Wordless(ish) Wednesday

I got a request for more pictures…actually, it was a request for “moar picturs!”, but I won’t split hairs 😉 I very recently upgraded to the big bad momma lens of equine photography: the Canon 70-200 f/2.8L lens. It’s without Image Stabilization, but I’ll learn how to compensate for that. I’m so happy to have added this beast of a lens to my little camera family and can’t wait to start learning how to use it to its fullest extent!

That being said, I’ve been a busy little almost-professional photographer. Here are some more pictures from recent shoots!

Of course, there is Centauro, my Paso Fino love:

There was also Dylan, a mustang cross gelding who has personality coming out his ears:

This was an impromptu thing at work when I went out to my car. This is Ringo. We’re pretty lucky — we can bring our dogs to work.

Lastly, here’s a few from my shoot this past Sunday. The dark bay is a Thoroughbred mare named Grace, the wee bay pony is named Guppy (insert high pitched cooing here!), and the big, handsome chestnut Saddlebred is Smoke.

This weekend I’m going to be gallivanting in NYC again — my friend K is whisking me away for my birthday and WON’T TELL ME WHAT WE’RE DOING. I’m slightly terrified but also insanely excited to go back and really explore the city! She’s also going to treat me to a ride on her sweet, sweet, sweet Quarter horse gelding, Rocket. I’m actually excited about this prospect. A good canter in a field will hopefully reset my brain quite a bit. Not to mention, I’ll get to take pictures of her and her boy!

Then, next weekend…EQUINE AFFAIRE. I’ll be attending (aka: wreaking havoc!) on Saturday with my Cavalia buddy, M. Who knows? Maybe I’ll find my dream pony while I’m there 😉

Sunshine Award

Well. I’ll be damned. I love when these little “award” things go around the blogosphere because it’s always a great way to learn about the people behind the blogs I follow. I’m always shocked when someone nominates me! Big thanks to two very awesome bloggers: 

Lauren at She Moved to Texas — for a small blog like mine to get noticed by a big blog like hers is a Big Deal! I’m not sure how Lauren stumbled across my blog, but she’s a regular “voice” in the comments here, which I really love! Not to mention, she’s “from” my area, so it’s quite neat to see how a transplant from New England is thriving in Texas. Her blog is varied (training posts, product reviews, photography stuff, ect) and well written. I’m still getting to “know” Lauren, but I’ve loved following along so far!

Dom over at A Collection of Madcap Escapades — Dom and I “met” via Livejournal a few years ago. When I decided to mosey on over to Blogger for Image’s public blog, one of the first blogs I followed was Dom’s. On top of having a way with words and talent behind the camera, she is a HUGE wealth of horsey information and I know that if I ever, ever, EVER have any kind of horse training issue, I can turn to her with my hair on fire and she’ll calmly and patiently walk me through what I need to do. She’s a no bullshit kind of person, which is my favorite kind. The only thing I don’t like is that I live in MA and she lives in NJ! Hope to meet her in person some day in the near future 🙂

