Sunday, December 25, 2011

Merry Christmas! 2011

Hope everybody had a great holiday today! Looking forward to 2012.

Saturday, December 17, 2011


There is a really nice video that has been recently uploaded on Youtube of the great Akhal Teke gelding Kandar. He was such a beauty and phenomenal athlete! I believe that the nice collage above was created by Amrita Ibold - (Jenny, please correct me if I'm wrong on that....) so the photo credit goes to her. =:)

Another video of interest is of the famous Turkmen trickriders:

And the ones below are of Absent, the big black Akhal Teke stallion that was a five time Olympic medalist during the 1960's and onward (2 gold, 2 silver, and 1 bronze). He competed against warmbloods and won many times, and was named "Horse of the Century" by the media. He was a bit heavier in type than Kandar and the tekes in the other videos, but also a very beautiful and talented horse.


Friday, December 2, 2011

An Early Christmas Present

I made my last payment on Tommy on Wednesday. Wahoo! He's mine! I had a two year lease with an option to buy - and I'm forever indebted to Cathy for letting me do that. I couldn't have purchased him without it. I have eight horses in the pasture to feed, so every penny that I can scrape up out of the bucket is precious. But I'm considering Mr. Tommy Tudor an early cheery Christmas present to myself! And he is one of the best presents that I've ever gotten. =:)
A recent picture of him on one of our windy fall day conditioning rides.

He's gotten to the point where he's pretty patient when I have the camera out now. I used to have to push him away all the time when I'd take a picture, because he'd be right in my face wanting to know what that little black thing was. Now, it's like, "Oh god, the black thing is out again. I'll just wait here, knock youself out...."

A picture from earlier on this summer, after he was nice and shiney from having a bath. =:)

Monday, November 28, 2011

I was invited to be a guest artist on one of Tabatha Pack's traditional sized arabian mare resins "Saoirse". I just completed this copy in my studio as a dappled mulberry fleabitten grey with some silvery metallic sheen - (the sheen shows up the most in her mane and tail.) There are some minor resculpting modifications that I did on her as well.

I've also been experimenting with colors on bases, and this sculpture has a metallic cameleon purple/blue/green hue. It was fun to paint. My new little handmade branded Teke watermark has started making appearances in the model photos too. It's my small attempt to cut down on picture pirating....although I do realize that it can be photoshopped and erased....

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

A Familiar Face

Craig and I were spectators at the local Eddie McMurdo show this year. We went to watch the open classes and see how the judge was placing the entries. After some of the classes, I was walking down the isles of the barns when I noticed a light breed bay and white pinto next to a mini at the end of a row. I exclaimed rather loudly and with some excitement "there's Spot!" It was Ernie Schrader's gelding Captain Calypso, otherwise fondly known as Spot. I didn't see Ernie around anywhere, but I gave Spot a scratch as I passed his stall. I've seen the flashy gelding many times at the northwest endurance rides.

There was a picture decorating the door of Spot (with Ernie in the saddle), climbing cougar rock at the Tevis a few years back. Both of them are active endurance competitors, and it was nice to see Spot attending the horse show. From the looks of the ribbons hanging on the door, he had done pretty well. I thought that it was a great example of an endurance horse branching out into other activities. Very inspiring.

Gradual Transitions

Tommy's come a long way in a years time. As the weather briskly changes into winter, I keep thinking back to when I first started working with him last fall. It's been like watching a butterfly emerge from a cocoon. The metamorphosis has been amazing.

Tommy has started the journey of proving that he is a trustworthy partner in both the arena and along the trail. For the first few months under saddle, I used to have to lunge him in a warmup to let him get his juvenile bucks and giggles out before I swung a leg up over him. Now, we saddle up and head on down the trail at a nice collected western pleasure jog. All business and no silliness - it's absolutely fabulous.

There have also been two other transitions happening in a years time as well. We have transitioned in the leg aid department from: (1) no spurs for the first 8 months (2) to slip on nubbies for 2 months (3) into gooseneck shank spurs now. I have alterior motives for switching to shanks at both ends. Which brings me to the other transition:

Head gear changes. The first month under saddle was dedicated to the sidepull. I've used it on every horse that I've started. It's similar to a hackamore or a stoutly made halter, only with a more direct rein connect to either side of the nose for a more "non-confusing" approach. I prefer the sidepull over a hackamore because the reins are located on either side, instead of a big rein mass underneath the chin. Young horses seem to understand the direct concept of going right and left with it better, and since there is no bit they can concentrate on carrying the riders weight for the first month. I won't start anything with a bit, as I've always felt that it was too much for a young horse to stay focused on for the intial first few times. I know that there are a lot of people who start out with a snaffle, but it's my personal preference to start without one.

