Thursday, January 28, 2010

A Photography Challenge... And Some Cool Horse Pics!


A couple weekends ago I was invited to tag along to a Reining show at the LA Equestrian Center with a few others boarders from my ranch. I (gasp! blasphemy!) had never been to the LAEC before. I was like a little kid in a candy store when we drove in: "Oh! Look at the horses! Look at the lights! Look at the barns! Look at the arenas! Look at the poop!"


Unfortunately (or maybe for the better) it was also the day it started raining for a week solid so I couldn't wander around the grounds for hours taking pictures of everything and annoying my company. As soon as we arrived, we had to hunker down in the stands of the (GIANT) arena. Heaven forbid my precious camera get wet!


Fortunately for me there was plenty of action in the arena! However, the combination of poor arena lighting, using my zoom lens, not using my tri-pod, and the lack of additional natural lighting made for a very tough time taking decent photographs.


A lot of my images came out like above before I finally got the hang of. I have to admit, this was a challenge I was really looking forward to. After taking all the pictures of the ranch sorting, I kind of have a hankering to photograph Equine Events. In fact, I would LOVE to do that. This day was great practice. I learned quite a few things, including that light horses are easier to photograph!


The classes we watched were Non-Pros and Amateurs, so the reining itself wasn't spectacular, but it was a heck of a lot better than we could have done! Of course, the slides were my favorite thing to photograph!


The spins weren't too bad either, although not too many people were gettin' em as well as the slides. So the photographs didn't come out so hot.


I also tried to focus on taking some not-so-traditional reining photos. Every is used to seeing the sliding and spinning, but I wanted to capture the other dimensions of reining, which include collection and extension and speed! Some of these images are my favorites.




Let me tell you, just getting my images to look that bad was tough.


As I mentioned, most of the riding/reining was beginning level, except for this fella. This boy could move, and his girl could ride. The crowd (of 10) "ooooohhh"d when they started their routine. Here, let me show you:


He could spin


Both ways.


His transactions actually were transactions.


He went from this,


And this,


To this without an ounce of (visible) effort.


And his slides.

To top it all off, he walked out of the arena like this:


I tried to get some closer-ups of his face while he was working and surprisingly they came out alright.



This one directly above is one of my favorites of the day, even if it is not 100% in focus.

I took an (embarrassing) 415 photos of the day. Obviously, I haven't shared them all here. If you are interested in browsing through the rest you can click on any of the above photos and it will take you to my Flickr account where all the others have been uploaded.

It was a great day for my camera and I. Even though I had to crank my ISO way up (1600 if you care) and all the images are full of noise (camera noise), it was a great experience. I'm amazed that I managed to capture the images that I did.

Has anybody tested their limits recently and been pleasantly surprised? (I know there are a few of you out there...)

P.S. All of the reining images are straight-out-of-camera (SOOC), i.e. they have not been edited at all.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Peek-A-Boo Tuesday: Ch-ch-ch-changes

Today, I am opening the door to my soul and sharing a little secret that just recently came to be.

Typically, I do not talk about my job on this blog. I have introduced you to what it is I do, but I haven't really spoken about it since then. Thing is, my job is taking its toll on me and I am ready for a change.

So, I put a resume in with an equine vet who is looking for a tech. And I crossed my fingers.

I'm still crossing my fingers, but I haven't given up hope.

I am so ready for a change.

I'll let you know the outcome, whatever it may be.

Monday, January 25, 2010

A Homemade Wedding Homestead-Style: Struttin' Our Stuff

Hello! After being MIA for (quite) a few days, I'm back with so much to tell you about. Hopefully I'll be able to get my ducks in a row and actually post about it all in a reasonable amount of time.

The rain finally stopped sometime late in the day on Friday. Saturday morning when we got up we saw blue skies for the first time in a solid week. We could finally see our local mountains, and what a sight! The snow level had dropped nearly to the valley floor overnight.

Cowboy H and I already had a little weekend getaway planned, which involved a snow day on Saturday and a desert ride with the Desert Rose on Sunday. I know, I know, it was pretty brave of us to venture out with her after the "incident", but we survived! Pictures will be coming. Eventually.

When I last left you, the ushers had seated everyone and the doors shut were shut behind us.

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The ushers from left to right: Brett (younger brother of Mel who was passing out programs), my bro and Stephen (who was named after my dad). These boys have known each other since before birth. The infamous naked pictures exist of these three (together) also, but I won't be sharing them.

Leann Rimes' acoustic version of "Amazing Grace" began playing and we lined ourselves up for our aisle-walks.