The Sunshine Award is for people who “positively and creatively inspire others in the blogosphere.” The nominee must do the following: thank the person who nominated her, nominate ten bloggers of her own, answer the ten questions given to her, and post them and the Sunshine Award button to her blog.
Here are the questions:
  1. Mares or Geldings? I’ve always said geldings…but for some reason, I’d be really happy with a golden palomino mare these days. Pipe dream, of course, because a good horse isn’t based on what color, breed or gender they are…but, you know, gotta have dreams!
  2. English or Western? Western. I rode English as a pipsqueak and while I liked it, I prefer the more relaxed western saddle. My ankles get cranky in an English saddle, and because I’m a big girl, it’s hard for me to stay balanced in most English saddles because they simply aren’t big enough for my fat butt! I prefer a deep seat, too. I like dressage saddles for that reason but, again, never end up in one big enough for my rear end!
  3. Do you prefer “younger” or “older” horses? Older, at this point in the game. Some day I’ll want to play with a younger critter, but right now, I’m not interested.
  4. Have you trained a horse from ground zero? Not yet. I’ve watched my aunt D do quite a bit of work with her babies, though, and tried to soak up as much of that as possible. I wouldn’t attempt bringing a baby up without professional help right now. Those skills aren’t in my repertoire just yet!
  5. Do you prefer riding or groundwork? I like both, to be honest. I did so much ground work with Image that I learned to enjoy it for what it is. Don’t get me wrong, I am a rider and will be a rider as long as I physically can, but I do enjoy working on the ground, especially at liberty in a round pen.
  6. Do you board your horse or keep it at home? Boarding unless I somehow become independently wealthy and can afford to build my barn with an apartment on top for me and have the rest of the land for horses, haha.
  7. Do you do all natural things or just commercial stuff?(in sense of products) If it works, it works. I prefer to stay away from things that have a bunch of chemicals I can’t pronounce. Luckily, working where I do makes this a bit easier…I have manufacturers basically on speed dial if I need to grill someone about ingredients 🙂
  8. All tacked up or bareback? Both. I rode GP bareback pretty much all summer one year and it gave me a rock solid seat. I plan on riding whatever I have next bareback as much as possible because I miss having that rock solid seat! I like my Bob Marshall a whole lot, but I’m finding I get very sore, very quick in treed saddles now. I might be a bit spoiled…
  9. Equestrian role model? Stacy Westfall. Hands down. Met her at the Equine Affaire one year and was reduced to a puddle of goo from excitement. 
  10. What’s your one, main goal, while being in the horses world? Own a damn horse for more than six months? Hah. Sarcasm aside, I just want a horse that I click with and can have some fun with.

Most of my nominees have gotten a nod already, so I am going to open this up to anyone who feels they would 1. like to answer the questions or 2. feels there should be a blog nominated that hasn’t yet! I adore all of the blogs I follow and feel like I have a lovely little blogging family to turn to when things go screwy. Thanks for being there, ya’ll!

Milestones

July seems like so long ago already. Saturday the 26th marked three months since I laid Image to rest.

I had a relatively miserable day yesterday (as much as I can have a miserable day with multiple, decent paying jobs, great people in my life, a place to live, and a car to drive), and I wanted nothing more in the world than to drive to the barn, duck into the paddock, and have my horse — my sweet, funny, wonderful little black gelding who knew exactly how to charm me to the moon and back — stuff his head into my chest. Instead, I went through my morning photoshoot in a fog (and still managed to get some decent shots…how, though, I don’t really know!), finished up house sitting for the weekend, shuffled home, and slept a little more than I should have. I missed him in a way that was physically painful. It took my breath away and caused my stomach to twist into knots.

The first year is always the hardest. Every milestone is an acute reminder of loss, and nearly unmanageable sorrow that comes with it is like a vice on your heart. Then, slowly, it turns into a dull ache. That dull ache is manageable for the most part. Sometimes there is a flare up, but the general day to day is no longer colored by heartache. Birthdays, holidays, Gotcha! days and the like are no longer reasons to stock up on tissues and alcohol (okay, mostly tissues, but whatever)…instead, they are remembered fondly with just a bit of sadness over not getting to share these days with the one you miss so much.

I know I’ll get there, and that it’ll take time…same story, different situation.

Until then, I will try to muddle my way through the bad days and enjoy the good days to the fullest.

Back to your “regularly” scheduled program tomorrow. I hope to have images from my most recent shoot edited tonight…got to play with a spicy Thoroughbred mare, a sassy Welsh pony mare, and a sweet Saddlebred gelding. Nothing like a big open field and gorgeous morning light to make your day that much brighter!

Cortoing to Heaven

See this guy?

This is Centauro.

He is an 11 year old Paso Fino stallion.

He. Is. Perfection.

I had been excited about this shoot for some time. I’ve known K and Centauro for a handful of years now, thanks to the fun forums at AmericanPasoFinos.com. I joined as a senior in high school, and was pleased to find a group of locals that had lots of info for me. It wasn’t until 2011 or so that I finally met K and the others in person for the first time…and it was one of the best rides I’ve ever had! The sunburn I got that day was pretty epic too! There is nothing like gaiting at mach ten side by side down a trail, talking and laughing like you’re just moseying along.