The next transition was into a regular ring snaffle. Tommy worked with it in his mouth and gnawed at it the first two weeks that it was introduced, but soon got comfortable and stopped fiddling with it. Generally most young horses will chew at it to begin with. He learned to give to a stop and backing pressure with it, and also the beginning stages of collection. Most of my snaffles have a sweet iron or copper mouthpiece, I kind-of like them that way. We spent several months working in the snaffle.

And here we are at the present time. This is the third step in Tommy's transitional journey. It's a Kerry Kelly snaffle mouthpiece bit with shanks. And he ADORES it! I introduced this bit to him two weeks ago on one of our trail rides, and he took to it like it was a lollipop. (*And I am so absolutely thankful for that! See the below side note.)

When I first introduced this bit to him I unhooked the reins and put them on a halter that was underneath the bridle. I just let him pack the bit around in his mouth without any pressure from my hands, and to let him get used to how the heavier shanks felt. I was amazed that he didn't fidget or mouth with it at all. Halfway through the trail ride I hooked the reins onto the shanks and it wasn't a problem. He acted like an old broke horse that had been using it all his life.

* Side note: For anyone who has struggled with a horse that is un-accepting to a new bit, it's a real joy to have a good student like Tommy that is willing to pick it up right away. Nettie has been my ultimate project in finding a bit that is enjoyable for her. The main problem boils down to a lack of collection, and I have to work a lot more on that. When Nettie gets cranky with something in her mouth, she will toss her head all over the place - instead of bending into it in order to take the pressure away. I've tried about a dozen different bits with her, and am still working on lateral flexion and getting her to accept new things in her mouth. It has been a learning curve, to say the least....

But there is still one more fourth step yet to go for Tommy, but he is getting there at a good pace. The final step will be a transition into a full bridle "finished" horse, with a solid shanked mouthpiece. It will probably take another year or two of work, but we'll get there.

Under the Oregon Horseman Association rules, a horse that is 6 years of age or older cannot be shown in a bosal or snaffle bit in an open class - (they are limited to entering only green horse classes). And I'm fairly sure that the Washington Horseman's Association rules are similar, but they have a lot more breed specific regulations thrown into the mix that I haven't taken the time to read just yet. So, with that said - we're getting prepared ahead of time to play by the rules. Next year is going to be interesting for the both of us. =:)

Sunday, November 13, 2011

War Horse

Check out the new Spielberg flick! It's coming soon - and sure to be good. =:) I can't wait to see it.

Monday, October 24, 2011

The Colors Of Fall

My mom snapped this photo on one of our many trail rides. The colors of autumn are really lovely. Intense reds and yellows make going down the trail a joy.
Suzette and I crossing a creek. My yellow pullover sweatshirt matches the tree leaves! =:)

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Kaleidescope Kowboy

A custom painted Cantrell "Santa Fe Renegade" resin for Kathy Wiggins of Zebulon, Georgia. Completed in fall 2011. It has taken me two years to finally get this guy done - but the amount of time was to be expected when you are tackling a hair-by-hair appy paintjob. I got to play around with my new tabletop belt sander as well, doing a bit of wood working for a new cherry stained base for him too.

He is by far the most difficult - yet most striking - appaloosa that I've painted, yet.

Kowboy is not very photographic due to his light dun coloration - and a lot of the tiny little details get washed out by the camera's flash. I purposely left off the flash on this leg photo to show the broken up leg barring and tiny specs of hair marks. If you look at the full body shot, the leg barring looks like it's just a solid stripe - but in reality all of the stripes are broken up into a million tiny little brush strokes.

I hope to do another appy in this style of painting in the future, but it will probably be on one of my own models. It was a ton of work, but very rewarding. =:)

Monday, October 10, 2011

Some Unlikely Mounts

It never ceases to amaze me at some of the different animals who enter the Tevis every year. There are some very unlikely long distance equines who hold their own and do very well against a predominantly huge field of arabians.
There are always a couple of mules that do very well.

