Thursday, August 20, 2015

AKF Project: BJ

BJ isn't my favorite horse, not even close. The first time I rode him I thought he was too slow and I hated him. He was a pain to bridle, still is, and he loved to spook for no reason. He didn't spook bad and wasn't dangerous it was just annoying because he'd purposely stop and walk off the rail or trot off and then realize he spooked at nothing. Ugh. Run-on sentence. But BJ is a clown. He didn't do anything important for me, I rode him a lot and in a show or two, but really I just like him for being a goofball.
 He is a national show horse who is was a show horse turned lesson horse. He was painted on this mold because he stands in the cross ties and begs for food just like this mold. He is a truly goofy horse. He eats leather, sticks his tongue out at you, and on occasion licks you. However BJ and I have basically decided at this point that we aren't going to get along anymore. When I tried to ride him after my accident I was still scared of horses and would get very anxious. That's a non no around horses and he took total advantage of that. His bad behaviors got worse to the point where he came
down and bit me on the top of my head for no reason. Oh well, a little girl absolutely loves him and he loves her, so there's someone for everybody.

Even though I'm not fond of real BJ I quite like his model. I love the highlights in his mane and his 
muzzle shading. His hooves came out nice too, an area that I struggle in. I think this model just has character like the real horse. I also love his goofy little snowball on his side that is a real marking on BJ. He's always had it and it's not a brand or anything. The only other customization made to this horse besides the paint job was that I filled his brand in with apoxie and sanded it smooth. I like this mold better brand less, but he's the only one I have. I've never been a huge fan of the brands so I might fill them in on future models.

I believe that I hinted that after Phoenix I found an amazing horse who filled his place and became all that Phoenix was and more. Well his name is Boomer and he will get his post next.

AKF Project: Phoenix

Even though while I had been riding Bonnie I had ridden Phoenix a few times, I didn't start to love Phoenix until after Bonnie was gone. Phoenix was a beautiful arabian gelding and was the sweetest horse I've ever met. He was also the reason that I kept riding, his love and gentle nature showed me that all horses have a sweet side.
 When I would walk down the barn aisle to greet Phoenix and tack him up he would always go to the door and wait for me. He would nuzzle me and be very patient as I groomed and tacked him up. During the freezing winter months he let me hang onto him and his fluffy, bay coat. He was always so warm and loving.
 When I rode him he wasn't always perfect, he got heavy in the bit, he was deathly afraid of squirrels, he blew up his girth so much that often you had to walk him in the arena without a saddle then put it on and surprise cinch it up. So yes, my perfect horse had his issues. But one thing he did perfectly was his auto-pilot. If you're one of those strict riders who thinks every thing someone does with a horse needs to be perfect and from a rule book, I'm gonna suggest that you skip to the next paragraph. When I started riding the ring used to be full of eight to ten horses, which was packed for a standard sized dressage arena. It has walls and is indoors but the measurements are the same as a dressage arena. Anyways, I would be asked to canter and I would be scared of which way to turn and how to dodge people that I let Phoenix turn and steer. Wise, probably not, but he took care of me and that's what's important.
 I rode Phoenix in a few shows as well and remember placing in the ribbons. My time with Pheonix was cut short, however. He pulled a tendon and the barn said he could never be ridden. So they decided to retire him and send him to a "retirement barn." I was convinced this meant he was dead. Luckily this story isn't too tragic as through a lot of people I finally found out that the barn wouldn't pay for his vet care so they sold him and another family bought him, fixed him, and now he shows in Indiana. I feel better knowing he's alive but I'd still love to see him again and tell him what a good boy he is. I want to pet his fluffy coat again.
 There are times I wish I could've had Phoenix, when I had a bad day, when I needed a friend that could just listen and not talk back, after my accident last summer, and many more times. But I did have another horse there to help, listen, and guide. But that's a story for another blog post.
 To bring Phoenix back I painted him in acrylics with lots of layers, His eyes are glossed, like all my customs, and he had his markings painted in several layers of white. While all the pictures I have of Phoenix show that he's a red-bay I never remembered him being that way. He is a darker, richer brown because this is the fluffy, winter coat Phoenix I loved so much.
My next post will feature a horse that is always around and is more of a clown than a horse.

