Tuesday, December 25, 2012

A Very Nice Christmas Present

My parents surprised me this year with a wonderful painting for Christmas!  They commissioned local artist Shirley Dickerson of Walla Walla, Wa. to paint a portrait of Tommy and I from a photo that was taken earlier in the year.  The painting turned out great!  There is a special place right above our television for it in our living room.  Thanks mom and dad!

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

HiHo Silver!

I will definitely be shuffling my way into the theatre to watch this one.  Halfway decent western flicks are  hard to find, (especially coming out of Hollywood).  But the Pirates of the Caribbean movies were very successful, and this one is made by the same people - so it might be a fairly entertaining movie, hopefully.

When I was a little kid one of my favorite things to do on a Saturday morning was to glue myself in front of the old T.V. (with the bunny-ears antenna), and watch cartoons and the The Lone Ranger.  I also really loved watching the Dukes of Hazzard, which Hollywood later butchered in a bigscreen version...  So hopefully the Lone Ranger will be an enjoyable flick, and not suffer a disasterous fate.   The trailer looks pretty good:  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CAUjV2hGuW4

Monday, November 26, 2012

Saturday, November 24, 2012

"MM Mona Lisa" a traditional sized Wad'iah western pleasure arabian resin sculpted by Vicki Keeling. I recently completed this soft feminine mare in the studio as a honey flaxen chestnut with light under-tones of creamy dappling.  Owned by Carole Ingram, photo courtesy of Carole.

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

"Stretch!"  Photo courtesy of Natalia Zhurbina.

Saturday, November 3, 2012

Skak line stallion born in 1977 in Turkmenistan.  Imported to Germany.
A fun little 8 x 10 practice painting.  I haven't done a canvas in what seems like forever!  The last painting that I did was dated in 1999, so I figured it was time to fiddle around with another.  (And boy am I ever rusty....!!!!)  This was a fun piece to get back into the swing of things.  I'll probably do a few more flat pieces in the future, as this one gave me a much-needed break from doing 3D airbrushing. The plastic frame was a yard sale find for $2.  There's some great stuff at yard sales sometimes...

Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Year of the Aladja

This has been a boon year for making aladjas!  I've done quite a few in the studio lately.  They are fun and challenging projects on the windy and wet autumn days.

Two aladjas for the stallions of Pleasant Grove Akhal Tekes, CA. 

My riding time has been cut a bit shorter with the rainfall, so holing up in the studio with projects has become my main task lately.  I'm getting a lot of painting done, and also making a myriad of aladjas for people.  They are fun to decorate your horses with when you're at shows, expos, or for photo-ops.

Cowrie aladjas for crossbred Akhal Tekes (Arab x Teke) - Currently for Sale

There were five aladjas that I completed on display at the FOTATA table at the conference in September.  I sold three of them before I got any photos (a green aladja and two foal sized ones), but the cowrie ones are still available.  (I'm thinking about keeping one for my own crossbred.... so there might be only one for sale in the future.... I dunno.  We'll see.....)

And I also recently donated a special little project for the ATAA newsletter questionaire.  Cathy came up with a great idea to get more input from members of the registry, so there is a prize as an incentive for member participation.

Russet colored presentation halter with silver studs and blue stones 

The presentation halter will be given to some lucky ATAA member who fills out a questionaire and sends it in for the newsletter.

Keeping busy with even more aladja projects scheduled on the horizon, I've been working off-and-on with my own native costume for the past month.  It's been a long and teadious project so far, but it should make it's finished debut next spring at a public event.  There will be a future full blog posting about the different parts and components, but for now here is a sneak peek photo below of a small portion of the bridle:

Stay tuned....