They are very tough competitors, and most of them hold their weight pretty well. I've never seen one "suck up" around the middle, like most 100 mile horses will do.

Sponging to cool down. It's a mules only nemesis - the heat.

I imagine after a few hundred mile rides, it would make for some VERY broke saddle mules!

Some other interesting breeds that are entered into the Tevis. A missouri foxtrotter, above.

A saddlebred.

A fjord.

And there are generally a couple types of stock horses entered into the ride every year as well. An appy, above.

A paint.

Another paint.

And there are some mustangs in the field as well. Clearly, the rider is just as tough as her horse is, to be able to keep going for 100 miles with an injury....

A beautiful shot of the No Hands bridge with distance riders streaming across it.

A Tevis article in the Auburn Journal:

Sunday, October 9, 2011

Jas and Patrick

Some more pictures of Jas and Patrick at Tevis, courtesy of photographer Lynda Moulton.
At the pre-ride check.

Riding through Foresthill.

Coming in to the Foresthill check.

Making History

It was a long night last night. The Tevis Cup was running, and I kept springing up from my bed to check on my riders status on the computer. It was a history making event last night as Jas Schearer-Mcmahon and her 12 year old Akhal Teke gelding MV Patrickhan made the accomplishment of crossing the finish line at McCann Stadium. Patrick is the first purebred Akhal Teke in history to complete the Tevis. There have been others in the past who have attempted it, (with one highbred mare actually finishing it), but Patrick made all of the Akhal Teke world fans very proud last night.

The Tevis was run in a very different and somewhat odd way this year. The ride is usually held at the beginning of July when the weather is scorchingly hot - but due to an unusually high snowpack in the Sierra mountains this year - it was moved back to October. This unfortunately created another problem; as a couple of days before the ride was scheduled to begin - it snowed at Robie Park, the starting point of the ride. So the event coordinators had to re-route the ride backwards with a loop half way out and back this year. It was interesting to see the updates and keep track of people on the Tevis website:

Cathy and Monica made the trip down to Auburn to help support Jas and Patrick. It will be great to hear the stories and view Monica's pictures when they return from the trip. It's a good idea to have a competent supporting ground crew available for the Tevis, as there is a lot of confusion and chaos with this big of a ride. Contestants need all the help that they can get, and Jas had the whole Akhal Teke community backing her. There were enough donations that came in to the Co-op site to cover most of her expenses for the Tevis:

Another thing that makes Jas and Patrick very special - is that they are the only Akhal Teke horse and rider team in AERC history to earn a BC (best condition) at an endurance ride. Patrick won the best condition title at the Turkey Creek 50 mile ride last year. Generally BC's are given out to heavyweight riders who place in the top 10 as finishers. Jas is in the lightweight category, so it is a very hard earned accomplishment to earn that title.

A photo of Jas and Patrick (above) shortly before the start of the Tevis ride in Auburn. Patrick has the exotic hooded eye that Astrakhan is known for passing on to his offspring. Patrick was a breeding stallion up until just a few years ago, but due to an accidental fire at a vet lab - he has very limited foals produced. But, the switch from a breeding stallion into a performance gelding has proved to be a good move, as Patrick has accomplished quite a bit as a long distance horse.

Kudos to Jas and Patrick for a job very well done!

The official tracking results of Jas and Patricks journey thru the Tevis ride are listed below:

Query results for Rider #157 (Shearer-McMahon, Jas)
Information generated 10/9/11 9:29:10 am (UTC-0700)

Auburn - Start
10/8/11 6:30 am
0 miles

Lower Quarry - East
10/8/11 7:30 am
10.1 miles

River Crossing - East
10/8/11 8:06 am
16.6 miles

Franciscos - East
10/8/11 8:33 am
20.1 miles

Franciscos - East
10/8/11 8:54 am
20.1 miles

Cal 2 - East
10/8/11 9:54 am
29.1 miles

Cal 2 - East
10/8/11 10:04 am
29.1 miles

Foresthill - East
10/8/11 12:00 pm
38.6 miles

Foresthill - East
10/8/11 1:08 pm
38.6 miles

Chicken Hawk/Volcano - East
10/8/11 2:07 pm
42.7 miles

Mosquito Ridge Road
10/8/11 2:14 pm
50 miles

Chicken Hawk/Volcano - West
10/8/11 4:59 pm
57.3 miles

Foresthill - West
10/8/11 5:45 pm
61.4 miles

Foresthill - West
10/8/11 6:54 pm
61.4 miles

Cal 2 - West
10/8/11 8:53 pm
70.4 miles

Franciscos - West
10/8/11 11:07 pm
79.9 miles

River Crossing - West
10/8/11 11:47 pm
83.4 miles

Lower Quarry - West
10/9/11 12:55 am
89.9 miles

Lower Quarry - West
10/9/11 1:10 am
89.9 miles

McCann Stadium - Finish
10/9/11 2:56 am
100 miles

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Real Beauties

There are many times in my life that I've wished that I was independently wealthy.....

