Thursday, April 29, 2021

Amateur Hour

So I know I’ve been churning out some non-hobby content, but I figure I might as well, in the spirit of my blog, post some hobby-related content! 

Every so often, I'll try my hand at some photography, and, I must say, I think I've improved. Of course, I can't hold a candle to this hobby's finest, but I can try! 

Starting here, with my first picture I can find, taken from my backyard: 

So many scale issues, but I tried!


Some of my first attempts at this have not stood the test of time, but they were taken at BreyerFest 2019. Very few survived, but I got a handful, including this random picture: 

Lil Ricky Rocker casually walking by

With the same mini, I took a handful of pictures, documenting my family's trip to Italy just before BreyerFest. Clearly, realism was not my #1 priority, but I wanted to make a few, at least, look possibly realistic: 
Here she is on the Rialto bridge.
Or, maybe the Vatican is more your speed.
haha, whoops!
Of course, she needed a good cleaning after that
And don't mind me, fulfilling the "dumb American" stereotype

More recently, I've tried to actually step up my game, mainly at the beach, because blades of grass make for scaling difficulties. Here's a sampling of some pictures I got later that summer: 
Whoops...

Quite frankly, photography isn't always what I want to do, so I tend not to take too many photos, hence the gap between then and these next pics from last November: 
I'm not quite sure how to crop it to make it look best, but I'm actually pretty pleased here.
Arggggg... the focus!
Regardless, I think I got really lucky with the awesome lighting.
Here's an unrelated one from the same day, because why not?
Subject: The regal Barrington Robert III

What about y'all, have you tried some photography? I'd love to see it! 


Wednesday, March 31, 2021

To All The Trainers I've Had Before

(Yup, I'm hopping on the trend :)) 


 To All The Trainers I've Had Before, 

     Thank you. Each one of you have taught me so, so much, for which I am deeply grateful. From my very first lessons on sweet homebreds in lady's backyard to learning how to sit the trot on fancy warmbloods under a professional, you've truly given me it all. You've dealt with me in my frustrations and watched me at some of my proudest moments: 


Jill Campbell, 

     It's kind of a funny story, actually, how I started riding. You see, it spurred from my mom urging me to play some sort of sport. I'd tried it all: softball, soccer, lacrosse, you name it. I had always wanted to ride a horse, and I guess my parents finally caved. Anyway, after asking around, we found you! It was a brisk November afternoon in 2015 that I took my first lesson. Immediately, I knew this is what I wanted to do. (Albeit, I had the same feeling about basketball after my first practice and went on to dread it, but this was different, luckily.) 

This sweet mare, Secret, might be the most forgiving pony I've ridden. She put up with all my beginner antics.
     Now, if I'm being blunt, I don't know how responsible it was to let a twelve-year-old (accompanied by adults) to handle your horses in your absence, but having that "raw" horse-owner experience was one of the most enjoyable things I've done. 

However, mind y'all, this lady knew her way around a horse, so it's not like my mom and I were flying solo.
See? Look how happy I was.
Also, what's in my hand? Tennis balls? Seeds?

I'm not going to lie, sixth grade was a pretty hard time for me, and having this to look forward to after school was a highly-welcomed reprieve.
     Plus, letting me use a few of your horses for my seventh grade science fair project was super kind. Before anyone here freaks out (again), its premise was whether horses could remember sequences or not- that's it. 
     And you probably gave me the best 12th birthday I could've wanted. 
Y'all might get a kick out of this: she said to get gloves with grips, so my mom went to the local garden center and got a pair of (pretty large) gardening gloves (which you can see here)!
What did I say about fun socks? You'll never find me without them.

Jean Myra, 

     Once I was ready to kick things into a slightly higher gear, I transitioned to you, a trainer whose barn was, quite seriously, in the same neighborhood. You, arguably, might have been one of my most transformative trainers. After all, you introduced me to the world of jumping! 

     You even roped in my mom! Those lessons were... interesting. 
Look at us, we're practically jockeys (yeah, jockeys... or whatever they're called!)
     Because you didn't teach in the winters (since there wasn't an indoor ring to use), we had to look for somewhere that did, which is where the American Academy of Equestrian Sciences comes into play... 

Alfredo, 
     Although you were a man of few words, I learned so much. From the sitting trot to feeling secure in the canter, you helped me establish a dressage foundation. 
I remember being frustrated here because I couldn't figure out how to do what he was asking, but once it finally clicked, it was well worth it. 
     I don't have much else to say, since I wasn't with you for long, but thank you. 

