Monday, 28 March 2011

Portrait of a sitting child.....what no horse?

This is somewhat off piste on my usual post, so apologies. If you have been following you will know I am working on a bigger horse painting at the moment, and I am not the sort who has a few paintings on the go at one time, I'd much rather give my creative energy and time to one piece, especially when working large. So as a little light touch creative detour I thought I'd introduce my Petite Ballerina -  my young daughter - doodled in a ruled note book in between ballet and swimming lessons at the weekend.

I doodle a lot like this, but haven't found a way yet to mesh it in with my horse art  so that it doesn't wind up looking like a piece of clip art! It will probably re-surface in some way or another as it comes very naturally to work in this way.

Next time I pick up a pen to sketch one of my kids I'll be sure to pop them on a horse so it's a little more relevant to my blog topic!

Sunday, 27 March 2011

Vegas style

As we left the stables yesterday, there was a girl in the outdoor school on her own horse, called Vegas. He was giving her a hard time - he looked to maybe have a little Arab in him - and we watched as he bolted and danced his way around around the school with her each time she reached down to tighten his girth, bucking as he went. After about the 3rd attempt I called her over to hold him over the fence so she could at least tighten his girth and have one less thing to worry about for her ride. She told me he had  been like that for weeks and that he kept galloping around the school with her. She said the words 'I'm fine' about five or six times but she was white as a sheet and I could hear fear in her throat and see it welling in her eyes as she spoke. She seemed at her wits end but bravely is putting herself back on him every day....what else can you do, when he is your horse?

I really felt for her, I wouldn't like to be in her predicament.  I really hope she an get him over that phase safely and soon.

Thursday, 24 March 2011

Rug up, old boy.. it's spring in Scotland

I rode a little better tonight, all thanks to the good but slightly grumpy Pablo.

We went through a phase a while back when we would have a good ride, no gripes in the lesson or leading out of the school, but the minute we got back to his box to un-tack and get his rug on, he and I would get in a spat. I thought we were headed back there again tonight.

I had a couple of  failed attempts at tightening his girth that wound him up rather at the start of the lesson. You know...nearly in the hole but missed "Sorry mate, I need to do that again", and so on and on the 3rd attempt he flipped a bit, snatching his head round for a bite and kicking off with his rear end......"Whoa, steady, shush, good boy" I said as convincingly and calmly as I could with the sound of thumping heart in my ears like the big fearty I am.

We rode flat work again, shallow loops, leg yields and kind of a half attempt at pirouettes, although none of us or the horses do it often enough to be really sure what we are supposed to be doing. We rounded of with figure of eight work in canter over poles, okay at times and handbrake turns at others, but all good to practice.

"Any questions?"asks Kerry at the end.

"Is it supposed to be this hard, or is it just because you are asking us to do harder stuff?" I chip in, half in jest, but really needing to hear the words "It's supposed to be this hard, keep working and one day it won't be". Instead, I think it came across as "I'm really fed up with all this hard work" which is kind of true, but not at all what I meant to say and I suddenly wish I could shove my chat back in its box where it belonged.

Okay so then it's home time, 9pm and time to put Pablo back in his box....I can see it coming.

He was good as gold while I took his saddle off, but I thought 'Lets just leave your bridle on a minute till we see how this goes"...I turned around and put his saddle down and by the time I turned back with his rug he had turned the whole way and was looking at me straight on, and he is talking right to me and saying "Just you try". Okay then, I think, I take one step towards him and the ears go flat and he is snatching at me again for a bite. "For pity's sake Pablo, there is a great big pile of haylage there, can you not just get your nose in it and let me get on with it?"

Moral support and wise words from my pal Jane over the shoulder "He's at it, just walk in like you mean business" true. Rug on....result!!!

Celebrate your small horsey victories, sometimes they are the ones that will see you right in times to come.

