PHOTOS OF THE DAY – STAR DAZED – November 23, 2015

I haven’t posted Photos of the Day in two entire days.

I had my reasons. I think one was valid…the rest a bunch of poo.

Honestly, I think I needed a break. But the scary thing? I immediately got used to it.

Makes me wonder if I should take weekends off. But that’s when things happen!

For example…Saturday I had Recluse Man help me with Star. I really believed the day had come when that stubborn mule would load and go. Like an ‘IN-N-OUT’ Burger.

He went in OK. And he came out OK… breaking two lead ropes, and ruining a new halter along the way.

Booger-Burger. GIT-BACK-IN-BURGER.

I got him loaded again…after much coaxing…then called it quits. Always great to end on a good note.

Sunday was dismal. The coldest day so far this winter, with a bitter-stiff breeze. I had Recluse Man and a helper who is good with horses, and yet we still regressed.

Star wouldn’t even load. Not used to guys hanging out….trying new techniques…and probably gazing into my eyes… watching me wanting to turn the Panthers game on…we called it quits. Again. With no progress made.

Saturday I wasn’t able to post a POTD because I couldn’t access my FFF blog site. I took a nap at 8pm and didn’t wake up until 1am. Site was up, I wrote a post, went back to bed, woke up, and thought..HOW STUPID IS THAT? I should never have accessed.

Sunday I wasn’t able to post a POTD because I was accessing so much great football. Double Header!…Panthers then the Packers…my favorite two teams…WON!

I was very happy.  Then later on, I found myself easily entertained with some really great excuses for not posting.

And then it was the late game!!!

Are you ready for some more and more and more FOOTBALL???

YES!

Lately, beyond football, I’ve been watching too much news and having nightmares about terrorist attacks. There are snipers and suicide bombers and feelings of deep fear inside my head. I wake up…then fall asleep to the next nightmare.

2nd nightmare…I’m trying to walk Star to my farm…1.2 miles along the highway. There are trucks roaring by, loaded with Christmas trees and lumber, that backfire when there is no shoulder on the road and nowhere to escape.

They are equally scary nightmares.

Then I’m shivering…and realize Recluse Man has rolled all the covers around himself, just like D.O.G. wrapped in his pig blankets. I grunt. He grunts. (I mean Recluse Man). I steal back the covers.

Now back to Star. We had a really good day today. I needed to hit ‘rewind’ on our training sessions and start with some easy tying. Forget the trailer. I had worked with tying him last winter and he did great, but there was no trailer in sight.

I thought he’d freak over any kind of tying at this point, but again, he surprised me.

Don’t forget this is a very green horse.

I bought two Blocker Tie Rings after watching videos, and seeing how much sense they made. The lead line is wrapped inside the tie ring so there is some play in the line when a horse pulls back forcefully. The amount of play is adjustable.

Once there is some give in the line, the horse will ease off on the crazy pulling. Horses are prey animals who hate restraint. Especially when separated from their herd. But when the restraint gives..no need to pull!

I was amazed by how quickly Star calmed after having a mini-freak-out. There was nothing to break. Nothing to fight. Nothing to bring him down…or up. In fact, he ended up with just a little longer line…(which I quickly shortened as soon as he moseyed closer).

Go Star! Go Blocker Tie Rings! GO INTO THE DAMN TRAILER!!!

At this rate…I will be happy to get that mule here for Turkey Day. I will STUFF HIM GOOD… RIGHT INTO THE TRAILER.

Here are some Photos of the Day. I do believe I will put an album together after that horse finally gets here…ya know…for his grandkids.

That Blocker Tie Ring has him….Star-Dazed….POTD_15_11_23_Star_daze_1

…putting a broken lead rope to good use…”Say Yuum??? Star?”FG_209_1 copy

We eventually got brave enough to tie on to the trailer..with great success…FG_224_1 copy

…for us at least…FG_223_1 copy

“What can I say or do to get you loaded…Dude?”FG_071 copy

To be continued.

