Thursday, February 11, 2010

Peggy - The horse that taught me to ride

I started riding horses when I was nearly 7 years old. That might be late for some of the Kentucky riders but growing up in MA (not the land of horses) it was an early age. As a young kid I wanted everything in my life to revolve around horses. My books, stuffed animals, movies, shirts, you name it- had to all be about horses. I was horse crazy. Still am...

My parents finally gave into my obsession of horses and found a local barn that offered lessons. The name of the barn was Sunny Croft Farms and it was right over the border in Thompson, CT. I still remember the day we went to see the barn for the first time. I had carrots and apples lined in my pockets ready to persuade any horse for their affection. Sadly... I still do this today. Some habits never die. The barn seemed like such a magical place. The smell of horses in the air was sweeter then any perfume money could buy. I never get tired of that scent, something about the smell of a barn energizes my soul.

Meet Peggy. She was the horse who taught me how to ride. The images above were taken at my first riding lesson back in 1981. I had the choice to learn basic english riding or western. That was an easy decision since I wanted to be a cowgirl. For the entire seven years I rode at that barn I think I sat upon an english saddle only once. It wasn't until I was 21 that I learned to ride in an english saddle. It was at that age that I discovered my love for jumping. More on that later. Back to Peggy the horse. She was a patient mare. She was the horse that almost every new comer to the barn learned to ride on. She was sure footed and trusted to take care of all of her riders. She did just that. I didn't ride Peggy all that long, within my first year I moved on to younger and faster horses. Peggy retired some years later and was sold to a family where she could live out her years just being a horse.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Rocher - Not your average chocolate

I met Rocher in 2005. She was a black beauty with big dreamy brown eyes. You probably have heard that she loves her job – yes she loves dressage and it shows. Judging from her energy in the arena, I felt as if she knew she was a star and wanted to make sure everyone else did too. She is a champion famous not only for her generous sized ears that flop around as she moves about the dressage arena, but also for her fantastic career as a dressage horse. I remember watching Rocher during the ribbon ceremony. She stood proud and looked around at the crowd to make sure everyone was looking at her. It's hard to explain but she was looking at the crowd not as "a normal horse would" but a horse who seemingly understood her surrounding. She has such an air of intelligence about her. I half expected her to start talking.

Rocher, you are a magical mare.

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Winsome Andante - The wonder horse

His name was Winsome Andante, otherwise known as Dan. It was the year 2005 and it was my first Rolex as a credentialed photographer. Any photographer who has photographed Kentucky Rolex 3Day event knows that shooting this event is not for the weak of heart. You shoot for four long days in completely unpredictable weather. I admit, I had no idea what I was in for. The rain came down hard during dressage, unprepared I only had a trash bag and an rubber band to protect my camera. I didn't mind the rain really... I was overwhelmed by my surroundings and completely immersed in the sound of the roaring crowd. Horse and riders came and went test after test but none of them caught my attention like Kim and Dan. Kim Severson and Winsome Andante passed by the media island after their dressage test and gave an encouraging smile to the sopping wet media folks. You could tell from the reaction of the spectators that this horse and rider team was the beloved favorite. It was a tough Rolex that year. Two days of rain during the dressage phase left a very soggy and dangerous cross country course, not to mention it was bitterly cold on that Saturday in April. I felt like a pioneer woman settling the land, hunger and exhaustion were real as you tried to ignore your basic instincts. Sunday came and with it the sunshine. The Sun was taunting our exposures as it peaked itself in and out of the passing clouds. That year I learned the value of applying sunblock to the my entire hands as they slowly burned in the heat of the afternoon. Sunday is stadium jumping. The day is short and sweet but it is also the last of your exhausting four days of shooting and long nights editing. Alas, it was time for Kim and Dan to complete the final phase of Rolex. The crowd was silent. Jump after jump they cleared them all. I will never forget the moment as Kim and Dan jumped over the final fence. She and Dan knew they had won! I caught that moment on camera, what a treasure. Kim's hand went up in the air in victory and Dan picked up a new speed as they galloped their way to victory. I tried to keep myself together as I held back my tears of joy. I realized that I had witnessed history. My heart was pounding as the crowd came up off of their feet cheering on the victorious winners! Part of me felt like we were all on this adventure together, the crowds, the riders, the horses, and my fellow media - at that moment it felt like we all won.

Winsome Andante you not only touched my life that day but I believe you touched all of our lives. It's hard to believe you did it all over again in 2006. You truly are a wonder horse.

Tuesday, February 2, 2010


I am honored to have been interviewed by The Equinest, Please click on the link to see the whole story.


If you are not a sappy horse girl... proceed to the next blog. Your eyes will get stuck from rolling in the back of your head as you read my post. If you are a horse crazy girl who secretly wanted to be lost on the island with the Black Stallion, then read on.

This is Stoney. He was my first "real" horse love. I need to distinguish "real life horse love" from "horse on TV love." God only knows I was in love with the Black Stallion the moment he came rearing upon the movie screen in 1979, he was the horse who first set my heart dreaming. Anyway back to "real love". Ahhhhh we never forget our first loves, do we? I won't forget this horse either. My husband and I met Stoney at a local public park here in Lexington, Kentucky several years ago. Stoney was always the first horse in his pasture to come to the fence and greet you with a warm welcome. He was very friendly as he was always looking for a handout. He was a beautiful horse. I remember thinking his colors reminded me of a Coca-Cola can because of the frosted effervescent pattern of white hair that seemingly swirled upon his richly colored red coat. My husband and I would frequent this park often and came to know Stoney quite well. After a while Stoney would see me coming in the distance or hear my voice and he would come galloping over to the fence and wait for me to come and visit with him. He would sit quietly as I would pet his face or pick the burs out of his forelock. He loved the attention I lavished on him. I believe that Stoney loved me and I loved him. He was the first horse that ever felt like he was "mine," sadly he was owned by someone else who kept him at the park. My relationship with Stoney continued over the next year. I would visit him almost every weekend and the same thing would happen, he would hear my voice and come galloping at full speed to greet me. Just hearing the sound of his pounding hooves flying over the grass filled my heart with joy. I had a countless number of eye rollers and doubters who would listen to my stories of the red pony, some of those doubters would say, "of course he comes to you, you feed him." True... but last time I checked every horse owner feeds their horses. Do all of your horses come running to greet you? Didn't think so... So as you see my relationship with Stoney was special. I would love to bring new people with me to meet Stoney and witness for themselves the horse who would run to me. A few of my "non nostalgic" horse friends, who observed our relationship, said they never saw anything like it. Our relationship was truly unique. One day, on chilly afternoon, I went to the pasture to visit Stoney. I called his name but this time he did not come running. The sound of pounding hooves could not be heard, everything was silent. I looked around the pasture franticly for him but the little red horse was gone. Turns out his owner sold him to a college student out at Midway. My heart was broken. I cried for months... maybe even years.. oh wait maybe even right now... As long as I live I will never forget that red horse. Stoney will be in my heart forever...

I have attached several photos of Stoney. My favorite photo is the one where he has his head on my shoulder and was taking a nap.

Monday, February 1, 2010

Horse Crazy

I have been trying avoid the horrible Kentucky winter weather outside, so I have been busy doing some much needed organization in my office. I came across this old horse show photo of me as a kid. I think I was nine years old here. Vertically challenged, even as an adult my height seems almost comical as I sit upon this large gray mare. My magnificent mount was a sweet girl named Apple Pie. She was such a great horse. I remember her very fondly. She understood verbal commands and did everything you asked of her. She was such a treasure.

I had the idea of continuing to post pictures of all the horses that have touched my heart over the years. Stay tuned!