Equine Photography Skills

  If you have not noticed already, I am a huge fan of equine photography. I can spend hours looking at pictures and I try to share some of my favourites in my posts when they are relevant to the topic. If you're like me and you can't get enough of good horse pictures, this post is for you.

  With the ever gaining popularity of social media, sites like Tumblr, Pinterest and Instagram encourages people to develop their photography skills. The camera quality on cell phones have increased, but let's be honest, there's just something about a good camera. I'm also not talking about a simple point and shoot, but an expensive interchangeable lenses type of camera.

  The more you learn how these cameras, the more you realise how much you can do with them. You might still have to edit them when you get home, but there's just something to be said about the quality.

  So do you have any equine photography skills?

Hickstead Statue at Spruce Meadows

Picture taken by me

  I'm not going to pretend like I am an expert in all things photography, because I'm not. I don't have a Canon or a Nikon SLR camera. I have an Olympus Pen E-PL1 camera. It's a middle of the road camera found between the point and shoots and the SLR's. The lenses are interchangeable and you can change things like the shutter speed and aperture all while being simple and relatively small. If nothing of what I just said made sense to you, my camera is a "beginner professional camera" so to speak. It allows me to learn how to change the settings to get different looks so that I am comfortable with its functions before spending more money on a better one.

  If you saw the pictures from my post called My Equine Visit, that was my first time ever taking pictures of a horse jumping. They're pretty good considering, but I learnt that I need a telephoto lense so that I can get a more clear picture without having to crop and zoom in (that ruins its quality). If you don't believe me, compare my picture with my friend's picture (who has a SLR) of Reed Kessler on Cylana jumping the same jump. Keep in mind mine is edited and her's isn't.

Picture taken by me

Picture taken by my friend

  If you're like me and you enjoy looking and taking equine pictures, you're in luck! I was looking at my Horsetalk.co.nz email today and learnt that FEI and Action Images are holding a photography competition. You can read Horsetalk's article here. It's open to anyone of any age. There are 9 different categories to enter in, so you have 9 chances to win:

"-A master class photo-shoot with a top Action Images/ Reuters Photographer at an FEI event in his or her country

-Winning works will be exhibited at the FEI Pavilion – a contemporary exhibition area at the forthcoming Alltech FEI World Equestrian Games™ in Normandy, France & the FEI General Assembly 2014.

-All winning images will be published in an Official FEI Photographic Book & FEI Focus Magazine in 2014

-All winners will receive a personalised FEI Solidarity Photographic Award Winner – Samsung tablet and personalised leather photography portfolio"

  Pretty cool huh? But wait there's more, you also have the chance to be FEI's Photographer of the Year! From the category winners, an overall winner will be awarded this title. What will you get?: 

"They will be flown to the Alltech FEI World Equestrian Games™ in Normandy, France in August/Sept 2014 for a Photo Master class with a top Action Images/Reuters Photographer and a photographic commission at one of the events."

  If you want to learn more about this or to enter the contest, you can visit the website here. For all of you who are fans of Instagram, you can enter by using the hashtag #FEIPhotoGrandPrix. It's that easy!

  I wish you all the best of luck if you're going to enter and thank you for reading Pure Horse Sense.

  Until next time, happy riding!

This post was not sponsored by FEI or Action Images in any way. Their contest simply inspired the topic of this post.

Common Mistakes: Tack

  This week is going to be the start of a new series of blog posts called Common Mistakes. These posts will be talking about some of the common mistakes that most of us do without really thinking about it. These are little things that we can do to help out our horse, but we tend to forget to do.

  This week is going to be about the common mistakes we do with our tack.

  One of the most common items of tack we tend to overlook is the saddle pad. There are two common mistakes with the saddle pad that I have noticed. The first is that when a saddle pad is placed on a horse's back and may have been placed too far back, the rider will usually slide the pad closer to the horse's withers. The problem with this is that the hair on the horse's back is now lying on him unnaturally. The best thing to do is to pick up the saddle pad, place it further up the withers than where it needs to be and then slide it down to the right spot. That way, when you and the saddle are on his back, he will be much more comfortable.

  The other common mistake with the saddle pad is that the saddle pad is not pushed into the gullet of the saddle. This means that when you sit in your saddle, there will be extra pressure on your horse's back since the saddle pad is pushing on his spine as it stretches down with the pressure. To get rid of this problem, all you have to do is push the saddle pad into the gullet of the saddle before you attach the girth. If you want an even more simple way of doing that, place your saddle pad and your saddle on your horse's back at the same time. Your arms will push the saddle pad into the gullet without you thinking about it as you tack up your horse.

  The next common mistake with your tack is with the girth. When you tighten your girth before you get on, your horse's skin may be a little bit bunched up with the girth and that may pinch him once he takes a step. The best way to get rid of the chance of the girth pinching your horse is to stretch out both of his front legs before getting on.

  Two other common mistakes with your tack involves the bridle. The first is that riders tend to leave their nosebands crooked on their horses nose. Even though this may not really affect the horse, it may feel uncomfortable and doesn't look too nice. It's almost like when you wear crooked sunglasses. They still do the job, but it isn't too comfortable. Instead, take the few seconds to adjust the noseband on your horse's nose.

  Finally, the other mistake with the bridle involves not rinsing the bit after a good ride. Your horse had just gone through a good workout and the bit had been in his mouth the whole time. Make sure to run the bit under some water before putting it away, this will get rid of the bacteria on the bit and will make it clean for the next ride. This won't only help your bit last longer, but it can prevent your horse from consuming germs that might of landed on it.

