Friday, December 11, 2009

I'm working on the new website for The Tennessee Equestrian. I want the website finished before I really launch the magazine just so people can purchase ad space and listings through the website. I realized this past week how much I need to be working on my other website and my selling sites like Etsy, Red Bubble and Zazzle. So, I've been taking more photos but I still don't have them all posted or test printed (which I'm realizing more and more needs to be done especially on very large size prints. Anyhow, I'm still working on EVERYTHING and here is one example of just what I've been working on. A portrait of Riley entitled, Titian...for obvious reasons.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

My 2010 calendar (see images below), Spirit Equus, is now available on!

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Zazzle Sale!

Zazzle is currently doing a different special each day for the Christmas holidays. Today's special is 30% off of bags and totes. Here is an example of my bags and a bag from my incredibly talented friend, Renee Fukumoto. Renee is an artist and photographer who concentrates on horses, dogs and wildlife and creates the most wonderful drawings, photography and graphic design with her sensitive eye, talented hand and always with her heart.
And here is a sample of one of my Zazzle bag designs:

Saturday, December 5, 2009

Some exciting news, is going to offer my 2010 Calendar, Spirit Equus~the Art & Photography of Sande Elkins on!! Search for me starting December 9th...and give me some GOOD feedback:)
Support independent publishing: Buy this calendar on Lulu.

Let it Snow, Let it Snow, Let it Snow

A surprising sight greeted us this morning, our first snow of the season. Sadly, it had all disappeared by sunset but this morning it was glorious and the horses were enjoying it...and so was I:D!

Monday, November 30, 2009

Calendars & Cards

I've designed several new calendars for 2010. There are lots of brand new images and photos as well as a few old favorites tossed in because I love them so much. These are currently available in my shop and my shop. I also have designed one independently which will be available on (top image/preview).

I've also set up a shop at Greeting Card Universe. Most of my designs are still awaiting approval but should be ready to purchase within the next week. I only have six designs posted so far but will be adding more. Most are images from my photography but seasonal cards will be available.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

I don't know where my head is at! I haven't told you all that Mousie is back home in Tennessee. Of course, as I told Huston, she actually has two places that she calls home, one in Missouri and one in Tennessee. And she is very much loved in both of them. Here are two photos from her first morning home in Tennessee. See her little baby bump?:D

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Benefit for Jenny Rogers

I will be donating two matted and framed prints to a silent auction being held in conjunction with a benefit chili lunch for Jenny Rogers, a young mother who was diagnosed with a very aggressive form of breast cancer while she was pregnant and who also has been unemployed for most of 2009 and the cancer and pregnancy. The benefit is being held at the First Baptist Church of Philadelphia, TN, tomorrow, Sunday, November 15th, 2009. I hope you can attend. There is no charge for the lunch but you're being asked to donate what you can. It's a good cause and should be lots of fun and you might even go home with a great auction buy! There are many businesses and services in the area who are donating to the auction. The two prints I am donating will be my favorite shot of Mouse which is shown to the right and At Play in the Fields of the Lord which, I believe, is also on this blog.
Hope to see you there!