Sammi, 
     In all due respect to my other trainers, I think you've been my favorite. By which I mean I think I've felt the closest to you, and I miss your instruction. You seemed to have the "magic touch" in communicating clearly what to do. For example, I don't know how you figured this out, but apparently by focusing on something other than my riding while riding, my overall performance improved. 
I wish I had better-quality pictures of your teaching, but this is the best I can find :(
     I wish I could tell you how much I appreciate your time, and I wish my goodbye was a bit more than a "bye, I'll see you later" after my last lesson. 

Marina, 
     I must say, when I first met you, I was starstruck. I mean, it's you... in the flesh. I remember before you started teaching me, sometimes I would see you in your office, occasionally watching me, and I knew I had to look extra good.  I'd be repeating to myself, "Marina's watching. Marina's watching. Marina's watching," making sure you thought I looked nice. 
     Fast forward a few months when you became my trainer, and, I think, out of any trainer. This isn't to disparage everyone else, of course. It's just to say that you're a great teacher. 
I honestly don't even have much commentary here, I think this picture speaks for itself.

Kat, 
     Although hunters isn't quite my thing, it was my pleasure to have you as my trainer. Admittedly, I don't have much to say, since I only rode with you for a bit less than a year, but from what I experienced, some of the hunter elements of riding I still incorporate into my day-to-day rides. I wish I had some pictures to show, but I only have videos from my Instagram. 

Cameron, 
     Once again one of my most transformative trainers, I must say, because it was you that introduced me to competing. We had attended a local starter trial (where, as a nice segue later, my next trainer competed too, apparently) and the USPC Virginia Eventing Rally (double-segue, it was hosted at the barn where I currently ride), and I had a blast. 
Not to mention you have the cutest Fjords
     I really wish Difficult Run Pony Club was still around, but I understand that our membership was too low. Anyway, it was with you that I finally had the chance to get a pony club rating. 
Picture after my D-1 rating!
And my D-3!
And teamwork makes the dream work, right?
     Understandably, professional life comes first, and I wish you the best in your work. Actually, I have a thank-you gift that I'd forgotten to give you, so, if you still want it (and you're reading this), let me know, I guess? 

Hillary, 
     I think you really "got" my riding experience and what I needed (even if I didn't want it, because, of course, hard work is, well, hard). I don't have many photos from our lessons, but here's one from the first lesson at Angelica: 
Just look at Bama, isn't he the cutest?
     I apologize for leaving somewhat abruptly. In part, it was because my parents weren't a fan of how safe the barn was (they thought it might be a fire hazard, so you can probably understand why they would rather me elsewhere). I must say, I could have gone to your barn out in The Plains (I believe?), and maybe that wouldn't have been too bad an idea, except for the fact that it would likely require getting my own horse, and between not living close enough and going off to college in a year, it just wasn't in the cards. 
     Anywho, you helped me regain my confidence jumping, which was pretty imperative if I was to, you know, actually event
     
Megan, 
     Over the few summer months I spent under your instruction, I might have had some of the much fun yet in the saddle. Secretly, I think I've developed an affinity for jumpers. 
Not too shabby, eh?
     Not that this matters, but it was petty cool that you used to ride EZ to Spot! 
     I hope you're still at Split Elm this summer, because I know I will! 

And as for Rachel, well, she's still my trainer, so I don't think that fits the spirit of this entry, but if you're looking for a Rachel little appreciation, here's a bit from my last post. 

What's the bottom line? Everyone has their own teaching style, and everyone has something super useful and unique to contribute. 

And y'all? What're your best trainer memories? 

Saturday, March 27, 2021

Landloched

As I'm sure many of you know, not only am I a collector, but I'm also a rider. Primarily, this is a collector's blog, but with lockdown and all, I can't really do much in the model horse world, but I still want to keep y'all updated! Last fall, I switched barns, realizing I couldn't reach my full potential where I was. There, I couldn't compete, and I really couldn't do too much jumping either. However, this isn't about my barn switch. If any of y'all follow my equestrian Instagram, @EventingAndAgility, you'd know that I compete in Area II, and I have slowly but surely eased my way back into the world of insanity-in-the-middle-ness. Most recently, this has included the Loch Moy Derby series, in which I've participated atop my trusty steed, Cozzie. 

You'd be hard-pressed to find me without fun socks, no matter the occasion.