It’s not often I get to play with a critter of this caliber, either. Centauro is well bred, well built, well trained, and well socialized. He has fire (known as “brio”), but is usually very level headed and controllable. He’s everything a Paso Fino should be and then some. I’ve never met a stallion that I truly “forgot” was a stallion for a few minutes. I’m very much aware of the critters that have all their parts. They’re usually not the most trustworthy horses. However, Centauro was puffed up and animated when he needed to be, and was a sweet, snuggly puppy dog otherwise. K left him with me when she scurried inside to change outfits, and he happily stood for forehead rubs and nose kisses. I knew he was awesome, but I didn’t realize just how awesome until I got to spend some quality time with him!

K is pretty awesome herself. We had a blast, even though she spent half the time reiterating just how much she abhorred getting her picture taken. I empathized with her: I like being BEHIND the camera, not in front of it! Thankfully, she completely adores her stud muffin, so whenever she paid attention to Centauro and not to me, it was very obvious who held the key to her heart!

It was a fun, high energy shoot with a pretty lady and a flashy pony…and I was more than thrilled with that in itself. I had borrowed a friend’s higher quality lens and was having a blast getting to use it. Obviously, the results aren’t perfect, but it was operator error more than anything else. I was very content to scurry home and pour over the images at the end of the shoot.

That wasn’t the case. I looked up from my camera to screen to see K offering C’s reins to me so I could take him for a spin.

Externally, I went and got my paddock boots without much fanfare.

Internally, I was all AIIIEEEEEEEEEEEEEE! *FALLS OVER*

Okay. I get a little bit overexcited. So sue me.

The second I settled in the (waaaaaay too small for me but I didn’t give a rat’s ass) saddle and Centauro immediately gaited off. Oooooh my lord, there is nothing — NOTHING — like sitting on a well trained Paso Fino. All I had to do was think, and Centauro did what I wanted. I had no tension on the reins, and he settled himself into a nice little relaxed frame. I felt like I was riding a much bigger horse, not a 14.1 hand Paso Fino, and my back, which had been a source of serious discomfort for almost two weeks, wasn’t a thought in my mind. I about burst with glee. It’s impossible NOT to when you’re gliding along on an absolutely gorgeous Paso Fino! K got some pictures and video (most of which I am giggling like a fool on top of the bemused stallion). I wasn’t up there for very long, but it was long enough to remind me what riding really could be…and oh, how I miss REALLY riding!

It also cemented in my little pea brain that there isn’t anything else I want. I’m very grateful for everyone who is forwarding me TWHs and Fox Trotters, racking horses and Standardbreds…but I have made the decision to stick with the spicy, sassy Spanish bred gaited horses. I know I’m not going to end up with a horse like Centauro (not unless a money tree grows or I win the lottery!), but that is what I want. Walkers and Fox Trotters have a wonderful place in this world, and I loved every inch of Image from his soft, kissable nose to the tip of his long black tail. I would have loved him even if I hadn’t ever gotten a good gait out of him. However, this is a fresh start…and I’m not playing games here. I’m actually not the world’s biggest TWH fan — I’m not super fond of the running walk, and while Image was definitely an atypical Walker (which is probably why I found him so squeezable!), I find the breed phenotype unappealing for the most part. They’re great, great horses…just not my cup of tea! Pasos and Peruvians are the stockier, baroque type that I drool over regularly with fun, bold, brave attitudes and a gait that doesn’t mess with my back 🙂

I ain’t settling for anything less than everything…and big thanks to K and Centauro for giving me a reason to stick to my guns, no matter how bad my pony lust gets!

Celebrity Status

Okay, not really…but damn it, don’t ruin my story with your logic!

Look what came in the mail on Wednesday!

I hadn’t really forgotten, per se, about “my” article in Practical Horsemen…but I was still a bit taken aback when I realized what the manila envelope in my mailbox held! I reread the article, cried like a fool, squee’d over the fact that my picture was in a magazine, and immediately posted a brag on Facebook.

