Still No Riding, But Lots of Pictures

The footing here is still dreadful. It has snowed, and in places the snow has stuck to the ice. But there are polished sections of ice hidden under the snow in any of the well-travelled areas, and in the fields there are two layers of very hard, very thick ice over layers of snow. The ice is hard enough that sometimes it will hold a horse’s weight, and sometimes it won’t.  It’s just completely unsafe for the horses.  My hay guy told me that he was asking our local dead stock removal guy if he was busy. And yes… very busy. Lots of catastrophic injuries to horses and cattle from the ice.

So I think the entire winter is going to be a washout for riding. Unless we get a massive thaw at some point.  I work on the computer a lot, so I really miss being outside riding.  I’ve been taking lots of pictures to get myself outdoors. Each batch gets a little better as I understand how to set the ISO, white balance, shutter speed/aperture, etc. to deal with the blinding white of winter scenes. 

Twister and McCool have been galloping around in little circles in the side paddock (which, since it was trampled down throughout all the storms, is relatively safe albeit very small).  McCool is looking exceptionally sprightly and cheerful these days. It’s a bit scary to think about riding him again actually! I attribute that to both the extensive dental work, and the chiropractic adjustments. He is one HAPPY guy these days.  Venice goes out with those two boys for the day. I think she gets pretty disgusted with their antics. But it doesn’t seem to have any dampening effect on either of them. 

Diego is fatter than I have ever seen him. He’s an A-framed and very lanky Arab. Very prone to worry his weight off.  I manage him as if he has ulcers (no medication, but lots of forage, beet pulp, and probiotics as needed… stress management, 24 hour turnout, etc.)   He has no visible ribs now. In fact, at this point he doesn’t even have detectable ribs. I was poking and prodding at him the other day and couldn’t find them. He’s very round looking.  He’ll lose some of that once the ride season starts. But I am very glad for him to have that buffer.

I am going to be starting a short course on basic digital photography tomorrow. So I am hoping to get a bit better at all this. But here are some photos from yesterday…    You guys are welcome to critique them if you see errors that I’m making 🙂   Click on the pics for a closer look.

 

Getting the Settings

I got a new camera recently. It is a Samsung NX1000, which is what is known as a “compact system camera” or “mirrorless camera”.  Although much smaller, it is sort of like a DSLR in that it has interchangeable lenses, manual and automatic settings, and takes much better photos than a point and shoot camera. Well… it is capable of taking better photos anyway. It’s not going to do that until I get a bit more of a handle on how to use it. And, let’s face it, until I get better glasses so I can see when it’s actually in focus!  (Man, I hate getting old. )

I got the camera just before I went to Florida. So I took it with me. But I am used to my little pocket camera that charges from my laptop. And I assumed that I could do the same thing with the Samsung. And I left the charger at home.  The battery did last all the way to Florida amazingly. But died on the second day there.  Whereupon I discovered what a dumbass I’d been to leave the charger behind.  But I did get one or two quite nice photos with it in those few days.

Once I got home, got the camera recharged, and read the manual, I started taking some photos around here with it. I’m still learning, but getting there. We had quite an ice storm over Christmas. The power was out for three days in my house, and for eight days on the rest of the farm. The ice was rather magical to look at. But trying to negotiate it with a camera in hand was very precarious.  And it sure did wreak havoc on the trees and the plumbing.

Jimi – my border collie
Diego in silhouette
Venice (Woizero)
Venice (Woizero)
King
King
Comical as usual
Comical as usual
Diego. Handsome in purple.
Diego. Handsome in purple.
Venice in winter mist
Venice in winter mist
Diego
Diego
Sundog
Ice on the Weeping Willows

SAMSUNG CSC

SAMSUNG CSC

jimi

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Swamp Dog Eats Watches

So… the cute little Swamp Dog apparently likes to eat watches. I did NOT know about this little quirk. Today, when I went to put on my Garmin Forerunner 205 GPS watch, I found it covered in teeth marks. One of which had fractured the screen. It’s quite quite dead.

I rode Dressy without it today, and copied down Misha’s data from her Polar GPS, which I entered manually into GarminConnect. I upload everything to GarminConnect, and use that as my training log.

