Saturday, December 17, 2011

Racing Results

LRH Backfire wins the Vristina Stakes
This running of the Vristina Stakes was open only to race winners. There were two entrants, Long Road Home owned LRH Backfire, and White Pine Stables owned Liberty N Justice.

The night before the race there was a heavy rain that soaked into the track. On the morning of the race, the rain lightened to a slow drizzle. Though the rain stopped an hour before post time, the track only dried a little. The course was recorded as 'muddy', which didn't suit pre-race favorite Liberty N Justice.

Liberty N Justice broke first from the gate, followed by LRH Backfire. The younger mare fought back, making up some ground on the muddy course. The pace was slow due to the mud, but both horses battled hard for position.

LRH Backfire finally broke the neck and neck racing in the final furlong, stretching out to four lengths ahead, but quickly losing steam, to finish the race ahead by a neck.

Black Cauldron wins the Tarn Lake Maiden
This sprint ran on a fast track, thanks to the new artificial surface that was installed.

The pre-race favorite was Black Cauldron, a 9 year old black quarter horse mare by Sylver Champlain, out of Ruby Tuesday.

Shes All That was calm in the paddock, which Long Road Home considers to be a big improvement over the last outing, however, the mare still showed signs of her high-strung nature during the trip to the gate. Both mares loaded into the gate without difficulty.

The race was quick, with Black Cauldron taking a lead straight out of the gate, and holding it for the whole distance, to finish by two and a half lengths.

Majeed wins the Iskoola Stakes
As expected, Majeed, the seven year old Egyptian Arabian stallion owned by Cherox Park, won the Iskoola Stakes.

The race was beautiful to behold. It is rare to see two Egyptian Arabians in a race, so to see one that had only two horses, both Egyptians, an older stallion and a filly was very special indeed.

The black stallion romped home ahead of the bay rabicano filly, both with tails soaring like pennants. This race was simply beautiful, and Long Road Home is very happy to have had a horse in the race. We hope the spectators enjoyed this race as much as we did.

This rounds up the last of our All Breeds Racing Board races for the year. The All Breeds Racing Board believes in giving the horses and organizers a break over the foaling season, and we at Long Road Home know our horses will be glad of the rest.

Our horses will all return next year as four year olds, and will be joined by three new racers.

Saturday, December 10, 2011

Projects on my Work Bench

I don't like to post WIPs for anything I do. I like my work to look kind of magical, like it just somehow, amazingly, comes out of nowhere all finished and pretty, and hopefully amazing.

However, since I want to do a roaning and a dappling tutorial, I'm having to rethink that a little, so, to get myself used to sharing WIPs in their ugly phases, here's the projects I have immediately to hand on my workbench at a little after 5 in the morning:

LRH Wasabi Sensation

I'm still pastelling Wasabi Sensation's base coat before I can start on his roaning. I've adjusted the color a little to represent his real color a little better, but I think using the vivid/technicolor setting on my camera might have been the wrong choice for this stage of painting. Right now he is more vivid orange than I intend him to be. The next couple of layers are going to tone it down a bit and start darkening his head and legs. Right now, he's hanging out by my computer ready for the next step of pastel dust.

The wire is what I used to hold him for sealing, and to hang him by when he's drying. It's just some twisted wire around his neck, leaving a long enough tail for me to hold him and not spray myself. The wire's super thin, so I can still work around it as I pastel. When I'm done painting, I'll just have untwist it from around his neck. It's kind of creepy hanging a horse by the neck with a wire garrote though.

Antar Al-Ahmar
This is the CM that's been giving me so much hassle. Every time I think I'm done, there's something else that needs to be done. This was meant to be a simple head swap, neck move, and now it's a lot more than that. At this rate, I'll have resculpted everything by the time I'm done.

Pride of Nayef
Pride of Nayef is my new All Breeds Racing Board horse for next year. He's a TB stallion. He's going to be a greying out bay with a chaser clip. The red 'stuff' is Bondo Glazing Putty, and it's what I use instead of Apoxie Sculpt and modeling paste. This guy still has a lot of work to go. I've got both front legs almost done, but as you can probably tell, the upper long hair isn't fully edged yet. I still need to do his back legs, and the entirety of his other side. I want to rework his head a little too.

I think I'll be using Pride of Nayef as a quickie tutorial for a dark grey bay and how to paint a clipped horse, since he's handy.

I actually have two more CMs handy to photograph, but I really can't be bothered, because I literally woke up less than half an hour ago, and haven't had coffee yet.

Blogging without coffee first probably wasn't the best idea, but I just wanted to get this done.

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Caballo Criollo Colombiano

The Stablemate from last Friday's post was going to be pedigreed as a Colombian Criollo, rather than being a plain old Iberian breed, such as an Andalusian or Lusitano. Of course, since I neither speak Spanish, nor have friends in Latin America, finding information about these horses has been tricky.

Though the Colombian Criollo is named a Criollo, that doesn't mean it's the same as the Argentinian Criollo; here, Criollo is used to mean 'Latin American horse', as it is for many South American breeds. The Colombian Criollo has also been called the Colombian Paso Fino. From the gist of the google translations of Colombian Criollo forums, it isn't really considered fair to call them that either.

The reason it's not really fair to call the Colombian Criollo a Paso Fino is because thanks to the introduction of imported Canadian Pacers and Trotters to the breed during the heyday of sugar plantations, it's very different from other Paso Finos. The breed retains little of its Iberian ancestry compared to other Latin American breeds.

Though there is some cross breeding with the Paso Fino, Colombia has types of horse that appear to be unique to Colombia. Something about the land there makes the gaits of other Spanish-descended breeds less practical. Translations suggest that the rough terrain makes an ambling or gaited horse more practical for every day use.

Well, now I had a bit of a background on why the Colombian horses are different, that still left the question: different how?

As it turns out, Colombia has three types of gaited horse, all more or less considered the same breed: the fino, the trocha, and the trote y galope.

The paso fino does exactly what you'd expect it does: the fino. This variety appears to be crossed with Paso Finos more often than the other varieties.

The trocha is more or less what we'd call the foxtrot, a broken trot sequence where the diagonal pairs are picked up at the same time, but with the front foot landing before the hind foot.

The trote y galope trots, and performs an extremely collected canter. They actually do this naturally in the field as foals, which was very interesting to watch on You Tube. Watching the foals in videos, it does appear they can also perform a more stretched canter, but naturally tend to fall into the very collected form.

So where do the trocha, trote, and galope come from?

It appears the introduction of the mare La Danesa and her very popular and prolific son Don Danilo are behind the introduction of the new gaits to the Colombian horses. La Danesa's sire was a bullfighting Lusitano brought to Colombia in 1946 by the bullfighter Lady Conchita Cintron.

Don Danilo (Rey Cometa X La Danesa)

Don Danilo could perform the paso fino, the trocha, the trote and the galope, on command. Many of his famous offspring were trocha and trote y galope horses.

So, now I had to decide: is LRH Y B Rojas a fino, a trocha, or a trote ye galope? Since he's not performing any gait, he could be anything I liked. But, there appear to be differences in build between the types of horses.

The fino is longer in the back, shorter in the legs, and all around thickly built, and looks a bit like a classical painting of a horse. It looks like you expect a Paso Fino to look. That build is what makes him perform that gait. Pretty much any horse built that way, regardless of its breed, will try to move the way the Paso Fino does, because it's the best way for its body.

The trocha is similarly thick, but more proportional, at least to my eyes. He's not so short in the legs and long in the back as the fino.

The trote y galope looks more like what I think of when I think 'horse'. I'm from thoroughbred country, having grown up only an hour and a half trot (12 miles) from Newmarket in the UK. They're a little more fine than the trocha and fino, and look very much like a sporty Spanish bred horse, rather than a baroque Spanish horse.

