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Entries in Myopia (4)


The Fox and the Hounds

Confession time...I've lived in my town for 23 years and in the next town over for 22 years before moving to Wenham.  That makes 45 years of being in this community and never once, before this year, have I attended the Myopia Fox and Hound Hunt on Thanksgiving day, until this year.  As a neighbor one would have thought I would have gone, but as a photographer I really should have been there much sooner.  

It was a cold, crisp day, sunless this year.  Yes, we had to park a little bit away from the field and oh yes, we had to climb over one of the stone walls, that line the country roads here in our area, before entering and climbing a hill to the field to emerg at the part of Appleton Farms where this most elegant of events was taking place. As we came upon the rise of the hill we were greeted by so many lovely horses, manes in braids and being held quite nicely by their riders. Then the elders in their red riding jackets and velvet helmets met us and the contrast between the bright red and the late fall colors was astonishing. A picture perfect moment. Of course, you know the best was being ups so close to the hound well behaved by their handler and just waiting for the sense of smell that would take them flying over the fields and stone walls, hoping for a victory with that fox.  Alas, that would not happen as here in Hamilton, there is no longer a fox leading the way...but a scent is planted and they blindly run still chasing the scent and of course, barking like crazy all the way.

So this year, I just took it all in...snapped away and never knew how cold I really was until we started walking back across the field.  What I did know though is that I wanted to share a few shots with all of you. It's an unusual event for those of you who don't live in horse country so please come along for the ride with me.  Liam took lessons at Myopia for 3 years and Jaxson will start next year.  I would love if one day they would ride in this event...maybe after they see the photo's, they will give it a try.  

The open field...that one arrives at after going over the stone wall..The riders and horses just milling with the crowd for about 30 minutes before the hunt starts.  The horses are friendly and you are encouraged to pat them and take photo's if you like.  

There were some awards being given out.  Some members were being given their colors but I don't know what that means yet...The three riders on horses here make sure the hounds stay where they belong and the Master of the hounds was giving them little treats...

Very beautiful Hounds and so well behaved.  I think they have a very good existence down at the Myopia club.  They have their own house and a huge yard.  When Liam was having a lesson I would go over and visit them but then they would start barking like crazy so I never got close.  I didn't want to get the boot from the care-taker.

The Master of the Hounds getting the dogs to come into formation as they are starting to get ready for the Hunt...which, by the way, is a two and a half hour romp through the woods.

I have no idea who these gentlemen are but I do think they have some importance because of their attire. Perhaps they were former Masters of the hounds...I'll find out next time I go to Myopia...but I do think they look quite elegant and a bit British in their red jackets with the brass buttons.

There are two groups of riders...the jumpers and the non-jumpers.  These young ones are part of the group that are non-jumpers and they ride behind the jumpers...keeping some distance.  Perhaps more for show. I'm not sure.  This group was mostly young girls and boys but obviously have been riding for a long time...very lovely to watch and I love how they have braided their horses also.

The Master and the Hounds..are in position to lead the hunt..several of the dogs are trying to pick up the scent.

They are off and took me quite by surprise how fast they were going. It was hard to keep up with them when they rounded the corner. 

This is part of the route and when the riders get to this low fence they have to, of course, jump it...which the Master did quite well here, immediately after this jump is a very narrow foot path and then a higher fence that needs to be jumped.  I have to tell you it was very exciting...

Up and over beautiful to watch...

Last in the line of jumpers...and as hard as the rider tried...this big guy said no thank you to that jump..first time galloping right up to the fence and a quick stop.  She circled him around twice more but he was not having any part of that off they trotted into the woods...

It was a wonderful morning.  We left right after the jumper above.  By that time it was getting colder and the threat of rain was very real.  There was so much more that I could have posted.  So much more I need to learn.  So much more investigating to do.  I can say though, for sure, that this will be become a Thanksgiving tradition for Jim and I and hopefully the boys in the years to follow.  I learned a lot about my town, and about a group of people that I knew very little about.  The horses I'm more familiar with because I do spend time shooting at Myopia, especially when I take the boys there.  I'v also learned about dress code, tailgating code and where the best viewing spot is for that.  I've learned I better be faster with my settings when those horses and dogs come flying by and I've also learned to bring gloves and a hat next year.  The most important lesson for me though, was to learn it's o.k. to go...just go.  People will come, dinner will be served and clean up will happen.  The day won't fall apart because we take several hours for ourselves, doing something we love that really is a gift to us from our town. How lovely of those who participate and dress and regale us with the great outdoors and majestic animals. Flying through the woods in a place that we get to call Home...

"Hunting is our music, it is our poetry, it is our art, it is our pleasure. It is where many of our best friendships are made, it is our community. It is our whole way of life. "

To learn more about the art of the Fox and Hounds...please feel free to visit this web-page.  It's a lovely page...for photographers in New England.