After riding I went out and bought a new GPS watch. This one is a Garmin Forerunner 305, which comes with a heart rate monitor. Since my old Polar equine HRM met with disaster at Spring Ride, I’m going to try to modify this HRM to work on the horses.

Spoke to my aunt a few minutes ago and told her about the GPS-eating dog… “Oh!” she says “Is she still doing that?”  Turns out that Swamp Dog has a history of watch-eating. She ate a number of my great aunt Pat’s watches (primarily the bands) and Pat finally started making bands out of duct tape. Very fashionable I’m sure… shabby chic even.

 

 

Patricia Howden 1921-2011

It’s a rather sad day here on the farm. This is a family farm. My great grandmother bought it in 1949, and left it to her daughter, my great aunt Pat, when she died. Last night, Pat passed away in her sleep.

Pat was, well…. kind of different. She grew up in a moderately wealthy Toronto family, the youngest child, and probably a little spoiled. When she was sixteen (which would have been around 1937-38), she drove her Baby Austin from Toronto to California. By herself. She hit a dust storm somewhere in Kansas, and it abraded the windshield so badly that she had to have a replacement shipped in from civilization. She said it took a couple of weeks for it to arrive. But it did eventually and she carried on westward. Then she spent some time working odd jobs in California (picking peas among other things) before driving home again.

Pat as an ambulance driver in WWII

When World War II arrived, she joined the Red Cross and later the Canadian Army and was an ambulance driver for four years. She had many stories about that. Some of which I’m sure were rather tall tales. She had a fiance who was killed fighting overseas, and never found anyone else who interested her. So she never married.

After the war she went up to Muskoka to live. She bred Samoyed dogs and trained sled teams for a few years. Her favorite dog was her lead dog, Toby. She called him a free leader, which means he basically didn’t do a lick of work… just ran out in front of the team, leading the way. I remember the Sams from my childhood. Lovely, sweet, amiable dogs. My grandmother shared Pat’s passion for them and bred them as well. So my mother’s childhood and mine were filled with big friendly white powderpuff dogs.

Pat's sister, Romaine, riding their horse Maybelle

Throughout all this time, Pat rode horses too. I suspect more because it was the thing that all well bred wealthy young ladies of the time did at the local hunt club. But she did develop a love of horses as well as dogs (though dogs were always closer to her heart). One of the horses she (and her sister, my grandmother Romaine) learned ride on was Maybelle. I don’t have any photos of Pat riding, so that’s my grandmother on Maybelle in the photo.

She had other horses, a rather rawboned gelding named Bill who she rode quite a bit in Muskoka. An apparently rather ugly little mare that she allowed her nieces (my mother and aunt) to name “Tootsie Rose Patricia”, which I always thought made her an exceptional and very tolerant sort of aunt. Mist was an gentle old field hunter that Pat bought from Lady Eaton. My mother learned to ride on him. She remembers having a lesson from Pat one day and going around in circles so long that she fell asleep and toppled off Mist. He was quite concerned for her well being and mortified that she’d fallen off him.

Oh and Eagle! Yes… Pat bought Eagle as a weanling. She was being kept in what Pat described as a small, dark, horrible stall. Although Pat had no need for a weanling, she couldn’t resist Eagle and brought her home. She thought the filly was lonely so she brought her in the house. Eagle was rather easily house-broken so that was not a problem. But one day Eagle sat on the couch. And it sort of broke. Eagle was trapped there with her butt down deep in the cushions, hind legs up in the air, floundering. Pat had to get up on the back of the couch and lever her out of the couch with her feet. She decided that day that Eagle had to go live in the barn with the rest of the horses.

Pat's mother, my great-grandmother, riding Castle side-saddle

Her favorite horse though was Castle. She was a Hackney or part-Hackney mare that she both rode and drove. Her mother (my great grandmother) rode Castle sidesaddle sometimes as well. That’s who is riding her in the photo. I never knew Castle, but I sure heard about her a lot. Towards the end, even as Pat became less and less able to remember or understand what was going on around her, she would still remember Castle and how kind a mare she’d been.

Pat told many tall tales. She bought every tool ever invented, wrote books that she never even tried to have published, played classical guitar, smoked shamelessly, hated alcohol, lacked tact, and spouted odd political opinions. And she didn’t care one bit what anyone thought of her. She drove us all completely insane sometimes. But it will not be the same without her.