Duh.

 

PHOTOS OF THE DAY – STAR TREKS – November 20, 2015

Star Treks; definition

To Boldly Go Where No Horse Has Gone Before…

I’m tellin’ ya…I am wiped out from being a Star Treks groupie.

That horse! We have logged some miles this week.

Once Star and I trekked down together this morning, we had a good, short session. He loaded immediately in the trailer, and then over and over again…so long as there was a grain bucket waiting in the bowels of that cave from hell.

Attitudes flared when there was no food in sight. I decided to end on a good note and return for a different sort of afternoon session, with Recluse Man’s help.

After trekking up first thing this morning to get Star, he and I Star Trekked back down and through the creek, as we passed all kinds of ghosts in the wind and monsters in the creek. After our first session, I decided to leave Star in the lower paddock until session number two. No more Star Trekking! I chained the fence, figuring I’d return in a couple of hours.

I did.

And dang if that horse hadn’t Star Trekked right over the fence and on to higher grounds.

Just as I pulled up, I caught sight of him leading the troops around the very last and highest bend in sight. When I shouted out, he looked my way with his ears pricked, then did a quick 180º (my heart skipped a beat), then did any even faster 180º (my heart thudded), and continued to lead his troops…up.

No doubt with a smirk on his green lips.

Feckin’ trekkin’!!!

Then Recluse Man texted to say he’d be home after dark.

I was bummed. I had really hoped to move Star tomorrow, but I think we need at least one more session before he’ll quietly and fully load.

For Photos of the Day…a look at what Star Treks are all about…POTD_15_11_20_1

I was thinking…hmmm…not high enough to drive…I’ll just do the Star Trek…POTD_15_11_20_2

He made me trek alright…POTD_15_11_20_3

It started out as a quiet descent…we were singing…’Trekking…like the doo-da man…’POTD_15_11_20_4

Peace and Love…from a Star Trekking groupie…POTD_15_11_20_5

…then…Star Trekker snorted…”YIKES!!!…MUST STOP! ..there’s a ghost-dog way up top…”POTD_15_11_20_6

…then later I snorted…”No dude…the Star Trek does not end here…”
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We were finally trekking nice and easy through the creek…POTD_15_11_20_8

But on the way out?POTD_15_11_20_8

“SHARKS IN THE WATER!”POTD_15_11_20_9

Star Trekker… “I saw a SHARK…I know I DID!!!”POTD_15_11_20_10

Me…”That was a minnow silly boy…”POTD_15_11_20_11

Check out the Star Trekker stride!!POTD_15_11_20_12

After our session…we parted in peace.

(notice the fence separating Star from his friends and a beckoning trek)POTD_15_11_20_13

They were so far away when I returned, even when I threatened by screaming…

“SET PHASERS TO STUN”

…it seemed Highly Illogical.

 

 

 

PHOTOS OF THE DAY – FOUR ON THE FLOOR – November 19, 2015

Today was Day Four of Star’s trailer loading training.

On Day Three, Star put his two front legs inside the trailer, while his hind two stayed firm on the ramp. It didn’t last long, but it was a huge improvement over the previous session. So long as there is forward motion with each session, I find I can muster a whole lotta patience. The pay-off is so worth it.

For your Photos of the Day…I never thought a set of horse legs could look so gratifying…or make me so happy.

May I present …FOUR ON THE FLOOR!!! POTD_15_11_19_4_on_floor_1I even had witnesses, although they were busy looking for crumbs from my secret bribery technique…POTD_15_11_19_4_on_floor_2Then suddenly eight more legs loaded!!!POTD_15_11_19_4_on_floor_3There is much more to this story but alas…it’s late…and Thursday Night Football has begun.

Let me part with this sweet photo from the StarBuck farm. It was a nice diversion in the middle of teaching a stubborn mule to load…POTD_15_11_19_4_on_the_floor

PHOTO OF THE DAY – THE GREAT PONKIN – PART III – November 1, 2015

When Halloween arrived, Pockets the Ponkey was so excited about meeting The Great Ponkin, I couldn’t bear the thought of her disappointment, should she not.