Sunday, 20 March 2011

Rough riding....and a new Horse Painting

Such a quiet week from me, brought about by first off by much activity at work and later by another terrible flat work riding lesson this week that left me at the point of despair and ready to chuck it in. My riding seems to be deteriorating week on week right now, and I have begun to approach lessons with not the usual exhilaration, but rather a feeling of dread, sometimes feeling close to tears by the end of another gruelling often fruitless hour of failing and flailing. It is all in the head now, I know that. It is one of those 'conquer you demons' and mine is an affront at any failure of any sort. By the close of Thursday lesson I concluded that it is time to give up riding the harder horses. I brokered a deal with two of my riding school mates to get there early and grab a horse of my choosing for a few consecutive weeks to see if I can remember how I used to seem to be able to ride until around 6 weeks ago when it all started to unravel.....wish me luck! 
On the Art front, it took a few days to recover from said lesson but today I found my way back on track with my art and started a new piece in acrylic and canvas....only started and 'in the rough' although maybe not quite as rough as my shockingly bad riding! Here he is, propped up on my piano so I can get a better look at him in the morning with a nice strong cup of coffee.

Tuesday, 15 March 2011

Not enough hours in the day....light!

I was having a very hectic day at work yesterday, and met a colleague from our parent company who I know only a little. It was one of those crazy days and we both looked frazzled, but our visits to the coffee machine for extra strong shots of caffeine kept on co-inciding.

At our first 'ad-hoc*' meeting over the coffee machine we exchanged the usual 'not enough hours in the day' type of chat to meet our respective deadlines on our projects, hers a School Project, mine a University one, and so on.....

Our second 'chance encounter*' again at the coffee point led to my revelation that I liked to ride horses and hers that she owns a horse that she struggles to keep fit in the winter months due to our ridiculously short winter daylight hours....'not enough hours in the day', once again, but entirely a more interesting discussion.

Irish Sports Throroughbred gelding, and absolutely stunning boy. And I don't work Mondays or Fridays'....serendipity*? We agreed to pick up the opportunity to work collaboratively* on the exercising of her horse when we both have a minute in our day to catch breath

* strangely when I am not riding horses I can usually be found promoting innovative 'workplace design' planning offices  to encourage lots of 'ad-hoc meetings / chance encounters / serendipitous exchanges / collaborative working'' and so on but I will spare you horse lovers the detail of this aspect of my life! That said if it wasn't for the coffee point.....

Sunday, 13 March 2011

Absolute Beginners

I took my son to his riding lesson on Saturday. Its a nice wee class, about five in the group. all beginners, varying ages but all kids.  It's been a few months, but I still was surprised when they popped up a crosspole for them to jump over, albeit the jumps set extra far apart on the lowest rung.

The girl at the front listened carefully to the instructions and was about to set of for her turn when she turned to the instructor and asked in earnest .........."So, do I just close my eyes when we get to the jump?"

Classic. I might try that myself next time Monty gets a bit too full of himself!

Anyway, I took a video on my phone of his lovely riding - better seat than him Mum for sure - but of course I have no idea how to upload it, so I guess I'll have to wait until I my savvy eight year old is out of his bed tomorrow and see if he knows!

Thursday, 10 March 2011

Love is in the air

If you live in Glasgow and are looking to get hitched there is something funny going on at Hazelden Equitation Centre! Love is in the air, as there have been 3 engagements over the last few months.  It was a beaming Sheena's turn this week, who rides with us on a Thursday night. Well, if the smell of horse doesn't put your man off, then I say he is most definitely a keeper....

Tuesday, 8 March 2011

Lovely Thoroughbred Re-habilitation Centre Horses

Would somebody please tell me why I am drawn to even look at this. I have neither the money nor the riding ability to go there and mortal fear I experienced on the galloping-retired-racehorse-with-no-brakes known as Sam will be with me until the day I die. It should be once broken, twice shy!

Aren't they gorgeous though......lovely, but just a little bit nuts with it.

Now, on that note, back to equine ads to look at 'bomb proof' cobs!

Monday, 7 March 2011

The tale of cat who walks by himself either love them or hate them, don't you. Myself I am very much a cat lover, I adore their affection, their independence, their lofty natures and the sound of deep, rumbling purr which conveys love, trust and above all loyalty to those they are attached to. My husband is a cat loather, for what it's worth, but in our house that really doesn't count for much.