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

The working quarter horse duo.  A dappled transitional rose grey "Working Girl" resin, and a slate grulla "Little Lonestar" resin - stablemate scale.  Both of these guys have been tweaked in my studio for a more performance friendly position.  They are owned by Corinne Ensor of Shoebox Saddlery.  Photos of the original molds can be seen here: 

Thursday, September 27, 2012


The pictures arrived in the mail a few days ago from the last two shows that we attended.  Sibbea Browning of Entirely Equine Marketing is totally awesome!  Fast service and great pictures.  She did the Eddie MacMurdo photos, and I highly recommend her.  She's very professional and lightning fast.  The Pink Ribbon Classic photos were done by Adam Hutson of Hutson Imaging and Photography.  (I scanned the pictures to use them on this site, but the scanner made the photos a little bit blurry....)
Eddie MacMurdo.  Winning the Novice Horse english under saddle class.
Eddie MacMurdo. Waiting in line for judging.
Eddie MacMurdo.  One of my favorite photos, in the Novice Horse western pleasure class.
Pink Ribbon Classic, Green Horse western pleasure. 

Pink Ribbon Classic, Hunter Under Saddle class.

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

ATAA Conference

Craig and I had a great time Saturday at the Akhal Teke Association of America conference.  It was held at the Comfort Inn and Suites in Bothell, Wa. just outside of Seattle.  On Friday night there was a meet and greet at the hotel and on Saturday there was a general membership meeting in the morning.  We got there just in time on Saturday to sit in on the meeting, and then go with everyone on a farm tour of Cascade Gold Akhal Tekes in Snohomish - just a short drive up the road from the hotel.  On Sunday everybody boarded the ferry at Anacordes to go up to the San Juan islands to visit Sweetwater Farm Akhal Tekes, but Craig and I had to head back home on Saturday night - so we missed out on Sunday's activities.
Part of the group on the farm tour Saturday.  Cathy Leddy (farm owner in the foot cart, she recently had surgery on her ankle), Jas Shearer-McMahon in the black jacket and grey pants, Gary Tipps holding the coffee cup, Erin Wandler in the blue sweater, Betsy Wandler in green shirt, the fellow with the cowboy hat is Catrina Mettam's other half (sorry, I never did get his name....), and if you look very closely you can just barely see Eloise King in her white hat hiding behind Cathy's arm. 

Eloise was a real hoot!  I loved meeting that spunky lady.  There's a nice video of her on youtube riding her stallion Pegas sidesaddle.  (Yes, he's a stallion!  When I was talking to her, I thought that she owned a gelding - but was rather surprised to find out that he's a stallion.  Most people her age don't want anything to do with a stud horse, but Eloise isn't just anybody.  If you ever meet her, you'll know what I'm talking about....)
Astra and little Sparky.  He will be heading to a new home in Florida soon.
Tommy's mother Annastasia.  He's a carbon copy of her, just inherited his father's lighter bay color.
A duo of volunteers.  Craig (my husband) carrying the pink flowers, and Larry (Cathy's husband) carrying the red flowers to decorate the pasture jumps.
The youngsters.  Scooter (Miras) up front, and Reggie (Sazanda) near the fence, made a new friend.  Scooter is currently for sale and is looking for a new home.
Jack Saare petting Mahri, one of the fillies for sale at CGAT.
Asalari, Tommy's little sister.  She's currently for sale as well.  (If I only had more room and more money, I wouldn't mind adding her to our herd....)
Astrachan, still looking good at 22 years young.  Tommy's sire.
Jas Shearer-McMahon and Khan (Astrachan).  Yes, this is the stallion that was the model for the infamous resin Akhal Teke "Khan" that Sarah Rose sculpted.  He was at Jas' place in Colorado for a few years being a breeding and competition stallion, and Sarah sculpted him after visiting Magic Valley Akhal Tekes.  For a full article, visit her site:  http://www.rosehorse.com/khan.php .  Khan's a grand old gentleman, and a pleasure to visit.

I managed to snap a quick picture of the awards that I hurriedly finished up just before we left early on Saturday morning for the conference.  (Our living room floor wasn't quite as grand of a display area as the banquet room in the hotel... but it worked for a quick snapshot.)  There was a good turnout of participants for this year, and I was glad to do the awards for several people.  It was nice to see that more people are getting interested in riding competitively.  Fun stuff!