It should be noted that they all still very much fit the breed description of the Colombian Criollo, despite their differences in build. The differences are slight, but I think quite noticeable. In any case, you'd know what you're looking at as soon as it moved, even if you couldn't really see the slight differences I'm seeing in how they're put together.

Y B Rojas isn't really thickly built enough for the trocha or the fino, and his legs are too long for a fino. That leaves me one option: he's a trote y galope. That suits me fine, I think they're prettier anyway.

I hope that post gives people a tiny bit of insight on Colombian Criollos, and I hope I've understood what I've read.

If you can type in English well enough to tell me more, I'd love to hear more about the breed, if you know more. I mean no offense when I ask that you write to me in English, I just really don't know any Spanish at all, I only learned French, German, and a smattering of Swedish and Japanese.

Links to more information about Colombian horses:
Staccato Beat! Gaits of the Paso Fino
American Trote and Trocha Association: Breed Information
American Trote and Trocha Association: Don Danilo
Pet MD: Colombian Criollo
Google Books: International Encyclopedia of Horse Breeds by Bonnie L. Hendricks and Anthony A. Dent

Friday, December 2, 2011

Playing with my new camera

I got my new camera yesterday, and had a play with it. Here's some of the shots I took with it while I was learning how to use it:

LRH Y B Rojas
LRH Rum Runner wearing a deluxe red and black nylon halter made by Long Road Home
Socks (the pink spot is a corneal graft)
LRH White Lightning wearing a nylon safety halter made by Long Road Home

That's not all the pictures I took while I was playing around, I deleted a ton more. My camera battery needs recharging before I can play some more.

Now I've got a decent camera, maybe I can focus on making some tack for sale. I've got plans for some nylon and leather halters, and possibly some rugs. They won't necessarily be rugs that match with halters, since I only have three colors of ribbon, one satin red, one satin black, and one grosgrain black, and one larger satin yellow, but maybe they'll catch someone's eye anyway :)

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Thinking About The Art of Horses

I've been hit with ideas as soon as I settled down for my "morning" coffee and catch up with what happened on the web while I slept.

I clicked through a few links, and found myself at Phaze Studios again. As often happens when I read someone else's blog, I stumbled across another gem: What do I want to do? In it, Liesl discusses some different approaches to art, and it's well worth reading for a quick grounding in different art styles.

While I was reading it, I started thinking about my artistic taste. My preference has always been toward the impressionistic end of the 'accuracy of depiction' scale.

That accuracy of depiction scale goes something like this:
Impressionism doesn't seek to accurately capture a form, rather to capture a feeling, often a feeling of movement as well as emotion. A child's drawing of a horse will often be clearly identifiable as a horse, but to an adult's eyes it might look coarse and lacking in definition.

Realism seeks to capture a subject as it is, with no bells or whistles. To me, this style often looks dull and lifeless. The energy is gone, and a sculpture looks like what it is: a lifeless accurate representation of a form. When I look at realism, I can't connect to the subject at all. In striving to capture the reality, an artist often loses that je ne sais quois found in other models. It looks like a real flesh and blood subject, one you could walk up to in real life and recognize immediately, but the artist has often sacrificed spirit and personality to depict something realistically.

Hyper-realism is itself somewhat impressionistic, but in the opposite direction: it shows details that might not be visible on the real thing. On a model horse, you might see hints of underlying skeletal structure, or veins that in reality are not nearly so close to the surface. These models tend to look very dry. It works well for half-starved Akhal-Tekes and skinny two-year old racing TBs, but it looks dreadful on a draft horse or a fat little British native pony.

My personal taste is somewhere in the mid point between impressionism and realism. I want to capture the spirit and feel that's in an impressionistic form, but to pay some mind to the realism of the subject. I want my work to look like it could be an individual you could really walk up to and meet, and one that you can guess how he'd behave as you approached.

I think that's why Antar has been working me so hard. I started off with a vague idea: I want an Arabian in the hard stand, but not perfectly so. I want him to have personality: I want him proud, but alert, strong, but gentle.

So, I altered the pose to turn his head, and he has an ear twitched back on the same side his head is turned to. He's in that moment just before we completely lose the hard stand and he cranes his neck to look behind him at the horse causing a ruckus somewhere behind him; the moment where he needs a tug on his lead to get his attention again.

This is actually something I have no reference pictures for: this pose worked solely from the picture I have in my head, and a little knowledge about biomechanics in movement and sensing.

When I was an Army Cadet, I was given a piece of advice on standing to attention and at ease: don't follow movement with your eyes. You might not notice it, but you will move your head and body to follow the movement. If you stare blankly ahead, and tune everything out, you'll stay mostly still, except for the slow weaving that comes with reacting to balance yourself as your chest moves while you're breathing and subtly shifts your center of balance.

When you hear an unexpected sound, if you're like me, you'll feel your ears twitch, and then you'll turn in the most biomechanically efficient method to look where the sound came from. This is an instinctual thing, and actually takes a lot of training and familiarity with a sound to not do. What you'll do naturally, is you'll turn the ear nearest to where the sound came from toward the source of the sound.

I watched a few documentaries about ergonomics and biomechanics during my GNVQ Engineering courses, which showed that if you ask someone to touch an object behind them without turning around, they'll naturally do it in the most efficient and fluid motion they can. As an example, let's imagine the target you want them to touch is at waist height, about two and a half feet behind their center line. They'll bend their dominant arm at the elbow and swivel the shoulder and wrist, in the same motion twisting their head, neck and torso to afford them a peripheral view of the target. They'll bend at the waist, dropping their dominant shoulder toward the target, and they'll slowly extend their dominant arm toward the target. Their fingers will make contact with the target with the palm up, and the wrist twisted toward the target, with the high point being the outside of their wrist.

So what does this mean for Antar?

Antar detects a sound behind him, and one ear immediately flicks toward it. The other twitches back out of its high forward pricked position, but returns forward when he starts turning his head in the direction of the sound. His ear will stay lined up with the source of the sound as his head comes around. The sound source comes into his peripheral vision first as his blindspot at the back of his head moves right over his haunches and shoulders. As he turns his head, he'll also twist it down, because it's the smoothest and most efficient motion. If he's unimpeded, he'll probably step his back right leg forward and right out of his hard stand to begin a pivot around his shoulders to put his left side to the source of the sound, and bring the thing causing the noise into the clearest part of his vision. The interesting thing is that as he steps around, he'll likely drop his tail a bit, both to free himself to move more easily, and as a reaction to mild fear or apprehension. The high position his tail is in during the hard stand is one of a proud, fearless horse, as it doesn't cover some of his most vulnerable areas. As a prey animal, he'll feel more apprehensive following a sudden noise, and will likely lower his tail a little to protect those delicate areas around his rear.

In my sculpt, Antar hasn't yet started stepping around, and hasn't lowered his tail yet. His legs should be tensing ready to begin moving. (Uh-oh, a new thing to work on! Oh dear!)

If Antar weren't a fearless bay Arabian and had heard something that truly scared the bejeezus out of him, he wouldn't do any of that, he'd spring forward, flattening his poor handler and bolt for safety. As it is, he's a bay horse, and as the Arab proverb says:
“If someone tells you that a horse leapt to the bottom of an abyss without injuring himself, ask what color he was, and if you are told bay, then believe it. The bay says to an argument, ‘Come no closer!’”
Arabians are also quite well known for being a breed that tends to spook in place, so Antar's mostly standing his ground, he just wants to know if maybe that's not such a good idea, so he wants to take a look behind him.

Now it's time for me to get back to work. I love this horse, but boy is he making me work hard to finish him before December's finished!

