Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Ready Luke?

I just finished another commission for a good friend's daughter. I titled it "Ready Luke" as it suggests the question that little Natalie is asking of Luke before they do their round at a show this summer.

This painting is for Natalie to remember Luke by as she won't be riding him anymore since he has moved locations. Based on how attached little girls get to their horse buddies, I know that this transition may not be easy. Each horse in our lives teaches us things, challenges us and exposes us to new situations.

My favorite story growing up was a book called "A Very Young Rider" by Jill Krementz. It tells a story of a young girl, not unlike Natalie, that showed her horse Penny for a season. At the end of the season, she had outgrown her and had to sell her to another young girl who was thrilled to get her. Her parents surprised her with a new pony for Christmas, a taller Bay and White paint.

I hope that the memories Natalie and Luke created live on in this painting and that she too transitions to a new friend to continue her journey in horsemanship.

Monday, December 13, 2010

In memory of Travel Mate

I just finished a commissioned piece for Linda and Tom Baxter in memory of their beloved Travel Mate (Tex). I met Linda during the Christmas tour and she indicated that she wished we'd have met last spring before they lost Tex. While it is easier to paint a horse when I meet them or take my own photos, it can be done with owner images. Linda wanted to surprise Tom for the holidays, so I encouraged her to come back and discuss her ideas.

Linda described Tex as a super athletic, no vices charmer with a pretty face, big expressive eyes and a large muzzle. She brought lots of images of him - many if him in action cutting cattle (a four time world champ - no pressure!). He indeed was a handsome lad - the kind of build any Quarter horse fan loves to see - and his beautiful nature came through his images.

She had measured her walls and said she had room for a 30 x 40 canvas - either way. I showed her some images that may work to capture his movement and we were set. Before leaving, she told me that Tom had said a few days earlier, when looking at the wall where she intended the painting to go, that they should really get paintings of their own horses on the walls! Strange timing for that comment!

I was fortunate to have time to get on the work right away, and as often happens, the horses nature just comes to or through me. I kept asking him - "Tex, I never met you but are these how your eyes were? No bigger? Okay..." When I called Linda to come and see him on Saturday, I was a bit nervous as it is risky to know if I have captured him or not. As soon as she entered the Gallery, she said "Oh, there is my boy" and I could tell she was pleased at all the elements that I struggled with - background colors, eyes, muzzle and ears. I told her to return the next day and that would give me time for clear coating and adding his brand to the painting.

After picking it up on Sunday, Linda called me to let me know that it looked great on their wall at home - and she handed the phone to Tom who said to me "Nicole, there are paintings and photos, but you really captured his spirit" - the words any artist lives to hear.

I wish them as many happy years with their painting as they had with their beloved Tex, and I was glad to meet him, even if it was via distance - I know I will recognize him on the other side.

Note - the painting was unframed, but I added this for the blog shot.

Monday, November 22, 2010

Deck the halls at the Broody Rooster

Well, the past four days have been a whirl wind - the Cedar Yellowpoint Artisan Tour was a great success for the Broody Rooster Gallery. This was my first year on the tour and the first day was also my first day of business for the Gallery. I was very excited and nervous at the same time - and four days later - I am tired, but very satisfied with the outcome.

I was told it would be busy, but had no idea just how busy it would be. By 11:30 am on Thursday, I had to quit counting. Folks kept rolling in the doors. It appears that my guess on what would be appealing to folks was on for the most part - everything from stockings to the horse calendars went well and I was able to sell five paintings.

Thanks to everyone who came out to support the Broody Rooster's first days in business - my friends, colleagues, neighbors, family and students. It was a pleasure to chat with folks, share items and ideas and of course, to sell some of the inventory that has been building in my sewing room and art studio for the past year.

I will be open on the weekends til Christmas from 11 am to 4 pm - so if you missed the tour but want to head on by for items - come on by. The workshop calendar is almost ready - more will be added as we gather ideas from others - keep posted and I will share these on the Broody Rooster site as I design it in the upcoming week.