Cowboy H and his grandma were the first to go,

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Followed by my brother and my grandma.

Photo by my cousin, Joelle.

Next Trent escorted his (and Cowboy H's) mom,

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With Tiffany and their dad not too far behind.

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You would think at this point, everything was going along just swimmingly, but no, not really. If you haven't noticed yet, I wanted this wedding to be as personal as possible, so I recycled two aisle-walker. My brother and Cowboy H's brother both had to circle back and escort a second person down the aisle. During the rehearsal, we had gotten the timing down pretty good, but of course that changed during the real deal, when everyone was staring. If you look in the picture above, you can see two boys in the background stretching their necks to watch something at the back of the church. What you don't see if my brother running down the side aisle-way of the church to get to my mom in time. Looking back, I should have used those to boys to escort the two additional women, but oh well. It made for a funny moment.

Fortunately, Joe made it back in time and walked my mom down the aisle. You can see the smirk on his face after that stunt.

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The lady in the beige shirt in the background is my "horse trainer". I have known her since I was in second grade. My brother and her oldest son went to kindergarten together. Her and my mom are still very close. I love the look of pure affection she is giving my mom and brother.

Then it was Trent's turn to get back to the back of the church.

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He had to run too, which cracked Jenna up as she was waiting for him. In the background, my dad is lecturing me on the fact that I should have used more people.

And off they went.

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I hate this picture, but its the only one I've got.

And now, what you've all been waiting for. Okay, what I was waiting for.

My turn.

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I'm pretty sure, this is my all-time favorite picture of my dad. EVER.

My dad and I waited (im)patiently for the music to change to Chris LeDoux's "Look At You Girl". After the first few beats, it was time to go.

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I tried so hard to walk slowly, soak it all in, but I was ecstatic. Beaming. Overjoyed.

You know, just a little excited.

Photo by my cousin, Joelle.

And shiny.

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I know you're supposed to look at your groom, whose patiently (and excitedly?) waiting for you at the end of the aisle, but I couldn't believe all the people that had come. It was surreal. I wanted to look at each and every one of them, burn them into brain, bask in the joy that these people had come to watch Cowboy H and I get hitched. Seriously, I tried to make eye contact with everyone.

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Look! Its a Desert Rose on the left. And please note my dad is wearing two different blacks. Thanks, Dad. I still love you.

Unfortunately, no one took a picture of Cowboy H's face as I was coming down the aisle. I'm pretty bummed about that (come on professional photogs!) but I'm pretty sure he was looking at his shoes like he was during rehearsal.

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All too soon we were at the end of the aisle, and my dad hugged me off.

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Then, he shook Cowboy H's hand, while I gripped his arm (for dear life?), bulging bicep and all.

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Up Next: Let The Ceremony Begin!

Question: Do you all want to know what was said at the ceremony? I mean, I can dig up and type out the readings, vows, etc. Or, I can just show you the pictures and tell you what was happening then.

All photography credit goes to Applemoon Photography, unless otherwise noted!

Friday, January 22, 2010

Welcome To My Life, Ed. 2, Vol II

The other night, Cowboy H and I were trying to get cozy on the couch, enjoy a fire and watch a movie. I was doing something (can't remember what) and I looked over to see Cowboy H tearing the pillows and covers off the couches, mumbling.

Where the heck is the remote?

So we start looking together. Under couches, under beds, under pillows, under cushions. Cowboy H even lifted the recliner completely off the ground to check under there.

Oh well, it'll turn up eventually.

My brain was turning, however, since I really hate when I can't find what I'm looking for. I will continue looking until I find it. Even if it makes me late to something.

How funny would it be if my dog had dragged it into the backyard. Actually, that wouldn't be that funny. Do you have a flashlight?

Sure enough, there it was, sitting right smack in the middle of the backyard grass.

Welcome to my life. You should visit regularly.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

A Homemade Wedding Homestead-Style: Arrivals

*Still* raining. Yesterday brought blizzard conditions, thunderstorms, flash floods and even a tornado to our area. Be careful what you wish for.

We arrived at the church about 30 minutes before the ceremony start time and my brother-in-law delivered me directly in front of the doors. A bunch of guests were already there, milling around outside since the church's wedding coordinator wasn't there yet to open the doors. I was so excited to see everyone there, I couldn't wait to get out of the car.

Once I did, the hug-fest began.

