Combate de Plebeyo
Combate de Plebeyo, a gray Paso Fino gelding, was nominated by his owner Judy, who mailed a photo with her form. One glance at this beautiful horse was all it took for me to know he'd be part of the project! His wonderful Spanish confirmation had me hooked!
It had been raining heavily the day before I arrived, and Judy's area had puddles at one end. Who know that the reflection in one of the puddles would end up framing Cambate as he splashed through the illusion of a diamond of fence rails!
Here's Judy's wonderful nomination of Combate:
"Come and meet Combate. With your artist's sensitivity, you will immediately sense what others have experienced. His is an extraordinary individual. Not only beautiful in his physicality; his presence has been a catalyst for change in many lives.
"Combate is an ambassador for his breed and for horsekind. He has caught fire to the imaginations and dreams of many children whom he has carried gently with a careful, intense, focused facial expression, emboldening them with his exquisite responsiveness to their tentative commands. He has been an initial remount for individuals traumatically injured in riding accidents, giving them the confidence and hope of returning to the enjoyment of horseback riding. Combate is the leader of choice in our large boarding barn, introducing other horses to the trail riding experience, utilizing his projection of powerfully calm confidence. . . . He even has groupies!
"He is sweet and bold, gently and powerful, accepting and challenging in response to whatever the humans around him need. His demeanor is confident, connected, real and present."
Judy and Combate de Plebeyo
"This horse is just plain cool. Long flowing mane and tail. Incredibly intelligent. Larger vocabulary than most humans. This boy literally reads my mind and always responds properly to any occasion. Our nickname for him is Hollywood cuz he knows when to turn it on. He hates when we don't take him on trailer trips. Gets very jealous if I ride another horse. Can put himself away in a stall without a lead or when our pasture gate was different he would open it and let himself back in the pasture. Which is across the street. Ride....BMW and a pickup truck. Go all day and then some. Loves to gait. Loves kids. He is gentle but only responds to me riding. Anyone else. He just bring them back to me. I think he adopted me." -- quoted from Bob, Fuego's owner
Bob and Fuego Del Sol
Fuego Del Sol, a Peruvian Paso Fino, had made the trailer trip to Beaver Creek! Not left behind this time for sure because that's where we were to meet to photograph him for the project!
Fuego projected calm beauty, and moved like a cloud floating across a clear blue sky. Bob is the president of the Guernsey County Ohio Horsemen's Council, a club that does a lot of trail riding. This horse is a trail rider's dream. (As a member of the Wayne County OHC, I trail ride when I can. I wonder if Bob would trade Fuego for my horse that has a special gait - I call it the Singer Sewing Machine gait. What do you say Bob?)
I was very moved by Gale's experience with how Dynamo has helped her through a terrible time in her life. Here's Gale's story:
"I have had horses my whole life, and have done all sorts of trail riding, some dressage, some jumping and have been owned by some very fun horses.
"My life came to a screeching halt 4 years ago when my 12 year old daughter passed away suddenly and without warning. There I was looking at her pony and my horses every day, but I could not get back on them. I sold most of them and kept my favorite. But still could not get back into the saddle. They kept me going, only because they needed me. Then I found Dynamo, a 4 year old Quarter Horse. She not only gave me the challenge I needed, but also in our very first show, in very good competition, helped me take second place in Western Pleasure. I have been riding ever since, and now she is going to give a foal in April. I know my daughter is watching, and is so happy I'm riding again."
Little Diva had joined by family by the end of last summer when I arrived to take photos. I think I would have named her Boomerang because she would dart away from her mother, Dynamo, and then fly back, take off again and return. She was on the go non-stop! That's why this painting if filled with action! You can see she's about to take off again!
Dynamo and little Diva with Gale
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Because Friesians are one of my very favorite breeds, I was excited that Michelle nominated her mare Alectra.
It was pure fun to photograph Alectra! Mane and tail flying she romped energetically around the arena, demonstrating the breed's renowned exaggerated movement and pure power and stunning beauty. What a horse!
Michelle explained in her nomination of Alectra that she's more than just beautiful. "Not only is my mare very beautiful, but she is very kind and has a big heart. I recently was injured in a horse related accident (not on Alectra) and my confidence has been a little shaky since then. Alectra however is taking care of me! I actually rode her about five days after I was hurt because I knew I needed to get back on and ride. I knew I could trust her to take care of me and give me my confidence back.... Even when I get all worked up she carries me like a pro. She is a wonderful mare and will be at my barn for the rest of her days!"