Now, for some sleep, apple pie and time with John...

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Hospital painting

I spent a couple of weeks in October in Alberta with my family as my mom was in for surgery. As I knew I would spend a bit of time in the hospital, I decided to bring along my paints for something to keep me occupied. Being creative is also a way to keep my mind off things and I needed more paintings for the Gallery opening.

Here are a few of the paintings that I was able to get done while back...

  • Worker bee is my older gelding Magnum - you may remember seeing this image of him on an earlier blog entry when he was learning to work under harness
  • Tripod is an image of a foal with legs a bit too long for snacking...
  • And Backscratchers is a photo I started at the Horsin Around event in the spring, but finally got time to finish.
I did two more paintings that I didn't take photos of - one for my niece Caitlin riding in the field (see earlier blog entry as well), and one of a friends horse Portia for my neice Jordan's Birthday.

I still struggle to take good photos of the paintings - they just don't seem to come out quite right... but these are here nonetheless.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

2011 Horse Lover's Calendar ready for Christmas!

For those who love an annual horse calendar to record special events and holidays, you are now in luck. A new 2011 Horse Lover's Calendar is available with photography by Nicole Vaugeois and available off Lulu.com

To purchase yours in time for Christmas CLICK HERE.

Or they will be made available during the Cedar Yellowpoint Artisans Tour as well.

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Broody Rooster Guesthouse and Gallery

Well, we have been busy here since the start of October. The Broody Rooster Guesthouse and Gallery is on its way to an opening November 10, 2010.
Most of the work has been centered on creating the right ambiance for a gallery, while at the same time allowing me to convert it in the spring to a guesthouse for the summer season. This has taken a bit of thinking - but it is coming along. Like most small businesses, it will take some trial and error to get things all working for customers.

I am trying to get it all ready for the start of the Cedar Yellowpoint Artisans Tour November 18-21st. Now that painting is done in there, I am transitioning to getting lots of product ready for the season - art cards, paintings, canning, santa sacks, stockings, and shopping bags. I have no idea how busy I will be or what people are keen to buy, but I want to have an assortment available for folks to be able to leave with awareness of the cottage and gifts. I have also decided to do gift certificates for commissioned paintings and photo sessions - all beautifully packaged so that they are ready to give.
The new brochures for the Cedar Yellowpoint Artisans tour are out and their website has been updated - plan on coming out November 18-21st from 10 am to 5 pm to explore the various artisans in the area. A good place to buy your Christmas presents, or just be become familiar with what is in your own backyard while enjoying the journey out in this area.

Friday, October 15, 2010

Gift certificates for those who have everything horsey already!

If you are like my husband, he finds it incredibly difficult to shop for me at Christmas time. I am probably like a lot of other horse freaks who spend far too much time at the local tack stores buying whatever is not already in the barn (or a duplicate - just in case).

If you are trying to shop for someone like me, consider giving them a gift certificate for a commissioned piece of artwork or a personalized photo session. I have done up some gift certificates for the season and have them all wrapped up beautifully for you to give as a gift.

The commissioned art gift certificate is for an 18 x 24 original acrylic on canvas. If you want a larger canvas, I can accommodate that as well. The photo session is for a 2 hour on site photo session and comes with a CD of at least 20 high resolution images for you to keep, use, print etc. as you would like. The certificates are available for $200 from the Broody Rooster Guesthouse and Gallery or email/call and I can send one out your way.

Monday, September 20, 2010

Getting ready for Christmas

I am pretty excited about the holiday season this year. I know, it is early to talk about the "C" word, but I have been busy getting ready for a new step in my art career.