Sunday, November 8, 2009

Joe Guy Clinic at Blue Point Stables

I attended the first day of the Joe Guy Clinic at Blue Point Stables in Kingston, TN yesterday and it was a blast. Joe is an amazing guy. A native of Australia, Joe wears many hats besides that iconic cowboy hat which always seems to be perched perfectly on his head. Joe is an author, a musician, singer, entertainer, long rider (Joe is currently riding across the U.S. on horseback!) father and husband. I met him yesterday in his capacity as horse whisperer. Joe has the most amazing ability to understand the nature of the horse and he quickly deciphers where each problem horse's trouble lies. The first horse of the day, was fearful of his topline and that is what Joe worked on. The second horse had wrapped a hose around his body and legs when he was very young and Joe quickly realized that he was fearful of having the ropes around his legs and body without being told about the hose. He was also seemingly tireless, working with over seven horses while I was there and not even really stopping for lunch since he used that time to examine the progress of a horse he'd worked with in his last clinic. I plan on writing an article about Joe and all his many talents for my magazine, The Tennessee Equestrian, which I hope to publish by the end of March, 2010. The magazine will be given free to Tennessee horse owners through shops, stores and horse shows and events. It will be an all comprehensive guide covering every imaginable equine service and product. It will also include several informative and entertaining articles, one of which will be my story on Joe Guy. I'm excited about the magazine as well the feature on Joe. I will keep you all posted on the progress and let you know as soon as the magazine is available. I'll also be publishing a website exclusively for the magazine in the next few weeks and I will link to Joe's site as well as others on it. More on that later as well as a link to all of the photos that I took at Joe's clinic. As a last note, I have to add what a pleasure it was meeting Joe's wife, Donna, and their children, all were a delight!

Tuesday, October 27, 2009


I lost my sweet Murphy on Sunday. She had been sick for longer than I wanted to admit but I kept thinking that I could fix her and she kept fighting. She was always a fighter. Years ago, I found her, a tiny, unweaned kitten, screaming by the side of the road. My vet said that it looked as if she'd been tossed from a moving car. The vet removed her shattered tail and part of her spine. We also think that the bones in her rear legs were fractured because they never were quite straight. We also think that because of those early injuries, she lived her entire life in pain but live she did. She was so full of life and she brought so much joy to our lives. I have wonderful memories of my funny, quirky girl that I will share here later. I have to go out of town for a few days but as soon as I return, I will share Murphy's story with all of you.
It's now been several weeks since Murphy left us and several months since we lost our Red Fred dog but it still hurts and I still miss them both. I put up a tribute to Freddie earlier but I'm just now getting the time to sit down and tell you all about Murphy. She was such a character!
I've told you above about how I found Murphy and what she survived as a baby. I had to feed her with a dropper for several weeks. I made her a bed in the bathtub the first few nights but she was having none of that. She showed me that there was no need to housebreak her, she already knew what to do...and what not to do! So, she came to sleep with us and she was so tiny that she'd sleep either on top of my head or under my chin, lol. As she got older and bigger, she started sleeping under the covers between Steve and me. She was always tiny and I was afraid to let her around our three bigger cats, Chloe, Hannibal, and Sparky, until she was big enough that I didn't think they could hurt her. So, she didn't know how to meow until she was six months old! Instead, she would "bark" like the squirrels she saw and heard outside the windows she'd sit in. When I did start letting her venture outside on her own, she was forever getting into trouble. She tried once to play with the crows and I was afraid they were going to carry her away. They certainly flogged her with their wings and she came running back to safety behind my legs and peaking out at those big, dark feathered monsters. She covered, literally covered!!, my kitchen floor with butterflies one day....much nicer than many of the gifts that my cats have given me over the years. And nicer also than the gift she deposited at my feet a few months later. I was sitting at my dining room table writing when I heard her "bark" at me. I asked what she wanted without looking up and she squawked again. Soooo, I looked up to see her holding a rat that was bigger than her! She dropped it at my feet and I quickly realized that it wasn't dead!! I jumped on top of the table screaming and the rat ran for the open back door that Murphy had brought it through a few moments before. Murphy looked perplexed, surely wondering why I didn't like her new playmate as much as she did. Chloe was the queen of the cats in those days and for all of her 19 years for that matter but when Murphy first met her, Murphy was not intimidated at all. She would hide and pounce on Chloe which didn't sit too well with her majesty. Once, I saw Murphy sitting in the kitchen window. She was twitching her rear end which was what she did since she didn't have a tail to whisk. I knew she was getting ready to pounce on something or someone so I rushed to the window in time to see an unsuspecting Chloe passing by below. Murphy pounced and she landed right in the middle of Chloe. It knocked the breath out of Chloe and I think that it addled her a bit too because she had no idea what hit her. And Murphy got this, "Oh, no! What have I done?" look on her face...and she didn't wait around to find out, lol. I've got photos somewhere of Murphy sleeping in the Christmas tree in her first year. She loved the lights. She loved music, too. She especially seemed to love Billie Holiday. Just like Fred was with Django Reindhart, Murphy would sit herself in front of the stereo, seemingly in sheer bliss, every time I put on a Billie cd. Murphy was funny and sweet and loving and I think she realized how much she was loved in return. She brought us so much joy. Steve has never been a cat person but he loved that little cat....or course it helped that Murphy never behaved like a cat or probably even thought she was a cat. She thought she was just a tiny, hairy little human....who owned our hearts from the moment we first laid eyes on her.

