I had the camera for several months before I discovered the portrait mode. Who knows what else I'm missing?
It doesn't happen very often, but today, I am left with nothing to say which means I really have a lot to say but don't want to write about it. Instead of talking about my latest elephant in the room, I'll share a few photos.
I got a new iphone a few months back and can't believe how much better its camera is than was the crappy one on my last iphone. I particularly like the portrait mode, although it's hard to use with the horses.
To use the portrait mode, you have to be within 8 feet of the subject, they have to hold pretty still, and you need a contrasting background. I've had some luck though and managed to capture a couple of really interesting pictures. You've seen all of them already, but here a few of my favorites.
I have no skills as a photographer. My photos are all utilitarian and purposeful; there's no art to them. Even so, this iphone makes even me look like I've got some talent. If you've got any other tips for using the iphone 7 Plus's new camera, pass them along.
I had the camera for several months before I discovered the portrait mode. Who knows what else I'm missing?
Not from me of course, as I am completely lame. My intended post for today was going to be video clips of my Sunday ride. They are super entertaining, especially if you like watching paint dry. I say intended because I left my ipad at work yesterday, and the video clips are on it and not yet uploaded to YouTube. Sorry?
Instead, I'll leave you with this spectacular photo taken by one of the riders who participated in this weekend's clinic with Chemaine Hurtado.
I can't resist - one last comment: what is not to love about this moment? Izzy looks well balanced, soft in the connection, and check out that jump! All of that would be good enough, but a quick look at his rider (yeah ... that's me) reveals someone who actually looks like she's allowing it to happen rather than blocking the motion. And finally, I love the connection between trainer and student. Chemaine is right there in the moment with me, encouraging and coaching.
Many thanks to the photographer, Monica, for such a lovely photo!
I had a lesson with Chemaine last weekend. On the drive home, I was disappointed at what seemed like another two-steps backwards kind of day. While discouraged, I was also motivated to press on, keep persevering, stick it out. Chemaine convinced me that this horse is worth it. She's certain that once he gets it, he's going to literally fly through the lower levels. I didn't really believe her until I started looking at the media that Jen caught for me.
Unlike other lessons, I didn't have to try very hard to find lovely moments; the video clips were filled with them. I watched the videos in order, grabbing shots as I went, so these pictures were caught in order of the lesson.
So, here are nine reasons to love Izzy, and one that will make you go WHAT!?!?
1) Not stepping very deeply, but his poll is nice and high and his face is perfectly on the vertical.
2) He's not bolting through the corner - finally, and he's thinking about softening to the outside rein. He's a bit behind the vertical though.
3) it took us a while to go through this corner this soft and round.
4) And even longer to get through this corner!
5) You can practically feel how strongly he wants to get the heck out of Dodge in this photo!
6) Same thing here, but I like the steady and even connection that I am keeping.
7) I tried to make sure all of these photos were as level as I could get them. Notice that the top end of the arena is pretty darned straight. Then look at how much higher his withers are than his croup. This boy already has some serious sitting power.
8) He finally got soft enough that I could completely give the inside rein.
9) This is my favorite photo of them all. This was the softest and roundest canter that he has ever offered. Stride after stride I reached forward to pat his neck, releasing the inside rein the whole time. Look at how much he has lifted his back underneath me. Swoon! And I did this, me! Chemaine's lessons are the reason of course, but it doesn't change the fact that it was MY riding that made it happen.
During the week, I've been studying the videos and capturing screen shots. The images tell a much different story from the one I told myself on the drive home. It's not just a different story, it's a much better one, and it's true! I don't know how I got so lucky, but Izzy is truly a lovely, lovely horse.
By studying these photos (and the videos), I've been able to make some changes in my position and application of my aids. In just two rides this week, I've been able to affect noticeable change in how Izzy is working, and it is practically intoxicating.