We have a beautiful little cabin on our property which we have rented out over the years. This year, our long term friend and tenant is moving out and we have decided to convert the cabin into a gallery and guesthouse. The business model will utilize the space in the fall winter and spring as my gallery and studio. I will program the space to inspire all things creative. There will be art classes, workshops, and other gatherings - keep your eyes posted for things to do in the space. The summer months, when I am on holidays - we are going to rent the cabin out as a guesthouse by the week for folks who want to experience this great place.

We took a long time coming up with a name but this summer - it all came to be. The cabin will now be known as the "Broody Rooster Gallery and Guesthouse". What is a broody rooster you ask? And why did I select the name? When we arrived at this place in 2003, we inherited some "residents", one of whom is an old Gray rooster that I call the old man. He is a blue silky who is blind in one eye and I keep him sheltered in a little barn and pen so the others don't pick on him. He must be at least 8 years old now, but you'd never know it. This spring, I had a hen in with him and a few chicks. To my surprise, when the hen started laying eggs, he became broody and started sitting on the eggs. I kid you not! I had to google this to see if there was such a thing as a later life gender transition in chickens but found nothing. I figured this was a sign of something, and loved the way it rolled off my tongue so it became the Broody Rooster. To me, I am a bit of a broody rooster - I love all things homey but am also have a bit of a cocky, bold male energy about me. This Gallery is about "strutting my stuff" so to speak and so - the name has stuck.

I will be designing a new web page soon and getting marketing under my belt, but for now - the effort is on transforming the cabin from a residence to a funky gallery, getting all my products ready for sale and preparing to be on the Cedar Yellowpoint Artisans Christmas Tour. If you have never been on this tour - you need to come out and see all the different vendors in the area. It is a great example of cultural tourism and business clustering in the area and I am super excited to be involved.

Come by on November 18-19, 20 and 21st. Plan to spend your Christmas budget and stock up for everyone on your list. Spread the word, bring a friend and enjoy. I will have paintings, art cards, canning, Santa sacks, purses, stockings and other goodies for sale.

Friday, September 17, 2010

Summer shots

This summer I was lucky to spend some time with my nieces who are horse crazy. I am glad this "gene" made it into the family pool and is being passed along a bit. It is like a common language when talking to someone who loves these four leggeds - and a nice glue to these girls.

On those occasions, we have a couple of shots that are fun and worth sharing. The first one is my little niece Jordan and I on one of my horses El Nino. She came back with me from Alberta to spend a few days and then her mom and step dad came out a while later. When she was here we borrowed a neat little rig - a saddle that fits behind a saddle - to create a safe space for traveling tandem. She was a trooper - hung on for dear life and we even loped with her on. Needless to say her little butt was bouncing off the saddle but she had her fingers looped through my belt loops so she stayed on.

The other photo is my brothers daughter Caitlin and her horse Jade. We had a family gathering out at their place in the summer and she went out to bring the horses in - on bareback with a halter - just like I remember. It reminded me how courageous we were when we were younger and trusted horses. As folks get older, I find that a lot of the women I see with horses are so timid and intimidated by horses that it gets in the way of what they can do together. Luckily I still have a high tolerance for risk and love to push the boundaries like this. I took lots of shots with folks but this one is one of my favorites.

Gives me more inspiration to paint. Now it is fall, I will transition from being behind the lens of the camera to the canvas. I feel the inkling every night now and want to get ready for the opening of my new gallery this fall - watch for more on "The Broody Rooster Gallery and Guesthouse".

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

An appy a day

Last spring during the "Just horsin around" event in Nanaimo, I painted for a couple days at my booth to pass the time. I decided to try something different and had a photo of a little appy that was worth a try.

The photo is a bit brighter than the painting so you miss a bit of the pink shadows on the face, but in the end, I was quite happy with the outcome. I put it in a think dark frame which worked to bring out depth in the painting.
This painting, done in public, taught me a bit more about blending of light colours, which I find difficult. Paint goes on lighter than it dries so it can be difficult to get depth when using colors that are similar to one another. I typically go for contrast and lots of it, but need to work on these more subtle skills - so will try more of the same this fall.