Show Results

The November MHFC results are in! Here's how I did.

LRH Rum Runner
Novice OF: Other Pure Breed: 2nd place
Points this month: 9
Points this year: 46

LRH Heza Custom Blend
Novice OF: Paint: 5th place
Novice OF: Minimal White Pinto Pattern (Less than 50% white): 9th place
Points this month: 8
Points this year: 24

LRH Nighthawke
Novice CM/Resin/China: Young Mare: 5th place
Novice CM/Resin/China: Warmblood (open registry): 1st place
Novice CM/Resin/China: Carriage/Sport Breed Champion
Novice CM/Resin/China: Bay/Brown: 2nd place
Points this month: 55
Points this year: 223

LRH Xiwang
Novice CM/Resin/China: Senior Stallion: 1st place
Novice CM/Resin/China: Senior Horse Champion
Novice CM/Resin/China: Fantasy Breed: 1st place
Novice CM/Resin/China: Fantasy/Decorator Color: 1st place
Points this month: 60
Points this year: 470

More of Antar's Aggravating Antics!

Later today, I'm finally going to go get the camera I wanted for my birthday. Sadly, Antar is still having a lot of customizing done. Every time I think I'm done, something else starts bothering me. At this rate he's going to be so different from the original that I'd probably be able to show him off and no-one would know which models he started as.

Yesterday/last night/this morning (all the same day for me, because I'm a Martian who lives on Mars time), I was working on his boy parts some more. I'm glad to say that's nearly done. Curse Antar's insistence on better boy parts, because that's what started this mess!

I also worked on his right eye a little today. He now has a brow ridge and eyeball that look like the one I've already finished on his left side. I still need to do the lower eyelid on the right. I worked on his right cheekbone a bit too, since it didn't match his left. His face is looking really nice and even (but not too even). He's not absolutely symmetrical, but it's close enough to look like a real living horse.

I set him down for a bit, and started browsing the web. It's when I'm taking a break that I start noticing problems with my artwork, no matter what kind. While I was staring at Antar, he said "mom, why don't I have chestnuts?" Well, he does now.

And then he said "I look like a fuzzy British native pony with this excessive hair on my tail, do something about it mom!" That was a quick problem to fix, I just peeled off some of the hair closer to his dock. It's looking a lot better now.

And back to browsing I went. I got to these wonderful blog posts by Phaze Studios: Horse Feet: Part 1 and Horse Feet: Part 2: Structure. Well, as you've probably guessed, that made me take a look at Antar's hooves.

Well, the model I started from has atrocious hooves, so now I need to figure out what I have to do to make them look better. I'm not too worried about all four feet being very different from each other, it makes him look more like a real horse anyway, but I can't stand that his hooves aren't quite correct. For starters, he needs his heel bulbs at the very least, as well as one of his front hooves rounded a bit more. I'm wondering how I'd go about carving his feet, since I did already carve his ears, but I don't have a clue how I'd do it at Stablemate scale with the tools I have. I think I need to work on his coronet bands too, they look puffy and unhealthy to me.

I think he needs some work on his knees and hocks, but I'm really not sure what I'm doing with them yet, I need to track down a few more references.

I think Antar won't be the first model I'll be taking pictures of with my new camera after all. He's not ready for his close up! He still needs his makeup and wardrobe. He told me today he wants a sidesaddle and racing saddle. I drew up a quick pattern for the side saddle while I waited for glazing putty to dry, and yes, I will share that when I finish making the saddle. I'll share the racing saddle pattern too.

Sunday, November 27, 2011

LRH Antar Al-Ahmar Delayed

Truthfully, what it comes down to is that I've been getting gradually sicker this past week. It started off with fatigue and a mild upset stomach, then right on Thanksgiving, I found out that me and turkey aren't agreeing with each other right now. I can keep sweet potatoes and green beans down, but everything else is iffy at best, and makes me feel dizzy, and gives me a headache similar to a mild migraine. Why I had to get sick in the lead up to Thanksgiving and my birthday, I don't know... Needless to say, it's tricky working on a model horse when you're feeling nauseous, so I've been making very slow progress over the last week.

Due to some unexpected bills, my birthday present's going to be a bit late too, I have to wait for the next paycheck before I can go get my camera. Even if I wasn't sick and had finished him, Antar was destined to be a late foal. And that's fine by me. If he needs more time, he needs more time, but I really really want to have him done before the end of December, because I really want to help someone else achieve their breeding goal for the year.

This past day, I've been continuing to finish the final touches on what sculpting needs to be done. I was watching Gone With the Wind yesterday, and during the jumping scenes with Rhett and Bonnie, I noticed Antar's face still needed a lot of work. As is typical of Stablemates, he had almost no real detail to his face, it was just a horse-head shaped blob, really. So I got started working on restoring missing details, because I want this model to compete in head study as well as halter classes. He's an Egyptian Arabian, and the classic head contest is where the inspiration for photo show head study classes came from, so I thought it a must to have something presentable in a head study class. Right after Gone With the Wind finished, in went my DVD of Black Beauty to watch while I worked, because it'd be a convenient quick reference to glance at when I got stuck. By the end of Black Beauty, I still had some work to do, so in went The 13th Warrior, where I could watch Ahmed Ibn Fahdlan (Eben) and his "dog" to get more details.

As of 17:05 on the 26th of November, Antar's head is looking a billion percent better than it was. He now has his jibbah, and a nice muzzle, and a much more chiseled cheekbone and brow, but I still need to resculpt his right eyeball and lower eyelid. My boy is starting to look really nice and chiseled now, and I'm really proud of my progress, even if I am behind schedule.

Still on my to-do list is finishing his stallion parts, which are being stubborn, and a touch more work on his neck and throat to blend the work I've done on his head with the style on the rest of his body. I'm hoping to have him in his first coat of primer by the 28th.

Today's movie to work by: The Neverending Story. The scene with Artax makes me cry every time, but then, so does most of Black Beauty. Perhaps after The Neverending Story, I'll put in The Horse Whisperer. At about that point, I'll only have The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King left in my list of movies with lots of horses, but I think I want to leave a whole day for working to the whole trilogy.

Friday, November 25, 2011

Upcoming Races

LRH Wafiyah to race in Iskoola Stakes

It's going to be young filly against mature stallion in the Iskoola Stakes, unless more entries come in. It's also going to be a great exhibition race for those who want to see Egyptian arabians.

LRH Wafiyah is matched up against Cherox Park's Majeed, an ABRB 2011 Triple Cup contender. Whatever happens, this race will be good for Wafiyah, we think she'll benefit from running with Majeed.

The track is expected to be springy, which will suit both horses well. We expect a fun, fast race, and we'll be happy even if Wafiyah loses, because it'll be wonderful to see these two racing together.

LRH Backfire to race in Vristina Stakes

Another two horse race, the Vristina Stakes will be run on muddy track, which won't suit either horse very well, though we anticipate White Pine Stables' Liberty An Justice to have more trouble with the conditions. Arnold's looking forward to this race. We switched his originally planned ride because we think Wafiyah needs a more active jockey.

This is the first race Backfire will actually have to work at, since she was the only runner in her maiden race.

LRH Shes All That to race in Tarn Lake Maiden

Once again, Cookie's racing Black Cauldron. This time, Shes All That is at a disadvantage, as the track conditions are expected to suit Black Cauldron better. Cookie was calmer this afternoon, we think keeping her at the track has helped. This time, she'll be backed by Ryan Kelly, one of our more junior jockeys. Ryan's been out there exercising Cookie for us, and they're working well as a team. Yesterday morning, he got Cookie to load with less fuss than she made in her last race, so if all goes well, Cookie will be keeping her gate card. We're not hoping for much from Cookie in this race, we just want her to get used to life and work at the track.

