Sunday, December 9, 2018

Sleigh Pix

It's the time of year when I like to trot out a model sleigh picture and let it stand over the holidays.  I thought I needed some new ones, but I never dreamed of the riches I would get when we went to a nearby lake today!  This post will really be two posts (all the better for the weeks to come):  a review of my old sleigh pictures, and a glorious show of what I got this afternoon.   The alternate title for the second half is How to Sleigh Without Snow.

 One of my oldest and certainly one of my favorite sleigh pictures is this one of Ghirardelli.
The horse was a Galbreath resincast, somewhat customized.  He was my first horse that I took to a NAN Championship -- one of three ever, and one of two in harness.  (The third was collectibility.)  I was insanely proud of catching the falling snow in these two shots.  See those white streaks, on the sleigh and (below) pony?  These were taken in our front yard and, needless to say, that is really snow.
I sold him;  today Ghirardelli resides in Scotland.
Then there is this one, which must have prompted the "Driven a FJORD Lately?" bumper sticker on the back of the sleigh...!  The pony is an Amarna (Liz Bouras) resincast.  I was a little ashamed I hadn't thought to make tracks in the snow, for passage of horse and vehicle.  At least it was still snowing!

The earliest sleigh shot I can find is this one, from 2000.  There was an even earlier one, from 1998, showing a bay pinto Moody Infinity pulling this sleigh (which I remember very well, and have the index thumbnail of), but my filing system has failed me and I can't locate the photograph.  I found this one instead, surprising me because I'd forgotten about him.  This horse happens to be Chris Nandell's Jorrit Friesian.  (I named him Foucault.  He's such a swingin' guy!)  I digitized and signed the photo.  All these images up to the Ghirardelli pictures were originally photographs.
In the same batch was this one.  I know he's not pulling a sleigh, but I used this photograph as my Christmas card that year (2000).  I thought he looked Christmas-y with those red, green & gold mane bobs, and the red stripes on the cart (by Dave Blenkey).

The Friesian shows what I've used in show rings and other places where I didn't have real snow:  a piece of fleece.  It shows best in his shot.  Now we come to a more humorous set-up:  I had purchased a Santa and some accoutrements, thinking to make a real Christmas scene.  This was shot in the same front yard.  Alas, too much work needed to be done on Mr Claus; in the way of over-ambitious projects, he has remained his primitive, mantel-intended self:
Supporting the 2006, the Joker horse was that year's BFest horse.  I was very proud of the idea of having Santa delivering such a dream to a lucky child.  (And that tack!  it's the Red Zebra hackamore, which wound up with K. Cabot.)  Clearly we didn't have real snow... the fleece is trying to serve, but the effect is less.  Also clearly, though you could not know, is that this shot represents the entry of digital cameras into my life.  2006 was when we bought our first one;  I still use it for NAN.  I used the 35mm film camera up through 2010; that year of such great changes in my life saw camera use change too.
Four shoeboxes of photographs document 33 years of my model life, from 1978 to 2010.
The stag has had his antlers slightly remade by me, bent upwards.

The sleigh was originally a Dick Eighmey Bobsleigh in green and yellow.  Somewhere in the mid-1990s I customized it heavily, adding shafts and a prow, painting it red, pinstriping it, upholstering, adding little gold griffin-heads, bumper stickers, extra bracing, railings and a whip socket etc.  I boasted its own mother wouldn't recognize it.  After 20+ years, the shafts have broken.  They were designed to be detachable, but unfastening them is a fiddly process and puts stress on the very joints that broke.  I would love the time to sit down and fix my vehicles...

For more than 10 years I did not take any new sleigh pictures.  And then came this:
Nominally I was showing off the base of the horse, which I'd just completed.  But in my heart it was obviously a continuation of the old pattern of Christmas sleigh shots.  :)
Here's one from the other side.  Incongruous with tropical greenery, perhaps it is a winter garden?
The harness here is the same one as was on old Ghirardelli back in 2006.  This, the Red Team Harness, is the oldest element in all these pictures.  It was built in the early 90s and it was originally made on a research ship in the Pacific... but that's another story...

So now we come to today, December 9, 2018.  I wanted to do another sleigh shot. There wasn't much snow - in fact there wasn't any.  I scrambled around throwing fleece, Santa, toys, assorted dolls and a couple of deer models into a box.  It was below freezing outside and had been for days.  Our goal for a hike was Colyer Lake, a little agricultural lake just southeast of State College.
We have never canoed Colyer, despite its being the closest paddle-able body of water to our house.  For about 10 years it's been closed;  the dam was undergoing repair (yes, that's how long it took.  bureaucracy + recession = forever).  Now that it's fixed, Geo complains of no facilities; and it's true; this is a very primitive little spot. 
 When we got there my ideas underwent an enormous and instant change.