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Cowgirl getaway

Last Thursday I took four girlfriends down to Twincreeks in Duncan for a cowgirl getaway. We slept in the Bed Bale and Breakfast, hung out in the hot tub, drank our favorite beverages and ate loads of food while we chatted all things horsey. Of course, we got horse time in too - I took some time to drive Magnum and used the access to the ring and trails to get Nino and Simba out as well. The weekend was great - so close to home but when you are there, you just feel so far away. It is super peaceful and relaxing. Some of the gals did some natural horsemanship sessions with Deb and they were super pleased with the outcomes. The idea was to have folks learn how to paint as well, but we just tried to cram too much in - we needed another couple of days! For some reason, the massages that Angela Morgan was doing was more popular - go figure!

The weekend was then the second competitive trail ride at the same venue, so it finished with a bang. 27 miles on the boys and they did incredibly well again. Next one is in 100 Mile House in mid August so I have some time for summer before then...

Being around so many horses was a great opportunity to have the camera active. I was happy with the lighting and got a number of great shots to share with the gals and add to my inventory. See a few here and enjoy.

And if you haven't been to Deb's for a cowgirl getaway, think about booking it soon - you won't be disappointed.

Next couple of weeks I have a few private photo shoots to prepare for and I was finally accepted on the Yellowpoint Cedar Artisan Tour for the Christmas season, so I have to start preparing the Cottage and Gallery for that as well. The day job seems far away right now...

Monday, June 21, 2010

Giddy Up Gogo - a pleasure ride to remember

Hi there

Have been a bit inconspicuous for awhile as I have been busy wrapping up at work and getting the Giddy Up Gogo Pleasure ride done. This was the third annual ride at Dan and Shirley Gogo's property south of Nanaimo. The past two years we have had a Competitive Trail Ride, but this year, I decided to make it a Pleasure ride with a focus on miles, education, and socializing. Like previous years, I was capping the ride two weeks early due to popularity - this year at 60 participants and a waitlist.

This years event was a partnership between BCCTRA and the Backcountry Horsemen of BC as a way to familiarize each of the groups members to one another. For all groups who require access to trails for horseback riding, we really do need to get to know one another better and focus on our similarities. This years event brought us together over two nights of camping and miles of riding.

Camping started on Friday night as rigs pulled in from all over the island. Saturday morning we had an introduction to Competitive Trail Riding before two guided rides headed out at 10 am. I led a 15 mile trot ride (about 6 miles per hour) with Laureen Styles and we had about 16 people join us (4 dropped off after a few miles to ride on their own). Some were a bit unfamiliar with the pace, but overall everyone had a good time. The afternoon had another two 10 mile rides head out and then education sessions started in the afternoon. Saturday Dr. Clare Tompkins did a talk on Emergency vet care on the trail, and later Tom and Shane Sampson did a packhorse demonstration. This was repeated on Sunday with an intro to Backcountry Horsemen in the am by Ybo Plante, rides, and then sessions by Alexandra Hamilton on Emergency Hoof Care on the Trail and then a Search and Rescue session by Richard Payne. All this plus a potluck Sat and catered dinner Sunday for only $20 per person - great way to spend a weekend.

I clocked 46 miles with Tammy Mercer's Whiskey as El Nino had some bad feet after pulling two rear shoes the week prior. Was my first time on a Standardbred which was lots of fun - we clocked 19 miles on his big trot. I didn't get to spend much time with the camera but did catch a few worth sharing.
Thank you to Walker Creek Country Goods for sponsoring goodies for everyone, to Logomotion for doing the mugs and T-shirts, to Horse Council BC for zone funding, to Island Tractor for the use of the Kubota tractor for the event, to Island Timberlands and the Regional District of Nanaimo for access to the trails, to Big Apple Catering for dinner on Sunday and to all the volunteers who helped pull this event off. See you next year.