Ryan brought up an interesting point in our phone conversation yesterday morning: he thinks Cookie might still be a bit mentally immature for this. He mentioned that when he was walking her around the yard she was making the "baby face" at a lot of the other horses. The "baby face" is where a horse raises its lips slightly, then slaps its gums. It's a submissive sign that young horses use to say "Don't kill me! I'm a baby!" to other horses. I'm really hoping it's not that she's immature, because I really expect better from my late three year olds.

(Why am I mentioning the baby face? I think I actually want to make a few customs that are doing the baby face, since it's not something you see very often. Cookie will be one of the baby-face horses.)

Also, I hope everyone enjoyed Thanksgiving dinner yesterday! Because my mother-in-law was working yesterday, we're having ours today instead.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

All Breeds Racing Board Annual Starters Auction

The All Breeds Racing Board Starters Auction just ended. I bid on a few horses, but some of the bidding was crazy competitive, and I didn't have as many points to bid as some of the older members. I bowed out of bidding on two of the horses I was interested in, and put in bids on two more horses toward the end. I lost one, but kept the other, and I'm very happy I picked up at least one of the lots I bid on.

Here's the details for the horse I won in the auction:
2008 Arabian colt or filly by Before The Storm (Silver Prince X Layla) out of Johar (Dahess X Truely A Dream). Consigned by Emory Oak Stables.

I got to choose some of the details, like color and gender, and I've chosen to make a one of a kind custom.

Here's what I've decided on:

She's going to be named Aasifa Bint Johar.

She's going to be made from a Classic Andalusian Stallion, with a lot of customizing to turn her into a mare breaking from the start line. Here's a basic idea of what I want to do for the pose. I'll be replacing the neck, mane and tail with original sculpts, and the head's going to get a lot of detailing, and I suspect I'll be doing a lot of remaking around the flanks. This might just be one of the most drastic models I'll do.

Color wise, I want dapples like this, but with a chestnut base:

Aasifa is my next project for myself after I finish Antar, and get a few sales pieces done. I'm going to get bits and pieces of her done whenever the mood strikes and I've got some time to spare to get on with it.

Who knows, perhaps one day, an Antar Al-Ahmar X Aasifa Bint Johar foal might show up in the Starters Auction? ;)

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Custom in progress: LRH Antar Al-Ahmar

As a complete newbie to the idea of strains of Arabians, I've been doing some hasty research to get LRH Antar Al-Ahmar finished in time for my birthday. I needed to know what differentiates an Egyptian Arabian from other kinds, and wanted to find a good source of pictures of them to make sure my custom is on the right track. (It's a bit late to change anything major at this point, so I'm not sure why I even looked.) I came across this very useful blog, for the love of a horse, which is all about Arabians (and seems to have a focus on Egyptians). It's packed with history, pictures, stories, and even current sires, dams, foals, and champions. Very nifty, and very useful for me as an Arab newbie.

I'm getting close to crunch time with Antar at this point, since he's still not in primer, his head fell off (now partly fixed, I have to go back in with the bondo glazing putty again to fill in the cracks), and he insisted on a new tail and new boy parts. He didn't like his G3 Mustang tail (now lost! darn, I might need that for someone else!), he wanted a flippy tail, come hell or high water. This gave me a bit of a problem, since I've never sculpted tails before.

Fortunately, inspiration arrived in the form of Samantha Kroese's fantastic Friesian x Arab Legionario custom Ethereal Knight. Ethereal Knight has a string mane, tail and feathers, and is absolutely stunning. Well, honestly, my mind stopped somewhere between "oooh! pretty!" and  "string". I'm thinking "string tail? I can do that, how hard can that be?"

I built Antar a tail with paperclip coated in superglue/baking soda resin, and got to work gluing on sections of tail. The problem is, I only have runny superglue, so it's a bit tricky affixing the pieces of tail without fixing myself to the model.

I did find a trick for wiping up any excess, however. I've been using a tiny piece of craft felt to wipe the wet superglue. That way, it soaks into the felt, rather than bonding to my fingers or taking too long to fully cure.

I've got half of Antar's tail done, and hopefully can get the rest done today. After that, I'll need to finish his boy parts, then get prepping like fury to meet my self-imposed deadline.

Of course, the deadline isn't just looming close because my model's taking a long time. I'm possibly one of the worst procrastinators in the history of procrastinators. I can always find a way to do something other than what needs to be done, and end up leaving things until the last minute. Fortunately, I'm lucky to thrive under that kind of pressure. My best work is always the stuff I bang out quickly and close to deadline, where I don't have time to edit/tweak a bajillion times and ruin all the good stuff. Here's hoping that works again this time.

No progress on the show halter though, I need paperclips, and I have none. Another thing to add to my list of things to do today.

Racing Results

Sorry, no long article this time, I'm busy at work on my Arabian custom, now named LRH Antar. Here's a quick write up of the races my horses ran.

Little Eagle wins Band O'Green Maiden
The Band O'Green Maiden was raced on springy turf, with underdog LRH Shes All That breaking handily from the gate, followed by pre-race favorite Black Cauldron and solid contender Little Eagle. LRH Shes All That dropped behind as Black Cauldron and Little Eagle found their stride. Little Eagle made the push to win by a neck over Black Cauldron in this very close race.

LRH Solar Eclipse beats Big Red in second meeting
A fortnight after their matchup in the Empire Bay Maiden, Big Red and Sunny met for the second time in the Copperley District Stakes. The fast ground suited LRH Solar Eclipse, who went on to win his second against Big Red.

Friday, November 11, 2011

Upcoming Races

LRH Shes All That in the Band O'Green Maiden

After a tough time settling in at the track over the last fortnight, LRH Shes All That will be running her maiden race in the Band O'Green Maiden, scheduled for 12-11-10. We're hopeful that Cookie's nerves have settled enough for her to get the job done, the handlers at the track tell us she spent the first four days at the track pacing and weaving, and that she found the new conditions very stressful. We're glad we decided to trailer her in last fortnight when we took the rest of the horses for their maiden races. Ruth plans to spend as much time as she can with Cookie on the morning of the race. We're hoping that a lot of time spent grooming the poor girl will settle her down some.

The track condition is predicted to be springy turf, which should give Cookie and Stable For Champions' Black Cauldron a bit of a leg up over Rose Water Ranch's Little Eagle, for whom the conditions will be challenging. Both of Shes All That's challengers have run several maidens and have yet to win.

LRH Solar Eclipse in the Copperley District Stakes

We've trailered Sunny in for his second race of the month. We want to get him used to running tight scheduled races in preparation for a possible Triple Cup run somewhere down the line. Alfio's under instructions to let Sunny decide his own pace, the horse knows what he can and can't do, and we don't want to push him too hard.

This race, he'll be up against Rose Water Ranch's Big Red, a horse whose track preferences are exactly opposite to Sunny's. This time, we anticipate the track conditions will favor Sunny, since it'll be a fast track. We're glad the track's going our way this time, Sunny could use the help in his second race. We don't think Big Red's going to scratch, since unless there are more entrants closer to post time, he's guaranteed a win or place finish.

This will be Sunny's last run of the season. After that, he'll be taking a well-earned break through December, and going back into training in January. We think the snow we get in the winter will probably do him some good because it'll cool his legs and give him some light resistance training when he's out in the paddock.

Thursday, November 10, 2011

My birthday this month

At the end of November, it's my birthday. I've been trying to think how I can share that with people, but I don't really have anything I can give away as some kind of prize. I need good pictures for that, and I don't have a good camera.

One of the two things I want for my birthday this year is a new camera.

