Saturday, September 10, 2022

People & Places BFest 2022


I promised a post on people & places at BFest.  Most of these pix are impromptu and previously unseen.  Here you will find some of the friends I was so glad to see, places I have not shot before, and, of course, horses both live and model.  I am trying to document, rather haphazardly, my BFest, which was so unlike any of those that have gone before... recalling that I am a veteran of 29 BreyerFests, including the first.  I should lay these pix out chronologically; but instead, I'm going to start at the KHP on Friday morning.  Such haphazardness is truly indicative of the overall spirit of this year and captures pretty well how I felt.

I got onto the KHP grounds each morning by walking.  Not through the famous gate, but by the Rolex pond dam road, which was held by a single distracted guard against cars.  All I had to do was stroll over to the United States Dressage Federation headquarters and photograph its beautiful bronze sidepasser [above].  If the guard saw me, she didn't react.   I had paid for my ticket like everybody else.

Rolex Lane, facing the parking lot

Between the Federation headquarters and the lane, there is a lovely lawn, with a charming little cottage-looking house in amongst the trees.  For some reason this scene strongly reminds me of family vacation places in northern IL (Channel Lake) and central MO (Lake of the Ozarks).

There are many ways onto the KHP.  In the course of the weekend I would converse with others who did not pass through the "official" BreyerFest gate, but came in on foot by various roads.  On Saturday this habit would deliver me to the Special Run tents forty minutes ahead of time -- early enough to get chased off by BF officials.  On that day I discovered some classes being held in the Rolex, and was drawn like a magnet.

Carrying a camera around your neck is a grand way to get closer to the arena.  Even better, the hour was early enough that there was nobody around.  That was my primary goal anyway.
There has been a time in my life when this kind of action would've compelled my most focused attention.  I love a harness pony!  I'm afraid I don't recall whether this was the winner.
Oh, what lovely harness!  :)

I'm going to go back to earlier in the week now, and start with my arrival on Monday.  To actually be there, in person, in KY, was almost overwhelming.  I have shot this view many times over the years, capturing, one by one, our cars; this time it was Moxie's turn.

See the pair of second-floor windows just left of center?  That was where I had my eyrie.  The first thing you do is put a horse in the window,... and make it visible.
Upon arrival my first real encounter was Teresa Rogers, whom I had never met.  Fellow blogger!  We stood on the asphalt, properly masked, and talked.  Over the course of the week, my defenses evolved to the point where, had I the chance to talk with her there again, I would not have masked.  Yes, this whole post is an emergence story.

I spent an ungodly amount of time (days!) worrying about where to visit with Eleanor on Wednesday.  All for naught.  Jennifer P. showed me the perfect place.  This partially-caught photo can be put down to nerves and shyness (I'd last seen her in 2020);  afterwards, it reminded me of the famous book jacket portrait of Terry Gross ("All I Did Was Ask").

Caroline was, surprisingly, an easier target.   (Kim BT evaded, I'm not sure how.)
Among many wonderful things to come out of this meeting was learning how to post FB pictures with my cell phone.  Thank you, Eleanor.  Two years is too long.

A place that hadn't always existed, but which came to be exceedingly useful, was this corridor:

It ran from the base of the 500-600s wing to the corner of the Paddock, and at the end a side door led outside.  Now you were at the Outback, ("the north side of the 300s") practically at the other side of the hotel;  you had completely skipped the central area and the 100s.  The cold white lighting and scarcity of people made it look haunted, and I started thinking of it as the Science Fiction hall.  I wound up using the SF hall quite a lot.  For example, I used it to quickly reach Paola Groeber's room in the 400s:
She is another great hobbyist I'd never met.  At least these ships didn't quite pass in the night--!

I regret I didn't get a shot of Heather M.  Visiting her was a milestone in terms of companionship, tackmaker-hood, and emergence from covid-fear.  That really was the first time I was unmasked inside (tho not the Clarion; another hotel), in the presence of another (who was not family [but should have been!], for the entire afternoon.  Our visit took place on Tuesday, the same day I was shooting the Coldstream Campus rather obsessively.  Other blog posts record this indulgence :) but here are a couple more:
Heather knows how to comfort you when you've cracked your first cell phone screen.

Wednesday evening saw me take another small step, literally across the hall.  Someone new was there, Danielle Feldman, a truly wonderful friend (and customer!).  In the course of that lovely visit, I learned to sit still in someone else's room with the door open, while strangers wandered in and out.  (Recall I could not do this with my own room.)  Danielle helped tremendously by masking.  In the course of BFest I would make her a gift of a white KN95 with gold bling on it.  Yea, it's just these small steps that mark my path back towards normalcy.  Two almost-strangers entered, Danielle introduced us, and one said, "Oh we know YOU! the LEGEND!!"  I hid my face in my hands -- I didn't know them from Adam.