Canvas is coming out now that I am on holidays - post more soon.
Photos - all the Gogo's except Shirley - Daniel on Leopold, Marjorie on Chrissy, Dan on Angus and Mary on Somebody Askim. Shirley and Hoover were behind the scenes...

Monday, May 24, 2010

CTR season started

Long weekend, rode 30 miles, spent time with horse people and my new rig. What could be better. This weekend kicked off the 2010 BC Competitive Trail Riding season with a ride at John and Karen Eigler's place in Courtenay - the Sasquatch Scurry. They have a beautiful place just north of town with access to unbelievable trails and a place that overlooks the island mountain range.

Competitive Trail Riding is a great sport for those who like "miles of smiles", good people, camping with their horses and learning about fitness and conditioning. I have been doing it now since 2004 with my best friend and two horses. Essentially, for those who aren't familiar with the sport, it is a long distance riding sport that challenges the horse and rider over a cross country course in a set time period (not a race). As one moves up in the levels, mileage and speed increase - but horses are all vetted three times - before, during and after exercise. For those that haven't tried it - I always sell it by saying "For $50-60 entry fee - I get a complete vet check on my horse three times, I ride new trails that are marked by someone else, camp overnight, have a potluck, get prizes and visit with great horse folks" THAT - is value for your entry fee! For more info on the sport check out http://www.bcctra.ca/ Next ride is one that I am organizing in Nanaimo - the Giddy Up Gogo Pleasure ride - education, riding and socializing with folks who love horses and trails.

I wasn't able to get any action shots as I was on the horse most of the time, but I did get a few around camp that are worth sharing. Enjoy...

Monday, May 17, 2010

Just horsin around - done and dusty!

Well, finished up my first display at the Just horsin around event in Nanaimo this weekend. It took a lot out of me - all the planning, set up, and sticking around for two full days at the event. But, I guess that is an important part of getting out there. My goal was just to raise awareness in the local market that I am here, I do commissions and photo shoots and give them a sample of my work. I think I achieved that and received numerous compliments on my work - which was nice. One never knows if their friends and family are just being nice or if others actually think highly of your work.

The photos show a few images of my booth. To my surprise on Friday night, I was directed to the Agri plex in a horse arena! The floor was hog fuel and the ambiance well... not exactly what I was expecting. The venue held a lot of other vender's but by the end of each night my nose was plugged with dust and I will have to wipe and clean off everything as it is layered in dust. That part was not fun!

I looked online for example displays for art that would be easy to transport, set up and yet strong enough to hold framed work. After finding nothing suitable, I designed a tri-fold display out of recycled doors. John attached the hinges so that it works like an accordion and is solid, yet flexible to maneuver into different shapes. It worked great and lots of folks loved the idea - so take it if you are looking for something similar.

The art cards worked great - people wanted something to look at and take away. I sold about 75 or so of those - so highly recommend that avenue. Lots of people said that they find it difficult to find cards with horses on them - so there is another piece of feedback. Had about three people talk about commissions with me and all my business cards are gone - people seem to like cards over brochures... another interesting point.

I decided to bring my easel and paints and paint when things were slow. Glad I did as things were slow quite often. It also gave me a chance to get away from things and people really enjoyed coming to watch. A few even signed up for classes and workshops.

So, glad it is done. Took a lot of energy but was also a good milestone for me as an artist. I was happy to "come out of the closet" a bit and the feedback will help me grow as an artist as well. I will see what comes out of it for work and in the meantime, will keep painting in time for the opening of my own place next fall.

Friday, May 7, 2010

Basking beauty

It is spring and I am starting to see little foals in the fields around the area. Is there anything cuter? Their long gangly legs, their out of proportion knee caps foreheads and ears and their compact little bodies are just so heavenly made.