Tuesday, August 18, 2015

AKF Project: Bonnie

When I was just starting out, I had a different horse most lessons. It alternated between Fancy and Penny. Penny was another excellent mare who died of cancer shortly after I started riding, about six months in I believe. After Penny passed I rode Bonnie. Penny was that horse every one learned to canter on, but I didn't get the opportunity. So I got to ride Bonnie. We had our differences at first but soon we developed a great relationship. Bonnie was a middle-aged arabian mare who was pretty nice to the kids.
 I remember when I tried to canter the first time, the ring was packed and I was so nervous. Bonnie didm't pick up her canter which scared me. Remember, I was only eight! Finally we picked up a few strides before my trainer said enough was enough.
 The next lesson I achieved a good canter on her and remember how much I enjoyed the gait. I rode Bonnie in a show that spring and we got a first place as well, but I was the only the one in my class.
 Bonnie was a one of a kind mare, she was the type that didn't argue or get mad when you made a mistake. She was very sweet and even had a few foals. I didn't learn about her foals until later but it didn't surprise me, Bonnie was very motherly. One of her foals, Gunner, still lives at AKF and is a goofy horse. He is always a pleasure to visit.
 Sadly on December 26, 2010, Bonnie passed away from colic. I was heart broken, this horse was amazing to me. I remember crying for a week because she was dead. I still miss Bonnie to this day and think of her a lot. I remember a lot of things about her, like how hard she was to bridle and that she had a little bit of sass to her.
 To bring her model to life was no easy task, she was a very dark black bay. In person you can see the model's subtle highlights and I added streaks of brown to her hair. While Bonnie didn't really have more color in her mane than black, I wanted to paint her the way I want to remember her. She took lots of layers and shading to get her perfect. I really think she is a true representation of the wonderful arabian mare I love.
After Bonnie's passing I went on to ride one of the most important horses ever, to be continued...

Sunday, August 16, 2015

AKF Project: Fancy

We'll start with Fancy since she was the first horse I met in the lesson program. At my barn you have to have to be 8 to start lessons and they used to make you take an introductory course called the Park District Class that taught you everything about horses before you started lessons. I met horses through there, including Fancy (and a few others who didn't get their own customs.) Once the last session was finished you could sign up for lessons and start riding. My first lesson was the next weekend and I was so excited to start. When I found out I was riding Fancy, a paint horse mare, I was so happy. Fancy was young at the time, so was I, and she had lots of tricks. She was a good mare but a sneaky one.
 As I walked her out of her stall she pulled me over to the grain bin and I yanked on her lead rope, close to tears. It was embarrassing for a little kid, but Fancy took one look at me and sighed as only a horse can. She straightened up and walked herself to the cross ties and gave me the, "Ok kid. I'll behave," look.
 From there I grew as a rider and learned the ins and outs of riding. I started my lessons in November and in the spring of that year I rode in my first show. I got to ride Coco and Fancy and in my very class I rode Fancy and placed first. I didn't expect it, and I did ride against some older kids. It was amazing to win and I didn't even care when Coco wouldn't trot and I lost my second class.
 I rode Fancy in my lessons every once in a while but eventually I moved on to some other horses. In 2011, I think, Fancy got very depressed. That's when my friend Cece bought Fancy. They're perfect for each other even though when she was first sold I was upset. I had always wanted to buy Fancy in my perfect fantasy world.
 Fancy still resides at AKF and Cece still owns her. She's in her twenties now and is becoming an accomplished horse in dressage. She's still one of my favorite horses to visit. I'm friends with Cece now and she's also helped me become a well rounded equestrian, all because of Fancy.
Fancy was pretty easy to customize, she is my third Lady Phase which makes it an official conga. Interestingly enough I only have bay pintos on the LP mold. Fancy's model captures her easy-going nature and her little sassy attitude. I really enjoyed painting her and having a little Fancy to keep forever.

The next post will chronicle the horse I rode after Fancy...