The first derby was, well, meh. Don't get me wrong, it was fun, but I'm also pretty materialistic and wanted the prizes. Coming out in fifth for our first go 'round was pretty great, though! (Once I get the picture of Cozzie and I posing with our pastel pink ribbon, I'll attach it, but it's yet to land in my lap.) If I'm remembering correctly, we went 20-something seconds under time, but time wasn't really my concern. Rather, I just wanted to get through the round clearly and properly. If you were there, you may have heard me shamelessly, basically, announcing "six! Six! Six! Six!" on my way to, well, jump six, for example. Why? Well, in my last XC round, back at an onsite show, I got lost. If you're curious, here's some footage of my round (notice that a jump judge actually pulled me aside to tell me to get out of the way- whoops). So, so very lost. And I couldn't have that again, especially because I'm on a team and can't let them down. Again, materialism. Anyway, onlookers were, to say the least, borderline confused by my number-shouting. 
The ribbons and prizes outside the show secretary's office 
To no surprise, he was an angel. Carted me around like a champ. Not to be cliché, but we may have finished in fifth, but he's a winner in my eyes. I couldn't have asked for a better horse at the derby. 

Uhh, mister? The jump is down there!
Come January's derby, I was slightly more nervous and decided to take the options that made me feel the most secure, despite the fact that we've cleared 2'9" no problem. I think my ride on Diva had still shaken me then (understandably so)! 
Not too shabby, eh? Thanks, Cozzie!
Unfortunately, between then and late February, Cozzie had become lame (we think, I still haven't been told what happened, but it manifested itself like lameness). So, I rode a different horse, Brooke, for the next two derbies. Now, Brooke is considerably quicker than Cozzie, which I think was nice, because I didn't have to worry about "leg" as much as I did other things (like time, confidence, direction, etc...). She's just as much a rockstar as he. I have to admit. It, overall, had not been my day. I don't know what I would've done without my teammates. Between being pit crew and lending me a saddle (yes, you read that correctly... I might have forgotten a girth), they totally saved the day, for which I can't thank them enough. If any of you are reading this, I've got to say, I owe you... big time. Thank you. I mean, at least I placed well and had fun; that's good right? 
Believe it or not, I think this oxer scared me the most, and I don't know why. Ahh, I need to get out of my head! 
Some victory food for the good mare!
Isn't she the sweetest?
Perhaps the best derby was the last, happening earlier this month. Not only had I taken first (again hehe), but both Greta and my grandpa tagged along to watch! 
Meet the newest additions to my cheering squad
I also want to shout out my lovely coach and trainer, Rachel McDonough. Her training has been invaluable, and I can't wait to see how far I go under her watchful eye. 

I, for one, am not much of a mug enthusiast, but I'm sure I can figure something out ;)
What about y'all? Have you been showing recently? How's it been going? Can't wait to hear all about it! 

Thursday, December 24, 2020

Be Safe...

    "Oh, no. You're riding her? Good luck, man..." Oh, please! I know what I'm doing; I'm sure it'll be fine. Fine it was not. 

    Please, be safe. Last Tuesday, I tried out a mare at my barn to see if we were a good match. The current gelding I ride, and don't get me wrong, I love him to pieces, Cozzie, maxxed out where I'm moving up. This, of course, means trying out other horses. 

Cozzie and I earlier this month at Loch Moy

    I do believe that this new horse and I were a decent match, but I'm not willing to put my safety and soundness below riding her. Don't get me wrong, she's great- super scopey and an awesome ride. 

    Now, I know that falling off is normal, and I'm not against falling to learn (not intentionally, of course). I am, however, opposed to falling not once, not twice, but three times in the span of 45 minutes. Was some of that my fault? Sure. I could have fixed many things, and she is a great horse to teach me to not lean forward. But her teaching style doesn't suit me. Again, I'm not trying to be a "wimp" by being very hesitant to ride her; I'm being cautious and careful. I know that there are a plethora of horses out there that could teach me without putting my safety at such risk. And, like I said, it's not all her fault, but our styles don't "click". 

Most of the ride was pretty good, though.

    I don't know how to explain this without coming across as "bratty" or "privileged", but I'm hoping that's not how I'm coming across. I just want this to serve as a lesson to others: just because you can doesn't mean you should. Just because I can stick with her doesn't mean I should. There are plenty of fish in the sea. She's someone's match, but not mine. 