  So that is it for this week. I hope you are all doing well and are enjoying your horses. Remember to take the time to do these simple and quick little things that will help your horse out. Thank you for reading.

  Until next time, happy riding!

The Intelligence of a Horse

  We all know that horses are intelligent animals, but just how smart are they?

  Here's a gelding that shows  just how intelligent a horse can be if they are given time, patience and understanding. This horse has been featured in many articles, blogs and has been on television. He is even a Guinness Record holder and has been named the world's smartest horse.

  So who is this horse?

  Meet Lukas. He's a thoroughbred gelding that stands at 16.2 hands and is now about 20 years old. He used to be a racehorse for a short time and then was moved to many new homes before he met Karen Murdock.

  Karen is both Lukas' trainer and owner. She trains him at liberty and doesn't own a whip so you know that Lukas is doing everything because he wants to please.

  It is amazing how much this horse knows. He is able to do tricks like rear, catch and kiss. He is also able to know the difference between different shapes, numbers and letters. In fact, Lukas' Guinness World Record is for the most numbers properly identified by a horse in one minute.

  The way he identifies the different numbers, letters or shapes is quite simple. They place a little table in front of Lukas with 5 different objects. Karen then stands opposite him at the table and asks him "where's your two?" and Lukas will then point to it with his nose. Once he has done that correctly, he gets a treat.

  It is wonderful to watch Karen and Lukas interact with each other. It's very calm yet playful.

  Below is a short documentary about Lukas and Karen's journey so far:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=za-CTVlxWmw&list=WLg8Cy5FNB3_DdvcwimXjHtmJp6xjdMnDN

  If you would like to watch more videos about Lukas and Karen, they have their own YouTube channel which you can find by clicking here. They also have their own website which you can go to by clicking here.

  This is truly a beautiful story about second chances.

  So that is it for this week, I hope you are all doing well and enjoying your horses. Thank you for reading and I hope that this story encourages you not to give up on a horse and maybe to try to teach them a few tricks. Who knows, your horse may be the next Guinness Record holder.

  Until next time, happy riding!

Amazing Equine Homes

  Since last week's post was a little on the sad side, I decided to write something a little bit more fun this week.

  We all love our horses and we love a beautiful stable. Some of us, have the finances to build a stable that is so majestic that it takes your breath away. This week's blog post will be showcasing some of these beautiful barns. 

Picture from:

http://www.selectbreeders.com/news?category=Focus+on+our+Breeders

  The first stable is located in Hawaii on more than 53 acres of land. This property had been for sale at $12,895,000. To learn more about the details of the property and to see more pictures, you can click here or you can click on the link below the picture.

Picture from:

http://www.hawaiilife.com/articles/2011/03/53-acre-equestrian-estate/

  The next stable is located in Nottinghamshire and was built by Monarch Equestrian for the Irish show jumper Billy Twomey. You can learn more about Monarch Equestrian by clicking here.

Picture from:

http://news.monarch-equestrian.co.uk/2012_06_01_archive.html

  Another stable is located in Santa Rosa, CA on 11 acres of land. You can read the property's details by clicking here.

Picture from:

http://adreamhousefortrish.blogspot.ca/2010/06/amazing-home.html

  Here is a Royal stable in Christanborg, Copenhagen. You can click here to see some more unusual stables this website has posted.

Royal stables at Christianborg in Copenhagen

Picture from:

http://kingdomofhorses.com/unusual-stables-and-horse-barns/

    Finally, the last stable I will be sharing with you today, designed by GH2 Gralla Equine Architects, is in Warsaw, North Carolina. You can click here to see all of GH2 Gralla Equine Architects projects. 

Picture from:

http://gh2equine.com/portfolio/index.html

  Well, I don't know about you, but these pictures sure make me wish that I had more money to own a place like these. Oh well, maybe someday...

  I hope you are all having a wonderful day and thank you for reading my blog. 

  Until next week, happy riding!

Unfortunate Tragedies

  Sometimes our lives can take a major turn when a natural disaster comes our way. It can leave us homeless and can take us quite some time to heal. The tornado in Oklahoma earlier this week was no exception.

  Since this is a horse blog, I decided I would shed a little light on the sad story that sometimes gets put on the sidelines during this tough time. Many horses were also affected by the tornado and sadly not all of them were able to make it through.

  When a major tornado made it's way to the local farms in Oklahoma, many horse owners didn't have the time to let out all of their horses out of their stalls and take cover. The tornado had 200 mile an hour winds which drastically changed the landscape of the area.

  It has been reported that 150 horses, if not more, have not survived the tornado or had to be put down. Those who did survive are mostly injured physically or emotionally.

  Through this tragedy, it's important to know that, in an emergency, all of the horses should be let out of their stalls and out of the barn. Though there are no guarantees that this will save them, it does raise their chances as they'll be able to run away from potential dangers. Whether it is a tornado, earthquake or hurricane, your horse is better outside than locked up in a stall.

   I would also like to point out now that I am not blaming or saying that these horse owners didn't love their horses and didn't try their best to save them. A tornado can appear with very little warning and sometimes you'll barely have enough time to take cover yourself let alone run out to the stable to try to save your horses.

  If you would like to read more about the horses affected by the Oklahoma tornado, you can click herehere and here. If you would like to donate to the organisation mentioned in the first article to help the horses, you can find their website here.

  Also, CNN had posted a video discussing a bit about the horses and their owners affected by the tornado. You can click here to watch it. I will warn you ahead of time that some images of the horses may be disturbing to some people.

  I wish you all the best and I hope that your horses are safe and sound where you are. Thank you for reading my blog.

  Until next week, happy riding!