Here is the full article here for those interested in reading:

Getting to Goodbye
Elaine Pascoe

The decision is never easy. Rhode Island horse owner Melissa Winsor wrestled with
it last summer as she watched her horse Finis become progressively more uncomfortable.
She had owned him for 11 years, but now he was in his mid-20s and suffering from a painful degenerative lameness. Her veterinarian had suggested that the horse shouldn’t go through another winter. But she hesitated. “At what time do I say, OK, it’s time to let him go? He had not given me a clear sign that he was done,” she says.

For Amanda Rains, there was no question—her horse Image developed a
mysterious neurological condition, and veterinary diagnostics couldn’t nail down the cause. In less than a month Image was in a steep decline, losing weight and muscle mass. He was no longer the “sweet, silly little black horse” she knew. “I firmly believe in letting them go before it’s too late, especially with something like this,” the Massachusetts rider says. “Still, it was the hardest decision I’ve ever had to make.” Image was 11 years old, in his prime, and she had owned him for just 6 months.

No one wants to think about euthanasia, but if you own a horse you’ll likely have to deal with it at some point. As the horse’s owner, you are the only person who can make this final decision. Here, Melissa and Amanda share their stories, and Joan Gariboldi, DVM, of Hagyard Equine Medical in Lexington, Kentucky, offers a veterinarian’s perspective. They explain the considerations, plans, and preparations you’ll need to take into account.

A decision may come years down the road, as your horse nears the natural end of his life; or it may come tomorrow, as the result of a catastrophic accident or inoperable colic. But the best time think about what you would want for your horse at the end of his life is now, while he’s healthy. “With Image I had a month to prepare and make arrangements; many people don’t have that much time. Having a plan in place will keep it a little less terrible,” Amanda says.

 WHEN IS IT TIME?

 By definition, euthanasia is an act of mercy—inducing the most painless death possible for an animal that is hopelessly sick or injured and suffering. Guidelines from the American Association of Equine Practitioners (AAEP) state:

 • A horse should not have to endure continuous or unmanageable pain from a condition that is chronic and incurable.
 • A horse should not have to endure a medical or surgical condition that has a
hopeless chance of survival.
 • A horse should not have to remain alive if it has an unmanageable medical condition that renders it a hazard to itself or its handlers.
 • A horse should not have to receive continuous analgesic medication for the relief of pain for the rest of its life.
 • A horse should not have to endure a lifetime of continuous individual box stall confinement for prevention or relief of unmanageable pain or suffering.

 The AAEP also says that euthanasia of “unwanted” or unadoptable horses is acceptable once all available alternatives have been explored. “A horse should not have to endure conditions of lack of feed or care erosive of the animal’s quality of life,” the guidelines say.

The criteria apply in a wide range of situations, from a foal born with severe defects to a horse debilitated by age. Every situation is unique, though, and that’s what often makes the decision so hard. The “right” time may be different for each horse and each owner, says Dr. Gariboldi.

“For me, the main consideration is the animal’s quality of life. People may have different perspectives on that, and sometimes it’s hard to make the call,” she says. “If a horse is suffering significantly, I support the owner’s decision to euthanize. If the horse is old, thin, and unappealing to look at but still enjoying life and not in pain, I discourage it. In those cases, consider other options before euthanasia.” Your veterinarian is in the best position to give you information about your horse’s condition, level of suffering, and outlook for recovery. If you’re in doubt about the prognosis or your options, get a second opinion.

For Melissa Winsor, the question centered on how much her horse was suffering and at what point that would be too much. Finis, an Arabian cross and veteran hunter pacer, had developed degenerative suspensory disease (DSLD), a progressive lameness in which the suspensory ligaments become spongy and no longer support the fetlock as they should.

“Over two to three years his hind fetlocks dropped, getting progressively worse until they just barely cleared the ground when he moved,” Melissa says. In addition, the horse seemed to be losing his sight, and he showed signs of Cushing’s disease, a metabolic condition common in old horses. “All his issues just kept adding up,” she says.

Finis was not having a life-or-death crisis. He was alert and eating. But there were subtle changes in his behavior and his overall “look.” He began to prefer being alone in one part of the paddock he shared with Melissa’s second horse. Most of the time he stood with his hindquarters positioned uphill from his forehand and his hind legs pulled forward under his midline. Her veterinarian, Dr. Jeremy Murdock of Ocean State Equine Associates, told her the position probably eased pain in the lower branches of his supensories. “He quite often looked like he was nursing a bad hangover–drooped head, ears out to the sides, and squinty eyes,” Melissa says.