That ponkey gets really fonkey when things don’t go her way. Especially when it comes to ponkey traditions and rituals and beliefs. She is full of beliefs.

I decided to take things into my own hands. I would make her the best Ponkin of all time. It would be the Ponkin of her wildest dreams. It would be a Ponkin she’d be talking about for a very long time. It would be…The Great Ponkin.

But dang, there I was on Halloween without even a pumpkin.

So how did things turn out?

When I told Pockets there was someone she needed to meet, she got very excited.

Let’s hear it straight from the ponkey’s mouth.

“Oh My Gwad…is it The Great Ponkin? Mama G…tell me I’m not helloosinatin!”POTD_15_11_01_ponkins_III_01

“And are youse the The Great Ponkin’s Great-grandponks? Oh My Gwaddess!”POTD_15_11_01_ponkins_III_02

“Haya Hiya…Ima Pockets the Ponkey and Ima believer!”POTD_15_11_01_ponkins_III_03

“Mama F…take my picture with The Great Ponkin or no one will ever-ever believe me!”
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“Now…one without the Great-grandponks…paleeze! Oh to meet The Great Ponkin! Why we have the same hair!”POTD_15_11_01_ponkins_III_05

“But WAADAMINUTE!!!….dats not REAL HAIR…dat hair UNNIBBLABLE!!”POTD_15_11_01_ponkins_III_06

“NOT REAL LIPS! LIPS NOT MOVE!!”
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“SMELLS LIKE OLE FARM PUMPKIN!!!”POTD_15_11_01_ponkins_III_08

“TASTES LIKE OLE FARM PUMPKIN!!!”POTD_15_11_01_ponkins_III_09

“THE GREAT PONKIN WOULD NOT LET ME EAT HIS GREAT-GRANDPONKS…YOU DUMMY”
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“YOU TWIED TO TWICK ME! I WILL EAT THEM ALL!”
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I had become a believer as I created The Great Ponkin, and was mortified to see the fun Pockets was having, tormenting the poor Great Ponkin and his Great-grandponks.POTD_15_11_01_ponkins_III_12

She didn’t hold back and found great pleasure in telling me I didn’t know poo about ponkey-lore.

Fortunately, The Great Ponkin handled it with Great austerity while maintaining his Great Grimace.POTD_15_11_01_ponkins_III_13

No pumpkin was safe.POTD_15_11_01_ponkins_III_14

Of course I didn’t tell you the full story and perhaps the reason why Pockets behaved like a naughty half-ass.

You see, I tried to turn her into a unicorn and it was a bit of a disaster.POTD_15_11_01_ponkins_III_15

OK…maybe it was a huge disaster.POTD_15_11_01_ponkins_III_16

In all fairness…I owe Pockets her take on things…

“Oh My Gwad…I HATE HALLOWEEN!!! First you put a dorkydumb horn on me that looks like a toilet paper ear plug and tell me to look cute!!!

WAAH THE POOPS???

I am POCKETS DA PONKEY…AND I AM ALWAYS CUTE!!!!

Then the WORST..you TWIED to TWICK ME with THE GREAT PONKIN!

(Pockets get tongue-tied when she’s upset)

PONKINS-SHMONKINS!!!

You CANNOT JOKE AROUND about THE GREAT PONKIN…YOU CANNOT TWICK ME!

He is REAL. Now go decorate that dumb pig of yours…I waah my Mama E & G.”POTD_15_11_01_ponkins_III_17

So I took her advice and had the most fun decorating the silly pig.POTD_15_11_01_ponkins_III_19Best part? That D.O.G. believes everything I say!!!!

PHOTO OF THE DAY – LINGUINI & MEATBALLS – September 25, 2015

WARNING …..

THIS IS SICK, HICK, FARM CHICK HUMOR. GO AWAY YOUNG CHILDREN.