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Joe Guy Clinic at Blue Point Stables

Joe Guy is a native of Australia who is currently riding on horseback across America. Along the way, he is working miracles with green and troubled horses. This past weekend, October 17th and 18th, he held a very successful clinic at Blue Point Stables in Kingston. He will be returning to East Tennessee for an encore clinic November 7th and 8th. I hope to interview him then for The Tennessee Equestrian. He is a fascinating man and his story is riveting. Find out more about him on his website where you can also purchase his autobiography or one of his cd's....yes, he writes and sings, too!

He will be accepting only 5 or 6 horses for the two day clinic. Cost per horse is $200. Attendance cost is, $50 for both days or $30 for one. For more information or to reserve a spot for your horse contact, Brandy McDonnell at 865-376-9312 or
The photo above was taken in downtown Kingston, Tennessee.

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Tshirt for Louise Green

I just finished designing a Tshirt for my friend, artist, Louise Green. That's one of Louise's wonderful paintings, The Goddess Within, in the center of the design. It's taken me a while to get up the courage to tackle this one but in the end, I'm quite pleased with the results. I hope Louise is as well:D!

Monday, September 21, 2009

New Web Gallery

I've set up a new gallery on It is a site devoted strictly to Tees and they print on only "ethically" produced clothing. Above is my first Tee, Flying Hooves, but there will be many more designs to come.
You can reach my Gray Horse Designs Gallery at by clicking HERE.

I will also soon be designing my 2010 calendars which will be available on, and Other custom design items may soon be available in my shop as well. All of the addresses for those shops are clickable in the right hand collumn. I will post an announcement here when all of the new items and art work are available.

Monday, September 7, 2009

Goodbye Friend and Hero

Red Fred, my companion and protector for the last eleven years, was struck by a car and killed last Sunday night, September 6th, 2009.

Fred was a rescue. Eleven years ago, about this time of year, I stopped into the animal shelter. I had just dropped off medication that had belonged to my dog, Sidney, at the Veterinarian's office in hopes that they could share them with someone who couldn't afford medication for their dog. Sidney had to be put to sleep a few days before because he'd broken his hip and the doctor told me that she wouldn't operate on him at his age, thirteen, and especially with the other health problems that he had. My husband, Steve, had told me that I wasn't getting another dog. Sidney had been a great dog; a friend had given him to us after our house was broken into one morning while I was at home. I was terribly frightened by the incident and a policeman friend had told me that a dog was a better deterrent to burglars than an alarm. Sidney and Steve had problems with their relationship, not meshing from the beginning, but Sid had been very protective of me. He was a good and loving friend but as he aged, he required more and more care. I think that had a lot to do with Steve's not wanting another dog and I think too that he was thinking of me and how much Sidney's death had hurt me especially having to make that decision to have him put down. So, it was against his wishes and my better judgement that I made that sharp right turn onto the road to the animal shelter that day. I was surprised that there were so few dogs there. Most were dogs that had strayed away from home and were waiting for their owners to come by and pick them up, pay their bale and spring them so to speak. But there was one lone, very small, very red, very energetic puppy. I walked up and let him out of his cage and he promptly started running around like a wild thing, lol. I walked into the office and said, "I'll take him!" Unfortunately, they told me that I couldn't do that...and also asked why on earth I'd let him out since it had taken all of them to get him into that cage to begin with. They told me that he had been picked up because a neighbor had alerted the police to animal abuse. When he came in to the shelter, he'd had a fish hook stuck through his lip and evidently the little boys who'd owned him had been "fishing" for him! They told me that it was the law that the previous owners be allowed a certain amount of days to pay the fine and claim him before they could release him for adoption. That was a Friday and they sent me home and told me to call them on Monday morning to see if he'd been claimed and if not, he was mine. I still didn't say anything to Steve about him but I was on pins and needles all weekend worrying that those people who were abusive and didn't care for him properly in the first place would come and get him before Monday morning.