Dr. Murdock was able to provide information about Finis’s problems and explain that they would only get worse with time. “He told me he would support whatever I decided,” she says. She discussed the situation with friends who had horses and asked for advice on an online bulletin board where she was a frequent poster. “Friends who knew Finis could see his deterioration,” she said. “What finally helped me answer the question was a group of photographs I had taken of him. Somehow in the pictures it was just obvious how uncomfortable he was.”

 LOGISTICS

Amanda and Melissa were both able to make arrangements before their horses were put down, and they say that helped the painful process go as smoothly as possible. In an emergency you won’t have much choice, of course. But in other situations you’ll want to settle these questions in advance:

Where? Having the horse’s regular vet come to his barn is probably least stressful for him; Melissa and Amanda both did this, and it’s the most common choice. Choose a site on the property that’s close to the place where his remains will be buried or picked up (more on this below). Many equine clinics will perform euthanasia; in that case, you transport the horse to the clinic.

How? Injection is by far the most common method. The veterinarian delivers a lethal overdose of anesthetic (sodium pentobarbital) into a vein as rapidly as possible. It’s fast–the drug shuts down the horse’s central nervous system. Within minutes he loses consciousness and goes down, his heart stops, and he stops breathing. Veterinary charges for euthanasia performed at home by injection vary; $200 to $300 is a typical range. In some areas equine rescues sponsor low-cost euthanasia programs.Euthanasia can also be done humanely with a gun or a captive bolt pistol. “Some will argue that gunshot to the head is the most humane method. It’s quick and done,” Dr. Gariboldi says. “I respect that opinion, although I don’t use the method and don’t believe it’s really less traumatic.” Only someone experienced with the method should do it, she adds: “In inexperienced hands it can go terribly wrong.” If the gun isn’t correctly placed or the horse jerks his head at the last second, the shot may not be fatal. Also, the bullet may ricochet.

What about the remains? That question isn’t easily answered for an animal that may weigh 1,000 pounds or more—but it’s important to decide ahead of time because disposal must be done without delay. Be sure to check local regulations governing the disposal of livestock remains before you go ahead. (The Humane Society of the United States has a web page with helpful contacts, http://www.humanesociety.org/animals/horses/facts/humane_horse_remains_disposal.html.) Here are three common choices:

 • Burial requires land with an appropriate site and machinery to dig the hole
and move the remains. Melissa was able to bury Finis at home, with help from a neighbor with a backhoe. Image was buried at the farm where he was boarded; a landscaping business based on the property provided equipment and manpower. If you’re not so lucky, hiring a backhoe and operator may cost $300 to $600.

 • Cremation is clean but costly—$1,000 and up for a typical adult horse, plus charges for pickup of the remains and various optional services. Some equine crematories will help you arrange euthanasia at the facility.

• Rendering is traditional and simple. The renderer picks up the remains and processes them to obtain fats, bone meal, and other products. The cost typically ranges from $100 to about $300.These are not the only choices. Composting is an option in some areas, although it’s best done by a commercial composter. If you are near a veterinary college, the school may want the remains as a teaching specimen. You’ll pay a pickup fee, or you may be able to arrange the euthanasia at the school’s clinic.

What else? If you have mortality insurance for your horse, you’ll need to notify the insurance company in advance. Afterward, your veterinarian will need to provide you with the documentation needed to process a claim.

 WILL YOU BE THERE?

This is strictly a personal decision, Dr. Gariboldi says. If you’ve never seen euthanasia, discuss the procedure beforehand with your veterinarian and others who have. Usually death comes quickly and quietly, but sometimes a horse reacts unpredictably or crashes dramatically to the ground.

“Most vets give light sedation first, so the experience will be less traumatic for the horse and the owner. When the horse is sedated and less aware, he gets the euthanasia drug,” Dr. Gariboldi says. “Often the vet can help the horse go down, although this is dangerous because he can fall on you.” Because of the risk, you’ll need to follow your vet’s instructions on where to stand and may not be permitted to hold your horse. Sometimes there is unexpected movement a few minutes after the horse goes down.