WHAT ARE YOU DOING HERE ANYWAY?

I made so many photos yesterday, I have barely looked through them all. The morning started off early with the vet coming over to do Grayson’s gelding.

It’s funny. When I called the Social Security office to reschedule an appointment I had made ages ago for yesterday morning, the woman wanted to know my reason for not coming. I told her my pony was scheduled for gelding and his other mom was in New Orleans with her father who is dying. Silence. She asked me a few more things, then asked again, why did I have to reschedule? This time I told her my pony was being CASTRATED. No more repeat questions.

So if you didn’t catch that….yesterday was Grayson’s Castration. And Elizabeth was in New Orleans with her father as he passed peacefully last night.

I am so glad she was there for him, as he was for her.

Several hours after Grayson’s Castration, when I figured he wouldn’t swell up like a basketball, I went to Grayson Highlands State Park to photograph all 18 of the ponies up for auction. I made soooo many photos. There are a lot of pinto ponies with brilliant markings so I tried to get both sides. Some are just pipsqueaks! I knew Elizabeth would want to see the final round-up. She knows many of the grown ponies personally. Tomorrow at 2 pm…that’s their big day…when I hope each and everyone of them finds a good home.

But let’s get on with Photo of the Day, I thought I’d keep it simple.

(So I’m cluttering this up with words instead of photos you ask? Oh Hush!)

While my friend Janice held Grayson’s head during surgery, I was free to shoot. I have a lot of graphic photos that are definitely not appropriate to share. Especially with men. I barely started to describe the procedure when Recluse Man hugged his balls and walked off. What a sight…Mr Macho lover-boy doing the totem-scrotum-shuffle.

Forgive me if you think the same of the following…but the three of us farm chicks in the stall with Grayson, found it hilarious. After the vet clipped the testicles, she tossed them aside. And who was there for a snack??? … my lil Linguini! …

LINGUINI & MEATBALLS!POTD_9_25_15_1GLUMPP…Farm Fresh!!!POTD_9_25_15_2…like mini-mountain oysters

(btw…Elizabeth came up with ‘Linguini & Meatballs’ in a text this morning….good to know her humor is intact even though she is so sad about her dad….come home soon Mama E!)

PHOTO OF THE DAY – BENTLEY – September 19, 2015

For Photo of the Day, I have chosen an old favorite. It’s from my first summer on the farm, when I had a horse I loved to pieces. Here is Bentley, in his free-range meadow below Peak Mountain. Even though he’s just a small part of the image, it’s one of my favorites. I know he was having a blast at that very moment.

Mr_B_meadow-B-2BENTLEY

It was three years ago today my heart broke. Bentley, my long-legged, Thoroughbred…horse of my dreams…passed early that morning all peacefully curled in a corner of the paddock.

When I found him at breakfast, he was still warm. It was a crisp, mountain morning and Gypsy was standing nearby as I howled and sobbed. I laid my body against Mr B and held onto him as I calmed myself by telling him what a wonderful friend he had been. Then no words…just quiet…as I stroked his warm body. Slowly, a certain peace filled me and I realized what a beautiful passing it had been.

Bentley’s head was resting against the fence rail and I realized his last view of life on earth was the stunning awakening of a new day. His favorite free-range pasture was sparkling with sunlit dew beyond the barn he loved so much. Peak Mountain commanded in the distance. Gypsy was nuzzling him when I found them. It was the best passing I could have ever wished for my dear old friend.

BENTLEY-BI miss you Bentley. I think of you nearly everyday. All the fun we had…all the trails we rode…all the seasons we traveled thru together. Mr B & Me2

Your spirit lives on here at the farm and most especially at Mr B’s barn.Bentley_snow-B-2BENTLEY, affectionately known as Mr. B.

