Sunday, February 28, 2010

Pampered pony!

The pony was great today, and she got a partial spa day too!  I rode for about twenty minutes, just getting her to relax into a quiet walk and then a quiet trot.  Quieting the trot always takes the most effort since she is continuously anxious about life.  She hypes herself up even though all I want from her is to ride on a loose rein and relaxed so that she can actually learn something.  After the ride gave her a bit of pampering - she got her mane pulled, legs scrubbed, and tail brushed.  Looks good eh?

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Severe weather warnings in New Jersey

I was supposed to head home to NJ today so that I could give an equine photography seminar at the Purnell School in the morning tomorrow.  New Jersey is expecting 18" of snow, which means no driving for me and my old wheels.  Now I have to wait until spring break for family and friends.  We are still going to try to figure out how I can give presentation/discussion over Skype.  Oh the beauty of technology!

I've been maintaining my facebook fan page with a "Photo of the Day" to showcase some of my work, and because its cold and wintery, much of the work is from the past year.  I have several irons in the pot for both portfolio building opportunities and for possible clients.  I'm looking into the details of attending an equine photography workshop in Lexington, KY this summer, and what an opportunity that would be!  I can choose between the seminar led by Gabrielle Boiselle, famous for capturing the spirit and essence of the horse:

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Parelli and painting

Yesterday Sarah and I headed out to the barn after our last class to play with the ponies.  Janene was there so we talked for a while about Ritter, and I ended up riding him so that she could watch.  We talked about what I was working towards with Rit under saddle and where his weaknesses were.  It was a lot of fun!  Today is rain/snowing so I'm going to try to ride tomorrow before class.  Sarah and I also did some more Parelli stuff with the pony, and each day she just gets better and better.

Here is a new painting!  I finished all my work early last night so I pulled out one of my last two canvases and started working on it.  Its not finished yet but here is what I have done so far:

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Finally, some photographs!

This weekend was finally beautiful! Over 60 degrees both days.  I was finally able to bring my camera out to play!  The photos at then end are all from yesterday.

This weekend Sarah started to do some Parelli stuff with the pony, and she is already becoming a different horse!  I know many people don't really buy into the whole natural horsemanship thing, but it is cool because its basically establishing a mutual trusting relationship, and mutual respect for each other.  This will be especially great for the pony because she is so fearful.  Already she is learning how to respond to pressure, read Sarah or my energy, and she is no longer afraid to come over in the stall or field.  And this is only after two sessions!  What we have been doing is learning together.  Sarah teaches her a game or two a day (Parelli is based on 7 games), and she gets her a little farther each time.  I then start from the beginning and play games that the pony is already familiar with so that I can learn how to do them, and she is already a little familiar with the expected responses.

Friday, February 19, 2010


Have you ever been in the mood to paint?  Or to draw?  For some reason I think all my thoughts focused on my photography business, future shoots, and the installation of more creativity into my work has led to some crazy desire to provide myself with an outlet for my creativity.  I haven't been able to shoot because of the weather, but today I just needed to do SOMETHING.  I went to Michael's and picked up six canvases, 6 bottles of paint, a pack of twelve brushes and I got to work!  I don't believe I have any artistic talent, but here is what I came up with!

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Two projects, spring here we come!

I've ridden the yellow pony twice since I've been back, and also lunged her a few times.  She has had what is now close to two months off, and since she didn't end up going home for the winter she has just been sitting in Grayson's field.  Each day to catch her I have to trick her into coming over to me, because if I'm over eager she will simply run the other direction - literally!  She wants to think that being caught is her idea, and the field is big enough that she is usually right.  She is fuzzy and shaggy and more white than yellow, but hopefully when she starts shedding she will be a palomino girl again.
She is figuring out just how okay it is for her to be interested in life, and although she still threatens to rear on the cross ties and under saddle, thus far her front feet have stayed on the ground.  Sarah is going to help me by teaching me some Parelli stuff to do with her, and I think that once she is in a consistent program (c'mon weather - dry up!) she will be fit and happy.  I can't wait to start getting her going over fences!  The free-jumping session was such a tease!  Remember this?

Molly, a freshman who rode on the dressage team with Sarah and me in the fall, recently began boarding with Grayson as well, and today she had a jumping session with her adorable mare Savannah.  I miss jumping around too!  

Today we just walked and trotted, and I'm trying to remind Pony that she doesn't have to GO GO GO all the time.  She does eventually settle down at the trot, but she has a tendency to lose her mind at the walk.  She can't really seem to fathom moving that slowly!  She doesn't really understand the point.  At the end of our ride though we watched Molly and Savannah jump around the course Molly set up and I think it was really good for Pony's brain to just stand while another horse was galloping around the ring.  Go Pony!

On another note, the little PonyFace Zena has been SO successful!  In her first jumper show with Nikki she won her 3' power and speed class, and got second in the jump off of the other 3' class she did. She also competed in her first two events, and she was one mistake away from winning the first one!  She stopped at the water fence, but jumped right in on the second try, and otherwise was set up to win the division!  That's funny, do you remember when she was terrified of even walking through a puddle?  Nikki sure has some potential in her hands! 

Recently I started talking to Janene about Ritter, and because of the economy and some recent harder times of her half leaser, she has decided that she may eventually need to sell Ritter if she can't find another half leaser for him.  I offered to take him on as a "project" so to speak (get him fit), and so this spring I will ride him most days when I have time, and the weather is good so that when Janene decides what she is going to do with him, he will be fit, healthy and ready to go.  