Thursday was a transition day.  All days were, of course, but this one more than most.  On the one hand:  Of course I hall-crawled, this was BreyerFest, what did he expect??!?  I went out, I plunged through crowds (none of them fully masked), I stuck my head & sometimes my body into strange rooms, I even spoke to strangers.

On the other hand:  Every trip out was planned.  (Very early Tues reconnaissance of doors helped!)  I kept them short and they had definite targets:  Paola Groeber's room for Bond tack, 143 for stickers.  The Resin Show to give gifts to Jackie Arns and Jennifer Buxton.  Over the course of the day it became obvious I had bought the line, Just wear your mask and carry on as normal.  As much as 30% at times were masking with me; no one else blings them though!!  I stopped and talked with people I knew; I dropped in on Linda Walters long enough to buy a book.  I hunted and found Stablemates.  I went to 143 twice, until I caught them open, and bought more than a dozen stickers.  They didn't know me from Adam.

Plunging into crowded halls after 12 noon became my limit.  Here I do not go.  I did stick my head into the Artisan's Gallery for about 2 minutes.  Most of the time, though, I was alone in the room.  It's restful, I ate and surfed and watched movies, napped and slept in there, and it allowed me to internalize my purchases.  Walking outside, another trick, encountered Liz LaRose, which was a pleasure.

Friday I went to the KHP and tested myself against crowds outdoors.

About the closest I can quantify it is as "three people at 30 feet."  This, like all else, is flexible and very rough.  Almost the first place I wound up was inside a tent!  I actually asked Darlene if she was vaccinated;  this was the first time I've asked anyone in more than a year (and probably the last ever).  (She said yes.)  The ventilation was good, and, after some pondering, I took off my mask and sat there, reveling.

Tack by Darlene Stoddard.  Excuse the fingerprints; he is inside a Plexiglass cage.

Outdoors is free, no mask.  Wandering over the familiar grounds, I came across the Master of Volunteers, Robin Briscoe.  She let me take her picture.  I think all those pins on her lanyard have influenced me subconsciously.  :)

An astonishing thing happened on Saturday.  Just below the center of the next picture is a hillside.  I was camped out there for lunch, looking out over the beer garden, when a fellow picnicker approached me and introduced herself as Kathryn Johnson:  She for whom I had rebuilt TSII #413, the saddle I'd worked on for many months last year.  I had never met her.  That was glorious, to say the least!
Rolex dam pond road looking north towards the arena

I started out this post promising Places.  Here are some I found Saturday and Sunday.  I have, over the years, extensively wandered the KHP, but I'd never been in some of these.  This first place was near the edge of the parking lot.  I was sitting on the stone wall, under the giant trees, using the phone.

I was quite close to the American Hanoverian Society headquarters.  The bow on the head says everything.  :)

There is a graveyard on high ground to the right as you travel from the Visitor Center and Museum of the Horse in the direction of the All-Tech.  I had honestly never seen this before.

It seemed so peaceful. 

It is a fitting tribute to a great horse of the past.

At this point I can make a prophecy for people like me.  Go about your normal business, wear a mask and nothing else changes.  The world has done it all along.  Open your doors, mingle with the crowds, all will return.  And somewhere in 2024 or 2025, I'll hang up my mask.  And then the Great Pandemic will be over for us.


In Other News:

 My promised trip to Boulder has morphed, courtesy Dad's Covid fears about having our nephew in that house, into a trip to Tucson instead.  No model people visits are planned, most sorry;  I need to be with my parents this time; we don't know how much longer we will have with Mom.  This means a near-month hiatus with the book (furious frown).  It also means a great chance to work on my Nikolas-sized bosal hackamore (delighted grin).  The nosebutton is well along.  This piece will be sold upon completion.

Happy Valley Fun Show is undecided, although I'm leaning towards cancellation again.  I don't see me strong enough to demand, let alone enforce, masking of all entrants, and at this point that's still what it would take.

But I can wait four years for a show.

Thursday, August 11, 2022

Lot of Loot, Late

 I came back from BreyeFest with every horse I'd intended to get, a few more Stablemates than I'd intended, a surprise puzzle, some fantastic tack and the typical 5K race swag.  I also picked up some books that somehow did not get photographed.  Really this was a restrained BFest for me.  I did not fall in love with a model horse, which is kind of unusual.  But I did achieve my goal of visiting with friends, as many as possible, under difficult circumstances.  I did talk Heather into selling me her smashingly beautiful braided bridle.  I scored well in the race.  And -- most important of all -- I didn't get sick.