I started calling before the shelter opened that Monday and when they finally answered and told me that he was mine if I wanted him, I said, "I'll be right there!" I already had an appointment set up with the vet to check him out and wash and groom him. And while he was having his spa day, I was in Knoxville buying all the things that I knew he would need. Steve worked late that night and when he finally got home, Fred went running up to him to greet him like they were old friends and it was routine. Steve was furious at first and Fred leaned his head to the side and looked at him with curiosity. A friend later told me that it is far easier to get forgiveness than permission and Steve quickly came around and fell in love with Fred as much as I had. The next day, he bought him a Micky Mouse fishing rod with no hook on the end that he attached a toy to and would throw out for Fred to chase.

Fred was always precocious. So much so that our vet recommended that we quickly get him into obedience school. He was the hit of the class with both the instructors and the little girl puppies, lol. We entered him into the intermediate class after that one and he was easily bored but still was the one usually chosen for demonstrations. He did have this one bad habit of "goosing" everyone. The instructor would often let out an unexpected whoop when ever she was leading him around but not paying any attention to him. Diane, the lady who ran the Canine School of Charm, had told me when we first brought Fred to her that she didn't expect that she could teach him a thing because he had Chow in him (his tongued was so spotted when I got him that I accused the people at the shelter of letting him get into blue ink) but she quickly changed her mind about him, too. He won her over in the end with his charm and intelligence and ended up becoming one of her favorites. He'd always greet her with a big hug and he use to rush to the car whenever I told him that I was taking him to Puppy Playland for daycare. He actually seemed to know the way because he'd jump up and down with excitement as soon as I turned off the interstate exit and that excitement would increase with ever turn of the road that brought us closer to Diane's. I tried to take him once a week when he was little to socialize him since he seemed to still have very little use for most people. The people he did like though, he liked very much. He instantly "took" to Steve's dad. The last few years of Wes's life, he would come to our house most weekends for meals and then he'd sit in the yard and watch Steve working out in the fields. Fred always kept him company and stayed faithfully and patiently by his side despite the fact that I'm sure the energetic pup would have loved to have been running around the yard chasing squirrels and birds. Both Wess and Fred loved to ride around in the car. So most weekends, we'd take long drives. Steve and Wess would be in the front seat and Fred and I in the back. Ever so often, Fred would lean across the seat and "kiss" Wess on the neck which always made Wess laugh.

Fred was allergic to plastic so all of his toys were cloth or plush. He loved toys more than any dog I've ever had and we called them his mojos. He actually had a toy basket which was overflowing with them but there were always one or two that were his favorites. He would actually "play" them like musical instruments. I could shout, "Play that funky music, red dog!" and Fred would grab one of the mojos and start squeezing along as I sang...usually, his favorite song, That Old Time Rock n' Roll, and usually not very well but Fred didn't care. He would also play along with music on the stereo. His favorite was Django Reinhardt. You couldn't play Django without Fred grabbing his mojo and I swear he'd usually play in time with the music.

I don't think he really ever believed that he was a dog. All the folks at Diane's would comment on his "unique" personality and how expressive he was whenever he'd board with them. After Sadie showed up starved and abandoned on our doorstep, Diane mentioned to me one day after a weekend stay that she though that Fred considered Sadie to be "his dog." We never took both dogs on vacation with us because Sadie's house manners are a bit shaky:) but we did take Fred several times. You would think that he'd been staying in hotels his entire life. His first ride on an elevator was a bit of an experience but the next time he loaded up and stood facing forward like the rest of us, lol.