For more pictures and info. on the conference, visit:  http://www.facebook.com/pages/Akhal-Teke-Association-of-America/348256698548515

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Eddie MacMurdo Show

The bay bumbershooter strikes again!
Tommy's winnings!
Tommy did pretty well at the show this past weekend.  He made Craig and I very proud.  =:)  Amidst a large crowd of competitors of all different sizes and breeds, he managed to bring home some nice prizes and hold his own against the competition.  The show was a lot of fun, and I'm planning on doing it again next year.  Nice people, great facility, awesome judges and staff, and an all-around professionally organized event.  Loved it!

An outside photo after getting a second place ribbon and an award glass in the green horse english class.

There were a lot of very nice horses at this show, and I thought that amidst the variety Tommy did really well.  There were some TOTALLY AWESOME eye popping national quality morgans and saddlebreds that came to compete.  My eyes were bugging out!  They were soooooo stunning to watch!!!!  I loved seeing the park saddleseat and the western pleasure morgans go around the arena.  What a show they put on!  And the grey saddlebred from the Tri-Cities was quite a sight to behold as well.  A very nice horse.  (And the riders tophat with shadbelly coat really looked spiffy too!)

And we made another new friend.  There was a gentleman watching us warm-up in the outdoor arena and walked over to ask me what breed my horse was.  I said Akhal Teke, and I was kind-of surprised to hear him say, "I thought so..."  (We're slowly but surely gaining inches in popularity around this area...)  Lots of people near the show railing when we were in the classes made comments like, "That horse is so coppery!"   
Later on in the barn aisle when we were finished for the day, one junior exhibitor asked me what I did to get my horse so shiney like that.  I kind-of chuckled a little bit, and said that I just gave him a bath.  She looked somewhat disappointed with that answer - as I think that she was expecting me to say that there is a new miracle product on the market that will give your horse an ultra-shiney metallic glow.  =:)  I was sorry to tell her that I didn't have any insider information on any bottled stuff that would do it....

Craig managed to take some videos on his phone, and we uploaded our in-hand halter class on youtube:  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZYpaQ2wquR0 
MaryAnne Morrison, (the judge in the darker clothes) had said that she had seen a couple of Akhal Tekes before, so I was happy to hear that.  She seemed to like Tommy, and placed him well in the classes that we entered.

And we won the novice horse english class!!!!  That was really cool.  Wahoo!  =:)

Thursday, September 13, 2012

A Very Busy September

September is proving to be a very busy and stressful month.  Big time.  Lots of things going on, and not enough time to sit down and relax for a second....

The Eddie McMurdo show is coming up this weekend, and I'll be taking Tommy over to the Walla Walla fairgrounds to the show.  I was planning on riding sidesaddle in the Round-Up parade again this year on Nettie, but decided to do the show in Walla Walla instead.  (I won't have enough time to do both, so I figured that the show was probably a more important event...)  This show will be interesting, as there is a light breed (morgan) judge from Roseburg that will be there.  I'm nervous as hell about how we'll do, but crossing my fingers that we'll do okay.  I'll also post an interesting entry about my show saddle and tack after the show... (just remind me, or I'll forget to do it....)

And the Akhal Teke Association of America conference is coming up the following weekend in Seattle, (21st through the 23rd).  Craig and I are planning on driving up on Saturday and heading back home after the awards ceremony.  It's a few hours drive, so we'll feed the animals early in the morning, and make it back home very late at night to feed again.  I've been busily finishing up all the plaques and special awards stuff for the nominee's in the registry.  I'll hopefully post a few quick photos next week before we head off to the conference.

I had planned on doing another endurance ride in October, but unfortunately Ox (Octopelle) hasn't been getting the conditioning and attention that it takes to do the distance for next month.  He's getting fairly out of shape due to my other commitments, and my bank account for traveling is completely blown at the moment as well.... So, we'll probably opt to veto that ride, and attend the first ride of the season for next year.  Hopefully we'll be more prepared and in shape by then... (all three of us! the bank account, the horse, and the rider...)

My painting backlog is getting totally bogged under once again.  It didn't take very long.  I can never say 'no' very well to customers who are lined up waiting to pay for paintwork.... so I've pretty much totally buried myself again, probably not going to see the light of day until next spring.  I'll morph into a cave troll this winter, slogging around in the studio with a myriad of projects. 