Cowboy or Polo Player in Training

I live my life by my lists.  Most days I know what I should be doing all week but even then, on a daily basis, I will write a list. It helps to physically write it and it also feels lovely to cross things off my list as I complete a task.  Some days though, in the process of working down the list, I will come across something on it that leads me astray.  That is what happened today..and so the day passed without completing my list.  What I did accomplish though was so much more fun and hopefully it will someday be a special memory for this little guy that I love so much.

On my list for today was to download all my waiting cf cards from camera to computer.  Well I made a good start but that was about it..first card in was of Liam yesterday at his riding lesson.  I just watched those photo's loading and they were so precious I had to play with them.  With him being sick a few weeks back and me being away he has missed 4 weeks of riding lessons so yesterday he was very excited to see and ride his Penny.  We went prepared with carrots for treats when the lesson was over and I swear this boy had a smile the entire time we were there.  It was very nice for him to be amongst his furry friends and it was so wonderful for me to see him in his element of joy.  Because I had so much fun playing today I thought I would share his day with all of hopes it brings a tiny smile to your faces also..

Before Liam can ride his horse he has to brush her with 3 different kinds of brushes...He knows them all now and what brush to use when...then he has to help get her saddle, blanket, halter and's more work than I would be willing to the end of his riding lesson, he has to repeat the brushing and returning of her gear.

Once Penny is ready Liam takes the reins and because it's still cold here he walks her from the barn to an inside rink where he gets to ride her.  Pretty cute to watch them go along...

 Off they go..Penny is a good follower and Liam is a great leader..not an ounce of fear in either one of them..

Time to ride..Liam's favorite part of course...He stands on the mounting block and now knows how to put his foot in the stir-up and hop over.  In just four months he's learned so much.  This is where his face really lights up..when that horse trots, he's in heaven..and I get the biggest kick out of him..I wonder already if this will be something that Jaxson loves also..

 Today was a good day...he did his first very small jump and trotted several times...trotting is his favorite thing to the end he learns to put his leg over and slide down the horse, with help of was a very good day for Liam and now he walks Penny back to the barn...brushes her and then like all of the end of a task, we like a treat...Penny gets her carrot..but Liam being Liam..he brings  carrots for his two other favorite horses so off we go to feed his friends...

Liam leaves the barn with a spring in his step..feeling good about his time spent here at Myopia.  Who knows how long he will love the company of horses but for now it makes him happy and the horses seem to like him to...I do believe they know a kindred soul and Liam is that for sure...

So you know that list I started today and never finished.  It will be there tomorrow and perhaps I'll add a few more things to it and make some progress.  What I do know is that yesterday and today are the things that give real meaning to my life...and these "little boy" days are as long as I can...I'll keep trotting along behind these guys...just like Penny does.



Look What Liam Got For His Birthday

From Nana and Papa......O.K you can calm down, we did not buy him this pony but what we are doing is giving him riding lessons.  Can I say Love right here...his love of horses is so evident and I'm living my love of horses through him...When he is at Myopia for his lesson, he has a smile a mile wide..I'm so proud of how he is doing and what he is learning..but what I really want to know is, how did this happen to my boy so fast...

Birthday's are a unique experience for me...any time one of my kids has a birthday I spend the day reflecting on their growth and accomplishments and particularly on how fast time moves.  Kids define the measure of time. With Liam, it seems I waited forever for him to come to us..I've been waiting longer than he had even been a thought to his parents..And then on November 13 in 2009 he arrived.  So much joy. So much thankfulness and most especially, so much love.  He was worth the wait.  Now I am pondering the miracle of four years passing..from this photo that photo did time move so quickly..No longer a baby but now a little boy.  He has ideas of his own and speaks freely about them..he knows what he likes and what he doesn't.  He is good and loving, although sometimes he finds this a bit difficult with his brother as he is becoming more mobile.  Four years old today...and he is still quite amazing to his Papa and Nana..

His love of horses began to appear last year when we were at a Halloween event...they had horses there that went around and around in a circle...tied to a moving pole..Liam marched right up, and got on the biggest one he could find and road around that circle for 4 trips.  We live in an area that is full of horses and we often stop to pet them and talk to them...This summer Liam and I went to our first Polo match together and that sealed the deal for him...I asked around and found out quite by accident that Myopia Hunt Club gave private lessons and so a seed was planted in my head...His Birthday Gift...I was so excited when they told me that they would take him at this young age...and I feel good to know that he is learning from the best and the safest.  And can I say clean, clean, clean stables...I had looked at many before this...not so good.

So Happy Birthday my little love bug...thanks for taking Nana on your journey these past four have taught me so to listen, how to learn, the importance of patience.  You've taught me how to play cars, and how to dress fur babies.  I've learned about bugs and poop and super hero's from you.  You make me laugh and walking with you in conversation is one of my greatest pleasures, holding hands is another gift you give..I especially love that you like to take photo's with my G-10, which you tell me now is yours. Tea time is always special with you, here and at the Wenham Tea House. You've also taught me the joy of giving beyond anything I had ever know...and the sweetest words I hear...that I carry with me each day, is when you spontaneously say..."I love you Nana" to win me over...So win me over you did with your love of horses...enjoy the ride Liam...just like I'm enjoying mine with you....