So, in anticipation, I've decided to finish a custom that's on my workbench right now in time for my birthday. I have no idea if it's possible. Just when I was ready to put a primer coat on him, he screamed "No! New tail! And how dare you not give me complete stallion parts!" So back to the workbench he went. I've got seventeen days to meet this deadline. Added difficulty: I want to make him a modern Arabian show halter so he doesn't have to be completely naked on his debut. He's a Stablemate, so this could be interesting to puzzle my way through. I bet there'll be snow on the ground by the time he makes his debut, so he'll be the first horse photographed with my new camera, and in the snow.

I'm actually going to show off a half finished model too. Right now, he's chestnut, and actually quite handsome (if a bit creepy with unfinished eyes and hooves), but until I have a better camera, he's stalled and going nowhere. I'm going to document how I turn him into a roan, so people can see how I do roans in pastels and acrylics, but before I do, I want to show off the first chestnut horse I've ever done, because I'm kind of impressed with it.

Hopefully I'll be able to show off my handiwork in a big way. Who knows? Maybe the workmanship might appeal to someone, and I'll pick up a commission or something?

In any case, I'll be putting up a countdown clock on my blog and my new site (it's pretty, go check it out!) Countdown clocks are exciting, and maybe you'll get a kick out of counting down with me to my 26th birthday.

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Racing Results

The results for the November MHFC Race Meet are in! I got a great early birthday present from several of my horses.
All highlighted horses are Long Road Home horses. Results are trimmed to include only those races in which Long Road Home horses ran.

The Quarters
Race 1
Winner: Mister Hawke
Place: WS Doctor Pep
Show: Chicks Black Beauty
Also ran: Soft As Smoke, On Watch, Bubba, Dragonsblood, WS Nu Imperial Jewel, Red Skelton, Freckles Leone

Race 3
Winner: Ed Sonja
Place: Smart As Jones
Show: Hey Mister
Also ran: The Big Event, Magic Quest, DirtyDeedsDoneDirtCheap, Kiss Upon A Star, Zoom Zoom, Bold One, Splashed With Moonlight

Race 2
Winner: Heza Custom Blend
Place: Sweet Talkin' Man
Show: Masked Badger
Also ran: Shes No Princess, Odd Colored Skittles, Blue Suede Shoes, VnV Say My Name, Gonna Getcha Good, Winx Club Girl, WS Zippin It Shut

Race 3
Winner: Solstice Eclipse
Place: My Mocha Dream
Show: WS Color Me Angel
Also ran: WS Zip Mac Hustler, Dash Splash Cash, Ceshire Cat, Smooth Criminal, Bahama Breeze, Bleu Ghost, Raggedy's Eclipse

Race 2
Winner: Moravian Empress
Place: Summer in Darley
Show: Wasabi Sensation
Also ran: Escrow Blizzard, A Girl Called Johnny, Ahrodie, Miss Sokys, Broadway Yankee, Its A Dream, Wild Fire Red

Race 1
Winner: WS Big Red Prodigy
Place: GOS Never Lookin Back
Show: Andromeda
Also ran: The Hawkes Belle, Lordoftherings, WS Sic Transit Gloria, Airs And Graces, GOS Ima Smarty Pants, I'm Lit, Knight's Legacy

Race 5
Winner: Parliament
Place: A Bid For Courage
Show: Hello Operator
Also ran: GOS Sheza Party Girl, Fame N Fortune, GOS Black Silk, Firewind, Bold Count, Irish Dancer, Villainous

Points Summary
Mister Hawke: 10
Hey Mister: 8
The Big Event: 7

Heza Custom Blend: 10
Smooth Criminal: 4
Wasabi Sensation: 8
The Hawkes Belle: 7
Hello Operator: 8

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Alternative Performance Events: Kyz Kuu

This is a traditional sport among Kazakhs and Kyrgyz (who call it kyz kuumai). The name means "girl chasing". It is referred to as a "kissing game", but is also a racing game.

A young man on horseback waits at the start line. A young woman on horseback starts galloping from a set distance behind the young man. When she passes the young man, he starts galloping. The man's goal is to catch up to the woman, and if he can reach, to steal a kiss from her, before she reaches the finish line. If he succeeds, he is the winner. If the woman reaches the finish line before he catches her, she turns around and chases him back to the starting line. If she is close enough, she may use her whip to beat the young man, and this marks a victory for the woman.

What will I need for a Kyz Kuu set-up?
  • two horses
  • a male rider
  • a female rider
  • a whip
  • culturally appropriate tack
You could also set-up a variation of this as a gymkhana or mounted games contest, where the aim is to grab a flag from the other rider, rather than to steal a kiss or to hit them.

That's all of my alternative performance events for this go-around. I hope they've been of some help to you. Hopefully I'll be back with more some time soon.

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

All Breeds Racing Board Racing Summary

Advanced Race Meet 21

The first race of the day, the Willomurra Purse, was a two horse race won by SMS Sky's On Fire, a Silver-Moon Studfarm colt by Northern Spur, out of Cassie's Gold. Cherox Park's CP Top Secret, an eight year old stallion, romped in second.

The Taralee Estates Stakes was run on wet turf, with a field of seven. EOS Jumper, the pre-race favorite, got off to a bad start, the wet ground not suiting him. He broke second to last from the gate. It was Wicked Lovely from Yankee's Secret, with War Front chasing them down after a few hundred meters, The Red Terror in close pursuit. Yankee's Secret and the tiring Wicked Lovely dropped back, finding the going rough. EOS Jumper put in a herculean effort on the wet turf to come up the outside, but finished half a length behind War Front, with The Red Terror one length back, the rest of the pack behind by eight lengths, led by TroubleInParadise. Dame de Pique had a rough time, boxed in by the pack, and ultimately couldn't break clear of the torn track.

The Invitational Stakes was on a muddy track, which didn't suit pre-race favorite Spectacular Dreams, but the aged mare still broke nicely from the gate, to romp in with an impressive lead of 9 lengths. In second was Day Dreamer, Dressed for Success behind, with Indy Storm coming in last to the post. The old mare appeared to outmatch her competition.

The Tare Reign Maiden was a blistering fast race on firm turf. Twilight's Dreamer was the pre-race favorite, but broke poorly from the gate, behind Anna's Speed and Back in a Flash. Back in a Flash struggled with the track, and was passed by Twilight's Dreamer. Anna's Speed and Twilight's Dreamer battled hard for the race, with Back in a Flash on their heels for the entire race. Anna's Speed won by a neck from Twilight's Dreamer, with Back in a Flash trailing by only two lengths.

Undecided and CP Hex All Klass ran an in-stable match race for Cherox Park on a fast track in the Bar Seven Purse. Undecided broke clean and fast, and dominated his stablemate, breezing in with a massive lead.

The Glen Valley Stakes, a G4 sprint, was won in a walk over by C. Winchcombe aboard Cherox Park's CP Spanish Lace. C. Winchcombe also walked to a win in the AWH Stakes trophy race aboard 14 year old stallion Jet Breeze. Winchcombe's easy day continued with walk over victories aboard Aaliyah, and Silver Prince* in the Arabian G3 and G4 races of the day.

Emory Oak Stables jockey A. Bilyeu rode to walk over victories in the McTaggert's Stakes and Speedy Bee Maiden aboard Ziyadah and Johar to finish up the day's racing.

October MHFC Results

MHFC October results are in! This month, some classes were triple judged! Way to go judges! I wasn't entered in any of the triple judged classes, but I'm really pleased for everyone that was.

