Land of the Lusitano

This past May I traveled to Portugal to attend a workshop headed by world renowned equine photographer and journalist, Paula da Silva with the aide of Luisa Lima, Rita Fernandez and Joao Salbany. There were amateur and professional photographers from 9 countries. We were there to photograph and study Portugal’s Lusitano breed.

It was a jam-packed schedule. Over 4 days we photographed the Lusitano in many situations and uses. I’ve always admired the breed, but have a deeper understanding of their tractable personalities and versatility. There were quadrilles at the military facility CMEFD, levades and caprioles performed by the Portuguese School of Equestrian Art in the Palace Gardens of Queluz, mares and foals on the beach, carriages and combined driving at Quinta da Lagoalva de Cima, a herd raised in a natural setting on the island, vaulting in the gardens of Sintra, falcons with horses at the castle in Obidos, a centuries old chapel dedicated to the blessing of the horses atop a mountain, bloodless bullfighting, flamenco dancers, a cobra de éguas presentation, campinos at Coudelaria Vinhas.

We were presented with unique opportunities at many facilities, treated to gracious meals, wine and entertainment as well. I will share my experiences through my lens with you through each days activities in the weeks to come. So stay tuned for more.

A sampling of things to come

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Spring

Spring is here and things are busy. I traveled to Florida to shoot the Palm Beach Derby, the World Dressage Masters, and then the Challenge of the Americas. I worked hard, but had fun too. The weather was typical Florida, windy, sunny and did I mention windy? The wind was blowing so hard my big lens was like a sail, catching the wind and pulling the camera focus off the horse. But at least it wasn’t a COLD with  SNOW or ICE!

At home, the local show spring show season got under way. I was happy to see friends, see the changes in both horses and riders as their hard work was coming together, polishing their rides and moving up the levels.

Mary Alice Edwards and Fortoula

The new foals are starting to fill the stalls with their soft as silk muzzles and lanky legs. I love foals! I miss that part of breeding, the anticipation of waiting for the new foals, nights spent on foal watch and those first nickers. Good luck to all my friends who are waiting for their foals to arrive.

The other rite of spring is also under way, baseball season! The kiddos have started the weekly games and tournaments. Watching those games can be stressful!  How many errors can 8 year olds make??? A LOT, but when they get it right, it’s so much more fun.

Going to bat

Hoping for a homerun.

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Steffen Peters wins Exquis World Dressage Masters Grand Prix

Steffen Peters on Ravel, World Dressage Masters 2011

Steffen Peters and Ravel winning the Grand Prix at the World Dressage Masters, Palm Beach, Florida 2011

WOW! Steffen and Ravel do it again! What a beautiful ride! It was smooth as silk! The pair just get better and better..what a treat to photograph them. Not only did Steffen and Ravel come in first with a score of 89.872 percent Tina Konyot on Calecto V were second with a score of 72.213 percent, giving the U.S. the top two spots. Tinne Vilhemson-Silfve on Favourit are in third with a score of 71.340.

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Inspiration

The excitement of the Holidays is over, the gifts opened, the decorations put away and now the winter blah’s set in. This year we are having a “real” winter, meaning it’s actually below freezing many nights and windy gray days. I was invited to join a group of photographers who have challenged themselves to take a photo every day in 2011. I made the challenge a fun thing for myself, giving myself “permission” to just take a fun photograph of whatever I see around me. No agenda other than to have fun with it. I have to say it’s been inspiring so far to see what everyone is posting. It gives me something to look forward to perusing over my coffee in the morning and a little nudge to get out of my box and try something “different”
Fireworks on New Years Day

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Ho Ho Ho… Merry Christmas!

It’s that time of year again…. the lights are on the tree, the streets are full of red and green decorations. It’s so festive and brings back childhood memories. I remember making paper chains and stringing popcorn to put on our tree. We had those bubble lights that fascinated me, and shiny glass ornaments and lots of icicles… it was the prettiest tree in the whole world. It was also the hugest thing I’d ever seen…always, of course we lived in an ordinary house with 8 foot ceilings, so it was probably no larger than 6.5 feet. My mother believed in the 12 days of Christmas, and we followed that as close as she could manage. We’d have a blast decorating the tree, singing Christmas carols and drinking.. hot chocolate for us.. something stronger for the adults (wink). My Dad in his very best Dean Martin crooner voice, singing White Christmas.

I remember very little of the gifts I received, but I have a trove of wonderful memories of the people and rituals of Christmas.

So slow down, take the time to decorate that tree with loved ones. Sing a Christmas carol, have a cup of good cheer and spread the greatest gift of all… love.

