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30 August 2013

Post Caviar... let the Spring commence

Ok.   So technically we are still 2 days away from the 1st day of Spring.  But that's beside the point.  Canberra, and it would appear the Eastern seaboard, is bathed in mild and warm weather.  20 degrees!!!  I am sitting have a cup of tea at Canberra Airport, flying my usual route to Melbourne.  

Today is the first day I have flown with my new camera bag.  And ok, I'm not sure in the plane yet, so I can't tell exactly how well it fits in the overhead locker, but it looks right.  I keep thinking I have left something behind, because strangely, I have only one bag.  I've rearranged it slightly, and I've put my 500mm in the bag without a camera body attached to it, and the bag is just long enough (which is what  hoped when reading the specs, as it's supposed to fit up to a 400mm f2.8 lens in it.  What I've left behind, somewhat grumpily and moodily, is my 300mm f2.8...  I know, I know, I can hear you saying to me "Bronnie, you won't use it, you can't bring everything", but that mutinous voice in my head wants to say "but I like having it with me.......".  But I took a deep breath, patted it sadly, and put it away, and it has stayed at home.  Am I trying to apply some logic, and save my poor sore neck a little bit as well??  We'll see..  I still haven't come up with a solution for my D4's battery charger yet though, as no one has responded to my pleas for help..  The bag has a cool front pocket though, which my sleek and thin MacBook slides into though, and that removes the need for an extra bag.  But I keep feeling as though I have forgotten something, and everytime I move, I glance around thinking "where's the other bag???"

My tea is nice.  I am still avoiding coffee, particularly after the weekend's effort to get home.  I've had a banana for breakfast, and will board in about 15 mins.

So, as we emerge from the winter gloom and cold, what does Spring mean to you?  Does it make you want to stretch, and lay in the warmth of the sun, on the fresh green grass?  While you talk in soft voices about what you will do for the day?  Does it remind you of the jangle of bits, of horses snorting and neighing, and prancing with a little bit more of a spring to their step, as they too feel the warmth of the sun as a welcome change on their back?  Does it bring back memories of the sounds and smells of horses?  And of their nostrils blowing out steam?  Do you remember laughing fondly at their still wooly coats, and unsightly winter clips that haven't grown out, and think impatiently that you still have to wait at least another month before their muzzles are sleek and dark again, and not coated in that fine, brown hair that they grow around their eyes and mouth, that changes their appearance so much?  Do you want to gently ask the strapper if you can take your clippers to their horses' beards, that for some reason they haven't thought to trim back, just saying that you want to see the beautiful shape of their horse's head?  

I think of all these things.  Not quite as acutely now, because I am back riding, and so have been getting far more regular horse 'fixes' for myself (and what girl doesn't need that???), but these are the things that Spring means to me.  It means I begin counting how many sleeps until the Cox Plate, and watching the papers, and groaning at times at the determined use of wide angle lenses on horses by unsuspecting photographers.  Will they ever learn?  Do you miss the horses, do you miss all that it means?  Do you breath in deep breaths of the freshly cut grass, and the warmth in the air, and the smell of blossoms?  And does it make you want your horse to turn into you, place it's head in your arm, and ask you to kiss it's eyelids?  

I feel all of these things.  And this Spring, I also ponder a life where constant air travel, and packing and unpacking becomes a thing of the past... I pause to remember So You Think, who won the Memsie 3 years ago.  I didn't see him last weekend, as getting to Coolmore proved impossible to fit in.  But I should be seeing him in September, as the details of my 5 day stallion shoots become clearer.

Atlantic Jewel.  Resumes tomorrow in the Memsie Stakes...

29 August 2013

Cross with myself...

I'm on the plane to Melbourne tomorrow for 2 days.  And am currently pacing my house in frustration and annoyance at myself (and at the fact that no one phoned me when it was discovered 20 mins after I checked out) because I've just discovered that I have left my D4's battery charger in Scone.  There are some that might reassure me that the battery having 2 bars left on it is ok, and I shouldn't be recharging it anyway yet, but I hate going into a Group 1 meeting with my camera not fully charged..  So I'm furious with myself.  It was the tiredness of Sunday that saw me leave it there.  Does it serve me right for sneaking a little top up charge to the battery, when this is supposed to be a no-no?  Can't ask, so I don't know....

