Naturally, a judge sees the best. It takes quite a horse (and tack) to really seize my heart and hold my attention. In truth, I must confess, I have seen this horse before, and photographed her before. Two years earlier, I had taken these at NAN 2013, in Pennsylvania:
That was before I closed in on the gear.
(Nice pun for Chris Flint. [beau cheveaux = beautiful horses])
Close ups of this amazing set:
Jacquee has a FaceBook page: Beautiful-Horses-the-horsehair-braider
and a website: www.beautiful-horses.com
At this point I have to back up a little. My knowledge of the fantastic artistry of Jacquee Gillespie began with a dimly glimpsed display case at Artisan's Gallery, during BreyerFest 2008. I was still using my old 35mm Nikon camera (it would not be retired until 2010). I struggled to shoot through the crowds, in relative darkness, some of the most amazing scale-model Western braidwork I had ever seen.
I found that Jacquee lived in New Mexico and made braided-horsehair mementos for people who had lost their mounts, from the horse's hair. She was a jeweller -- that explained the silver bits and buckles, and the beautifully-scaled and crafted rein chains. She owned dogs and alpacas -- that explained the fibrous mecates. I experienced what has since become a common feeling: surprise that an outsider could do so well, in this, my own closely-guarded and manifestly difficult field of expertise.
Of course, this leaves me right back down with everybody else: How to obtain these delicious pieces?! The thrill of the hunt... In the meantime I take pictures...
At the Regionals, Beth had more tack on her table, and graciously let me photograph it. (This time I've got my digital Fuji.)
Here is the last view from Beth. This would be the 'dos reindas' (two reins) phase of the horse's training, wearing both hackamore and bridle. The same artistic style ensured they fit together. The camera, alas, distorts the ears.
Thanks again: to Beth for her generosity in sharing this gem, to Jacquee for making such quality pieces, and to the crew at RXR for putting up with my judging. I'm inspired.
Notes from the future: Starting in January I hope to pursue work on pdf-ing the Guide (this is NOT a curse) and starting my last Lottery silver saddle, the Star Wars set. I also hope to start making smaller pieces and auctioning them. It is my intention to make small donations to NAMHSA, spread throughout the year. The 'grandfathers' (standing orders) will have to wait a while longer. For more details, see our Tack Orders page of the TSII website:
Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!