in that field, with a trio of trouble-making geldings all the way at the other end and her more excitable friends getting all riled up with vicarious turnout joy, and that mare could move.

In this post: Juno displays both athletic and culinary prowess! )
redroanchronicles: Juno - Kiss Me (Default)
Becoming an better horseman in this day and age has become a very expensive proposition. Gone are the days, it seems, of apprenticeship and hardy endeavor, of sleeping in the hay loft and learning from ancient horsemen in the school of hard knocks. We've entered the era of the home-study DVD set, the custom-fitted saddle, the month-long workshop and the pre-fab barn. These things aren't bad, but they aren't exactly cheap either.

But you're a different sort of horseman. Sure, you enjoy a good DVD as much as the next person, and certainly you'd love to drop it all and run off for some six-month colt-starting workshop three states away, but you've got bills to pay and horses to feed at home. Your idea of an obstacle clinic is building a PVC maze in your pasture, and when your training stick gets a little dented you'll be wrapping it with duct tape, not running out to buy a new one. You're creative. You're natural, but you're resourceful. And above all, you're practical. Your skills are legendary and MacGyver-like... and if they're not, they will be. Just like our role models, these cleverly-disguised buffalo hunters in cleverly-disguising buffalo-suits, you like to do a job well -- and do it cheaply.

You are my kind of horseman. These horse.hacks are for you. Every now and again I'll be offering little tips on using everyday objects in pursuit of better horsekeeping. Elsewhere on the site I'll be offering information on pasture and facilities management, feed, exercise, training, horse psychology, and just about everything else I can think of, but this particular section is all about what you can do and make for yourself, the budget-conscious horseman's solution to the deluge of over-priced doohickeys that can be found at every horse expo in the nation. So dust off your toolbox, break out that duct tape, watch some MacGyver reruns and get ready for some DIY. First up:

Saddle Pad Storage (also good for wraps, boots, and other cloth items you'd like to keep dust-free, insect-free and dry)
As a boarder, tack storage has always been a bit of an issue for me; the only storage space that accompanies my horse's paddock is the little plastic shed where I store my hay, and there's no room left in there for saddles, grooming kits or anything else. I use my horse trailer's tack room instead, but even that's a dodgy proposition: the always-wet weather here in Humboldt has finally triumphed over the trailer roof and rusted the seams: somewhere in the back of my tack room, there's a leak. Since I know my tack room can't be trusted to be weatherproof, and since in our local rainforest climate a little bit of moisture on cloth turns into runaway mold within five minutes*, I like to keep as much of my equipment as possible inside some sort of protective covering.

Enter the reuseable bedding packaging. When you buy sheets, comforters, drapes, and any number of other cloth housewares in many stores, it comes in a clear plastic zippered case, like the one you see above. Many of us hang onto these and cram them into a closet somewhere because they seem like something that could be useful someday: we found a good dozen of them in my roommate's collection of random stuff while cleaning out a room in our house. This one, which started its life as packaging for a twin-sized something or other, is doing excellent service as saddle pad storage; I've got a single shaped English pad in it now, but there's room enough to fit several more in, and there's even a convenient carrying handle on top. The smaller and more square-shaped packages that often come with sheets are excellent for storing polo wraps, bandages, boots or whatever else you can come up with. (In fact, they're basically the same packaging that many polo wraps are sold in, just a different shape.) Generally these packages are not watertight, so don't expect them to protect your belongings in a flood, but for everyday inside storage to keep moisture, dust, and insects out of your stuff, they're a great solution.

* This is hyperbole. Things do mold incredibly quickly here, though.

Halter Turned Harness

Life with horses never seems to turn out to be life with just horses. Our equine friends tend to bring with them into the relationship a host of associates: dogs, goats, children, that sort of thing. And sometimes these associates get a little unruly. Maybe the neighbor's dog is chasing your horses or your goats (goats being, of course, notorious troublemakers, especially the ones that are members of motorcycle gangs) got out of their pen and are eating all your nice summer squash.

