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: 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: 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: In Harness (in harness)
People often ask me how I wound up with such a robust and vigorous imagination. Okay, nobody's ever asked me that, actually, but if they did, I would tell them that the strength of my mind's eye, as it were, depends at least in part upon the weakness of my actual eyes. I have horrible eyesight, you see. Beyond just making me stumble over things in the morning and contributing to my ability to get hopelessly lost by making it difficult to read those tiny little street-name signs, the general problem with my eyesight is that it turns much of the world into a mystery to which I will never know the answer. Luckily my brain, being accustomed to being constantly deprived of real information, has learned to make up its own.

Take yesterday. I'm driving home through surprisingly thick traffic, and I pull up to a stop light, and the car in front of me has a license plate cover which says, in part, "GOATS & HERBS."

I know, right? "GOATS & HERBS." What a mystery. What could it possibly mean? I'm sure I'd know, if only I had slightly better eyesight, because the license plate cover said something else on the top, no doubt something that would've blown the lid off the whole affair, but the type was smaller. I couldn't read it.

I was left instead to ponder this great question of the universe on the way home: what about the "GOATS & HERBS?" Exactly what idea was that license plate cover meant to advertise? Feeding herbs to goats? Goats marinated in herbs? A program teaching inner-city goats to grow herbs? Or perhaps the owner of that car just likes goats and herbs equally, and though they have nothing to do with each other, he didn't want to give either one preference over his heart. Or license plate. "It's like asking me to choose my favorite child!" he must've wailed, when the kid at the license-plate-cover kiosk in the mall told him that both I have a very high regard for goats and but my love for herbs equals it wouldn't fit.

I don't blame him, honestly, but I don't see what herbs have got on goats. Herbs can be delicious and all, but goats are adorable. Goats like a good scratching and they like a good snack even more. They're easily pleased, and I like that in an animal, because I also have very low standards.

Goats are awesome, even when they smirk at you like they know something you don't. Probably it's something about herbs.

Hi, Steve.

Dec. 1st, 2009 11:35 am
redroanchronicles: In Harness (in harness)
Everyone, this is Steve.

Steve, everyone.

My friend Kira acquired Steve on the Bay's north jetty. Apparently he'd been dumped there over a week before and was relying upon the kindness of strangers. (By which I mean, of course, that the locals were helpless to resist his big golden eyes and slobbery jowls.) Unfortunately Kira couldn't keep him, so he ended up at the animal shelter, which in this area already has a pretty serious pitbull population.

So if you find yourself in need of a dog, check out the shelter in McKinleyville. I'm told Steve plays fetch in a terribly hilarious way. I can tell you four important things about Steve: that cameras make him a little uneasy, that full-body massages make him not at all uneasy, that he has a truly enormous head, and that he has the best name of any dog ever.

Steve. Seriously.
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)

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