Category Archives: News

Holiday Saddle Raffle

At Sweet Onion Live earlier this year I got to admire some amazing mini scale tack by Grace Ledoux of Stage Left Studios.

SOL GL - dressage

I was amazed by her attention to detail and how itty bitty she was able to make her strap goods.

SOL GL - english games

I really wish I’d had more time to stare and take pictures (these are all her pictures, not mine!) but I was a bit crazy showing in halter and performance while judging the Youth division. I won’t be doing that again, trust me!

Since meeting Grace, I’ve been following her blog with enthusiasm. And I was very excited on Friday when she announced that she has teamed up with her friend and fellow tack maker, Anne Yager, to do a holiday saddle raffle!

SOL GL - harness

Even better, all the money raised in this raffle will be going to charity. It’s a win-win! The greedy part of me wants to keep this hush hush so I have a better change of winning on of the awesome saddles (I keep waffling on which I want more!)

Luckily, that part of me is overcome by my love of all things tiny as well as charitable giving. So I want to share this with as many folks as possible! Anna and Grace set a goal of raising $50, which they have already surpassed. How cool would it be if they could raise $100?

You can read all the details on the raffle in Grace’s blog post. That post and several others on her blog and on Anna’s blog show many more photos of the two saddles up for grabs. Go buy some tickets!

SOL GL - horse bot

This photo doesn’t showcase Grace’s tack so much, but it sure showcases her creativity! Isn’t this just the coolest Other Perf entry you’ve ever seen? She had documentation for the Horsebot and everything.

 

Thirteen Years

I have many many things to be thankful for, but today I’m singling out a particular part of my life that I am so, so thanksful, and lucky, to have- my horse, Cochise.

Cochise was a thirteenth birthday gift from my parents. Well, we didn’t officially buy him until a few months later, but around my birthday was when I started leasing him as a trial. As of this November, Cochise has been with me for half my life.

Jumping, circa 2003

Jumping, circa 2003

Cochise was still fairly green when I got him. Looking back, I can’t believe my trainer allowed us to buy him, with his level of training and me being advanced novice. I’d been riding for almost four years, but I’d never done any real training. The second and third days I rode Cochise were the first and second times I ever fell off too.

Summer 2004

Circa 2004

I was very lucky to happen into a Natural Horsemanship trainer who helped me learn how to work with Cochise is a more constructive manner. He was an anxious, uncoordinated, and grumpy horse. But he was also sweet, smooth, and trainable.

Jumping bareback in a rope halter, winter 2004

Jumping bareback in a rope halter, circa 2004

Cochise was and is a very quirky, opinionated horse, but we learned together and formed a great partnership. Throughout high school, I rode almost every day. I met my best friend Robyn through Cochise- she leased him before she bought her first horse. Once she had her own horse, we often rode together.

Playing "broom polo" in 2006

Playing “broom polo” in 2006

One of the things I am most thankful for is that I never had to choose between attending my first-choice college and keeping my horse. I would have been heartbroken to sell Cochise- I don’t think I ever could have done it. Luckily, Robyn was starting her lesson teaching business just as I was leaving for college. Cochise, having come leaps and bounds since when I first got him, became a lesson horse.

Cochise - 2008:8

In his new vocation as a lesson horse

Cochise is a great lesson horse. He will baby the littlest riders and challenge the more advanced riders. He’s safe and fun but makes a rider work- and learn. And best of all- he loves it. He gets to stay at home with his herd and be doted on by hordes of children. It’s the perfect job for a horse who is fantastic and versatile, and thrives on a routine.

Out with his herd, summer 2008

Out with his herd, summer 2008

Ever time I came home from college I would get to visit Cochise, and he was always happy to see me.

Cochise - 2008:8 2

Cochise meets my future husband, summer of 2008

After I graduated college, I continued to visit Cochise whenever I could.

On a trail ride, summer of 2011

On a trail ride, summer of 2011

And he continued to teach children.

Cochise at summer camp, 2012

Cochise at summer camp, 2012

Whenever I visited we would pick up where we’d left off.

Jumping bridleless, 2012

Jumping bridleless, 2012

For a year Robyn and I took jumping lessons together. I would drive down once a week and we would load the horses up for the short trip down the road to our trainer’s barn.

Ready to roll, 2013

Ready to roll, 2013

Unfortunately, driving an hour and a half each way to ride was not a sustainable plan. Plus, much as I loved Cochise, our goals were diverging- he was getting older, with a bit more arthritis, and still stressed a lot over going to new places. Meanwhile I was dreaming of more jumping, and eventually eventing.

So I decided to start riding nearer to home, and Cochise stayed at his perfect home, teaching lessons and continuing to lord over a growing herd.

Winter 2013

Winter 2013

I am so thankful that my horse-my best friend-has such a wonderful place to be and thrive. Robyn has given Cochise the best of care and the finest life a horse could want- lots of time outside being a horse, a job to do, and plenty of doting attention. I miss him, but it’s wonderful to know that I can visit anytime I want, and that Cochise is happy, healthy, and has a forever home.