Thursday, August 13, 2015

The AKF Project

These lovely customs are portraits of the most important horses in my lives. When they came into my life they each taught me something important. I'm going to give each model it's own post but for now here is a before and after picture:
And the winner of the long forgotten Caption This contest is Horse Tender Studios! I loved all of them but this comment described the true character of the horse. More for later!

Friday, August 7, 2015

The UK Classic

This is photostory that CWS (Cedar Wood Stables) and I have been collaborating on. It features our two stables, TBF and CWS competing in the UK, in the UK Classic! Hope you enjoy!
Cedar Wood Stables:
Ashleigh, Brooke, and Mrs Sheppard had travelled with their three horses, Harley, Chess and Athas to the UK for the very exciting UK Classic. Ashleigh was definitely the most nervous of the three, as this was her first major showjumoing competition, but she trusted that Harley would get them through the Novice Showjumping course. She tried to swallow her nerves and gave Harley a good groom, before Mrs Sheppard came over and gave her a pep talk. "Just do you best, Ashleigh, that's all I want from you! Oh, and don't forget to have fun too!" Ashleigh was called into the arena to start her round, and took a deep breath before she pressed Harley into a smooth canter. The pair jumped everything beautifully, and even took the most challenging course, the wall, with natural style. 
 Ashleigh gave Harley a slappy pat on the neck as they excited the arena, and smiled at the next girl waiting to go in for the Novice Showjumping class.
Trail Blazer Farms

When Mia and Jake arrived in the UK they hurried to the show grounds and set up. Mia was a bit nervous about such a large show but Jake reassured her. "It's no different than being at home. Don't worry. You and Gypsy will do great!" 

  Mia rode Gypsy Leader to a wonderful first place! Gypsy had a lot of faith in Mia and handled the jumps perfectly. Mia smiled happily as she was handed the beautiful silky rosette and silver trophy. As soon as the awards ceremony was finished, Ashleigh ran over with her 4th place trophy and gave Mia a hug. They walked back to TBF's trailer and had a nice packed lunch while they swapped stories of funny riding experiences. Ashleigh and Mia tied up their horses and walked over to watch the Showjumpin, which Jake and Brooke were competing head-to-head in.
Cedar Wood Stables
Brooke nervously walked Chess into the arena for her showjumping class. She had seen the rider, Jake from Trail Blazer Farms compete just moments before her, and it had set her stomach in knots. Jake's horse, American War Hero, had knocked down several jumps and reared and bucked throughout his whole round, and she was worried that Chess, her high-strung black thoroughbred would act the same. Luckily he didn't and they only had a few spooky moments, and he pulled through to get the pair 3rd place!
Trail Blazer Farms
Jake patted American War Hero's neck comfortingly as the stallion pranced on the spot. It was their turn very soon, and the stallion could sense the tension in the air. The bell rung, and the pair quickly cantered into the arena. Jake tried his best to get the stallion under control, but American War Hero reared at the first jump, and scattered the red and white poles.
The rest of the course went the same way, and it earned them 5th place, the last in their class.
Cedar Wood Stables
Mrs Sheppard anxiously held the reins of the feisty young stallion, Athas. The bell for the Young Horse Cross Country class would sound any moment, and the Gypsy Vanner was wound as right as a coiled spring.  The British green hills rolled in the horizon, and the grassy area in font of her was scattered with difficult XC jumps. Mrs Sheppard was a seasoned competitor, and this was her home country, but this would be Athas's first competition. The bell rang, and the galloped towards the first jump. Surprisingly the course was going very well, until they reached the last jump. Athas did an almighty buck, and Mrs Sheppard sailed over his head and into a ditch. His bridle was still in her hands, Mrs Sheppard realised it must have come off when he bucked. It was too late to stop him though,and he wheeled around and tore across the field back to the starting box!  
Trail Blazer Farms and Cedar Wood Stables
All the riders from both stables walked over to TBF's truck to have a chat and some well-deserved drinks. Everyone swapped contact details and promised to keep in touch, and their horses nickered at each other. Everything was going along fine until Athas decided to challenge American War Hero. The two stallions broke free from their tethers and rose up on their hind legs. A red-faced Jake and Mrs Sheppard pulled the horses away from each other and everyone started to get their horses ready for the long flight home.
Hope you enjoyed this photo story!