 “After the heart stops and the body is no longer getting oxygen, the horse may take a few deep breaths. Mentally and physically he is already gone; this is just the body’s reaction to lack of oxygen,” Dr. Gariboldi explains. “It can be alarming to anyone not expecting it.” In the last step, the vet checks the heart to be sure it has stopped.

Melissa had previously seen a horse put down, and she was prepared to be with Finis. Amanda had not, and she found the experience jolting. “I wanted to be there for Image,” she says, but he was sedated and “pretty dopey before the euthanasia injection, so I’m not sure he knew I was there. The vet said it was the least dramatic euthanasia he had done. Image just folded his legs and went down. But I wasn’t prepared–in seconds whatever I saw shining through his eyes, which to me was him, was just gone. I wish that had not been my last sight of him.”

If you decide to be present when your horse is put down, Amanda suggests
leaving afterward, if possible, and letting others take charge of the burial or removal that follows. “That can never be pretty, and it’s not the memory you want to keep,” she says.

 LETTING GO

You’ll want to say goodbye to your horse in your own way. “I am very grateful that I was able to plan the day and had all the details sorted out, so I was able to focus on Finis,” Melissa says. “I spent all day with him and gave him all his favorite things.” When Dr. Murdock arrived, he gave Finis a physical exam and told her again that he agreed it was time. “Having that input and knowing that he supported my decision was important for me,” she says.

The euthanasia went more smoothly than she had anticipated. Finis was sedated, so he was quiet. “The vet gave him the shot and then eased him down. It was a peaceful end, and it made me think he was even more ready to go than I thought,” she says.

Losing a much-loved horse is hard, whenever and however it happens. It’s OK to grieve, and talking with friends and family can help. “I miss Image every day, even though we were together only a short time,” Amanda says. She kept his halter and a lock of hair from his tail, to be braided into a bracelet or a key fob. Melissa also kept tail hair, and she plans a stone marker for her horse’s grave.

“This process was a learning experience for me and really showed me the connection I had with my horse,” Melissa adds. “Everyone says ‘the horse will tell you when it’s time,’ but horses are stoic creatures and don’t necessarily tell you in obvious ways. You may be waiting for signs that won’t come. You have to be able to read subtle cues and look out for their best interests even when there isn’t a crisis. When you can’t ease their pain, then it’s time.”

I hope that this helps at least one person out there struggling with the decision to euthanize. I am grateful that the author (who was super, super sweet on the phone with me!) was able to take this sort of topic and turn it into an informative but sensitive article that is 100% worth reading if you’re a horse owner or horse owner to be. Big, big thanks to Kate for being so kind in letting me use one of her fabulous images from our photoshoot (and despite me asking them to PLEASE credit the photographer, they did not…they’ve already gotten a kind-but-annoyed email from me over that one!).
This aside, I’ve been a busy freakin’ bee with 847560987456 photoshoots and about that many house sitting engagements. I have a whole, gushy post to write on a WONDERFUL Paso Fino stallion that I had the privledge of taking for a spin…but this will have to hold you over until then 🙂

Meet Daisy

Did anyone else just start singing “Meet Virginia” in their head…? No? Just me?

Ahem.

So, when I say I’m all done until spring rolls around in terms of horse shopping…I really meant that I’m all done as long as nothing interesting pops up in my face.

This mare struck me as, decidedly, interesting.

Daisy is a twelve year old, blue roan(ish?) and white Spotted Saddle Horse mare.

I drove up to Maine last Saturday after talking with J, her owner, quite extensively the past few weeks. J is funny and refreshingly honest, which I thoroughly appreciate. She and N, from the entry on Renegade, are friends…so I shouldn’t have expected anything less than a lovely, sassy lady with a good head on her shoulders and the “horse first” attitude I so respect in other horse people.

Three hours (and one speeding ticket…my very first one *hangs head in shame*) later, I arrived to a BEAUTIFUL little farm in Maine. I wanted to move right into a stall and never leave! J and her son’s girlfriend (also J…hmm…confusing!) greeted me, and we stepped into the barn. I was greeted by another Tennessee Walking Horse mare, who was a foster. Then I met Daisy.