And still waiting on the photos from the Pink Ribbon Classic.  I ordered a bunch of them.... but they're still not here yet....

Oh yeah, and Craig has a "new/old" car that we're totally overhauling in the garage too.  It's a tag-team effort for both of us.  He's got the engine running fairly well with some more minor work in a few areas yet to do, and I gutted the interior out of it today.  I'm going to put my old leather sewing maching to work and re-upholster the seats and side panels in it.  The car also needs painted, so we're sanding it down and prepping it for paintwork.  I've already told him that I'm not too thrilled about painting a car, as they're huge and take up a lot of space and time.  But we're both going to tackle it, and hopefully the car won't manage to kill us in the process... 

And did I mention that I'm currently painting his motorcycle at the moment too....? 

Whatever else can I manage to squeeze into the month of September? 

Thursday, September 6, 2012

"O'Learys Pale Ale".  A newly completed Breyer little bits sized resin draft horse.  He was originally a bay Clydesdale from the factory, but I made him into a Shire with a dapple grey coat.  Owned by Bobbie Mosimann of Canada.

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Friday, August 17, 2012

Another Golden Opportunity

Someone stop me.... I'm on a blog posting hyper-mode today....

Speaking of color, there's another gem that's been rattling around in my head since I first got Tommy.  I've had a 'slight' aspiration to show at a national level someday.  (The 'slight' is being highly emphasised here...) It will most likely never come to fruition - and for at least two reasons.  First, there are no Akhal Teke Nationals. And secondly, you'd have to do some major elbowing to make them fit into the main showrings with everybody elses breed.  Thirdly, there is not enough white on most purebred Akhal Tekes to justify double registering them - hence little open shows are probably as good as it's gonna get.  If you're into sports like eventing, jumping, dressage, ect. you can ride a grade draft horse if it has enough talent to do it.  But in the registry and association shows, it's a whole different ball game.  The rules are much more rigid, and most Tekes just don't fit into the nook very well.

The Turkmens have a strong belief that if there is too much white markings on a horse, it will be undesirable.  They believe that too much white resembles a cow, and not a horse.  That's okay in Turkmenistan,  but in america - we love color.  It's everywhere.  You can probably step out your front door and fling a rock at your neighbors pasture ornament and hit a spot or two on it.  What else is there to say.... we're really color crazy in this country!

So, it brings me to the golden opportunity part, another potential promotional foot through the door for Teke breeders.  Imagine an Akhal Teke that had enough white to be double registered in the Pinto Horse Association.  It is do-able, with just a little work.  The sabino gene is very much present in the Akhal Teke breed.  It crops up quite often in leg and facial markings, along with the occasional blue eye now and again.  The gene just needs a little bit of "cultivation" from breeders.  Below are a few photos below illustrating the sabino traits in the Akhal Teke:
 A mare from the re-purposed Akhalt-Service Farm, Russia
 Northern Wood Farm Stallion, Russia

Gora - here in the U.S.

So, the genes are there.  Why not use it to an advantage?  Imagine these lovely light breed horses below as Akhal Tekes with color:

(Alas, I realize that the last two photos are of tobianos, but you can use your imagination and magically turn them into sabinos....)  Wouldn't it be great to see an Akhal Teke win a national title in the show ring?

Breeders, any input into this looney-brained idea that I have here...?


For the thread below.....  more things to think about... 

One of the other main reasons that I was drawn to the possibility of dun factor in the Akhal Teke breed is due to location and style of riding.  We live in the west, where cowboys get the thumbs up and everything else recieves two blinks of an eye in the showring.  Akhal Tekes aren't as widely accepted for western styles of riding as they are for the english events.  In fact, I've even seen sales ads here in america stating that these horses aren't western - they're strictly an english breed - (uh, pardon me....?)  But that's another story altogether.

If the dun gene turns out to be present, the western world will most likely sit up and take a little bit more notice.  Cowboys love duns, show people love duns, color breeders love duns, mounted shooters love duns, trail riders love duns, ect.  There's something about the stripes that folks love - artists included!  Buckskins and palominos come close, but no cigar.  Why not have an exotic looking dun that is both comfortable to ride for long distances and stays sound for arena use?  The selling points could be potentially numerous. 