Santa, other dolls, fleece, toys and trinkets never left the box.  Instead I stepped out onto the ice.  Near the shore it held my weight.  The temperature was 27.  I lay down on the cold gravel bank and tried to get my head as low as possible.
I have named this horse Bitumina.  If I'm rested I can put a tilda ~ onto that n:  Bituminya.  It was George who suggested coal for my pair of Namids; the other one, a glossy, rejoices as "Anthracite."  :)
During the shoot, some onlookers came by; one said, "I'm Not Gonna Even Ask!"  in a tone which tells you really he's dying to ask.  My retort was "They're easy to train," not too bad for the spur of the moment.  They turned out to be friends, a rare enough happening.

I was having so much fun.  I turned right along the bank.  There is a haunting quality to this shot which I think has to do with looking down from above and its having no horizon.
This is one of my favorites.  Residents of central Pennsylvania will know the collection of post stumps is a fish nursery.  Everyone else gets to imagine it as the remains of some fancy long-gone dock.
I had chosen this horse for her head angle (originally thought about her looking at Santa Claus).  Here, I tried a moose.  The reeds could be large rushes.  However, the idea didn't quite work; proportion is, indeed, everything.

A word on Steve's famous ermine cloak.  This lovely artifact was made when I still lived in Colorado, pre-1988.  (Woops, just realized the cloak is the oldest element, not the harness.)  Tandy's in Greeley had a sale on ermines and I picked some up.  The cloak makes for some lovely winter model scenes, but I tremble at how Steve still doesn't have any gloves.

Cold temperatures do not seem to stop him.  Bitumina is looking with great interest at the other side of the lake.
Yes, it is frozen all the way across.  Yes, it could probably hold their weight.

Yes, have a wonderful holiday, guys.

See you later...

Sunday, December 2, 2018

Hunt Pack at Penn National

Once a year I get to see Penn National, and this time I chose Hunt Night.  The hound pack demo was so interesting!  It wasn't just dogs; I saw some unusual bridles.  Out of all the classes on Hunt Night (October 12), this post will cover just one demonstration!  Fellow blogger Jennifer Buxton has recently posted about an unusual bridle, so I thought I'd trot out a few that I had simply never seen before.

My very generous friend Didi Hornberger made it possible for me to visit Penn National Horse Show this past October.  When I saw there was going to be a pack of foxhounds right in the arena, I took my camera.  The first shot shows how hard a time I had focusing.  (Warning:  some out-of-focus shots coming!)  It also shows one of the strangest hunting get-ups I've ever witnessed.
Strange... but not unknown.  I've read about such.  This old lady, I thought, simply didn't want bits OR hackamores, and had found a way to control her horse that was neither.  I think it's a jaw strap; it fastens around the lower jaw.  Why not, if it works?

When the dogs poured into the arena it wasn't quite bedlam.
Four riders, uncounted hounds and one man afoot provided reasonable control of the situation.  Still I was riveted.  I'm going to try to include a video later -- it's the only way you'll hear the bells as well as the dogs.  The head huntsman's horse wore sleighbells as a signal to the pack.

The pack took several tours of the arena, coursing around the outside of the jumps.  Quite exciting and I didn't focus all too well, but maybe that just proves the fun!

For a few moments, the yelping and the halloo-ing took you to the fields and woods.  It seemed the most natural thing in the world:  dogs and horses together.
Here at last my focus behaved, and I caught a good shot.
Bringing the hounds back to the exit gate.
When the riders were standing around at the exit, which was to my right, I really saw the bridles.  Every horse who wore a bit had the largest snaffle rings I've ever seen in my life.
Even the sidesaddle rider has them!  We are talking 10+ inches here.  
 That's a big cookie!  That's ... tortilla size!  That's... Pizza size!
I was so surprised.  To find such things in company with the jaw strap was a true astonishment.

Finally I got the bitless rider in focus.  This is the only shot worth a close-up.  I'm hoping those ears aren't really annoyed, just in motion.
For the second time ever (the first was Rinker) I'll try and post a movie.  It's 14.2MB.  The horses and dogs trot happily around the arena.  I can't preview this so can only hope it works...!
I hope you enjoyed this glimpse of Penn National's Hunt Night.