A little bit of back story: shortly after meeting N, she suggested I join a group on Facebook called Mainely Gaiters. I promptly did so. I love having varied horsey groups at my disposal, so the more the merrier! Of course, one of the first posts that popped up was J, looking for a new home for her sweet but spoiled rotten little mare. J (and here is where I knew we would be friends!) openly admits that she and Daisy are like oil and water when it comes to their relationship. Daisy is a good, smart critter who tests the boundaries regularly — and when she gets away with something, she continues pushing to see juuuust how much she can get away with! She is certainly a bit of a diva, but she has more personality in one strand of mane hair than most horses have in their whole bodies.

She immediately charmed me by stuffing her nose in my face and snuffling every inch of it. Then she continued charming me by lipping at my sweatshirt strings and nosing my pockets. She stood quietly as J and I chatted and I went over her with my hands. She flicked an ear once or twice, and tried to mooch carrots off of me.

Daisy, however, is a horse I would classify as a project. She is definitely used to getting her way and it would take some time to remind her that she is not boss mare. She was very reactive and in tune to J, and they really were like oil and water…so J’s presence was enough to work Daisy up when she was asked to do something. J loves her mare so, so much, and it is very obvious that she wants what’s best for her girl, which is one of the most respectable things a horse owner can do (in my not-so-humble opinion). I opted not to ride her that day, as she was already worked up from the things that had been asked of her — I felt it was unfair to completely explode her brain at this point — and a slight misstep on my part tweaked my already bad back. Daisy stood with me after we had done a bit on the ground, resting her nose in the crook of my neck. My heart twinged painfully.

Daisy charmed me. That’s a solid fact. I left J’s that afternoon conflicted. Daisy had most certainly grabbed my heart with her sweet, funny personality, but was I really ready to jump back into a project so soon after Image? I wasn’t sure.

It took me a few days, but I had to admit to myself that despite the fact that I was sure I could help Daisy become a wonderful critter…I just don’t have the drive to do so right now. Image really drained me and I’m not emotionally ready to take on another gamble. Granted, every single horse, no matter how well trained/healthy/what have you, is a gamble at the end of the day…but I’d like my odds to be a little better that I’ll be riding regularly by this time next year. I liked what I saw in Daisy’s eye, even when she was reacting “badly” to something, but I just don’t think I’m up for it right now.

I was glad to meet Daisy and J, who is a sassy lady with a no bullshit attitude (which I also thoroughly appreciated). Just another step in figuring out what, exactly, I want and don’t want when it comes to my next horse. I thought I’d be okay taking on another project — apparently, not so much.

I have about a hundred shoots this weekend (okay, exaggeration, but whatever!), including one with a Paso Fino stallion that I am completely beside myself about. Hope to share a few shots Sunday afternoon!

Happy weekend, ya’ll!

Off Topic: I NEARLY MET STANA KATIC AND IT WAS GLORIOUS

When a friend calls you and blurts out that your absolute favorite actress in the world is going to be in NYC for a movie premiere that she has two tickets to on Tuesday evening, what do you do?

Duh. Drop everything and go to New York City!
If you’ve been around these parts for awhile, you know what happens when someone brings up the ABC dramaedy Castle, or the lead female actress, Stana Katic. I apologize in advance if you haven’t been around long enough to see what happens when a fangirl has a little fangirl mental breakdown. 
Here’s a bit of backstory: My friend K and I met about a year ago in a bit of a strange manner (that seems to be a running theme in my life…hmm!). The lovely crew that runs Stana Katic’s Facebook page had posted a picture of Image and I, and while I was busy freaking out, K was busy friend requesting me from her side of New England. It’s not often that two horse loving Stana Katic fans find one another, so we took it upon ourselves to become friends. I accepted K’s request after recognizing her name from Stana’s fanpage, and we began chitchatting shortly thereafter. Come to find out, we are both aspiring photographers, avid horsewomen, live in the New England area, and would sell our soul for an hour in Stana’s presence. In a lot of ways, we are the same person…so much so, it’s a little scary. 
K called me on Friday, and for a moment, I had to hold the phone away from my ear. It took a little bit of coercing to get the full story out of her: Stana Katic was in NYC for the premiere of her most recent movie, and she had scored tickets. Did I want to go?