But just so you don't think I've grown a big head now that I have such a fancy schmancy dressage horse, here's a blooper shot to keep me humble. And if I wanted to, I could probably find a hundred or so others just like it.
10) Dude is still pretty opinionated.
No worries, Izzy. I have seen the real you, and you are one fine dude!
My barn is really quiet; normally it's just me riding and puttering around. Shelly, the other boarder is generally there in the mornings and my barn owner doesn't usually pull in until I am about done for the day. This makes it really hard to get riding pictures or conformation shots.
On Sunday, one of my barn owners was working around the barn, so I begged for a few body shots while I tried to stand Izzy up straight. It's not like I have much to compare to however, but I wanted to see if his topline is developing as much as I think it is.
Here's a photo from the day I bought him.
Not a very flattering photo, but I didn't get many from the side that day. His head looks huge here although in real life, he has a a finer head than his body would suggest. He's also sporting the first half of his winter coat which makes him look scruffy. If you enlarge the small photo, you'll see that his coat was actually quite shiny.
When I first saw him, I liked his conformation. His neck ties into his body higher than does Speedy's which I hoped would help him lighten his front end more easily (down the road). He also has very nice withers and a broad back. His badonkadonk is also quiet substantial. Hopefully it will be a load bearing structure.
Here are some photos that my barn owner helped me take over the weekend.
I pulled him straight out of his stall with no grooming, so the shine is all his. Five pounds of rice bran daily are probably helping with that. When I compare these photos to the ones above, I am happy with what I see. While he looks as though he is or was about to take a forward step in the lower photos, you can still see the nice muscling that he is developing.
He doesn't have such a bubble butt like he did in the November photos, and his belly looks much more toned. And to my (very partial) eye, it looks as though his back is filling in, especially behind his withers.
After all the effort to get him to stand square and at "attention," I was able to get this shot while he was turned out. Something had caught his eye, so he froze in place and stood almost square.
I like the little crease there in his butt cheek, and even from this angle you can see that his back is nicely filled in with withers higher than his croup. In this photo his neck looks short, but in the one above it, his neck looks longer with a more open throat latch.
When I look at him, there isn't really anything I don't like. His head could be prettier, but that's just the Arab owner in me talking. I like the finer and more elegant faces of the well-bred (not over-bred) Arabians; Speedy's lovely noggin comes to mind. And of course that hind leg looks terrible (left hind). I am hoping that the lumpiness of the wound eventually goes away.
I will definitely get more shots of him this summer to compare to these spring photos. But so far, I think he's developing nicely.
Speedy has essentially had five weeks off. He's back to work now, but I'm going slowly with him. We started out with a walking ride, moved on to a very short walk, trot, canter ride, and then we did a schooling ride that was fairly short (20 minutes) where we focused on bending and leg yielding from a 15-meter circle to the rail. Over the weekend, we had a regular schooling ride with no modifications. He's sound, but stiff on the left rein.
I want to let myself be bummed out about losing some fitness (both mine and Speedy's), but I am not letting myself go down that path. Instead, I am just focusing on bringing him back to where we were a month ago.
During his five weeks "off," we did get two days with Christian Schacht, so I am hoping we haven't lost as much training and conditioning as I fear. While at the clinic, another rider was kind enough to shoot some pictures of Speedy while we were working. She sent them to me recently, and they couldn't have come at a better time.
They are just three weeks old which means that Speedy can't have lost that much conditioning and training while we struggled with getting him sound. I've enjoyed looking at them. Here are just a few of my favorites.
All photos by Cecile.
Hopefully, Speedy and I get back on track quickly!
I don't really do gratuitous photo dumps, mostly because I have a hard time seeing beauty over function. I am far more impressed by good movement (which I never get to show since I never have a photographer) than I am by cuteness, but this weekend, Speedy just looked so darned cute in his black tack that I actually walked back to the tack room for my camera.
Since I am his human Pez dispenser, he refuses to stay put for photos, so getting "cute" photos is always a challenge. I have about million up the nose shots because I can't run away as fast as he can chase me.