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My friend Juan, on the right with his girlfriend. We went to high school, and ran track, together. We were both hurdlers. Funny enough, we both ended up at the jr. college in town together; I playing volleyball, he on the athletic training team. Then we both moved to the LA area, but at different times. I think we're stuck with each other. And oh yea, I went to his Sr. Prom with him.

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This is Cassie's mom. While I have not spent a lot of time total with this lady, I feel at home with her. Really, she feels like my mom to me. She actually really reminds me of my mom, too. Maybe that's why Cassie and I always felt like old friends from the day we met. Strangely, even though Cassie and I have known each other since before 6th grade, and Cassie had visited me almost every summer, our moms had never met each other! They met for the first time at the wedding.

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This is my baby cousin, Amelia. My mom has eight brothers and sisters; my mom is the youngest. Most of my cousins are old than me, and their kids (my second cousins) are closer to my age. But Amelia is actually our generation, and she's the baby! She LOVES me, to put it mildly. I should have hired her to be my personal assistant for the day.

At some point, we figured out a side door was open, so we sneaked in the church and opened the front doors, so all the guests could take a seat. Plus, it was freezing!

My girl Mel (of the chaotic morning prep) and her husband passed out the homemade programs.

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Remember when I said I misspelled a word on the program? See "Amazing Grace"? It used to say "Amazing Graze". I guess sometimes our brains are elsewhere, like the pasture with my horse.

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This is one of the other two girls I would have had stand up with me had we actually had a wedding party (how many 'had's can you fit in one sentence?). Once we cut it down, I still wanted her to be involved so I asked her to be a reader. School teacher that she is and all, she responded "Greeter? You want me to be a greeter? Why, I'd love to." So, passing out the programs it was. And she did a fabulous job.

Just before the ceremony, my sister-in-law decided her dress was too low cut for her duties as a reader, and asked me to pin it.

Photo by my cousin, Joelle.

I'm so glad someone caught this moment of me getting fresh with Tiff!

Then, suddenly we were shuffled inside and the doors closed behind us! Our priest gathered all the participants at the back of the church and gave us a little blessing.

Photo by my cousin, Joelle.

I bowed my head, and attempted to put on a serious face.

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Up next: Let's Get This Show Started!

Once again, hat's off to Applemoon Photography!

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

We Put Something On The Walls!

Oddly enough, the Sunday before this appeared on A Cowgirl's Grace, I took the following pictures of some things I had finally gotten up on our walls. As you know, we've lived in the house for over a year now, and the only thing that had made its way onto a wall was a calender. Sad, sad.

New Year's Day my parents were visiting The Homestead, and while my mom and I shopped, Cowboy H and my dad hung these items on the walls.

So, let's take a peek inside the door!

When you open the front door and walk directly in, straight in front of you is the living room and fireplace. This painting now hangs directly above the fireplace.

Please ignore the white balance in all of these photos; The Homestead is extremely difficult to take pictures inside of.

I know its a little small for the space, but don't worry, I will have more on that at a later date.


One of my aunts and uncles gave us this as a wedding gift. It is just perfect for us. I love it.

If you walk into the living room and turn to your right, you will see our big picture window. If you continue turning to your right, you will see this hanging on the wall behind the couch.


My friend Cassie (you have met her in the wedding posts) painted this in college. It was one of her class projects. She is majorly talented.


It's an abstract, but can you tell what it is?

From here, if you look to the right of the front doors, you will see this (pencil/watercolor?) artwork.

No, the matting is not two different colors; there was a shadow from the wall behind me.

My grandma gave us this over Christmas-time. It was the very first piece of artwork she got as a married lady. My great-grandfather (her father-in-law) knew the artist.


Unfortunately, my grandma couldn't remember the artist's name, and there is paper covering the signature on the back, so we will never know...

From here, if you turn back to your left, so the front doors are on your right, you'll see this beauty.

Ahhh, camera distortion!!

Every cowboy's house should have one of these.


Don't ever sell your saddle.
Honest to goodness, there is not a sum in this world that would get Cowboy H to part with his saddle.

This was another Cowboy Christmas purchase. The writing is burned into hair-on cowhide. I love the big copper studs in the corners.

'Round the bend from here, in the kitchen/dining area is another painting from Cassie.


Cassie painted this when she was twelve.


Yes, twelve. It is an oil-painting. Crazy kid.

Behind your back from this standing point, is our kitchen. We have this chalkboard hanging there.


This was purchased in Idyllwild, one of our favorite little places to visit. We have important phone numbers for house sitters listed on the bottom half, so no peeking!

Thanks for joining me on an arts touring through The Homestead!