April 16, 1998 – September 19, 2013

I Love A Good Horse Show! (A Tribute to Longacres Riding Camp and the Blowing Rock Horse Show)

Some of the very best summers of my life were spent at horseback riding camp and weekend horse shows. The first summer I attended Longacres Riding Camp in East Aurora, NY, I was 13 years old. I had been taking riding lessons for several years and had a pretty good ‘seat and hands.’ When I started jumping fences, I thought it was the coolest thing ever. Way cooler than clarinet lessons.

It was a tough time for me. My mom had died that February. For my sister and me, she was our everything. Our father had passed before either of us had a chance for any memories. I was only two when he died. My world turned upside down when I became an orphan. Plans were made for me to finish school in Oswego, NY, spend summer at camp, then move in with my aunt and uncle and cousins in Ohio for the new school year. I was a mess inside. Depressed. Sad. Aching. I missed my mother fiercely.

Then something truly beautiful happened. Summer riding camp. It seems I was destined to have a fabulous experience. So often in my life, I have found horses work a crazy kind of magic to heal whatever ails me, or at least lessen the ache….even the intense sadness I felt in my heart at that time. Four summers in a row I blossomed at camp, then sort of wilted in between.

When I was a camper at Longacres, the show team would compete at nearby events every weekend. We rode hunters and jumpers, which usually meant our competition was a whole mess of hoity toitiness. Hoity toity trailers. Hoity toity horses. Hoity toity girls and saddles and bridles and britches and jackets. Gawd…I couldn’t bear to spell ‘hoity toity’ one more time…much less mouth it as I write….try it three times out loud… HOITY TOITY…ha! … ya look like a hungry guppy.

Due to all this, ah hem, hoity toitiness…it felt great to kick some butt.  There we’d be with our mixed-breed camp horses and not so fancy saddles, old bridles, and I know I had second hand britches and a black wool jacket that gave me the vapors, it was so hot. We did a lot of winning because we were breathing, dreaming, talking, brushing, riding and living for horses. Forget tennis, archery, and arts and crafts….we were 24/7 camp-horse-chicks out to have FUN and WIN!!!!

Too bad I lost all the photos I had from camp in a house fire, my second year in college. I was having lots of fun making Polaroids the last summer at camp. Perhaps there was a little seed in that Polaroid collection that blossomed into a desire to study photography.

Here’s a photo from a camp reunion two years ago…that’s me on the left, with my old counselor Peachy in the middle (she survived us brats!), and best friend and co-conspirator, Sooz on the right. Whatever trouble we got in together…it was all Sooz’s fault. Right Peach?FG_038

I think back to those days whenever I attend a horse show. Maybe that’s why I like the Blowing Rock Horse Show (NC) so much. Doesn’t hurt that it’s nearby and a huge old show; revered by many generations of riders and spectators. It’s been held for 92 consecutive years, which makes it one of the oldest running horse shows in the country. No western riding here…nah uh. Just Saddlebreds and Hunters and Jumpers.FG_136 copy

As it just so happened, my friend Elizabeth gave me a free ticket for the last day of the show. It was a gorgeous Sunday in the mountains. Once I stepped out onto our deck and away from my guilt-ridden desk, I couldn’t find any reason not to go. That’s right. My desk is guilt-ridden…not me. And I have the strength and power to walk away from it at any time.

Through the years, the show ground facilities have expanded. Below is the second show ring, adjacent to the main ring with box seats and bleachers. Box seats are rarely given up so it’s great fun to know someone who is having a party. Or just talk your way in under the pretense  you are an important and famous photographer. I always check to see how well stocked the box is first.FG_023

FG_019When you are not associated with any particular barn or group of riders, there is no one to root for. Or everyone. I like to wander around the grounds and meet some of the competitors, both horses and riders. In fact, I enjoy inhaling the overall vibe as much as watching the show. Maybe that’s because I love the smell of horses and barns. And horse sweat and manure.

What? You never knew I love the smell of poo? I admit…I doo!