Cat's are smart creatures, and a bit like horses, I like to think they find the people whose company they enjoy even if they are not their owners. And so we have an adopted tom cat, called 'Harvey' and whenever he comes I welcome him. He is "the cat who walks by himself and all places are alike to him

He has his 'real' family of owners about 3 doors along our street, and they love him but comes to us. He is an old boy, a bit of a grump and certainly no lap cat, but he has found in us a family who (in the main) love him and appreciate his affection. 

Perhaps he sensed that we needed a cat in our lives, and after all everyone loves to be needed. Maybe we have been adopted by a him, not the other way around?

Rudyard Kipling fans should know, my husband might be known on occasion to threaten to throw a boot at him, and while I don't offer him any real food, he does earn some gratitude for his affection with regular saucers of milk and the chance to lie beside any fire he chooses. And he has indeed scratched and entertained my children in almost equal measure so it is a very true 'Just So' tale

Horses can't vote with their feet quite so easily as our Harvey, but in a different way they do. They kind of say "That's your name on the papers and you can think what you like.....bottom line though , if I don't like you, you have had might want to think about letting me find my true owner".

I like to think there is a horse or two out there waiting to find, in me, their true owner!

Sunday, 6 March 2011

Pretty Grey

From the lovely isle of Arran, a Pretty Grey I painted in watercolour today.

copyright all rights reserved
based on photo by celesteh on flickr

Saturday, 5 March 2011

I seem go be going through a phase where I want to draw and paint Grey's at the moment. I keep coming back to photos of one, Ice, from my stables up the road. He is a beautiful young horse, about 7 so still quite Grey and dappled. Sam on the other hand is older and almost white.

I am going to to have another try at acrylic work this week, and I think a monochrome piece might be the way to go. I still have trouble knowing what particular shade of a colour acrylic paint will dry at - I am a watercolour girl really - but I think that I could mix up a monochrome wheel and be consistent enough with re mixing it to get a decent result.

Anyway, I had a look in Flickr to give let Ice be this week I found this lovely horse as my new subject....

By celesteh on Flickr Creative Commons

Gorgeous horse, loads of detail, good light.....happy times!

On reflection, I think I would like a Grey of my own, and perhaps its just coming out in my art!

Thursday, 3 March 2011

Have are young but you will learn!


Flat work again tonight  and undeterred from last weeks disaster lesson, I surprised myself and requested Rocky, the handsome boy that deflated my ego by giving me the little horsey runaround last week.

We did lots of leg yields, bending and canter transitions in the most random and unexpected areas of the school  - basically wherever Kerry fancies to ask, as long as its nowhere near a corner or anywhere that said young horse might actually see it coming.

Well, let's say it was still not 'good', but a damn sight better than last week, which was a great relief.

He did canter, usually a few strides late, occasionally needing a wee bit of extra 'encouragement'  but he listened mostly, more to my left leg than right, the occasional scuffing of the outside of the school as I tried to push him in. I am staring to suspect I need a trip to my chiropractor and some physio to iron out a bit on general mid thirties wonkiness.... he is young, and he will learn, but I am old enough to know when I need some work to sort me out to improve my bending!

I am starting to wonder if  Kerry plans never to let us over another jump until we have wiped out our flat work bad habits. I think I am alright with that.

Tuesday, 1 March 2011

The Power of Etsy

Hooray to the people at Etsy for what they is such a great 'vote with your views / favourites' set-up that you can use it to respond to what people are liking.

The blue face of Ice got favourited so I have revisited other arty things in the same theme. You know a few months back I might have not been sure where to start with arty projects, but it is amazing what the instant feedback that you can get on the web can do to spur on your creativity.

If you've not been to my Etsy, you'll find it here.

It'll be a bit of a mishmash for a while as I experiment with pieces and styles to see what catches other folks eyes...rather than just my own. I just have to remember what I am on there for and not go shopping mad at the same time.....or, maybe I'll indulge myself with one purchase a month,!