Alectra and Michelle
Black Tie Affair
A long-time favorite Ohio horse, Black Tie Affair doesn't need an introduction! It was a privilege to visit and photograph him with Jan, his owner.
Here's an excerpt from Jan's nomination of her gentle Half Arabian Pinto stallion:
"Black Tie is not only a world champion show horse, he is also a trick horse who has spent the past 12 years participating in children's educational programs. Through his tricks, he not only entertains children and adults alike, but also teaches them how to be kind to animals and that all of life's problems aren't solved in 30 minutes like they are on TV. He visits schools, libraries and anywhere else he's invited. He stands quietly between walkers and wheel chairs for pats from the elderly, and has been known to show city kids everything from his horse shoes to his teeth. He's been not only a show champion but also a true companion and friend."
When I visited I could tell Jan is attracted to Black Tie's black and white color scheme. It was delightful to see some of his offspring in the pasture next to the barn and even more fun to see the back pasture filled with black and white minis!
Jan had Black Tie demonstrate his repertoire of tricks for me! He is so talented. Below he is lying down for a picture!
Jan and Black Tie Affair
High Sierra and Chico
This gray thoroughbred gelding High Sierra was rescued from a likely fate of French cuisine, and, as Marlene explained on her nomination form, "a throw away commodity to someone, became to another a story of love, beauty and grace."
Here is her story:
"A woman sees this horse at a sale. He is a gray that is starved so thin and so scared -- like he is in shock. Through her love and compassion she saves him from the likely fate of the 'killer sale.'
"Seven months later I stop at this friend's place to see her horses and to just touch a horse again. It's been eight years since I had horses of my own. She wants me to take this gray thoroughbred...he's too tall...I'm too short... what do I know about thoroughbreds? What am I doing?
"He came with no papers. The racing tattoo in his lip is fading. He must have been through a lot. You can see it and you can feel it. He is always on guard like a wild horse. I've never had a horse like this.
"I call him High Sierra -- my beautiful one.
"His spirit may have been damaged and dampened, but it was not broken. When he could feel safe and allow himself to be loved, his true personality came forth--one of curiosity and playfulness. He seems to have a good command of the English language (amazing) or else he is an excellent telepath. He is a natural comedian. He can make me laugh so hard I cry. I wonder how much time we really have together. I wonder could we have ridden through time together. What is this connectedness....
"I call him High Sierra Spirit --my beautiful one"
Marlane and High Siera greet Chico and his person Connie
Rae and Michael lured me to their farm to photograph Hitchwave by including this sentence in the nomination. (I have it underlined on the copy I have in my Beautiful Horses of Ohio notebook.) "His mane currently reaches just about to his knees." Yes, I love long manes! And, although his mane was a bit shorter when I finally met him a year later, Hitchwave was a very unique horse! The words powerful and cute come to mind! (I hope Michael doesn't mind me calling his dressage mount cute, but I can't help it!)
Here's what they wrote about this cute Haflinger gelding:
"Hitch is a 7 year old registered haflinger who we have owned for the past 4 years. He is about 14.1 hands tall and has the most beautiful flaxen mane and tail. His mane currently reaches just about to his knees. [see] We have to keep it braided most of the time to prevent tangles. he also has the most beautiful eyes. They look as though he has brown eye liner around them. His personality also makes him so handsome and sweet. He thinks he is a big puppy dog. He acts as though he could just crawl in your lap."
He's just cuddly!
Hitchwave and Rae and Michael
Homer and Pepper
Homer's actual registered American Quarter Horse name is "Bionic Zip," and he was nominated by his teenage owner Hanna.
Whenever anyone asks how I narrowed down over 75 nominations to just 20 -- okay, 48 -- I have to tell them about Homer's nomination. I was down to the final few and had taken my stack of undecided ones to work with me. I had them in the lunchroom at the bank where I work and was agonizing over them. A coworker asked me how I ever decide who to include. I explained that it was totally based on what people wrote about their horses. He said he still couldn't figure out how I could tell by reading what people wrote which horses to choose. Hanna's nomination for Homer just happened to be on the top of the stack. I read her first sentence, laughed and read it aloud to my coworker:
"My horse Homer is the most beatiful hosre in Ohio."
Well, there you go! He has to be included!
Hanna continued " . . . In my eyes he is the most beautiful hosre in the whole world. To me he is the best horse because he is sweet, wins blue ribbons (sometimes), and he tries his very best at whatever you ask of him. Even though he may try to nibble, you just have to love his adorable face. Some people might say that horses don't have expressions, but I believe they do. I can tell when he is happy, proud, angry and mad, just through his facial expressions.