(notice I did not use the ‘s’ word…it was difficult…but I DID NOT USE THAT WORD)

Here are Laura & Memphis getting ready for a jumper class…FG_006

I was never very good at braiding manes. Give me a tail for a French braid any day. Sheesh… I gotta bury my nose in this gorgeous neck…FG_008

By the end of the show, the riders have accumulated a lot of ribbons!FG_222

FG_014umm…oops?
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Every direction I turned, there was something going on….FG_203 copy FG_212 copy

…and some pretty silly horses to meet…FG_236 copyFG_039 copy

At times, it seemed like there were more dogs than horses…FG_220 copy

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Check out Donald Trump on the left…FG_239 copy

It’s a dog-sniff-dog world…
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Two cuties…FG_153 copyFG_155 copy

When I moseyed back to the main show ring, a walk-trot class for little kids was about to begin. The moms and coaches were giving final tips and reminders…FG_276 copyFG_278 copy

It was hard to tell the three riders and horses apart…unless you went by small, smaller, and smallest.FG_029 copy

How adorable. I can feel the butterflies in my stomach!FG_284 copyFrom one mount to another…FG_296 copy

Total cuteness…next size up…FG_248 copy

On the last day, for the final event, the Blowing Rock Horse Show hosts the $10,000 Jumper Classic. It’s a thriller to watch, but I couldn’t stay. Still, I did see some impressive jumping, both hunters and jumpers.

With hunters, it’s all about style and looking good as a horse/rider combo. Your approach to a fence must be timed just right and of course, you need to clear the fence, without a refusal. The fences will be a set height and not nearly as high as the jumper classes. The judging is subjective.

With jumpers it’s all about clearing the fence and doing the course as fast as you can…especially on the jump-offs when the fences are raised and the courses are tighter to maneuver and you’re riding against the clock. It doesn’t matter what you or your horse look like. The judging is objective. Fastest clean round wins.

This makes me think back to summer camp and a horse named York Springs. While I was a camper, he became an acclaimed Longacres jumper. People either gasped or giggled when he entered the ring. He was a HUGE roan draft horse with platters for feet, who appeared more suited for pulling a plow. When he entered the ring and did his warm-up circle, it looked like he might trip over his own feet. But when he jumped? WOW! The whole crowd would collectively hold their breath as he cleared fence after fence. York Springs…I’ll never forget that ole galump-of-a-horse with springs in his feet.

I love watching a horse and rider sail over a fence. You have to be in tune with your horse to make it look graceful and easy.FG_319 copy

FG_072 copyThese photos are from hunter classes…the same as I rode as a teenager. After a wicked spill two months after my mom passed and two months before summer camp, I never had the gumption to jump really high fences. I had been practicing for my very first horse show on a horse called Mud Puppy, when he caught the fence with his hoof and somehow fence and horse landed on me. I woke up the next day in a hospital forty minutes down the interstate, with seven broken bones and no recollection of that day. Still…I had my fears. 3′ 6″ is usually the highest the fences will be on a hunter course and plenty high for me.

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I recently received word Longacres Riding Camp will be closing at the end of this season, following seventy-seven years in operation. The four summers I spent at Longacres were transformative and delightful….never mind that Sooz and I got in endless trouble away from the barn! Of course all the horses from that era passed long ago, but whenever my camp girlfriends and I get together and start talking about our old favorites, they are alive again in our memories.

The seventy-fifth jubilee was held at Longacres two years ago, during the final horse show of the season. No better time for old friends to reunite….right Sooz and Peachy?13_08_10_Camp_Longacres_Jubilee

Here is my beloved counselor Peachy, dumping a gin and tonic on my head … as payback for something way back when???13_08_10_Camp_Longacres_Jubilee

My dear friend through the ages, Tom Kranz (owner and director of Longacres), was the master of ceremonies…13_08_10_Camp_Longacres_JubileeHats off to Longacres Riding Camp for giving so many campers such wonderful experiences… and for giving me my love of a good horse show!FG_056 copyAnd hats off to the Blowing Rock Horse Show for preserving a beautiful tradition.