I rode him today for the first time since the fall, and he is the same old guy!  His birthday was actually on Valentines Day (Happy 8th Ritter!) so he is a new man looking at his eighth year.  He is AQHA, and was started western, and also in dressage.  For those who were reading this in the fall, they might remember that I jumped him around a few times.  He may just turn out to be a nice little hunter!  I'm going to take it slow with him, Janene says that when he is coming back into fitness he has a tendency to get sore in his back right leg, and so I'll be careful to monitor it and build him up slowly.  

Today we just walked and trotted and I got a feel for where we are starting.  I rode him in my own saddle with a riser pad and the french link loose ring.  He has two different bridles for two different riders, but I prefer to see what I have in my hands before I bit up too much.  Its nice to get on a horse that is always quiet whether it has been a day or a month since he has last been ridden.  While Ritter has been ridden recently, I know the weather prevents its consistency.  He has a tendency to lean on the bit for support and hyperflex as he looks for contact in the rider's hand.  I didn't give him that support because I hate horses that lean, but I'd be glad to get him going long and low and carrying himself rather than looking for constant support.  There was little to no engagement through his hind end which is to be expected, and as he builds muscle that will come.  For now we will simply focus on fitness, and the rest will come with time. 

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Winter, go away!

This morning proved to be just as windy and cold as Anne predicted, and as such Brownie and I were confined to the indoor.  She asked me to give him a hard hack, so that is what I set out to do.  I started out with some walking exercises, lengthening and shortening, brief lateral movements (two or three steps), and spirals.  As we picked up the trot, he was a bit pokey to begin with, not really interested in moving off my leg at all.  Once he began to warm up I asked him to relax his back and move from behind into the bridle.  He wasn't interested in remaining there though and putting in the effort it takes to maintain that impulsion, so it took a lot of effort from me to support him enough to get him moving out.

Once I had him moving out though, the ride began to come together.  He was moving off my leg, lifting his back, and responding to my leg and seat aids so that I would not have to do much with my hands.  At the canter during our first transition, his lifted his head, hollowed his back, and twisted his neck right around C2/C3 in order to evade the bit.  It took two strides for me to get his attention and work ethic back on track.    After a bit of canter work to get him completely warmed up we returned to the trot and worked on more lengthening and shortenings, and he didn't really have any interest in collecting the trot while staying round. After a few minutes though he was completely soft and was collecting both the trot and the canter.  He began to sweat a bit though, and because he is not clipped I decided to stop there.  It would take too long to cool off in this weather!

Brownie pictures coming soon!

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Back in the saddle

Friday proved to be difficult, as it was my first ride since returning from London.  Huxley, a cute bay Thoroughbred, was a doll, and was very tolerant of my lack of fitness and inability to see a distance.  In order to prep for our show the following day, Shelby and I switched horses and jumped the other's horse around a few courses.  JC was less tolerant of the fatigue in my poor legs, and refused to back off my left leg as we rounded the turns.  After a much needed yet excruciating hour and a half, we called it quits, and Anne deemed me ready (as ready as I could have been) for the St. Andrews Show.

St. Andrews has only a covered arena for us to show in, and that means the whole show was spent outside in the blistering cold.  The first draw was Spike, a small chestnut gelding whose description told me he always adds.  Little did I know that the sheet really meant he adds on the pony stride!  After entering the arena at the trot, in the corner I picked up my canter.  I began to establish some pace, but once he saw the fence he began to back off the pace and ignore my leg.  We ended up jumping the first fence at a pace slower than backwards.  After that fence though I clucked loudly and cow kicked then continued on to the outside line.  Eight strides.  I continued around to the bending line, ten strides.  In each line I added two.  Props for consistency I suppose.  As I rounded the final turn, I really asked him to move up, though he is definitely a horse that requires his rider to wait.  We ended up with a third.  Anne said that although our first fence was disastrous, we at least looked good while doing it.

Monday, February 8, 2010

New website!

There are lots of updates, including my first three days back in the saddle, and my first IHSA show of the season, but I'll save those for another day.  The biggest update is on my decision to finally update my website and toss my old website provider.  Homestead was a great service provider for me for a long time, and it helped me get my feet wet in the process of website design.  I'm by no means any sort of expert, and aspire to do nothing more than my own website.  That being said, I cancelled my homestead account in favor of a program compatible with my Mac.  It took less than a day to throw together my new and improved site!

I have a lot of goals for this year, and for my photography.  I set up a new payment system, a new website, and have lots of ideas for how I will grow my business.  I already have eight shows booked for this spring/summer.  Hopefully more will fall into place soon! Anyway, here is the link to my website, I'd love some feedback!

Kelsey Sullivan Photography

Monday, February 1, 2010

The beginning of Spring Semester

Yesterday Alpha Xi Delta welcomed 40 beautiful new women into our sorority, and they will all help us to grow as a chapter.

This morning I was able to go see the yellow beast for the first time since I've been home.  She looks great! Though she never actually made it home to Jim Bob's. As soon as the snow melts we will begin getting into shape together, showing, and getting her sold.  Grayson told me a story today, about how the pony got from one pasture to the other unscathed, and her only solution (though she didn't see it) is that the pony must have jumped from one side to the other.  Can you imagine?  Our little yellow pony jumping a 4'6" fence or a 5' gate just to get to the other side?  I guess its that whole "the grass is greener on the other side thing," although I'm just happy she made it out with no injury.  I guess that free jumping session sparked a little something in her mind, so I look forward to exploring her newfound interest/talent!

As soon as the snow melts we can get started on building that top line of hers and getting her fit and sane!  I hope the winter has been as good to you all as it has to her and to me.