Today's horse market is in a pretty sad state. There are several very nice well trained horses in america going for dirt cheap. A friend of mine e-mailed the other day and reported that he witnessed a perfectly sound 12 year old quarter horse gelding - a dead broke kids horse - sell for $200 from his boarding barn. That's a sad commentary. With hay prices at an all time high and a glutted saturatation of the market, things are most likely not going to get better anytime soon. It's happening in other places of the world as well. Inflation of the necessities in life, (like fuel to get to work with) are becoming a real buggar to grapple with - and generally the hobby details in people's lives are the ones that are going to suffer (horses).

But, then again on a cheerier note: there's never been a better time to pick up some totally awesome stock at rock bottom prices. I'm not in the market for another horse, (Craig would be sent to the big house for murdering me if I brought another horse home, and I'm also in a state of being habitually flat ass broke with my finances....) - but it's fun to look around at what's out there.

When I happened on to Nadja's russian sale site, I fell head over heels for Saganeya. What a floating butterfly of a beauty! And a steal of a price too. I can remember 10 years ago when I first discovered this breed, a broodmare of this caliber could easily have garnered $30 to $50,000. With the market the way that it is, she is a bargain. Like most of the russian teke stables, they prove their broodstock on the race track. (So, she is race broke - which would translate into "green broke" for pleasure or trail riding.) But still a steal of a deal for a fantastic akhal teke mare. Since she is still a very young horse, there is still time for her to have another career opportunity.


3 year old filly

There are many other lovely horses available on the site and up for grabs as well. A few of my other favorites are listed below:

Mersedes 3 year old filly

Olimpiada 2 year old filly


3 year old colt

Pergenbek 10

10 year old stallion

Akderek 11 year old stallion

Sunday, September 11, 2011

North PAC Oregon 100

Yesterday we attended the North PAC/Oregon 100 near Brothers, OR. It was really a great experience for Tommy. He performed exceptionally well for such a young horse! I was very proud of him.

This was his very first real ride out at a distance event, and it was a very good one for him to start with. The country down near Brothers is non-technical with a lot of wide open flat sandy desert. You can see the whole ride pack in front of you, (and some other people coming up from the back), from a good long distance away. Unlike the forest rides, nobody will come out of the trees and surprise your horse and scare the hell out of them. But, there are other unexpected surprises in store on the desert rides - like giant herds of antelope that dart right by your horses! (Yes, it happened, and people had problems.) But overall it's a really great ride to attend. There are many competitive long distance riders who make this their first 100 mile experience, and it's some awesome terrain for that.

My goal at this ride was to just keep Tommy calm and have a good walking "training" ride. We started the very last behind everybody else at camp, because I wanted him to calmly walk out and not get rattled or nervous about anything. (There's nothing worse than having a young green horse start off on the wrong foot by letting them bounce around at the start of a ride and progressively get worse as they get older....) But as Tommy stood next to me and watched everybody else leave in a cloud of dust, you could just see the wheels working in his head - "Where are they going, and why are they leaving so fast....?" It was comical watching him trying to figure out what was going on.

After everybody else left camp and we headed out down the trail at a relaxed walk, there were some 25 milers (who unfortunately got lost and took the wrong loop), come up from behind us and pass us along the way. Much to my surprise, Tommy handled it very well. I fully expected him to get his adrenaline and blood pressure up and want to trot along behind them after they went by us. But he didn't. We would calmly stop along the shoulder of the trail and I'd let him watch them as they passed us at a speedy trot, and then get back onto the trail at a nice leiusurely walk. It was great. I never felt out of control at any time on him, which was a huge sigh of relief. Sometime you never know what a young green horse will do when they experience high speed trail traffic for the first time....some spook and run off, some buck..,ect. Tommy handled it exceptionally well.