Before Liam can go riding he has to take care of his horse..Penny...First he gets his brush basket and he knows all the names of the brushes.  Then he has to brush Penny.  Penny loves this part.   

 Next comes cleaning Penny's feet...Liam likes doing this..He scapes out all the sawdust and his instructor told him it looks like a frog in there..He does a great job with the tool.


After all the brushing and cleaning of Penny's comes the blanket and then the saddle...Liam struggles with this...that saddle is pretty heavy, but he carries it to Penny and then gets help tossing it over the horses back...always with a smile.


He has to learn to keep the saddle on and so he gets some help with the buckles...he's pretty good at getting it done up and then of course there is an adjustment made for him.

Then comes Liam's favorite job of getting Penny ready to ride...putting in the bit.   He knows all the words and of the equipment and he knows where they all hang in the barn because when the ride is over he has to reverse all that he has done here and brush Penny again...before leading her back into her stall.

 The time that he most enjoys...riding.  Getting in the ring and learning how to tell Penny what he wants her to do..I am amazed that he is riding English instead of much harder to me but I think, in the end, he will be a better rider because of here he Little Guy..riding like the wind...well not yet, but for sure someday.

It is a lot for a little boy to take in.  It is more work than riding at this point but he does love it so far..and at the end of the riding, it is time to take Penny back inside the stable and clean her up and put her away...Liam happily walks her back...

A beautiful day at the Stables...for Liam and Penny...becoming best friends.



The smell of hay and the stable hound,
The clatter of hooves on the tarmac ground.
The creak of leather supple in the loft,
The neigh of contentment,
The whinning of fright,
The variety of weight, cob, heavy or light,
The colour of horses,
Chestnut , white, black, or bay,
The turning out of ponies after along hard day,
The munching of food, barely, bran, hay and oats,
The pricking ears and the shinning coats,
The sucking of water from the trough so cool,
All these things you find in a RIDING SCHOOL.


Hanging Out....

At the Polo Field...

I have lived in my town for more than 30 years and I have never been to a Polo match until yesterday...I wish I had gone was such a fun event.  I learned a lot about the sport and I learned that it is not only for the rich and famous.  It's for regular folks like me.   Next time though I must remember to bring my own chair and I was very excited to learn you could bring wine and beer...It might have been my first event but it won't be my last...bring on the sunshine and horses...nothing like the smell of fresh horse...crap...

This girl was my favorite...she was so fast and she had no fear...Polo was described to me as being like soccer but with no goalie...they have to get the ball in the net with their mallet..and when they whack that ball they sometimes tear up the grass.  At half time all of the spectators go out on the field and stamp down the divots

Two teams...I don't know who was playing yesterday but I liked the white had two girls on it...a man told me that most of the Polo Ponies were female and when I asked why he said "because they were willing to take more isn't that the truth.  By the way, although they are called Polo Ponies they are not pony's at all...full size horses but very fast and agile...

Ah, the famous butt braid..and do you know why they braid their tail..well if you do, you know more than I did. I thought it was just for know to make them look pretty..not so.  They braid them so that when they swing that mallet it doesn't get tangled in the tail that makes sense to me...I love how strong and tight their little butts are...actually they are quite big...I have the big part, just not the tight part...very beautiful animals...and so well taken care of.

 Last but not to be left out is my "best buddy Liam...he just loves the horses and it was such a treat for him to move amongst them yesterday and to pat a few..The handlers were great about letting the kids get close and personal. As much as Liam loves the horses...the ice cream truck was a bigger lure.  That boy does like a great ice cream cone and as for me...I just love sound of the "bell".  Not much different than when I was a kid...course then you could get a drum stick for 50 cents...yesterday it cost me $3.00.  It was worth every penny to see the smile on his face.

We had such a great time.  My friend Mary joined us also and it was a wonderful experience for all of us...If you would like to know more about Polo, you can follow the link below...I'm hoping to get there one more time before the season is over. Sometimes we just need to get out there and take advantage of what our own towns have available...I'm so glad I finally investigated this wonderful, regal sport. 

Quick side-bar note...these photo's are not my best for sure.   I could not for the life of me get my camera to auto focus on the spurt mode was a lens that I had used before so I was worried that something had gone wrong with it...A Canon 70-300 L series.  All of these shot were focused manually and that is not easy when horses are flying by.  Called B&H today...come to find card was to slow...well guess, what, I was shooting raw, large files and full frame 5D Mark111.   The guy told me it was like driving a Ferrari with volkswagon parts...who that is one disadvantage to shooting raw...or I could have put in my new 32 gig card super fast card.   On spurt I think jpeg would be fine...I was so frustrated...LOL   Lessons learned.  At least I wasn't on a safari...trying to shot run-a-way that really would have been a bummer.