LRH Heza Custom Blend
Novice OF: Paint 5th Place
Novice OF: Minimal White Pinto 9th Place

Total points: 8
Points for the year: 16

LRH Rum Runner
Novice OF: Other Pure Breed 3rd Place
Novice OF: Bay/Brown 2nd Place

Total points: 17
Points for the year: 37

LRH Nighthawke
Novice Custom/Resin/China Judge #1
Young Mare 9th Place
Warmblood (open registry) 1st Place
Bay/Brown 2nd Place

Novice Custom/Resin/China Judge #2
Young Mare 3rd Place
Warmblood (open registry) 1st Place
Sport/Carriage Breed Reserve Champion
Bay/Brown 2nd Place

Total points: 78
Points for the year: 168

LRH Xiwang
Novice Custom/Resin/China Judge #1
Senior Stallion 1st Place
Senior Horse Champion
Fantasy Equines 1st Place
Fantasy/Decorator Color 1st Place

Novice Custom/Resin/China Judge #2
Senior Stallion 1st Place
Fantasy Equines 1st Place
Other Breed Champion
Fantasy/Decorator Color 1st Place
Other Color Reserve Champion

Total points: 140
Points for the year: 410

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Alternative Performance Events: Corrida de Sortija

Corrida de Sortija by Roberto Fiadone

This traditional gaucho sport comes from the Rio de la Plata region of South America. In a plaza, a beam is suspended on two ten-foot uprights. Hanging from the underside in the middle of the cross beam is a small ring, about the size of a wedding ring. The aim is to take the ring off the beam, at a full gallop, with a stick about the same thickness as a pencil.

What will I need for a Corrida de Sortija set-up?
  • a fast horse
  • a rider
  • a ring in the correct scale
  • a stick in the correct scale
  • two uprights with a crossbeam
Anything else in that setup is gravy. Since it's a very informal sport, there's not reason it couldn't be bridle-less and bareback. Most often, it's performed during Carnival and other festival times, so if you have the time, inclination and money, you could use some very flashy and celebration-appropriate tack and clothing.

Check back next week for another alternative performance event!

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Alternative Performance Events: Mounted Orienteering

Photo by Karen Wilcox

Do you want another event where you can re-use any riding tack your horse already has on? This one might be for you.

Mounted orienteering came from military orienteering, and can be an individual or a team sport. The goal is to find as many objectives as you can in the fastest time. A map of the area is provided at the starting location which shows where the objectives are. The objectives are marked by a circle.

Teams set off at intervals, and ride to the first objective station marked on their map. Once they reach the area, they begin searching for clues (detailed on the back of their map) that will lead them to the objective in that area. When they locate the clue, they can follow the bearing given on the marker at the clue's location, which if done properly will lead them to the objective, or they can search for another clue to help them triangulate where the objective is.

What will I need for a mounted orienteering set-up?
  • a horse
  • a doll
  • saddle
  • bridle
  • map
  • compass
  • scenery (objectives or clues will work well)
Where can I find out more?
North American Competitive Mounted Orienteering

Driven Orienteering
Though I can't find out whether this is an existing sport as a stand-alone, there does appear to be a driving class for the sport TREC. For driven orienteering, you can replace the saddle with a harness and cart of some description.

Where can I find out more?
FITE: the international governing board for TREC

Check back next week for another alternative performance event!

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Prestige Leather Miniatures

I was poking around the web trying to 'window shop' for the camera I hope to get for my birthday. I think I've settled on a GE E1450W.

While I was searching for tips on what kind of camera I need to get, I came across a tutorial on photographing miniatures on Prestige Leather Miniatures (tutorial). Well, since it was showing pictures of miniature tack, I poked around a little more. As it turns out, this company specializes in miniature leather items. I'm not sure what scale they're in, but if you're curious, shoot them an e-mail and ask. I'm not too amazed with their saddles, the model horse crowd makes better, more detailed ones, but I think some of their other items in their store might help finish a scene. I really like their leather trunk (you'll need to scroll down to it), and I have a few ideas for what I'd do with a leather trunk like that for photo showing.

I don't have the money to buy any of these things, but being a thrifty sort, Prestige Leather Miniatures has given me a bit of inspiration. I actually have some of the supplies on hand to try my hand at making my own version of that leather trunk, so I think that's something else to get on with in between prepping and painting my batch of SMs.

Saturday, October 15, 2011

Racing Results

The results are in for the October MHFC races.
All highlighted horses are Long Road Home horses.

The Quarters
Race 1

Winner: Chicks Black Beauty
Place: Smart Star
Show: Red Sonja
Also ran: Lightning Flashfire, Dragonsblood, Smart As Jones, Texas Jack, Mister Hawke, Soft As Smoke, Zoom Zoom

Race 3

Winner: Hey Mister
Place: Freckles Leone
Show: WS Nu Imperial Jewel
Also ran: League's Pride, Te Bird Skip, Noble Whiskey Solano, WS Goodtime Cowboy Casanova, Bold One, Sam Barco Leo, On Watch
Race 4
Winner: Judah
Place: Skips Jess
Show: Roan Fox
Also ran: The Big Event, WS Lassie Boon, Fancy Red Lace, Bubba, Splashed With Moonlight, Night Cometh, WS Doctor Pep
Race 2
Winner: Masked Badger
Place: Painted Trendsetter
Show: Odd Colored Skittles
Also ran: Bahama Breeze, Heza Custom Blend, Lizzies Diamon, Maximum Wattage, Gonna Getcha Good, Ratchetts Star, Zippin At Midnight
Race 3
Winner: Solstice Eclipse
Place: VnV Say My Name
Show: Winx Club Girl
Also ran: WS Ima Cool Outrageous Dandy, WS Zip Mac Hustler, Ceshire Cat, Bleu Ghost, My Mocha Dream, Smooth Criminal, Dash Splash Cash

Race 2
Win: Miss Sokys
Place: Climhazzard
Show: Blue Chip Cadeau
Also ran: Summer in Darley, Ahrodie, Lune, Wasabi Sensation, O'Donovan, Sassy Lady, Moonlight's Sonata

Race 1

Winner: Jump 4 Joy
Place: Precious Metal
Show: Bold Count
Also ran: Knight's Legacy, WS Count Me In, The Hawkes Belle, Darkwalls Lady, Vision Cry, I'm Lit, On Golden Winds

Race 3

Winner: Sword Dancer
Place: Raggedy
Show: Chasing Liberty
Also ran: Merry Wings, Frosted Dreams, Lightning Blaze, Hello Operator, Irish American, Ladyhawke, Nobel Swap
Points Summary
Mister Hawke: 3
Hey Mister: 10
The Big Event: 7
Heza Custom Blend: 6
Smooth Criminal: 2
Wasabi Sensation: 4
The Hawkes Belle: 5
Hello Operator: 4

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Alternative Performance Events: Ski Joring

Photo from Butternut Farm

This winter sport is derived from a method of transportation, where someone would drive a reindeer, and glide along behind it on skis. This way, they could cover long distances quickly, and with a lower expenditure of energy.

The activity found its way to the rest of Europe sometime in the late 19th century. The first skijoring race in Switzerland was in 1906. That race in 1906 followed roads from one town to another, and racers started at one minute intervals, rather than racing directly against each other. Eventually, the sport was transferred to race courses, and the teams competed directly with each other.

When skijoring found its way to the United States in the mid 1950s, ranchers would attach a long rope to the horn of the saddle of a horse ridden at high speed, and race along long straights. Currently, sanctioned skijoring races in the United States take place in five states, and in these races, skiiers must negotiate jumps and other obstacles, sometimes spearing rings and going through gates.

What will I need for a skijoring set-up?
  • a moving pose horse (faster is probably better)
  • a doll
  • skis
  • saddle or harness
  • rope (with or without handle)
  • bridle with long reins
Where can I find out more?
North American Ski Joring Association
White Turf
Skijoring at

Check back next week for another alternative performance event!