I've put in a call to one of my mates at the paper, and he gave me the number of another paper photographer, and so I'm hoping that someone will be able to bring one along, but I couldn't raise him when I phoned.  Will 2 bars get me through the day?  I'm not sure.

I am also feeling moody, because Snips has gone out to the farm for a 'few' weeks, which means I can't ride him.  And having gotten into my riding so thoroughly, and following the breakthroughs I feel Snips and I have made over the past week, this is disheartening.  I've got a lesson booked with Grant on Monday, and I'll ride another of his horses, and that will be good for me.  But I miss Snips already.  He feels like this little bright light in my life at the moment.  I worked him yesterday, and got him beautifully round and finally bending around my left leg, and he really felt like he was between my legs and my hands.  His rhythm still needs work, and he can either want to rush off, or ignore my leg, but when we click, he's glorious.  I can feel him begin to swing through the back, and when he relaxes and finds his rhythm, sigh, he feels lovely.  He reminds how much I've missed riding regularly, and how much I love training a horse.

Tomorrow I'm looking at houses.  And then I'll call in and see Lyn before driving back into Melbourne itself.  We're hoping that we have time to jump on her horses in her arena, so I can get a feel for her boys.  She's busy painting, so may not have time, and I don't know how much time I'll have after the house hunting, but we're hoping we can have a play with the horses.  

In the meantime, I'm watching my DVD of The Horse Whisperer while packing my bags.  The film stars Robert Redford and a young Scarlett Johansson, and Kristin Scott Thomas, and it's based upon the story of Buck Brannaman.  It's beautifully shot.  And it has a great score, and beautiful, beautiful use of light and colour.
 "I didn't love her because it was right.  I just loved her".

I met Buck when I went to the Melbourne premiere of his documentary film "Buck", which screened at the Carlton Nova, in January 2012.  It was during a summer heat wave, and it was a roasting hot night.  When I walked out of the cinema that evening, it was still well over 30 degrees, and way too hot to go to bed.  I rattled on about the man, and the movie and his relationship and work with the horses, as I do when I get excited about horses.  It's a little habit of mine.  

And while I watch, I'm wrestling with the new camera bag yet again, and I have a little bit of tidying up to do before going to bed.  I'm not on the early bird plane, but the plane leaves at 8.30am, so I still have to get up reasonably early to get myself there in time.

Exceed and Excel..  He will be the Famous Sire of the Famous Baby.  The lovely Stuart McKay allowed me to play with him on Sunday morning.  I adore Stuart, and the farm itself.  It was a nice weekend.


Ok...  So I couldn't resist asking to play with the Golden Boy, Medaglia d'Oro either.  And  although Stuart frowned slightly at me, when I tilted my head and bit my nail in anticipation of him saying yes, he smiled, and agreed with me that his new Famous Pony Notepad was pretty good, he said yes to me.  I like it when they say yes.  Do you love this horse?  I love him.

28 August 2013

"The King" - Animal Kingdom arrives at Arrowfield Stud

He's here.  He likes peppermints.  He's tall.  Leggy.  Athletic.  And he's my "New Boy".  He's the American and world champion racehorse, Animal Kingdom.  I was so excited to meet him.  Is there a  little bit of Phar Lap to his looks?  I like to think so....  I fed him some peppermints.  It's important for a girl to bond with her horses.  And with me, I just can't help myself....  It was great to see the stallion staff.  Joe, the stallion manager, who's really ace, joked that he's been practicing "Pinkie's Song", to get ready for my arrival!
"For me, however, the horse that stirred the emotions and provided a moment in time that will be remembered for years to come isn’t even among the 15 Breeders’ Cup winners. He is Animal Kingdom, whose spectacular burst of speed to finish second in the Mile left me in awe of this horse’s ability and fortitude… Animal Kingdom was always destined for greatness".   Steve Haskin.  Blood-Horse.
"It is time to temporarily bid farewell to one of the most gifted and mentally tough Thoroughbreds I've ever been around.  Whatever he accomplishes from this point on, the name Animal Kingdom will always stir memories of a special horse who kept persevering and looking for new worlds to conquer".  Steve Haskin.  Blood-Horse.