Cochise - 2014:4

April 2014

 

Yesterday

Yesterday

Post Moving Ponies

I packed up my horses and hobby stuff around the end of January in preparation for our February move. After we moved, I was busy for a while unpacking, shopping for furniture, and a hundred other little post-moving tasks. But then… I started to get the itch to work on horses. I really missed it.

At that point our only available work surface was the kitchen island, which was also where we prepped and ate meals and a catch-all for household detritus. But I managed to make it work. With most of my supplies still in boxes it was possible to get out the necessary items for a work session and then re-store them away during meals.

kitchen island studio

The kitchen island studio

Last fall I got two new resins that I was very excited to paint- Wee Wyakin, as a trade-commission deal, and Covenant Renewed, as a birthday gift from my parents. I’d bee working on prepping them before we packed up, and I was excited to get them out again.

It was wonderful to be painting again. My Wee Wyakin was destined for a complicated semi-leopard pattern, which is lots of fun to paint. And Covenant Renewed, the Morgan stallion of my dreams, was slated for a deep luscious bay.

Wee Wyakin (or Pollyanna Plaudit, as she is named) was done in a combination of acrylics, pastel, and pencil, with many, many layers of work.

Pollyanna wip 1

Starting the first layer of hairing and leopard spots

Pollyanna wip 2

Staying safe in the tea cupboard

Pollyanna wip 3

Roaning continues…

Pollyanna wip 5

Starting to look like the references, but far from done.

I had a show coming up in April, and at the last minute (at least, by customizing standards) I decided I could get my Morgan, Salty Captain, done too. I have less photos of his process but he went from funky…

Funky Captain

…to hunky in a matter of weeks.

Beautiful in Bay

Just in time to win his class at NW Expo too!

NW Expo 2014

I’m so happy to have added these two lovelies to my growing resin collection!

Begin Again

I put this blog on official hiatus last January when I realized that work, moving, and starting at a new barn were keeping me too busy. My models and supplies were put away in preparation for our move, and I spent my weekends at the barn teaching lessons or at home packing boxes.

moving boxes

Helper cat is helpful

We moved into our new home in February. Painting, cleaning, unpacking, and organizing kept us busy. In April my dream came true and we had a studio built into a nook. I eagerly documented the process so I’d be able to share it here.

finished studio

My new studio

At the end of April, I got sick, and I didn’t get better. Once again I found myself turning to models as a mental escape from frustrating exhaustion and depression. I couldn’t ride, but at least I had performance showing goals to work towards in the few hours a day I wasn’t sleeping.

So although I’d meant to start blogging again after we moved in, I didn’t. But I worked toward getting better. By the end of the summer I was feeling well enough to attend a live show. By September I was riding again. Today, I think I’m more or less back to normal, health-wise.

Despite the illness, it’s been a great year. We love our new condo and our urban life. I’m back to my regular hours at work, tackling new and exciting projects. I’m riding regularly and falling in love with a little dun gelding. I’ve had some great hobby successes and have exciting goals for the future.

Sweet Onion Live 2014

Sweet Onion Live 2014

And as of right now, I’m blogging again! I’ve been keeping up with the other hobby blogs during my absence from the blogosphere, and I am constantly excited, inspired, and in awe of other hobbyists’ dedication to sharing their experiences. I know I wouldn’t be where I am today in the hobby without this generosity, and I want to be able to reciprocate. I may not be up to blogging as much as I did before my hiatus, but at least I’ll be posting again.

I particularly want to give a shout out to a couple specific people whose blogging has been inspirational to me over the last few months. To Jennifer Buxton, whose dedication to blogging and willingness to share is unparalleled. To Sarah Minkiewicz-Breunig, whose honest and heartfelt post about her depression and her hobby journey resonated with me deeply- and made me want to buy an OF Breyer. And finally to Grace Ledoux, whose awesome hobby blog I recently discovered, whose mini tack is amazing, and whose thankful note pushed me to finally write this.

Thank you everyone! I’m excited to be back.

thumbs up jump 1 copy

Official Hiatus

I haven’t blogged in almost a month. I’ve barely had time to work on horses, let alone blog about it. But I have some solid and exciting excuses!

December was a big month- I found a new, local barn to start riding at and my husband and I finally found a home to buy after a year of looking and five failed offers on condos and houses.

My new barn is a lovely hunter/jumper stable about 30 minutes away. It’s still a bit of a drive, but that’s what I get for city living :) I love the owner/trainer and have a great arrangement where I help teach lessons in exchange for ride time. It’s very nice to be riding more often. I’m also enjoying riding different horses, although I do miss Cochise. I need to go visit him soon…

napping pony

Our new home is a condo in downtown Portland in the heart of the most walkable neighborhood with amazing food and amenities all within walking distance. I told the husband we needed to factor a little extra into our monthly budget in fact.. there’s a Blick Art Materials kitty corner from our place!