Alternative Performance series starts today at 3pm!

The Long Road Home miniseries "Alternative Performance Events" starts today at 3pm. I hope you'll enjoy it. There will be a new installment every week at 3pm for the next month.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Upcoming Short Series: Alternative Performance Events

Today, I wanted to make some CL-scale lariats (not lassos, lasso is a verb). I'd already found instructions for the proper way to tie them, but I had forgotten what sort of length they tend to be. In searching, I ended up finding my way to Wikipedia, the site that derails many of my daily plans.

One page led to another, and I found myself looking at the list of horse disciplines for some uncommon performance options.

Perhaps some of these will inspire you to create unusual performance setups for your photo and live shows.

Monday, October 10, 2011

Tricky Breed Assignments: Mesteño

Some models are not well-liked in the model horse showing crowd. Some of them are models that don't have good anatomy, and have glaring errors that will get them marked down as a result. Those with decent anatomy are sometimes still badly conformed, but at least look like they're a horse. Those with good anatomy and good conformation can have color problems for the most common breeds that will be suggested.

I conga the Classic standing Mesteño. For all its niggling details, I think it's a very enigmatic model. He's a big, powerful, alert horse, able to reach well under himself in the back. Honestly, he looks like he'd have a high action in the front, too, with his front legs being the way they are. To me, he's a very attractive horse, even with his faults.

So what are his faults?
  1. His neck is thick and unrefined, and extremely thick in the throatlatch. This horse, if it were real, is extremely cresty, with a thick, inflexible throatlatch. He'd have a hard time getting his head down, if he could do so at all.
  2. His hooves are positively horrid, especially on the rear leg that's furthest back.
  3. He's narrow across the hips, and thick across the shoulders.
  4. He has a very coarse head, with that typical flat nose we see in most Breyers.
Okay, clearly, this is a horse that will struggle in shows, both photo shows and live shows. While you might be inclined to show him as a Mustang, if you show him at all, there are in fact other options. Here's a few to consider:
Mongolian Horse
The Mongolian Horse is a very old breed, supposedly unchanged since the time of Genghis Khan. It's a hardy horse, with a stocky build, short legs, and a large head, and a very long mane and tail.

Mesteño isn't a great match for the Mongolian pony, he's long in the neck, and short in the head to be a good representative of the breed, but it's worth a shot if you want to try showing something more unusual.

Australian Brumby
The Australian Brumby is a feral horse, much like the Mustang, found in Australia. They're descended from a wide variety of horse breeds introduced to Australia. Brumbies from various regions have different mixes of breed that have gone into making the modern animal.

Since there isn't really an iconic Brumby appearance, this might be a decent breed assignment for Mesteño models. Brumbies are somewhat common in some showing crowds, so you might find you'll have some hot competition if you decide to show your Mesteno as a Brumby.

Carolina Marsh Tacky
The Carolina Marsh Tacky is a breed native to South Carolina. Like the Florida Cracker and North Carolina Banker, it has colonial Spanish blood that connects it to some of the earliest equines imported to the Americas. It is only recently that a study determined that the Marsh Tacky is gaited: it performs something that is called the Swamp Fox Trot, a broken trot like the foxtrot, but with the timing and durations being more similar to the marcha batida. The marcha batida lacks the diagonal pairing found in the Swamp Fox Trot, however.

I actually show Rum Runner as a Carolina Marsh Tacky. I think he's a decent fit for the breed, if a bit coarse in the head and neck. You won't see too many people showing Carolina Marsh Tackies. The catch to this, of course, is that you tend to be in the "Other Pure Breeds" category, which can mean tough competition from all the other rare breeds.
If you're prepared to customize your Mesteño to show him, then these breeds might give you a jumping off point for what to do once you've decided to customize him. Sadly, most of the customizing you'd need to do would be a lot of work. The Mesteño horse is a drastic job, no matter how you look at him.

Sunday, October 9, 2011

EA Equestrian Photostories

When I got my first Breyer catalog, many many years ago, I dreamed of making photostories with my model horses. Sadly, I never did get a Breyer during my childhood, they were too expensive for my below the national poverty line family.

As I grew up, the desire for a Breyer never went away, and eventually, I bought myself one after I got married and moved to America: Sonador, a CL Ginger. By this point, I didn't have a camera that was any good, and I planned on customizing Sonador into Sunny, a QH gelding I worked with while I worked as a joust squire for the Renaissance Faire.

Sonador is still not Sunny, and I still haven't told any photo stories. Maybe the photo story thing will change soon, since I'll have a nice new camera to play with toward the end of November.

For now, I content myself looking at other peoples' photo stories, so this week, I'm sharing a link to a place with some neat photo stories.

This is EA Equestrian Photostories, written by the very talented lass at Last Alliance Studios. She makes tack, customizes, and tells some great photo stories to boot.

Monday, October 3, 2011

FriesianFury's Feathers Tutorial

I was reading through some of the blogs I follow, and followed a link to this nifty tutorial. It's not bad at all, and well worth bookmarking for future reference. The reference pictures alone are worth heading over there.

Go check it out >

Sunday, October 2, 2011

September Show Results

Here's my September show results. I'm pretty pleased with the results this month, it's a nice thing to come back to after a tough month.

LRH Nighthawke
Judge 1
Novice CM/Resin/China: Young Mare: 4th place out of 9 entrants
Novice CM/Resin/China: Warmblood (open registry): 1st place out of 1 entrant
Novice CM/Resin/China: Carriage/Sport Breed Reserve Champion
Novice CM/Resin/China: Bay/Brown: 2nd place out of 2 entrants
Total points: 46

Judge 2
Novice CM/Resin/China: Young Mare: 6th place out of 10 entrants
Novice CM/Resin/China: Warmblood (open registry): 1st place out of 1 entrant
Novice CM/Resin/China: Carriage/Sport Reserve Champion
Novice CM/Resin/China: Bay/Brown: 2nd place out of 2 entrants
Total points: 44

Grand total points: 90

LRH Xiwang
Judge 1
Novice CM/Resin/China: Senior Stallion: 1st place out of 1 entrant
Novice CM/Resin/China: Senior Horse Champion
Novice CM/Resin/China: Overall Gender Reserve Champion
Novice CM/Resin/China: Fantasy: 1st place out of 1 entrant
Novice CM/Resin/China: Other Breed Champion
Novice CM/Resin/China: Overall Breed Reserve Champion
Novice CM/Resin/China: Fantasy/Decorator: 1st place out of 1 entrant
Novice CM/Resin/China: Overall Reserve Grand Champion
Total points: 170

Judge 2
Novice CM/Resin/China: Senior Stallion: 1st place out of 1 entrant
Novice CM/Resin/China: Senior Horse Champion
Novice CM/Resin/China: Fantasy/Decorator: 1st place out of 1 entrant
Novice CM/Resin/China: Other Breed Reserve Champion
Novice CM/Resin/China: Fantasy/Decorator: 1st place out of 1 entrant
Novice CM/Resin/China: Other Color Reserve Champion
Total points: 100

Grand total points: 270

That's all for this month. Thanks for judging the shows, MHFC members!

Saturday, October 1, 2011

Cats, glasses, and life

The last month and some change has been very hectic for me. My cat had an eye infection, which developed into a dismetocele (a crater in the cornea), which required surgery. The treatment for the infection, and then the aftercare for the surgery put my whole life on hold. He's finally out of his "cone of shame" and getting back to normal, and I have only four more days, including today, of intense medication schedules.