We used to have mares and a stallion on our farm and I miss having the little ones to visit with in the field. My mare Alza Kharin (Arabian) used to have the most beautiful foals. She was a dark bay, almost black and Silver Request (Arab stallion) was a strawberry roan. Their combo produced everything from blue roans to chestnuts - like this little foal I painted last night. Royale Rain was her name... I came home from school and my dad told me I better go out and check Kharin (which as his code for something was waiting for me). It was a spring day with sun and a hint of a light shower on the horizon. When I approached Kharin, I remember her stepping back to show me her little prize. Just then, it started to sprinkle - one of those lovely prairie showers and the filly responded to the drops by shaking her head and hiding it under Kharin's belly. I named her Royale Rain.

Kharin was the first foal I fell in love with. We used to live in Brooks and on the way to the store, we used to pass by a little farm with a dark mare. I would ask to join my mom every time I knew she was going past it, and when we got near - I would pin my face to the window to watch her. One spring, I was so surprised to see a little dark filly beside the mare. I fell in love instantly. Of course, my efforts to get my mom to drive past increased exponentially after that.

My parents were good at teaching us kids the value of a dollar and that if we wanted something, we had to work for it. So, as a family, we used to head out to pick bottles on the side of the roads on weekends. The money was for whatever we wanted it for - mine was targeted for a horse - and one in particular. I am not sure how long it was going to take me to get that much money, but I was determined.

One day, my mom and dad told me that they had bought me a horse. I was super excited at the prospect and so we jumped into a vehicle to go and see it. We went a route that I was not familiar with, down back roads, up side roads etc. Then we came out to a little farm and walked across the farm yard to the paddock. Then all of a sudden, I realized where I was - there in the field was the little filly - Alza Kharin. Mom and dad had bought her for me and drove to the farm in a way that I didn't recognize so they could surprise me. It was the start of a magical relationship.

I like to live life with no regrets but there is one regret that I will have for the rest of my life and that is selling Kharin. After I started University, mom and dad sold the farm and kept her and Royale for me for awhile. When I knew I was moving out to the island for work, I didn't see how I could keep her - so I decided to sell her. Back in those days, before the web, auctions and private sales were the norm. So, she sold to a lovely lady to a lovely lady Vicki from Lacombe and Royale when to a guest ranch near Sundre. I think of her often and have tried to find her more than once, but recognize that she is now very likely in horse heaven. She, more than any other horse - filled me with the wonder for the horse and I am forever grateful to my parents for surprising me with her when I was just a girl.

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Herd boss

Well, nothing like a little pressure to get me performing. I spent the night painting, which felt great. Haven't been at the canvas for awhile and just like running, once you start - you wonder why you don't do it everyday (ha ha - running!).

There is something super majestic about a stallion with his mares. They are full of primal instincts that our gelded partners just don't possess (probably good on most days). The words strength, majesty, and protection come to mind for me whenever I have watched a stallion with his herd.

So, tonight - I tried to capture that on canvas (16 x 20) and painted "Herd Boss". I don't typically use blues or purples but the tones have to match the color of the horse - so I tried something different. My husband commented immediately 'those aren't your typical colors - I like them!" (which makes me wonder about my other paintings - typical inferiority complex of an artist...). Actually, I liked it too - lightened things up and had the black jump out more.

So, freshly released and I will polish tomorrow if needed. I always take lots of photos as the camera seems to catch things that my eye doesn't. Then I sleep on it and see it with fresh eyes in the am. I know I'll get a good sleep.

Enjoy - and if you like it - it is for sale and display at next weeks "Just horsin around" event in Nanaimo!

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Back in business

I knew it would happen - a creative hiatus due to work. But, things are easing up and I can see the light -so the creative juices that have been on hold are coming back fast and furious!

And none too soon. I booked a booth at the "Just Horsin' Around" event in Nanaimo May 15-16th in Beban Park. It will be my first trade show for the new art business, so am excited to share my work, chat with other horse folks and hopefully get the word out there that I am keen to take on commission work and photography sessions this year. Timing couldn't be better.