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WEG day 5

I never thought I could get tired photographing horses, but I have to say I was happy to have a day “off” yesterday. I was exhausted from all the driving, walking,  toting big lenses and processing. However, MY batteries are recharged and I am looking forward to the Dressage Freestyle tonight.

All of the horses are spectacular, but the top three from the Grand Prix Special were just amazing to watch and photograph. They were so precise, rhythmical and expressive. Simply poetry in motion.

Here is our beloved Ravel and Steffen Peters, bringing home the Bronze Medal. The first individual medal for the United States in World Equestrian Games competition.

Steffen Peters and Ravel

Great Britian’s Laura Bechtolsheimer on Mistral Hojris put in a beautiful performance. So smooth, it was like watching well seasoned dance partners.

Laura Bechtolsheimer on Mistral Hojris

Then the horse we were all waiting for rode in and the crowd was electric. Edward Gal on Moorland’s Totilas has been breaking a lot of records.

Edward Gal on Moorlands Totilas

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Home Town Boy

Today I photographed a rider I’ve known since he was a teenager, Todd Flettrich on Otto. He grew up in Louisiana, but left to become a working student for Jessica Ransehousen to further his riding training. It was a thrill to see him compete in his first World Equestrian Games. It made shooting in the cold rain worth while.

Todd Flettrich aboard Otto

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Let the Games Begin!

WEG has officially opened! It was an exciting and tiring first day. It started with a long walk from the parking lot carrying a heavy backpack full of camera and computer gear. Then of course I went the wrong way and that added a lot of walking to finding the media center. So after checking in, and grabbing an expensive per inch sandwich, we headed out to the new indoor arena for reining action. After finding a ride back to the media center, I downloaded the cards and decided to walk back to the car to exchange gear for what I’d need to shoot the opening ceremony….well…it helps if you go to the right parking lot. I knew I should have used the find my car app! Finally car was located (easily after I found the right lot), gear exchanged and the long hike back to the venue completed. I thought there would be time to grab a quick sandwich….wrong. The concession line was long and there was only one cash register with a very slow credit card machine via wireless connection. I think they need a cash only line too. I finally got the sandwich but had no time to eat it, had to get to the arena for the opening ceremony.

The stands were packed with many nations well represented. The crowd was enthusiastic and appreciative of this historical first time event, the first time the World Equestrian Games have ever been in the United States. You couldn’t help but get caught up in the enthusiasm. It was so appropriate to have the opening prayer done by our Native Americans in their native dress on horseback. We then were treated to a history of the horse’s importance in our nation’s development.

The parade of athletes was impressive. It’s amazing that we have that many nation’s equestrians all in one place for the next two weeks.

The entertainment for the evening included opera, ballet, drill teams, ropers, bareback exhibitions and my personal favorite the Fresian Train. What an impressive display of precision riding.

Well, have to get the gear packed so the Offical Day 1 can begin!

The Fresian Train

Ballet

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Camp

jacey_little bit

The first "trail ride"

When I was a child I would have loved to be able to go to a camp of any sort, but HORSE RIDING CAMP?! Oh my, that would have just been the best! I was a horse crazy child with no way to have a horse. When I finally got my first horse, I was married with a child. I spent every moment I could at the barn, and had so much to learn! I knew virtually nothing about keeping a horse or much about riding one. I yearned for Pony Club for adults!

This summer, my grand-daughter, yes I have to admit I am a Mim..not a grandmaw or a grandmother, but a Mim, thank you very much, anyway I was able to arrange for Jacey to attend a week long horse camp. She had never really ridden before, so it was a new experience. She was both excited and trepidatious about the whole thing. She had never been away from home for that long. That did not worry me as she never meets a stranger, is easy going and makes friends very fast. I have to admit that my ears hurt though from all the questions she asked on our way. The farm is Silver Lining Farm in Mobile, AL. the url is http://www.silverlingfarm.net . It is a wonderful place for horses, dogs, cats and riders, especially young beginners. They offer a nurturing but learning experience for the campers, teaching responsibility as well as riding.

It was as much fun for me to be there with her the first day and a half. To photograph her excitement and learning experience. I was so proud of her. She seems to have taken to it like a duck to water…. I’m afraid we have another horse crazy girl in the family now.

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Espana!

For the past week I have been attending a workshop in Andalusia. It was the opportunity of a lifetime, to visit a country I have always wanted to see with my Sisters of the Vision 18 Collective and put on by great equestrian photographers, Paula Da Silva and Michael Steiger.  We sat in a field with many mares and foals, connecting with these beautiful creatures, visited a farm where they train the horses for the bull ring, attended the opening of the Fair in Seville and photographed beautiful models on the beach and at a grand hotel surrounded by green mountain fields. Today we leave for a two day adventure to explore Granada and Cardoba before heading back to Jerez where we will begin our journey back home.

Lena

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