Can you imagine the metallic buckskin Teke above with some primitive black cobwebbing and leg barring?  (Yes, I need to turn myself in to "color-blind horse fanatics anonymous" - I have a problem, I know it and freely admit it....) 

To put it in perspective, the horse pictured above is a product of a Canadian breeder.  Before anybody gets too excited about his color, he's not a purebred - he's a Teke x QH cross.  But you can imagine if a purebred exhibited a similar coloring with a western style of riding.  There could be even more marketing doors opening up for Teke breeders.  It's something to think about. 

I also have theories about gaited turanian horses (mostly Akhal Tekes) in Iran.  There's some potential for opening marketing doors there too.... but, that's another story for another time.

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Beautiful Chakman

                                                  Photo courtesy of Vera Grishutina
This first time that I seen photos of the Akhal Teke mare Chakman, I almost fell out of my chair.  I think that I screamed "AHAAAAA!" and threw a book across the room.  Dare I say, is she....?  A DUN!?  Hot damned.  I felt like I hit the lottery.  What a stunning creature, and the closest example of a dun colored purebred Akhal Teke that I've ever seen.  A "seemingly" dun colored horse isn't too big of a deal for most people in the world, but for a real weirdo like me - it's a total goldmine.  It's been 2 years since I stumbled onto her beautiful photos, and I'm still madly in love with her goofy yellow hide.

The dun topic in Tekes has been hashed, re-hashed, quibbled, debated, poked and prodded, for what seems like forever on the group lists.  It just came up (yet again), a little while ago and I e-mailed the pictures of Chakman to an inquiring mind who wanted to know.  For the past 10 years (yikes, it's been that long...) I've been digging and searching for "good" solid/true example of dun factor in the Akhal Teke breed - and believe me, they're harder than hens teeth to find.  The topic of dun in Tekes generally comes up every few years, and the questions and answers are always the same.  Does dun exist in the breed?  Nobody can answer for sure - yet.  Since there are not any truly great examples of similarly colored Akhal Tekes in the U.S. like this mare is, it still remains a question that gets kicked around now and again.  Being both an artist and Akhal Teke afficianado, it has always been an interesting search for me.  I seriously wished that Chakman had been imported into the U.S. when she was for sale -  (she was advertised as being a kid broke horse, which is enough of a selling point in itself....)  And if she would've came here, with the new genetic testing for dun factor horses at the universities -  the mare would've been a definite shoe-in candidate for the Akhal Teke breed.

But alas, Chakman is in Moscow - so like a never-ending novel, the dun mystery continues.... 

Most breeders and owners of Akhal Tekes in the U.S. have horses with dorsal stripes on just about every body color, (bay, chestnut, palomino, buckskin, black).  Most of my horses have it, and there's not a single dun gene in their entire family histories.  Dorsals are a pretty common trait in Tekes, but it does not make them a dun.  A very good example of an arabian with a dorsal stripe and "sooty" leg marks can be found on this site:
So it stands to reason that just because you have an Akhal Teke with a dorsal stripe and some faint leg barring, it's most likely just a case of sootiness at work....

But Chakman, oh.... that lovely beauty.  She has more than half of the characteristics that would classify her as being a dun.  (See this site for more details: http://www.grullablue.com/colors/dun_factor_markings.htm) If she was a quarter horse, there would be no question about it - she would be a dun.  She has a nice big fat black dorsal stripe, good pronounced leg barring, dark shaded points on her muzzle, legs, ears, and shoulders, and a faint hint of light guard hairs in her mane - and an abundance of light guard hairs in her tail.  She's close, ohhhhhhhh so close.....  I could almost say it....