What kind of question is THAT?!

Come Monday morning, I gave my supervisor the puppy face and she waved me off, knowing just how important this could be for me. From work, I bolted down to CT to meet up with K. We squee’d with each other for a few minutes, piled back into my car, and booked it to the train.

Arriving in NYC was magical, even though I was in immense pain from a back injury over the weekend and could only hobble my way around. Grand Central Station made my mouth fall open, and it was 100% obvious that I was an out of towner. You can’t take a country mouse into the city and not expect a little bit of culture shock! Sure, I’ve been to Boston, but New York City is NOT Boston…and that was something that was reiterated the entire time I was there. The energy in NYC is so thick that it’s nearly a tangible object you can reach out and poke.

K’s parents have an apartment in Manhattan, so we crashed there for the evening. We spent the next day running around in a semi-panic grabbing makeup (as we both had forgotten our makeup), getting haircuts, and having minor mental breakdowns over the coming evening.

When we finally got our act together and arrived at the theater, we were a little dismayed to see we had shown up just a bit too late. There weren’t a lot of people in front of us, but just enough to where we were worried we weren’t even going to get to lay eyes on Stana. Boo!

We were still busy while we hung out in line — I had been tapped by Stana Katic News to play reporter for the day, which was super cool. I spent all the time we were standing in line live tweeting for people across the country who wanted to keep up with the NYC premiere. On top of that, K and I were positively SURROUNDED by people who were there for Stana, which was awesome. We made some new friends, — in the real world, on Tumblr and on Twitter!

However, because the venue was so small, we were allowed into the lobby and were able to say hello to some big name stars. K and I had absolutely zero interest in anyone else but Stana…and thankfully, SHE WAS THERE.

The crowd stood, phones out and ready, for when she stepped into the room…and I’m pretty sure we blew her away with the outpouring of support and decibel strength of our cheering! She is just as beautiful in person as she is on screen…and she was sweet enough to stop and sign autographs, snap selfies, and chat with us. Her big smile the entire time was adorable — she is so grateful for her fans, and we love her all the more for it! Unfortunately, K and I were about three people rows back from her and didn’t get the meeting either of us were hoping for, but honestly? I got to be in the same room as her for a whole five minutes and it was freakin’ awesome. I know how incredibly vapid it is to be this involved with a celebrity, but there is something about this woman that is inexplicably fascinating. I love the nuances that Katic brings to her characters, which is something that only sheer talent can produce. She has kept her head through all of the fame she’s been plunged into. She’s probably one of the most passionate actresses I’ve ever had the pleasure of watching on my screen, and she is extremely well spoken. I think she’s awesome (obviously) and have a pretty major crush on her (also obviously). I never, ever expected to ever even see her in person, never mind like this, so it was an incredible treat. Some day, I hope to shake her hand and tell her in person just how much she’s inspired so many people in this world.

RIGHT. THERE. OMFG.

Once we were separated into theaters, it was even more evident that the majority of people there were Castle and/or Stana fans. It was like meeting up with family, especially with so many of us in one room! K and I ended up sitting with two wonderful ladies who were equally as thrilled with the experience. We had an excellent time!

The movie itself was excellent and worth a watch if you have any interest in the history of punk rock music (or like Alan Rickman. Or want to see Rupert Grint’s bare ass. Or want to see Stana Katic say “fuck” a lot) and how some of the biggest names in that genre came to be, thanks to club owner Hilly Crystal.

We scampered back to CT after the premiere ended and arrived around 2:30 AM. I spent most of yesterday in a haze and am still buzzing today! It was such a blast going to NYC for the first time and getting to experience a (small) movie premiere.

I have much more to say that’s actually on topic (you know, not totally creepy celebrity stalking related). Another post for another day…but for right now, I’m just going to squee like the good little fangirl I am and pray that the next time she and I are in the same room, I’ll actually get to meet her!