" I just know when I walk into the barn and look at his beautiful face it's going to be a wonderful day."
Homer and Hanna
Mister Mighty Looking
Mister Mighty Looking lives next door to my horses (and me)! He's a beautiful paint stallion -- whoops -- was up until last spring! Sorry, ladies, he's a gelding now. And is my neighbor Sammy's dream horse. She loves paints and has always wanted her own gorgeous paint to trail ride and show. Now she has him!
During the summer of 2006, Sammy could not understand why I would travel all over Ohio photographing horses when I had such a beautiful one right next door!
(Besides, Sammy is the person we call to take care of our horses when we travel, so she puts up a real good argument for including her horse in the project!)
Mister Mighty Looking looks mighty good in his painting!
Mister Mighty Looking and Sammy
What equine artist wouldn't love to paint a Gypsy Vanner? One of the showiest horse breed around, Gypsy Vanners are always one of my favorite breeds to visit at Equine Affaire. It was a real treat to get to photograph and paint Romany King, who, in my eyes, is the perfect example of the breed.
Barb, his owner, nominated him for the Beautiful Horses of Ohio project. She wrote, "Romany King is what every little girl dreams of in a horse. His mane is only a few inches from the ground; he is stunning black and white; he has tons of heavy feathers on his legs that flow. His temperament is that of a puppy. He draws a crowd wherever he goes."
She's right. I got to photograph him at the Equine Affaire 2007, and he definitely drew a crowd! We all had our cameras out and were taking tons of photos of this stunning horse!
If you'd like to find out more about Romany King, visit his website at: http://www.gypsyvanners.com.
Romany King and Barb
Tucker, AKA Mitos Nip N Tuck, is an AQHA buckskin stallion that is absolutely beautiful. He glistens like polished bronze in the sunshine. Yes, there is a glare! He is just amazing - both in color and confirmation. He's one of the most beautiful stallions I've ever seen -- from any breed.
His owner Paula wrote, "Tucker exemplifies a beautiful quarter horse. He is a very intuitive animal; his eyes are deep and windows to his soul. He has exceptional conformation and color. He is a gentle, powerful, proud horse."
Tucker and Paula
While we were visiting, Paula offered to let me get some photos of Tucker in their clear blue pond. She waded in and he carefully followed.
Zippin On Scotch, Carrie's Quarter Horse mare, was nominated by Carrie's mother, Darlene. Darlene wrote, "I am submitting this for my daughter because she knows how pretty [her mare is] but she would feel like she was bragging! . . . We showed quarter horses for years and years. Carrie was the top rider in the nation, won at the Congress, etc. So I do know a pretty horse when I see one!"
That sounded pretty spunky to me. Of course I had to meet Zippin On Scotch!
When I arrived, I found out that Carrie nicknamed her mare "Princess." Princess had her pretty, pastel pink halter on and looked like a princess... until we were out together in the shade-filled pasture and "Princess" seemed to be continually racing right at me! She was really Zippin, that's for sure! This horse was as spunky as Carrie's mom, Darlene! I decide her painting should be "hot" like she is! So Zippin On Scotch's painting is composed of pink, orange, red and red-violet colors to portray her lively spirit.
Carrie and Zippin on Scotch
Petunia is a delicate Morgan mare. When we met, Alex, her owner, was getting ready to take her to Columbus to compete in the state-wide 4-H competition. His mother, Tawni, was telling me all of Petunia's talents - everything from contesting, jumping, rodeo competition, hunter hack. To tell you the truth, I lost track of all the amazing things Petunia is able to do! She is delicate in appearance only!
Here's what Tawni wrote for Petunia's nomination:
"Petunia is a gift from God to my young son. He was 9 at the time. His horse was dying, and we got a call about a horse that had not been ridden in years. Her mother had died in birth and she was a loner, never bonded with anyone. I could not afford to replace his horse at that time due to high vet bills.. The owner called and insisted that Alex look at this horse. (They had been former 4-H members and had learned about our situation.)
"Alex and Petunia bonded instantly! When the owners saw how the two of them bonded and the way he rode and handled her, especially for such a young boy, they gave her to him.
"To this day she waits for him to get off the bus and walks down the lane with him.
"She is black with a mane that goes down past her shoulders and a great Morgan body build with a small shapely head and incredibly expressive eyes."
Alex and Petunia
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