But then again, it could be argued that she's just a buckskin with some weird stripes due to sooty characteristics and the cream gene.  Maybe her light mane hairs are the effects of cream genetics somewhere in her background, as some buckskins exhibit light "silver" types of streaks in their mane and tail.  Her pedigree was up on the sale site once, but it didn't have her parents colors printed.  It would've been interesting to see what genes and colors are present in her family tree.  Also, most duns have a darker head with dark points down the bridge of their nose extending into the muzzle.  Chakman seems to have mostly a clear yellow colored face that matches the rest of her body, and is missing a lot of the nasal bridge dark markings that are characteristic of duns.  (The author of a newly printed horse color genetics book seems to think that the mare might be a dun that has the cream gene as well - hence the cream genetics have washed her facial darker points out, so they are not visible.)  She also exhibits dappling in her winter coat, which is rare for dun horses - but not impossible.  A lot of horses can have "sheen dappling" when they are in good health and condition.  (She's pretty fat and happy in the picture.)  And lastly, what about those leg bars?  Maybe just like "Cooper" the arabian, they might be an effect of sootiness at work.  Maybe....who knows?

But I'm still clinging desperately to a shard of hope that she "might/maybe" be a dun.  The odds are stacked fairly evenly to argue the case both ways.  If she was a quarter horse, the automatic reaction that everyone would say is, "she's a dun".  End of story.  But, we're talking about a rare breed of horse that is un-tested yet and has a lot of creams and funky shades of buckskin, so the mystery continues.  The artist side of me wants to believe that she's a dun oh so badly.... 

(And as a side note while I'm still thinking about it:  Interestingly, the only photo that I've ever seen of a so-called "grulla" in the Akhal Teke breed was a yearling that looked like it was going through the greying process.  It wasn't a good photo, and definitely not a true/solid enough example for the dun gene as being present in the breed.  This gives rise to the question: that if there is indeed a dun gene present - why aren't we seeing any grullas produced when dun carriers are bred to darker purebred horses?  They're just not happening for one reason or another.)

So I will eek back into my studio clinging to those photos and a tiny shard of hope that Chakman might still indeed be a dun - or maybe not.  In the future there will be a Teke model creeping down the pike from my nook of the world with all the right characteristics - but as to if it's a dun or just a weird buckskin.....you can be the judge of that.  =:)

Friday, August 3, 2012

Wee Ones

A couple of stablemate sized Breyer foals that I recently finished in the studio.  The scratching primitive bay foal on the left is a Prezwalski filly owned by Cheryl Gearhart of Idaho. 

The smokey cream Akhal Teke colt on the right is part of my private collection.  I named him "Shetdaly", which means "peach" in Turkmen.  (Terri Fender had a real colt named "Sunsational" a few years ago that I thought was a really awesome and unusual color, so I painted a mini that's somewhat similar.  I might attempt to do a larger version of this color in the future if I can find the right mold.  Maybe....)

Both minis are shown next to a quarter for size comparison.

Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Pink Ribbon Classic 2012

Saturday and Sunday we attended the Pink Ribbon Classic open horse show in Walla Walla, Wa.  It was a nice 2 day show with the proceeds from the entries benefitting the cancer patients assistance fund at St. Marys hospital in Walla Walla.  Such a great cause to enter a horse show!  It was also kind-of a higher rated type of show as well, so we finally got a chance to use our good tack and clothes that had been sitting in the closet collecting dust for several months.

In my effort to raise money for the cause, I got a bit carried away with entering about a zillion classes on both days.  It looked really simple when I filled the entry form out in my air-conditioned home..... but I neglected to factor in the heat of the day outside at the show itself.  By the time the afternoon on day two rolled around, I was totally exhausted.... it was sooooooo blasted hot!  But still fun, even with buckets of sweat pouring out.
Tommy sported his lime green lycra "jammie-jam" again.  The first thing that he did when we got to the barn was immediately lay down and roll in his stall.  Good thing the jammie-jam was on, or else I would've spent the next morning picking tons of dirt and shavings out of his mane and tail...

I put one of Monica's nicely made brochures next to the door of the stall.  Most people at the shows think that he's some sort of saddlebred or NSH crossbred of some sort, so I was hoping that it might help a little bit if there was literature pinned for people to read.
The show barns at the Walla Walla fairgrounds are very nice and well maintained.  I still dream of having a barn someday in the future, but it'll have to be one that's on a much, much, smaller scale...