And if you're anything like me, you will of course be completely unprepared for these critter-related emergencies. Sure, you've got supplies in your nearby tack room: neatsfoot oil, a few buckets, a knotted collection of baling twine, but nothing particularly useful. Nothing labeled "in case of goats." (Few things in this life are labeled "in case of goats," unfortunately.) Nothing useful, except maybe that halter and lead rope.

Halters are, as you may know, quite useful for purposes other than putting them on horses' heads. For smaller animals, like dogs, goats, and newborn foals, you can turn them upside down and slip them over the critter's body as a harness, in the fashion modeled in the photo at right by my friend Deefy's very patient dog, Sai. These halter-harnesses make for excellent temporary restraints when you need to get an animal under control, and they also make terrific handles to help you support a young foal that needs help standing and finding mother's milk.

Just turn the halter upside-down, slip the nosepiece around the animal's neck, and buckle the crownpiece beneath the animal's belly. Do note, of course, that halters aren't really designed for this use and it isn't appropriate to, say, use this contraption to walk your dog. But for rounding up a scared stray, restraining a sheep-worrier, getting that foal on its feet or tethering the neighbor kids to the porch (just kidding, but really), a halter's handy in a pinch.
redroanchronicles: In Harness (in harness)

It's possible that I might have a little, teeny, tiny thing -- a fascination, you might say -- for the medieval period. You might assume that it began with Heath Ledger in A Knight's Tale, or even with Kevin Costner (shut up) in Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves, which I must have watched about ten thousand times as an impressionable youth.

I suppose I didn't really realize at the time what an English accent was, much less why Robin Hood really ought to have one.

I mentioned being young and impressionable, I hope.

But honestly, my childhood love for all things medieval goes back almost as far as my childhood love for all things dinosaur. I was merely interested, until I found my library's collection of Arthurian legend and picked up a beautifully illustrated copy of Gawain and the Green Knight, and then I was a goner. It's a fascination I indulge to this day, though the more fantastical elements of dragons and wizards that form the basis of so much fantasy and legend really aren't of much interest to me. I prefer the grit and dirt and head lice of the real thing. I probably should've been a history major.

At any rate, while I've occasionally indulged this fascination with all things ye olde with visits now and again to local Highland Games festivals or Renaissance Fairs, I can't say it's ever really been my scene. It's seemed more within the purview of, well, drama geeks. And while, being a geek myself, I understand and appreciate their enthusiasm, it just didn't make my skirt fly up. I've enjoyed exploring my Scottish heritage at the Highland Games and lord knows I love a good caber toss (not to mention a good kilt), but I never felt terribly compelled to attend another Renaissance Fair as long as I lived.

Until I heard on the radio that Humboldt County has its own medieval fair, the Medieval Festival of Courage. And sure, maybe they aren't big on website design or maintenance, and maybe it's still not really my scene, but they were going to have jousting. With horses. And lo, I was compelled.

Click here for horses and archers and dogs, oh my! )

The Festival of Courage happens in October, so anyone who has an interest in catching it should keep an eye on the usual sources around then for the 2010 dates. For more photos of the event, check out my photography website riiiight over here. You can even buy prints there, that's how awesome it is.

In other news, though stylistically I prefer not to cut-tag my photos, I realize I might be breaking some flists. So I've put them behind a cut tag. If any of you have a preference for cutting or not cutting photo posts, could you comment and let me know? I'm still finding my way a bit with this new blog, but I'd like for it to be a pleasant diversion for you and not a pain in your ass flist.
redroanchronicles: In Harness (in harness)
I love having my horse at a proper boarding facility. It's entirely selfish; Juno is perfectly happy to hang around in a pasture all day, and she has no need of real facilities. But I quite enjoy having round pens and arenas in which to make her work (or, as Juno would probably put it, horribly torture her). You never know how useful it is to have a fenced area in which to isolate your horse until you really need to do it, and even better, at long last I've even found a place where Juno gets her own shed and could, if she ever chose to (which she generally doesn't), get out of all the rain.