The condo also has an amazing patio that you can’t believe is in the middle of the city. It’s a big open loft-style place like our current apartment, and it also has a cute little nook which will become my studio. We have grand plans for putting in a counter and cabinets for all my goodies.

On top of those big excitements, we had a friend visiting this month and I’m leaving imminently for a work trip. In fact, I’m sitting in the airport right now! I kept meaning to post and didn’t find the time until now.

I’ll be out of the country for a week and we move pretty much as soon as I get back. Because of this, I am going on an official blogging hiatus until life settles down a bit.

2014-01-19 12.36.32

Frances helps with the packing.

If you’re yearning for more active hobby writings, I highly recommend you check out Braymere Custom Saddlery. The indomitable Jennifer Buxton blogs every day! I doubt I’ll ever reach her level of awesomeness, but I promise I will return to blogging… when I get settled again!

 

Peaceful Pastelling

After what feels like months prepping (actually, I guess it was) I am finally starting to put color on my two resin commissions. The two resins are Justice by Kristina Lucas Francis (the drafter) and Stacey Tumlinson’s mini Majestuoso (the Spanish).

Both horses are artist’s choice colors and they are both going to be chestnut, although very different shades. Justice will be a flaxen chestnut tobiano and Maj will be a deep red chestnut with a hint of metallic shine. At least, that’s the plan!

I am also doing my fourth attempt at a palomino on Chryselephantasia. I did a palomino earlier this year who turned out lovely and was almost effortless… and now this. She is really making me work, but I think I’ve got things right this time.

yellow ponies

The above picture is from a week ago. Chrys was still getting her main body color, and the two resins are getting their yellow-tan undercoats. It was funny working on three yellow horses for a while there.

Since then the two resins have taken a turn toward orangey chestnut.

drafter 12-29-13

As I like to do at about this stage, I also added some basic acrylics so I can start visualizing the finished horse. I blocked in Justice’s tobiano pattern too, so I know where I need to keep going on the chestnut. He’s a bit overly orange right now, but I’m pretty confident in where he’s going.

Majestuoso has a longer way to go, since he’ll be a much darker chestnut.

Maj 12-29-13

Blocking in his dark mane and tail really shows just how far he still needs to go. I love how even just painting the eyes black suddenly brings the horses to life. This guy has a lot of layers left.

Chrys is getting closer and closer- she too got her hair and marking blocked in, and I took the tape off her hooves.

Chrys 12-29-13

At this point I’m only pastelling her greys, and fixing a few boo boos in her coat. Once that’s done, she’ll be getting her whites for real. I’m pleased with how soft her coat came out (finally!) and the super subtle dappling.

I’m so happy to be pastelling again! But I’d better keep up with sculpting and prepping too, so I’ll have a new herd ready for color when these guys are done. I’ve got at least two bays and two appaloosas coming up…

 

 

 

 

Cold Snap

I was really looking forward to getting home and enjoying some hobby time, but weather and life had other plans. We came home to a freakish cold spell- the coldest it’s been in Oregon in my lifetime. Since cold can wreak havoc on primer and fixative, I’m limited in what I can work on.

To add to that, I can home from California with a bad case of poison oak- so bad that my whole face swelled up and one eye was swollen shut! So my downtime pretty much involved lying on the couch icing my face. Luckily, I also got some steroids to take so I was feeling (and looking) better pretty quick.

I was jonesing for some hobby time in general, but I also wanted to get back to work on the portrait horse I’m making for my trainer. I base-coated him in acrylic and I decided to try doing a bit of pastel on him and see how the fixative behaved in our freezing temperatures.

Adding pastels

Adding pastels

I figured that if the fixative did go wonky, I would only need some sanding and another coat of acrylic to get him back. Luckily, the fixative worked pretty well, so I was able to make a lot of progress on this guy.

After a few layers in

After a few layers in

At first I made him a little too red, but I was able to back it out a little and I think I got the nice red bay I was going for. I did several layers of pastel over a weekend to get his body color where I wanted it, and I’ve been using my free time on weeknights to work on his acrylic details.

Working on his intricate blaze

Working on his intricate blaze

Ducky is a somewhat challenging horse to do a portrait of because he has a very intricate blaze, and even his leg markings have pretty unique edges. I’ve been doing a lot of layers followed by buffing.

Duckys blaze

The temperatures are still mostly below freezing, but they’re supposed to come back to the usual 40’s later this week. Even with my success (and/or luck) with fixative on Ducky, I don’t want to try doing primer, or spraying fixative on a grain-prone color like palomino. So those projects will have to wait.

Detailing his markings

Consulting my notes while working on details

But I’m sure glad I was able to make progress here! Hopefully I’ll be gifting this little Ducky next week.