Despite being very busy with my cat, I have been getting a few things done here and there, including constructing a SM scale stall from craft sticks. I've got a lot left to do, and I doubt I'll finish it before the new year, but when it's finished, I'll be showing it off on here. I've also made a few SM scale cross-country jumps, which only need some finishing touches.

The next thing that came up was that I got superglue vapor on my old glasses. It stuck to a smudge on the lens, and that was the end of that pair of glasses. I need my glasses for detail work. My vision isn't bad enough I need glasses for everything, but I can't read, write, or work on tack, painting and other detail crafts without them. My prescription changed significantly in one eye as well, and I'm still getting used to my new glasses. The focal area seems much smaller, because I have smaller lenses than I did before. I have two pairs now, one for general work, and one very narrow lensed pair that are good for keeping my focus on writing (actually why I chose them).

With my birthday coming up toward the end of November, I've decided to put a hold on trying to get good sales pictures of my halters with my bad camera, since I'm going to be getting a slightly better camera for my birthday this year.

I'm going to try assemble a quick how-to guide on photoshowing with a bad digital camera, since I have the example pictures ready. I might be moving on to a new camera, but I'm sure there are a few people out there who might glean something useful from my experience.

I'm still prepping my batch of SMs. Does the prepping phase ever end? I'm so done with prepping, I want to get to the painting, but I think I'm going to hit problems with sealer now that we're in fall and heading toward winter. My sealer doesn't work well in low temperatures, it gets grainy.

I'll still be showing through fall and winter, so it won't be completely dead around here, and I'll still be able to make tack. I have a nice halter design that I'm planning to make a lot of. I stocked up my tack making kit last time I made a trip to Wal-mart, with cheap jewelry making supplies and some grosgrain ribbon. The current set of halters are red satin-backed black grosgrain with jump-ring hardware (including a new no-bend jump-ring buckle design that looks pretty neat), and look pretty spiffy. More on those at the end of November, when I can show them off properly.

Monday, September 5, 2011

Racing Results

The results are in for the September MHFC races.
All highlighted horses are Long Road Home horses.

The Quarters
Race 1
Conditions: Wet-fast to Fast
Winner: Night Cometh
Place: Lightning Flashfire
Show: WS Lassie Boon
Also ran: Te Bird Skip, Kiss Upon a Star, WS Nu Imperial Jewel, Smart Star, On Watch, Magic Quest, The Big Event

Race 3
Conditions: Fast
Winner: Mister Hawke
Place: WS Doctor Pep
Show: Soft As Smoke
Also ran: Noble Whiskey Solano, Bold One, Dragonsblood, Hey Mister, Texas Boy, Familiar Destiny, WS Brandy's Best
Race 2 
Conditions: Fast  
Winner: Maximum Wattage
Place: Dash Splash Cash
Show: Justoneofthosedays
Also ran: Rising Wind, Zippin At Midnight, Raggedy's Eclipse, WS Ima Cool Outrageous Dandy, WS Zippin It Shut, WS Zip Mac Hustler, Smooth Criminal
Race 2
Conditions: Good to Firm
Winner: Dareful Task
Place: Hello Operator
Show: Vision Cry
Also ran: Mrs. B, A Bid For Courage, Gerschwin, Parliament, Econimic Brigade, GOS Sheza Mighty Star, Uninvited

Race 5
Conditions: Firm
Winner: WS Count Me In
Place: Stella Artois
Show: GOS Dressed For Success
Also ran: Enniskillen, Chasing Liberty, Firewind, Storm Chattering Bird, The Hawkes Belle, Paddy Riley, GOS Ima Smarty Pants
Long Road Home's Official Statements

Overall, we're pretty pleased with our first race outing. A win and a show for six maiden races isn't bad. I know some people might ask why we didn't enter our horses in the maiden races, instead of putting them against horses with a few races of experience. Really, I don't think putting my horses against other maidens would do them any favors. Putting them up against experienced horses lets them learn by copying. I think they learn quicker running with the experienced horses.

Mister Hawke, and Hello Operator did well for us. I'm surprised they liked the faster track. Track conditions at the Long Road Home have been sloppy to muddy on the dirt, and yielding on the turf.

I think Biggie (The Big Event) and Hey Mister would be a lot happier on a softer track.

It looks like Smoothie (Smooth Criminal) needs some rubber plates in his racing shoes for fast ground. He's a heavier horse than most of the racing Paints out there. The jockey thinks the ground was pretty punishing for him... Smoothie felt tentative, like it was hurting his feet. I will have that jockey back Smoothie next time, I think Smoothie likes that jockey, there wasn't any fidgeting or playing up on the way to the gate like we expected.

Belle (The Hawkes Belle) shipped in from Britain, where she was used to deeper turf. Transitioning her to the shallower turf over here might be tricky, she needs to learn not to hammer her hooves down like that. Maybe she'd like some rubber shoes too?

Points Summary
LRH The Big Event: 1
Mister Hawke: 10
Hey Mister: 4
Smooth Criminal: 1
Hello Operator: 9
The Hawkes Belle: 3

Friday, September 2, 2011

First Show Results and New Additions

Well, the August show results are in, so here's how I did.

LRH Heza Custom Blend
Novice OF: Paint: 5th Place out of 5 entrants
Novice OF: Minimal White Pinto: 9th place out of 9 entrants
Total points: 8

LRH Rum Runner
Novice OF: Young Stallion (3-8): 9th place out of 25 entrants
Novice OF: Other Pure Breed: 1st place out of 4 entrants
Novice OF: Bay/Brown: 3rd place out of 13 entrants
Total points: 20

Novice Custom/Resin/China was unjudged in August, so I don't have any results for LRH Nighthawke or LRH Xiwang. LRH Astor likewise has no points to report.

I think I need to try and get new pictures of some of my horses, because they're atrocious and not helping me at all. I actually really like LRH Rum Runner's picture, so I'm going to set up the same shot for some of my other horses if I can. At this point, I don't have a good enough camera to take good pictures of the minis, so I'm giving up on them until I have a nicer camera. I'll keep entering shows with what I have, since LRH Heza Custom Blend was still earning points.

In other news, I picked up three more horses today, for a grand total of three dollars. These I intend to keep. As crazy as it sounds, they're the cheapo Walmart toys. I actually see some potential in one of them as a mule, even in OF. Another one, with some customization, mostly just narrowing his chest, looks like a Mongolian pony. The last one needs his legs lengthened and his nose straightened, and I think he looks a bit like a Tennessee Walker. I'll get pictures in the morning.

I actually was looking for animals, and only one animal stood out, a toy rat. I think if I cut off his molded whiskers and hair him all over with kanekelon, he'll look really convincing. I didn't pick him up because I didn't have the supplies on hand to customize him yet. I'll get one next time I'm at Walmart. I honestly see show-winning potential with the rat with about thirty hours of hairing work. Even better, he's kind of gushy, so he'll feel nice in my hands when I take him out for pictures :)

Monday, August 29, 2011

Tack Tips

I'm new to tack-making. I admit it, I'm such a noob at it that the only thing I feel okay with the idea of selling is plain halters.

But, you've probably noticed I've been fiddling around with saddles despite that fact. I find crafty stuff easier to learn by doing, which means practice efforts that will make seasoned tackmakers cringe. But that's fine by me, and I'm still going to share my tackmaking on the blog, so that maybe some other complete noobs can follow in my footsteps and not feel like they failed miserably.

This week, over at Dreamflite, there was a blog post about buckle free tack that I think is well worth reading. Go check it out! I don't own any sticky wax, the only temporary stick stuff I have is PVA glue, but I'm going to try using Dreamflite's tips when I try making an artillery harness for LRH Nighthawke. I'd always intended her to be an artillery horse, from the moment I bought her. She'll be wearing a British Horse Artillery set one day.