    Mind you, I am not a bad rider. I'm not excellent, but, at my skill level, I know what I'm doing. So, no, I'm not going to let this shake my confidence, but it will absolutely shake my approach. The one jump lesson I don't wear my riding vest, this happens! Note to self: protect 'yoself: use your vest and get a neck strap (for emergencies, not as a crutch), also, if you're in a sticky situation like Tuesday's, maybe a pair of silicone full-seats. 

    This is also the motivation I think I've needed to commit to an exercise routine. Strength is key, and clearly I lack it (and, even if I had sufficient strength, exercising responsibly is still a good idea). Once my head feels normal again, I'll begin a routine. Who knows, maybe I'll update y'all on how it's going? In case you're curious, I'll add one of my falls (it looks worse than it was- tucking and rolling, etc...)- 

TW: minor injury

Pretty pathetic and avoidable...
Well, at least I rolled.

     Like I said before, the ride itself wasn't all bad, it just had some bad moments. Here are some less-frightening stills of my Tuesday lesson: 

See? Pretty chill. 
My form aside, I enjoyed the ride.

    Like we learn in elementary school, all most stories have morals. So, what's the moral of this story? Listen to your horse. Listen to your body. Stay on!!! But most importantly, stay safe

    That's all I've got for now. I wish all of you a merry Christmas and happy holidays and hope 2021 isn't half as bad as 2020. 

    What are your winter plans? Are you going to go riding? Tell me about it! 

Friday, September 11, 2020

Imitation is the Sincerest Form

First of all, I would like to take a moment to acknowledge the fact that today is 9/11, and that deserves immense recognition. 

Would you believe me if I said I’ve had this in my drafts since December 5th, 2019? Wild. Anyway, better late than never, right? Without further ado, I present to you today’s post! 

We've all heard the saying, "imitation is the sincerest form of flattery", right? Well, there's no doubt that nearly every company has 'imitated' another once or twice. While doing some roaming throughout the interwebs, I came across a few semi-surprising examples:


Recognize this? Maybe because it bares a striking resemblance to this.  
Image result for toy horse
Huh- looks oddly familiar to this dude...
Image result for toy horse
That mare looks only slightly different than this lady.
Image result for toy horse
"PAM who?"
Image result for toy horse plastic
"FAS? Never heard of him."
Image result for toy horse plastic
I could've sworn I've seen this mare before...
Image result for toy horse plastic
And this donkey bears an awfully similar resemblance to someone else I know.

Thursday, April 23, 2020

What I Wish I Knew Before my First Live Show

Now that we're at home and have so much time, why not prep for a show? That's what I've been doing a tad of!

So, you want to live show? Awesome, but how? Who are you going to bring? Where will you show? In what division will you enter? Hopefully, I can help clear up some of those questions :)

What are you Going to Bring? 

This question is one that many showers face (no matter your experience level, it's always a good idea to continue to improve in any aspect you can). Some of my favorite videos that have helped me immensely are:

Typically, I tend to narrow down I bring by:

  1. Going through the classlist and choosing who would work for each class 
  2. From there, I narrow it down by prioritizing those with the fewest flaws, best confirmation, so on and so forth. 
  3. Now I should have anywhere zero to, perhaps, four models. Zero models entered in a class is perfectly fine! It makes the day of the show less stressful and, thus, more enjoyable! I get more in-depth on this in a previous post
  4. Because I prefer not to pay "overflow" fees (typically $1 for each model exceeding the class limit, which is normally two per entrant per class), I'll do my best to narrow it down to two models for any given class. You can also see an example of that at a show in my first Sea to Bay 2020 recap

Placing your Model in the Ring: 

This, arguably, is one of the most important aspects of showing, since how your model is presented is how it's judged! Don't get too freaked out, though, showing is meant to be a lot less stressful, admittedly, than many showers do (myself included). The main things to keep in mind are: 
  • Show side 
  • Breed 
  • Condition 

What is a Show Side? 

At the minimum, it is the side that the horse is facing (all photos credit to IdentifyYourBreyer.com).  Some easier molds to tell the show side vs. the off side are these: 
Show side
Show side
Show side
Off side
Off side 
Off side 

What Breed Should I Assign? 

Now, if you would like to see more about how I assign breeds, you can find it here!

I hope this might clarify a few things, and I look forward to seeing any of y'all at shows after all this craziness :)

Disclaimer: I, myself, am not an expert by any means and am learning still. I consider myself to be (subjectively) new to the world of live showing, but I still believe I have some valuable knowledge to give. I hope this helped!