Stein enamel pin

A few months ago, I was wanting Stein quite a bit.  He is so gorgeous.  The grulla color is a lovely nick with that mold.  Not every color is great on every mold; but this was a marriage made in heaven.  Yet by the time I made my SR choices, I'd changed my mind.  I already had Fireheart.  I was taking him to BFest with me to console, distract and reassure.  No more space and not much money did I have to spare for a horse I already had the mold of.  I needed Astrid/Rapunzel as a new mold (with harness potential!); I loved her warm color and thought the new mane was charming.  (Yes, that is Sergeant Reckless's blanket.  It fitted!)  I needed Elbe, a Western pony type.  I no longer needed Stein, and when I saw his price climb to $400, I quietly indulged in a little JOMO.

On Saturday of BreyerFest I wandered into the KHP gift store, a place I rarely go.

Ostensibly I was looking for enamel pins, or for a horse to catch my eye.  In fact I was practicing being in a store that wasn't the grocery store.  Over pandemic I had unearthed and greatly beefed up my jigsaw puzzle habit.  Imagine my delight upon discovering several puzzles in the gift store!  I passed up on the 500pc Breyer one... I already had so many little images of Breyers in so many other venues in my life; and I've become seriously picky about my puzzles.  For one thing they have to be 1000 pieces or greater!  Lo and behold, a lovely painting of racers leaning around the curve grabbed my attention.  This puzzle was by a local company I'd never heard of, Depot Street.  Perfect!  Jigsaws, like boats, can be outstanding when manufactured by small, specialized companies.

In the gift store I also plumped for one of the Unicorn Foal Surprises.  This is impossible to understand unless you know that I collect palomino Stablemates.  Boy do I collect them!!  It's a larger collection than the enamels, but hasn't been going on so long.  How they do tend to sneak in!  (Now where on earth did that black foal get his color from?) 

I wound up taking home 4 palomino Stablemates, the gold-&-black dapple Prince Charming unicorn, and Wittelsbach, the blue-&-white Bavarian-flag Arabian.  Perhaps the prevalence of SMs is indicative of the restraint I was operating under, both physical and psychological. They seemed the appropriate scale:  they are small and easy to get.  The Magnolia Unicorn is a partial repaint by dear Jennifer Pomerance.    The Wittelsbach represents the results of my first real hall-crawl (an activity I had been much afraid of, so was gradually working up to).  The other SMs were targets of opportunity:  The Tennessee Walking Horse (bonus points if you discover I already have one) is actually the 2009 Gold Charm.  Believe it or not, this is my first Gold Charm ever.  See the end of this post for photos of my palomino SM collection.

Early on Tuesday I located Jaapi (Jody Powers) and purchased a fistful of halters.  I had honestly forgotten that she would have made halters for the 2 missing years.  I was particularly pleased with this year's cockaded halter.

 What an original idea:  Real feathers in the colors of the German flag!  Thank you Jody for a relieving and inspiring conversation.

The pony pocket was also a target of opportunity.  I wound up buying two new pockets, one for my cell phone, which then turned out to be a duplication of the size I already had. 

As far as tack goes, on Thursday I scored big by making it to Paola Groeber's room, acting on a rumor I'd heard.  (BFest is like that.)  Despite already having a goodly number of Kathleen Bond saddles, this opportunity was irresistible to me.  I bought two more.  Not only saddles but piles of matching breastcollars, back cinches and -- oh joy! -- saddlebags, were mine to pick over.  This was history.  I tried to get parts in patterns I didn't already have.

Kathleen Bond saddle

You can tell I took these with my cell phone.

Kathleen Bond saddle and accoutrements

Something small but amazing came out of those swift minutes hunched over Paola's bed.  I found a Light Breed Show Halter that I wanted.  Paola had made it herself; --- I had not known she made tack.  I love the browband concho.  Of course, this horse is not a Hartland --!!  But the size was right for what I had with me that day, a Stone Pony.  (This is the pearlblue version of Judge Judy if you want to know.)

July 16, Saturday, at the Park, saw my greatest loot pile.  ("The mighty hunter returns.")  This awesome display consists of both my SRs and those I was picking up for a VIP friend back home in PA.  My stuff is the lefthand third; you can see the puzzle and Unicorns box together.

My favorite loot for this extraordinary year is undoubtedly Heather Moreton's beautiful braided bridle.  This fabulous piece was acquired Tuesday afternoon, during my first real friend visit at BFest.  We had arranged to meet in a hotel room other than the Clarion.  It was here I practiced being indoors in the presence of a friend without a mask.  That was such a relief.  We did what we usually do:  talk tack, show off tack, and make tack!  Thank heavens, this fascination is undimmed.