We made it almost half way through the ride before we hit a problem. Unfortunately our ride was cut short due to some large lava rocks. We were walking along just fine when I felt him trip and go down in the hind end. I looked back along the trail to see some huge jagged lava rocks sticking up out of the dust. They had been covered completely up by the sand and trail dust and you really couldn't see them very well at all. We kept walking down the trail, but I could tell that he was a bit off from his back legs tripping. Luckily the vet check was only 2 to 3 miles down the trail, so we kept walking on to it. At the check I got off and told the vet what had happened. Ironically there was another rider that was there who pulled because of the same problem. I trotted Tommy out and he was a bit tender and gimpy, so we stood around and ate some hay and drank some water and waited for awhile. (This was also a very good experience for him, as I wasn't sure how he would handle eating and drinking along the trail....) He ate and drank very well, and he got to see some other people (who unfortunately were lost) come in to the check and leave.

After about 20 minutes passed there wasn't much improvement with his hind end gait, so I opted to call it a day. I usually take not being able to finish a ride very personally and with great disappointment - but there was no need for that here. Tommy had proven to me that he could be a very reliable mount and act calm and relaxed at these rides, and that is all that I could ever have asked for. It was kind-of an act of nature that took us (and some other riders) out, and nobody can plan for these unexpected types of things. But Tommy did very well tempermentally, so I was very happy with him. There is great hope for the future.

A picture that Craig snapped of us as we made our way out of ride camp. I love this flat open terrain. There's lots of room to get off of the trail and work on problems with your horse, if you encounter any. Luckily Tommy never gave me a reason to use the extra space to work on anything, as he was very well behaved. But it was there if we needed it...
A picture of us after the ride, nice and relaxed. I forgot the camera in the truck, so I didn't get any pictures going along the trail. At the Friday night ride meeting Charki the ride manager gave us a bit of green ribbon to put in his tail, so that people wouldn't ride up too close behind us. I know Tommy pretty well, but sometimes young horses will kick out of fear and it will come as a surprise to their riders. The green ribbon was a pre-cautionary measure available to let people know that I was on a new young horse and to keep their distance from us.
At about 1:00 p.m. Craig and I ate hot dogs with Alex Rivas at his trailer, (they were great - thanks Alex!) and we let Tommy rest and munch hay at camp for a few hours. Before we loaded him up into the trailer I trotted him out and he was greatly improved and sound by the time we headed for home. Overall it was a great experience for him, and I have no regrets about the ride. =:)

More Trail Photos

On Saturday the 3rd, we went for another trail ride again. This time it was with my parents and two of their friends from Ukiah, Jeff and MaryAnn. (They are the same people who owned the ranch where my mom's clinic was held a few months earlier.)
It was a beautiful day, and we rode along along the trail for roughly 10 - 12 miles.

A picture of Mary Ann and her Fjord x TB mare. Jeff is behind her on his Percheron x TB mare.

The pretty purple flowers were out again!

My mom was taking pictures, on Diamond.

She managed to get some good pictures of all of us at a lookout point. (I think that her camera picks up colors better than mine does.) I had my own camera out and was taking a picture of Dad, Jeff, and MaryAnn.

A picture my mom took of both of us.

Lots of pretty wild flowers along the trail!

I got to try out Craig's "new" old saddle on the trail ride Saturday. He wasn't feeling all too well that morning when we went, so he opted not to go. It turned out as being a somewhat long trail ride anyway, so I don't think that he minded missing it too much. (He's more of a one or two hour type of trail rider, and the all day trails are a bit too long).

We purchased this saddle online and it turned out as being a GREAT deal! It's an old Severe made by my grandfather and my uncle, both of which are deceased now. (So it has sentimental value - as well as collectibility value.) The tree was custom made and named after the fellow who order it, a.k.a. "the Bernard". The tree is extremely sound for it's age, and my dad re-wrapped the horn and put new stirrups on it - and it's ready to go!

I thought that it was a very comfortable saddle with the padded seat and it seemed to fit Tommy pretty good as well, which was surprising. I wasn't sure how close it would be to my own saddle, but it turned out pretty darned close. Nettie has just as high of withers as Tommy does, and the gullet clearance was great - so this saddle should work out very well for Craig when he rides her.

Now he won't be borrowing my saddle for parades and trails when we go, because he'll have his own. And I think that he'll totally love it! =:)