This horse had a really cool zebra print jammie-jam. 
The nice outdoor warm-up arena at the fairgrounds.  It was lighted so that you could go out and ride at night if you wanted to.  I took this photo at 8:00 p.m. on Friday evening.
And on Saturday at the show, Tommy made a new friend.  There was a very nice lady from Milton-Freewater that is going to be the future OWNER of an Akhal Teke someday.  (Yes, she made it very clear that she was definitely going to purchase a Teke in the future - no doubts about it.)  She recognized Tommy from across the parking lot, and made a bee-line straight for us while we waited under the shade for our next class.  After answering several questions, she gave me a run down of her specifics on what she's looking for in a future prospect.  I pointed her to several good breeders in the ATAA, and was very happy to meet someone at the show that had such a great interest and is serious about acquiring one of these horses in the future.

Our judge for the show was Mark Shaffer of Pilot Point, Texas.  (I was going to get a picture of him at the show.....but unfortunately forgot to do so.)  He is a very well respected stock horse judge and trainer worldwide, and it was great to have him in our little neck of the woods.  I was thrilled to compete under such a knowledgeable fellow!  http://www.markshaffershowhorses.com/2011_season.php

There was also a professional photographer at the event, so hopefully we'll have some pictures to post in the next few weeks.  Tommy looked really spiffy!  Although....we still have to work on going a bit slower in the pleasure classes.  Since he has such a long-strided gait, his version of "slow" is much more ground covering than most of the other horses we compete against.  In order to slow down even more, we're going to have to work on some dressage piaffe and passage types of exercises.  I am really not the biggest fan of dressage, but if it will help to make my horse better....we'll do it.

We have some videos of a couple of the classes at the show - (I apologize for the quality of the videos, as they are a bit shakey and blurry to watch.  Craig took them on his phone, so they aren't as good of quality as they probably should be):


Sunday, July 8, 2012

The Big One

That didn't get away...
We've been fishing a lot lately, (almost every weekend) and Craig caught this beautiful 14" rainbow trout today out of the Grande Ronde river near LaGrande.  The nice hole in which he caught his trophy is in the background.  It's the biggest trout that he's caught yet this year - with a second runner up that he got last weekend (12"), out of the same river.  Both of us love to fish, and Craig has been on a roll lately catching the bigger ones.  These guys are pretty tastey pan fried with lots of butter..... =:) 

Thursday, June 28, 2012


I didn't need another horse, I didn't want another horse, I can't have another horse....  yet there is another horse here on our farm....  (Good god, like I didn't need anything more in my life to do.)  I'm up to my limit with every project that we have here, and stuff just keeps coming this way.  I need a tattoo across my forehead that says, "I'm officially done - I don't need anymore of anything right now."
But, well....errr here she is.  This is "Betty", a stunning 5 year old quarter horse filly.  Betty didn't have a name before she came here to our farm, so her previous owners just called her "horse".  I decided to call her something-anything, and the handle of "Betty" just stuck.

This whole situation started a few days ago when a close friend of ours said that he was going to shoot his horse.  I asked "why?'  He replied that he didn't want to feed it anymore.  With the hay prices being as ungodly high as they are right now, I could understand why he didn't want to keep any livestock around anymore.  Some very hard times have fallen upon our friend lately in both financially and physcholigical ways, so the decision to get rid of his horse was one that I could understand.  But just outright shooting a perfectly good 5 year old stunning QH filly was a little beyond my brains grasp.....  So I asked him why he just didn't sell it.  (I had seen the horse as a two year old and knew what she looked like.  She's a gorgeous filly, and easily worth at least a small amount of money.)  The reply came, "nobody would want her".  I said, "a papered QH - why?"   The answer that came back was one of much sorrow and great disappointment....

"She has HERDA."

My heart dropped.  "Damn, that's too bad", I said.  I was about to turn and walk away, when I heard our friend's next sentence, "Do you want her?"  I said rather rapidly, "not really", and continued to walk away.  I thought: what in the hell would I do with a horse that was rendered un-useable by a genetic disease?  I heard our friend's next sentence follow briskly, "I don't really want to shoot her, but I'm going to do it if somebody doesn't come and take her."  The softer more gullible side of my emotions were starting to drift towards the surface...