I would not know until I'd returned home and undertaken a 5-day home quarantine whether or not my gambles with Covid were correct.  As it turned out, they were.  I won this time.  I passed with flying colors;  without symptoms, I didn't even have to test.  Here's hoping for a much better next year.

Now that you've read this far, here are the Stablemate collection pictures I promised.  These were taken before I left for KY.

Honestly, I sometimes think I should enter a Collector's Class.  Alas, I'm short on foals.

I could really carry on about metallics in palomino SMs...

As if I didn't have enough to blog about, this post is inspiring me to do one on People and Places of BreyerFest this year.  Stay tuned!   

... and thanks for your patience.

Wednesday, August 3, 2022

My BreyerFest Virtual 5K Race


This is a very long post, covering 4 days (Tuesday, Wednesday, Friday and Sunday), and having 28 pictures.  It was my husband's idea to run the BreyerFest 5K race virtually even though I was in Lexington.  This move was brilliant.  Not only did I ultimately turn in a swift time -- the third fastest of all my BFest races, only 1 second slower than my second fastest! -- but I found a lovely place to enjoy during a lovely hour of the day.  I went there four times and ran 3 5Ks over BreyerFest week; and each time was a great refreshment of the spirit.  Running gave me a chance to get out of the house (I was in a hotel room most of the time), and, hey presto, I didn't have to wear a mask.

The first time I saw the course in person was on Tuesday, the day after I arrived in Lexington.  I was very eager to walk it, and took lots of pictures.  This was during the middle of the day.  I was using my Fuji camera and not my smart phone, a choice of some import later.  Up to then all I'd had was the satellite printout:

 You can learn a lot from the satellite view, but there's nothing like really being there.  The next 11 shots are all from the very first time I saw it.  This first pic is at the Coldstream Park parking lot, on the east side of my course.

My chosen course utilized part of the Legacy Trail.  This is a bike trail which goes from the Kentucky Horse Park to downtown Lexington, a total of 12 miles.  It honors various Black jockeys, horse trainers and breeders of the area.  Despite this picture, it was not a canopy trail [trees did not meet overhead].
I was careful to document places where I'd have to choose the correct turns.  Here I needed to fork right.
There were 2 ponds along my way.  This was the larger, and it had cleaner water, plus a fountain.
It was also the one with the geese.
I was a bit worried about the geese.  However, my fears turned out to be groundless.  They would get out of the way,... and dodging their leavings was not as distracting as I'd thought.
There were three traffic crossings on my course.  This was one of them.  I had to go straight across this 2-lane road, not following the path's obvious curve here.  I was fortunate; cars were not a problem, mainly because I was there so early in the day.
There were some truly lovely stretches along my course.  The stone walls of Kentucky are famous.
Near this place was the grave of Bull Dog (Teddy x Plucky Liege).  The grave had many open acres to itself, amazing in so busy a city.
This place was a campus, Coldstream Research Campus of the University of Kentucky.  It had a mix of buildings:  hotels, businesses, research offices, corn fields, open pastures and the odd park.  There were also historical remains of earlier buildings.

Towards the middle of the course, I found a cool mansion-looking building.  I discovered later it was a business headquarters.

It was built in imitation of Kentucky colonial styles, I think.  For some reason I loved it.
 Five kilometers is a bit over 3 miles.  I did not manage to walk the whole course on Tues.  On Wednesday, July 13, excited by my growing success in managing to do BreyerFest even in the face of a pandemic (this subject is too large to cover here.  Suffice to say, more than 2 years is time for a LOT of articles read, behaviour changed, spreadsheets kept, medical stuff & staff learned from, and atmospheric diffusion proven), I got out to the northern parking lot before sunrise.  I was using my cell phone camera.
This was my race's starting and stopping point.  This first run was intended to just get through the course.  Near the end, I found a third pond, with many impressive marsh flowers.
The sun had risen.

True to cell phone custom, I tried to take selfies.  Those who know me should be properly impressed that I've come this far in FB etiquette.   I had forgotten to take my glasses off when running (hilariously, I forgot to take them off for all three 5Ks) and my face was so hot I was fogging.
Below is the shot I posted on FB as my first selfie.  The sun rays around the head perfectly capture how proud I was of myself, yet still very shy.  Alas, my stopwatch, carried in my pocket, had been accidentally stopped during flight, and I had to rely on my wristwatch for this Wednesday run.  This time is an estimate:  minutes from the wristwatch, seconds from the stop watch.  45:15

 Friday, July 15, I again got out to the parking lot while it was still dark, before 7am.  It was only a three-minute drive, literally across the street from the Clarion.  Most model horse people just don't get up early!  My poor camera struggled with the low light.

