Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Horse Shows By The Bay

On Sunday I dragged myself over to spend some time at the big "AA" level hunter/jumper show, Horse Shows By The Bay in Acme, Michigan, just outside of Traverse City. This is its fifth year of existence, and it gets bigger and better every year.

Of course it was hot, but there was a nice breeze blowing, and by going as much as possible from one patch of shade to another, I managed to put in a couple of hours without collapsing. There is a lot of walking at this show, especially if you are going back and forth between rings to catch action at certain times, and I was grateful that my bad knee and back survived without too much protest.

I wore my floppy canvas hat which worked great for shooting and was pretty cool as well. I ignored the fact that I look pretty dorky in it, and only ran into one person I knew; my barn owner who already knows that I'm a dork and a little odd.

My main reason for going was to shoot the toddlers in the Lead Line class. It was held in the new Grand Prix arena, and I was allowed to go down and shoot from the in gate so managed quite a few shots as the kids waited for the class to begin. They are SO cute on their spiffy little ponies! Some were so small that they hadn't a clue what was going on and didn't care; they just wanted their naps.

I was quite disappointed to find that this new arena is not photographer friendly. It sits down a slope from the rest of the show grounds, and spectators are limited to sitting a ways up the hill for the show jumper classes. So, that is not a good vantage point for getting photos of jumpers to use for paintings. It didn't matter much on Sunday because I had forgotten to put the long lens on my camera before I left home, so I didn't even bother going back to shoot the big jumper Grand Prix class. Instead, I wandered around shooting show scenes and a little of the hunter rings but the light wasn't good and most of the jumps too far away, so those shots didn't come out well at all.

On my way in and out, I took some shots of horses being bathed to get more references for wet horses if I need them as I did for the Mural Mosaic project. I didn't get down to the pony ring but hope to catch some of the ponies when I go back on Friday this week when the dressage show will also be going on. Last year the dressage and ponies were in adjacent rings, so I went back and forth for most of one day.

My one complaint about this show is that it's very difficult to find a list of classes so that you know what's going on in each ring at any given time. In the past I was able to plan out ahead of time where to go at what times to catch the action that I wanted, but not so this year or last.

By clicking on the image above, you can go to my website and see a small portion of the photos I took on Sunday.

Sunday, July 27, 2008

Busy, Busy, Busy!

Since finishing the Mural Mosaic project panel and shipping it off, I have kept busy nonstop.

First was a thorough house cleaning in preparation for our "kids" coming home to visit over the July 4 holiday. Daughter Tina stayed for over week, and we had fun visiting two nurseries and buying lots and lots of plants! I had far more plants than room to put them in! But that would shortly change.

My gardening project for this summer was to dig out new beds between the shrubs along the road, amend the soil and get some new perennials planted. My husband, thankfully, pitched in with the digging part, and now we only have three sections to go. The big push on this project was to get the really heavy work done before the heat and humidity of summer really hit. Late July and all of August tend to be very hot and humid (relatively speaking!) up here in recent years, and that whole fence line is in the sun most of the day. Our lot is quite wide; around 160 feet, so that's a lot of area to dig out grass and weeds, loosen the soil and mix in peat and good dirt to amend the sandy soil. My husband's reward? A lot less area between shrubs to trim by hand at lawn mowing time.

I'm happy to say that as of yesterday most of the new plants are now planted, if only temporarily in order to get them out of their confined spaces in pots too small for them. Some will be moved once the new beds are dug out and prepared. They all have perked up and look much happier in their roomy new surroundings.

The view above shows the yard and some of the new beds that go along the fence starting at the driveway. The tree in the foreground is a flowering crab, and the tree further back is our poor misshapen sugar maple which we hope will fill out better now that it's not growing amongst other trees. We will also be building a tree ring around it using landscaping blocks that we got at Menard's on sale yesterday. They are the same blocks used in the beds up closer to the house, so they will tie this area to the house area for a more unified look. We'll also put a smaller ring around the flowering crab, and the whole bed will have edging bricks along it to keep the crab grass from invading the new beds. They have worked well in the bed that I created three years ago that's hidden from view by the large Burning Bush you see above.

While at Home Depot to get more dirt earlier in the week, I couldn't resist buying these beautiful Asiatic Lilies which were on sale. I also bought a few more lavender in hopes that it will keep the deer from eating the lilies, phlox and other plants as they have in the past. The photo above does not do these fabulous lilies justice; they are a lovely deep magenta that looks like velvet.

Today I'm going to head over to Horse Shows By The Bay in hopes of shooting some photos of the leadline class and the showjumping Grand Prix that comes after it. If all goes well, I'll get some other show scenes as well. I'm anxious to see their new Grand Prix arena where all the highest level classes are being held. Fifteen hundred horses have been entered for the three shows over three weeks this year, and the show is gaining prestige and becoming a favorite of the show crowd because of our good weather, the closeness to Grand Traverse Bay and all of the fabulous things to do in this resort area.

Stay tuned for horse show pix tomorrow.