In preparation for the event, I have been assembling the design for my booth - 12 by 12 box that needs some thought put into it. I have John building me a display out of three old wooden doors (recycled) so I can just attach them together and then hang the paintings off both sides so there is some display space for them.

Artwork is not the type of thing that people necessarily go to this type of show to purchase, so I don't have any illusions that I will liquidate all my inventory. But I do want them to learn more about my services so I have brochures, information packages for those that are serious - and I am offering a $25 discount if people book on the weekend. I also have a raffle for a free photo shoot to gain more information on the market. And, I have put together some "photo cards" so that people can leave with something small if they are inclined to buy. Will do stand alone cards, plus bundles of 5 or little boxes (see photo) of 12 as well. I am investigating getting art cards done in Victoria at Art Ink Print as well, so will have those later for when I open the gallery/studio.

Problem for me is that a lot of my work is unframed. I find for display of artwork, framing makes such a big difference. So I went to Michael's and lucky for me - they have all their open frames on 50% off so I scooped up a variety of sizes for everything from 11x14 to 18x24 so I can display in frames, but give people the option to buy with or without.

So, all this work has made me super excited about the event. If you read this and are coming - look me up to chat.

Sunday, February 28, 2010

Always learning

Today the sun was shining here on the Island. Was a great way to finish off the Olympics in Vancouver, and even better as I had a chance to spend most of the day outside with horses.

I have been wanting to train my older horse Magnum to pull a cart for a couple of years now. He is 24 now and I only light ride him as he gets a stiff shoulder now and again. Training him to harness will allow me to keep him in shape with non weight bearing activity - and I have always wanted to learn as well.

Luckily for me, I have a couple of friends - Richard and Phyllis Payne who are hosting a clinic in a couple of weeks where I will get a chance to work with Magnum for four days. To prepare, they asked me to bring him over to get sized up for a harness and to see how he would respond with all the stimuli.

So I loaded him up in the new trailer - and am sure he looked at me to say "Mom - I am retired, remember?". But I know he loves to get out and he is the kind of horse you want to spend lots of time with as he is so respectful. He is a "worker bee" if you know about horseonalities.

Phyllis and Richard fitted him up in the barn with one of their rigs and he stood fairly patiently for them. Then she took him out and while it took him a bit to learn what she wanted when she was standing behind him, he was soon walking forward for her and keeping to the rail.

I stood by taking lots of photos like a proud mom. He is a Morgan cross and Phyllis says they catch on so fast that its like they are turning around to say "what took you so long?". I am sure it won't look so pretty when it is me standing behind him in a few weeks! But for today, I stood by and watched as he and I both learned something new. I can't wait until we can load up John in a buggy and head down to the Crow and Gate for a beer.

I truly enjoyed the day - sunshine, learning, and being with my old handsome friend Magnum.

Enjoy the shots - they should make a great painting.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Horsin around

While my canvas has been a bit dry the past couple of weeks, I have been finding ways to get out with the camera. The damp spring creates some challenging shooting conditions, but sometimes the light can be just right (not often enough for me).

A weekend back, I went out with a couple of friends from the Backcountry horsemen of BC - South Vancouver Island Chapter. We met at the Glenora Staging Grounds in Duncan - a one of a kind equine facility that is nearing completion. To quote from one of Ybo Plante's emails (President BCH-SVI) "Cowichan River Park (Glenora Staging Area). Currently in place are: a) large designated parking area for trailer rigs; b) covered manure pit; c) gravelled picnic area under trees; d) water hydrant; e) electricity/lighting; f) better equine access lane to the TCT and improved trail footing. The washrooms in the main park area now have hot water and showers are functional. Next step is the installation of two 12’x12’ corrals, hitching posts, and picnic tables."