Incredibly, there was a full moon.
Even more incredibly, someone had painted a bright neon-orange starting-line on the trail paving!!  This was fantastically useful but made me worry that a real race would be held here,... A few bikers went by, but there never was a crowd, so I lucked out.
Friday my goal was to keep myself in shape.  I try to run every other day, usually varying between 2 1/2 and 5K.  But here at BreyerFest I was at peak form and felt that running the full 5K every other day (starting Weds.) was within my grasp.  Even so, when I started on Friday I did not say, This will be my race.  I just wanted to get around sound.  The air was deliciously cool and I felt quite safe.
Aristides, the first winner of the Kentucky Derby, was born near here.
This picture proves that I had my Fuji with me on Friday and recorded my run time.  It would have been immensely useful to've known that later!  In hindsight, I think what happened was that I forgot I had the download cord, and didn't realize I could get pictures off the camera and into my Chromebook, my BFest computer.  Error number one.
Tachyon the Racing Akhal Teke was always with me during BreyerFest runs.  :)

Instead, I contented myself with smartphone shots.  And here's error #2:  I hadn't yet figured out how to not make them come out backwards [flopped].
 Doesn't that look like a 45?....??....

Somehow, without looking at this picture too closely (nor the above Fuji shot!), I got it stuck in my head that I'd run 43:32.  All Friday morning I was chanting to myself: forty three, forty three!  It is written in my Notebook for Friday:  43:32.  Where did this come from?  Error number three:  The last time I'd run a 5K before I left for Kentucky, I'd gotten a 43, and I remembered.
I struggled over whether to submit the 43 as my official race time.  Virtual runners are allowed to submit any time during the week, up to the noon Sunday deadline.  I was bound and determined (as determined as I was to get in my reservations for 2023, dang it!!!) to make that deadline, preferably by a wide mile.   Sometime during Friday I argued myself into submitting.  The 43 was pretty good under the circumstances, I was desperate to submit early, and I half-hoped, half-gambled I'd be able to change it later if I did better on Sunday.  And how did I know I'd even be able to do as good again?!  BreyerFest is not the best place to keep oneself in top shape, especially as the week goes by... !  and the spectre of Covid was always hanging overhead.

So I went through the steps of submission.  In the process I discovered that my time had been, not 43:32, but what looked like 45:32.
Oh, no...
Gritting my teeth, I submitted anyway.  This race time was only 27 seconds slower than my 2017 BreyerFest race.  Thoroughly flustered and taken aback, I yet clung to my dream, to run in all the BreyerFest races and turn in decent times for my age group.  I had some consolation when I looked up race results later online and discovered I was in fourth place among all virtual runners [at that time of the week].  That was cool. 
July 17 was the Strudel Sprint for everyone in person.  I heard they had a good race.  (I saw that Stephanie Macejko placed well.  No wonder Breyer holds a 5K!  Go Steph!)  In a burst of happiness from my largely successful BreyerFest week, I was out running early again.  This time I clocked 43:07.  The Friday time had, indeed, been my race.

After running on Sunday, I comfortably walked back over part of the course to take a picture of a unique feature, the decorative medallion in the middle of the trail.  It is a little past the Citation Boulevard bridge:
which is the only place on my course where I go under a 4-lane highway.  (Discovering this underpass had a lot to do with my choice of course.)  Just beyond it was a surprise.
I can't think of anywhere I've been where painted medallions appear on sidewalks.  The edge was grooved into the surface.

So cool!
My last Coldstream photo shows one of the two groups of flags on this portion of the Legacy Trail as well as an information sign about it.  This feature has been in the background of my selfies and can be seen in the photo of the orange starting line.

It was somewhere on Sunday morning that I tumbled to the truth.  Somehow, I'm not sure when, I had gone through many (unnecessarily complicated!) jumps to get a copy of that 'win photo' onto my Chromebook.  That photo was backwards, therefore the 45 was backwards too.  It hadn't been 45:32, it had been 42:32.  I had a few hours to email the guys at 3 Way Racing and correct my error.   I did so in smooth desperate efficiency, attaching the photo and emailing them using two different places on their website.  I'd been a fool, but an honest one.  I was so relieved to get a reply from one of them that my error had been corrected.  Thank you 3 Way!!!
Not only that, but I'd done amazingly well.  I'd placed first in my age group.  That had never happened before!
I look forward to a time and place where I can finally run with the crowd again.