Admittedly, I mostly like being in a boarding stable because there are so many interesting horses to take pictures of. Juno's current home is populated by an interesting mix of saddle horses, minis and ponies, one big beautiful draft horse, and a miniature donkey.

This particular miniature horse has a touchably soft winter nose...

...and beautiful blue eyes...

...and on the right side, even the lashes are white.

I have a thing for extreme close-ups, in case you couldn't tell. Here's another of the local minis, Flash:

And another boarder's horse; this handsome young gentleman is a warmblood and does dressage:

I have a huge crush on this gorgeous Percheron mare, Grace. I haven't met her owner, but I've spent a little time leaning over the fence and trying to get Grace to love me. She's a hard one to bring around; she's very interested in people but seems wary at the same time, a little shy. She makes a pretty picture in the fog, though.

I can't seem to get quite enough of these minis. This one is Rudy; he used to be a little terror and very hard to catch, but his new guardian has done great work with him and he's now nearly as friendly as his other little friends.

redroanchronicles: In Harness (in harness)
I know the holidays are supposed to be full of heartwarming moments, twinkling lights and joyous caroling and... whatever. But the truth is that between buying that first present and glazing the Christmas ham, we all go a little crazy. Some people get into brawls with grandmothers over the last available fad toy. Some people... put Santa hats on a bunch of miniature horses and take humiliating pictures.

To be fair (if only to myself), this wasn't really my idea. (It wasn't Flash, Rudy and Rosey's idea of how they were going to spend the afternoon, either.) That blame rests entirely with my friend Kira. Kira is the kind of person who, in the course of her daily life, occasionally thinks to herself, "You know, I should put some Santa hats on some miniature horses." I think that might make her a genius. An evil, evil genius.

This is Kira with one of her horses, Chara. Chara has no winter coat. At all. It's ridiculous. My horse looks shaggy enough to be a muppet, and Chara looks like she's planning on a vacation in the Bahamas.

Rosey doesn't seem to mind this part very much. As I took these photos, Rosey started licking Kira's wrist. Like, a lot. Sure, she looks cute, but apparently she loves the taste of human flesh. This is worrying. I guess miniature horses go a little crazy at Christmas, too.
redroanchronicles: Juno - Kiss Me (Default)
I'd like to introduce you to someone who is very close to my heart.

She's close to my heart pretty literally, most of the time. Especially if I'm sitting on a particularly delicious bit of grass.

I don't know if you realize this, but whatever bit of grass you're sitting on is always more delicious than the rest. I have a theory that it's because your body heat has pre-warmed the grass and therefore made it more tasty.

Or possibly they just like to see if they can get you to move. They want to know exactly how soft your heart is so that they can discover ways to use that to their advantage.

In any event, this is that special someone I wanted to introduce you to. This is my Juno. (No, I did not name her after that movie with Ellen Page, though I like both that movie and Ellen Page. And no, she is not pregnant. Even when she sort of looks like it.) Juno is my horse, and when I say that she is mine what I really mean is that I am the person who is privileged enough to feed her and dote on her and keep her in the luxury to which she has become accustomed.

Juno is somewhere in the neighborhood of 18 years old. I think. Possibly. And she's a mustang, which is awesome, because I'm all about mustangs, and she was wild until she was about 10 years old or so, which I always like to tell people because it totally makes me sound impressive.

Here on this shiny new blog, I'll be posting a lot about Juno and our various shenanigans, so here's what you need to know, in a nutshell: Juno is my best friend. She's a work in progress as a horse living in the human world, and I'm a work in progress as a human trying to open some meaningful lines of communication with a horse. We're getting there, and we've already reached some big milestones. (The biggest one, I think, was when Juno decided I wasn't half bad. It kind of all falls into place from there.) We've got more work to do, and I hope you'll come along for the ride as I natter on about training and share epic and overzealous photo essays and perhaps write a haiku or two about just how soft Juno's nose is.

Because it really is incredibly soft. And kissable. And expressive and wiggly and fuzzy. And it smells of grass. Just look at it, and admit it to yourself: you are helpless to resist the power of that nose.


redroanchronicles: Juno - Kiss Me (Default)

August 2011

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