We parked three rigs and you could appreciate the design as it is built with a circle loop so you don't need to back up or turn around with the horse trailer (good thing as I am just learning to drive with my new rig - see photo). I appreciated the open access, good signage, access to the Trans Canada Trail and the attention to detail. These types of facilities are so needed to create access for equestrian users in BC - this is a model to showcase.

Ybo also indicates that "None of this would be happening without the Parks & Rec Commission of the CVRD's vision and leadership! The Commission is still requesting contributions to the costs. So far, they have spent approx. $16,000 of Commission’s dollars but the only contributions from the horse community/users has been $400 raised by BCHBC SVI Chapter and $100 by Twincreeks Bed & Bale". BC Competitive Trail is planning to make a significant contribution as well, since we host at least one ride in the region every year, and Tammy Knutson, President of BCCTRA also has the fundraising coordinator on board to design a fundraising event specifically for the site - money will be donated at the Twincreeks ride in July hosted by Rhonda Hittinger. For any other horse groups out there - think about donating funding to help this great facility and maybe we can encourage more of them in different locations of BC.

Get out and enjoy - and get inspired by spending time in natural surroundings with your four legged friends.

Monday, January 25, 2010

Bluebird Riding School at Rocking Horse Pub

This Sunday I had the pleasure of attending an open house for a couple of friends who are starting the Bluebird Riding School out of the Rocking Horse Pub in Nanoose, BC. Karen Cipranic and her husband Richard Crowley just moved all of their horses into the huge barn after an arduous journey from California, where Karen used to run her school out of her ranch. The old barn at the Rocking Horse Pub was vacant for quite a few years so the open house was all about creating awareness in the community about Karen's unique school.

I am just getting to know Karen, but I can tell already, that she is one of those really rare people that exudes more of an air of an angel than a human. She cares for all those horses and ponies (lost track of the number but think there are 22-30!) like they are family. They are clean, well fed, and most importantly, loved. There are all shapes and colors, all sizes and types of personalities with an array of names assigned that no doubt, match their disposition and traits. I also saw though, that Karen exudes the same care and attention to her new customers - little boys and girls who came into the barn with eyes wide open as they exclaimed "look - horses!". Some of the newly signed up kids could barely contain themselves as Karen talked to them about their upcoming lessons. I am always happy to see kids get the chance to be near "real stuff" (vs. technology) so watching them in the barn was just great. I was lucky enough that as a born horse nut, my family was also into them - but I hold a special soft spot for youngsters who are born with the affliction but cannot be near them. Karen will provide that very important missing link in the horse world - bringing kids into contact with horses in a safe, holistic way that gets them well grounded in horsemanship. Her barn is not one of catty chats about disciplines and gear - but about good old basic stories and fun.

She was lucky enough to have a young lady named Elizabeth "Lizzy" Shaw wander into the barn and offer to assist Karen. She calls her her barn angel - and already Lizzy has made herself irreplaceable helping to feed the horses, muck stalls and assist Karen in the operation of the facility. She will no doubt be a great role model for these young kids - another thing that is so missing in today's social reality.

They are taking reservations for June, July and August 2010 Summer camps where kids are in one week sessions doing an array of activities from vaulting, to pole bending, trail rides, crafts and much more. They are designed for kids 6 - 12 years old - so if that is you or someone you know - visit their site at: http://www.bluebirdridingschool.com/ or call Karen at 250-751-4646.

I took a few shots while on location - hard to get good lighting in the barn but a few turned out. The kids on the rocking horse was just classic, considering the name of the place. The carrots were a gift for the horses from a local business. The old boot was decoration and the horse was a little pony called Braidy (believe it or not) who didn't like the flash much but was so photogenic they still turned out. Karen has booked me for a spring photo shoot and I just can't wait to get them all in the natural morning/evening light to get her some photos she can use for her sight and the barn stalls.
Thanks Karen, Richard and Elizabeth - and have a great summer ahead working your magic on a very important job - teaching kids to value and respect horses.