I went and sat down a few feet away and my brain hashed out several swear words over and over and over again.  I didn't need another horse, especially one that has this big of a problem.  Without any prompting, our friend immediately delved into the history of his filly - (I was sitting down, so therefore that was the signal to start talking more about the horse....)  He had bred and raised the filly from a baby, with grand aspirations of sending her to a top trainer and turning her into a cutting horse and sell her for a pretty penny.  Our friend had done this before with other horses that he has raised, so this little filly was heading down the same road as his other previous foals crops.  Little did he know that the mating between his stallion and one acquired mare would result in a rather sizeable problem later on in the future...

Betty was started as a three year old by a local "cowboy" just to get her going under saddle, and like most of the horses that are afflicted with the disease, it was discovered during this time that she had HERDA.  The skin on her back started puffing up and moving with the weight of a big heavy rider and tack.  After 30 days of starting her working career, she was given back to our friend with the plan of being a pasture ornament for the rest of her life.  (Or for however long that her lifespan might turn out be...)

So, there she sat for the next two years, in a pasture as an ornament.  Eating and mowing the field down.  Unfortunately, 3 months ago our friends house just happened to burn down with all of his possesions and money in it - so this turn of events became a not-so-pleasant financial pickle.  Purchasing hay for an un-wanted horse in the upcoming winter months is the least of your worries when you're homeless yourself.  So, here she is.

I grumbled and mumbled under my breath about taking her, because this means having to work extra hard to come up with the money to buy more hay for another mouth to feed.  But hey, that's life.  Things come your way that you don't expect sometimes.  Craig didn't care that I took the horse in, because it's his close friend that owned it..... so, I fortunately wasn't in the dog-house about that.  But with 5 other young horses that need steady work and riding - and only one of me to go around - that's what is giving me the most hesitations about taking another one on.  (And yes, I do have some small plans for her, which will give her at least a tiny job in her small blip of an existance....)

Since Betty was a pasture ornament for a few years, there are a few minor areas that need some up-keeping.  Her feet is one of them, as it's been awhile since she's been trimmed.
I also need to run a comb through that rats-nest of a mane...
And since she was out on pasture for quite awhile, she's kind-of obesely fat.  Her neck and butt have dimples where they wouldn't normally be.  Although, it's much better that she is fat - rather than being neglected to the point of starvation, like her mother was.  (Oh yeah - I remember Betty's mother.  She was a nice looking athletic bay mare.  A few years ago, I picked her up and hauled her in our trailer back to our friend's house, after she was sold to someone locally who almost starved her to death.  I felt REALLY badly for the mare.  No animal deserves to be starved to the point of being bone thin.  Our friend fattened her back up again on pasture before she went home - but unfortunately she just went back to the same crappy situation with the other owners.  It was terrible.  Sometime feel free to ask me why I don't like selling horses...)  But anyway, that's another story, and I've digressed...
There's only one big major black scar from where the saddle rubbed on Betty when she was started as a three year old.  (The white mark in the photo is from bird poop.)  It's luckily not as gruesome as some of the peeled up nasty skin photos on the internet that I've seen while researching horses affected with HERDA.  Her scar is workable and not too bad.  It remains to be seen if she develops any more further injuries from just sitting and doing nothing - as some horses will do with this disease.  But we'll giver her a chance and see what happens.  She might surprise us, you never know.  She'll have a pretty easy job until the disease gets to the point where it causes her pain and she has to be humanely euthanized.  Each horse is affected on an individual bases with this disease, so it's unclear just how long it will take until it affects her to the point where she has no quality of life.  She's already beaten the standard 4 years so far, so maybe she'll last a little bit longer.  I dunno.  We'll see how far she can make it before we pull the plug.  Betty at least deserves a small chance to do something.  Right now she's comfortable, happy, full of energy, ready for a job, and loves life.  Just like any other horse in the world...