After so many years together, I find that I like him better now than I ever have. And frankly, he gets better looking every year too!
I am pretty hard on myself. I am certain you are sick of hearing that line, but it continues to be true. I have a much easier time giving my horses the credit they deserve. So please, join me in giving Speedy G a round of applause. He was an absolute rock star at the show.
It makes showing so much easier when you can just walk away from your horse and know that he is perfectly content to stand at the trailer for the next twelve hours if needed. I hung his hay bag and a bucket of water and he just stood there, waiting patiently for me to tell him what was next.
Not only is he good tied at the trailer, but he is always a favorite of the volunteers and spectators. He loves everybody and is confident that they love him right back. He reaches his muzzle out to anyone who passes by and invariably cons them out of a scratch or a pat on his neck. There is just something about this horse that people are drawn to. He reminds everyone of their own special mounts.
He adores standing around the ring watching other horses do their thing. He greets every pony that walks by with a friendly look and does his best to sidle up next to anyone who will have him. He never sneers or pins his ears at any of the other horses, and he quickly forgives those who might not greet him as warmly.
We always get lots of compliments, those people should see what a stinker he is at home, but lately, we're getting praise of a different sort. Usually people admire his clean and silky coat or his cute expression. But recently, we've received some very nice comments pertaining to his physique and conformation.
Several people stopped to admire his very solid rear end, he's really purebred? (I hear that a lot.) Others approved of his nicely arched neck and muscled shoulders. I heard several comments about his development being very unusual for an Arabian. I was told that most Arabians have very petite necks and backs and butts. Petite being used as a euphemism for ewe-necked and hollow backed.
I don't take this as an affront to the Arabian breed at all. Instead, I take these comments to mean that people can appreciate that his breeder, Feather Arabians, bred for correct build and movement rather than fashion. They also recognize the results of good, correct training (thanks to the many people who are helping me: JL, Chemaine Hurtado, and Dr. Christian Schacht).
This isn't a sales add, Speedy G is definitely not for sale. I just wanted to share how tremendously proud I am of the horse he's matured into.
I had the most fun this weekend at the El Sueno Show. I got to visit with some great friends, watched some fantastic rides, and even went to dinner with Sarah from Eventing in Color. She happily listened to all of my little gripes and contributed some really great suggestions for fixing a few of my little First World problems. And on top of all the social fun, I even put in four solid rides of which I feel quite proud.
El Sueno's ride management does a lovely job. There are gift bags for the riders, the rings are lovely, the warm-up is HUGE, and the staff cruises through the barns regularly to keep things tidy and well organized.
According to the show management, there was such a big response to this show that a second judge was hired at the last minute. Since he is an "R" judge, he could only judge through Fourth Level. There were a lot of FEI rides at this show, including lots of Freestyles. This meant that I spent both days in Ring 2 under Judge Ulf Wadeborn. Had I needed scores from a second judge, it might have been a problem, but as it turned out, I got great feedback by riding for the same judge both days.
El Sueno has something like 50 show stalls. These are the smallest and cheapest stalls. The other stalls are more permanent, bigger, and more expensive. Since Speedy's a smaller guy, the small stalls work for us.
One of my favorite things about this facility is the great snack bar they have. John serves garden burgers, cheese burgers, a variety of salads, sodas, water, chips, etc. The food court is situated so that you can actually still watch both rings. With the shaded tables and the cool breeze, it's a great place to hang out and rest between rides.
I am sure it was because this was a USDF show, but boy were there some nice horses. I loved that so many breeds were also represented. You could hardly find a warmblood in the place. I saw lots of baroque horses, quarter horse crosses, a Fell pony, Morgans, TBs, paints, and of course at least one very handsome Arabian!
This is Jen riding her very lovely gelding, Paolo. Jen and Paolo were riding Fourth level and earned a score towards their silver medal (she already has her bronze). Check out that extension!
