Saturday, June 30, 2012

Dressage By The Bay, 2012

Working Trot, Intermediare musical freestyle
Last Saturday I took my big camera and headed for Dressage By the Bay at Flintfields Horse Park near Traverse City, Michigan. It’s just a twenty minute drive for me, and this show is the first of a five week group of shows through the month of July and into August. 

After consulting the online class schedule, I decided to go late in the afternoon for the musical freestyles. There were three classes of musical freestyle: young riders, Intermediare and Grand Prix. Each class had only a few riders in it, and the weather didn’t cooperate much as it got a bit cloudy about the time I arrived. Not the best lighting for photography, but whatcha gonna do? The sun did come out briefly, and those photos were some of my best for the day. 

In addition, I chose a bad shot to shoot from since the boards for the dressage arena often cut off the horses' feet, as above. Next time I'll know to shoot from a different spot. 

I hit another snag with my camera when it wouldn’t shoot continuously at its usual ripping pace. It had been working fine when I tested it at home, but of course it didn’t at the show, so I didn’t get the action shots I had hoped for except for a few by happenstance. 

Heading for the warmup ring, Dressage By The Bay
I had some time to kill before the musical freestyles began, so I took a stroll through the barns area and got some good shots there. I love to do those candid behind-the-scenes shots as well as those in the arena, and sometimes they can be more interesting. Here are a few of the shots I got with some notes on each: 
I couldn't pass up this beautiful photo of a very wet horse at the wash rack with his young owner 

Grand Prix musical freestyle, stallion and rider

This Friesian was a crowd favorite with his high action, winning his class, too.

This handsome fellow was a handful but had beautiful movement and won his class
I was a bit disappointed that the show seems to have shrunk in size since I last attended 2-3 years ago. It’s hard to understand why the dressage riders aren’t coming up here for the show since the facility is top notch and management is getting very high ratings from the hunter/jumper riders who come up for three weeks of Horse Shows By the Bay. The Traverse City area is beautiful and has many summer activities to tempt the riders during their down times, including the wonderful Grand Traverse Bay beaches and boating activities. 

Enjoy the photos, but please remember that they are protected by copyright, so please do not copy without asking permission. 

Sunday, June 3, 2012

The Mare In Question; A Bit of Unplanned Excitement


Life has been very busy again of late. 

Scottie developed yet another hoof abscess last month and that entailed more daily trips to the barn to soak and wrap his foot. I have also been cleaning out flower beds and generally preparing them for the new growing season. Thanks to our early warm weather back in March, everything is doing extremely well and growing fast. I’ve already planted some annuals and have new perennials to add to the beds to fill them out. But first, a few perennials need to be moved to better spots, and I’ve been trying to figure out where to put them before I tackle the new plants. 

Our kids were both home for the Memorial Day holiday weekend which required that I clean the house, something I don’t do as often as I should. We had a nice visit even though the weather didn’t cooperate, and then it was back to the usual routines. 

Male barn swallow
I had just started riding Scottie again when he came up lame yet again, so now it’s back to the barn daily for foot soaks. Just the other day I took my big camera along and managed to get some pretty good shots. The barn swallows are back, and a pair of adults obliged me by sitting still on the fence while I took their pictures. When I looked at them on the computer, I was amazed by the beautiful irridescence of the feathers on their backs and heads. What great paintings they will make! I was disappointed that the shots weren’t more sharp and am wondering if maybe I need to upgrade to a better zoom lens for this camera. Or, perhaps I needed a tripod. 

This photo is of a little bird which was hanging around Mikey as he grazed. This bold little fellow got daringly close to Mikey’s mouth in this shot, and I figure he was waiting to grab any insects that Michael might have scared up while cutting the grass. What a brave little bird!

Mikey's Bird
As for the photo at the top, it is of the mare in question, a big rawboned Hannoverian mare named Mellissa. She is currently in heat and has been smitten by J Willie who is in another pasture. He seems equally smitten with her, even though he’s a gelding, and the two of them have been calling to each other constantly. Well, Mel doesn’t really ever neigh or whinny; she bellows. 

As I was bringing Scottie out of the pasture gate later that same day, Mel snuck up behind us and barged through the gate and headed for the driveway. This mare is nearly 17 hands and is a bit of a tank. There was no stopping her! My heart went into my throat, fearing she would take off down the drive and into the road. But she swerved off to the side to have a rendevous with JW. Quickly I put Scott in cross ties in the barn and grabbed Mel’s halter. But when she saw me with the halter, it was clear she had no intention of being caught and took off at her ground shaking big trot. I managed to block her from the driveway and maneuver her back toward the barn door where she thankfully took the bait and trotted in. Then I heard the sound of a cross tie breaking. Oh No! What had she done to my horse?!

As I ran into the barn aisle, I saw both horses at the far end. Shutting the door behind me, I approached them and grabbed Scottie and then opened the gate into the arena as Mel bellowed for JW yet again. She willingly charged into the arena which abuts JW’s paddock and leads out into the big pasture. Whew! She was contained!

A quick assessment of Scottie revealed no damage to his body nor did he seem the least bit upset. But his halter hardware was broken and one cross tie lay over his neck just behind his ears. In thinking about it, I’ve concluded that when he saw Mel coming at him down the aisle, he must have reared back and broken loose on his own in an attempt to get out of her way. 

At any rate, I’m just very thankful that none of us were hurt and that I managed to put Mel back where she belonged so that we didn’t have to chase her through the woods or along country roads. That bit of excitement is enough to last me for a long time!