Hilda Gurney was also at this show. In fact, she lives just a few minutes away! She wore the most adorable blingy gray jacket and helmet. In fact, MANY riders were really blinged-out. I saw bling EVERYWHERE. By Sunday, I screwed up my courage and wore my new helmet for both my tests. The scribe gave me tons of compliments, as did many other riders. If Hilda can wear a blingy coat and helmet, I figured I could as well.
By the way, if you're ever at a show and you see Hilda, be brave and give her a hello. She's the nicest person and always quick to give compliments. As Speedy and I walked by, she said that he was a very nice horse and then she even complimented MY blingy helmet.
The very best part about this show however, is that I get to ride with my Ventura/Camarillo friends. There are no dressage queens in this group. From the youngest to the oldest, every single rider supports and helps everyone else. Chemaine Hurtado, trainer at Team Symphony Dressage, promotes a truly fun and friendly atmosphere. I think I go to the coast primarily to hang out with this group!
And here's another one ...
And finally, I had a lesson with Chemaine on Friday. Speedy and I have been doing pretty well together, but we've been getting dinged on a lack of inside bend and flexion, so that's what Chemaine and I worked on. JL calls it moving sideways, but I haven't been as effective with my aids with Speedy as I am with Sydney.
Chemaine gave me "permission" to really use my spur when Speedy won't get off my inside leg. She kept encouraging me to POKE HIM hard enough so that he jumped away from my leg. So the aid goes like this: half halt with the outside rein, ask with inside leg, poking as necessary.
The idea of poking him just cracked me up. She had me POKE HIM several times in a row, and then she had me ask him with just my calf. That did the trick. As long as I gave him a stiff reminder every now and then, he stayed pretty responsive to my inside leg which helped me get a better inside bend.
All of this poking was put to use in the canter especially. Speedy wants to look to the outside for the canter and sag his ribcage in on my inside leg. You can't get any inside bend that way. It took some schooling on Saturday, but by Sunday, I had a real feel for what it took to get him off my inside leg so that I could get a better bend.
Tomorrow … Saturday's tests.
I don't know what has happened to me. Just a few short years ago I was happy to be wearing my ratty old endurance tights, race t-shirts, and Troxel helmet (the white one).
Now, I am monogramming saddle pads ...
Adding bling, although subtle, to my bridle ...
And now, I have a monogrammed helmet, which actually makes my helmet look really old and funky. Good thing I bought extra monogrammed adhesives because now I want a new helmet!
Personally Preppy has been written about all over the blogosphere; you can read about them here and here. You can find Personally Preppy on Etsy or use this link. They have a lot of different monogramming styles and options, but since I am so conservative, I went with a very simple, white monogram for my helmet.
It should be noted however, that I ordered three of the stickers which means that I plan to monogram something else; I just don't know what. I am hoping that having a brand new monogram waiting to be stuck on something will encourage me to replace my rather worn-out helmet. And if the truth be told, I have had it for close to its recommended life (4 years or so).
The monograms arrived within a week of ordering. (I like fast service.) I am pretty certain that I ordered the 2 inch monograms, but I am not 100% sure. In hindsight, the 2.5 inch size would also have worked. Had I ordered the 3 inch size, I could have maybe covered up the Ovation brand mark.
The package arrived with directions, alcohol wipes for cleaning the surface of my helmet, and a small thank you note from the owners. As a bit of a warning, the alcohol removed some of my helmet's finish and left it feeling tacky. If your helmet is new, go easy with the alcohol wipes.
I have a feeling that this little company is going to do a lot more business than they expected. Their prices are very reasonable and their selection of styles and colors is huge. My total bill for three monograms plus shipping was around $17.00. We may need to form a support group!
I was putting on my boots the other morning and glanced up to check on Speedy. This is what I saw.
The early morning sun was streaming though the barn giving everything a lovely glow. With the sunlight cascading down Speedy's tail, it looked almost luminescent.