The title says, "Hero", and he was that, too. He most likely saved my life one night. I was driving home late one night alone along an isolated and deserted country road when I rounded a curve and came upon a car blocking the road. There was a man standing in the free lane and he prevented me from passing the car. I locked my doors and rolled the window down a bout six inches or so. The man asked first if I had any jumper cables. I told him no. He said, "Well, I might have some in my car. Do you care to get out and help me look for them." That fishy statement and the fact that his lights on his car were on and flashing which signified to me that he didn't need jumper cables at all, made me suspicious and uncomfortable. I told him that I lived just over the hill and as soon as I got home, I'd send my husband back to help him. He kept blocking my way and trying to keep me there with his ever changing story of why he was on the road and how he wasn't from around here but was visiting friends five houses up. The houses there were clumped together and five house's up wasn't far away so it made no sense why he didn't just walk back there if he'd just left his friend's house or why his car was pointed in the wrong direction to be heading back to the interstate like he said. After I refused again and told him that I'd not only send my husband when I got to the house but I'd gladly call the police to assist him, he suddenly reached through my car window. Fred, who usually would have been barking and growling like crazy at this stranger, had been unusually silent. He was sitting right behind my seat and watching; I could feel his breath on my neck. As soon as the fellow stuck his hand through the open space above my car window though, Fred leaped over the seat barking, growling and snapping at his hand. The man was startled and jumped back giving me just enough room to get by him and his car. I did call the police when I got home...although I'd lied about Steve being home, he was working late that night and I was alone but had sense enough not to let that guy know that. The police dispatcher called me back a few minutes later and told me that there was no one on the road when the police car arrived. A few days later I heard that several women had been assaulted and two killed in our area by a man who fit this fellow's description and who'd asked them for help with his car. They said that the police didn't expect to catch him because they thought he was a stranger who'd just pulled off of the interstate. I've wondered since that if Fred had been his normal noisy and aggressive self that night instead of sitting quietly and unseen behind me until the fellow made his move, if the guy might have been pushed to use a weapon of some sorts. As it was, Fred took him by surprise and I'm certain he saved my life.

I can't even begin to describe the pain of losing Fred. I still see him everywhere and I don't know what I'll do with the baskets full of mojos that he loved so much. Yesterday, I had an appointment and had to go out. I didn't want to drive across the place where Fred was killed so I curved my car around it. It was a windless day but a sudden burst of wind hit the windshield in front of me and shook the truck. The wind held one red leaf quivering against the glass for a few seconds and then it gently floated away. I felt like it was Fred telling me goodbye. He was such a special dog and friend and I could tell stories about him all day long if you would listen. I'll just end by saying that I miss him so much and still love him so much and I will never forget him. Goodbye dear friend; you've taken a part of my heart with you.

Sunday, July 5, 2009

Huston and Mouse in the Bolivar Saddle Club Fourth of July horse show. My friend, Fran Forester, was there and had a video camera. She told me that she pulled the camera from her purse as soon as she saw Huston on Mousie. She also said that Mouse was beautiful!:)
I certainly thinks so! And she's expecting, too!!

Friday, July 3, 2009

A poem by my friend, Renee Fukumoto:

This was written by Renee in response to an email that my sister had forwarded to me. I was talking to my sister about a new business venture of mine which I told her made me feel as if I was facing a cliff and getting ready to jump. Right after our conversation, my sister received an email that she said sounded as if it was written just for me. The email said: when God leads you to a cliff, you have only two choices: leap and know that he will catch you or leap and let him teach you how to fly! Renee's poem is incredibly beautiful, her words so powerful; I know you will enjoy it. I think it will become my new mantra:

He spread His arms
to die
and, rising,
Gave me wings
to fly
~ r
Glory in the wings He gave you Sande!!

Monday, June 29, 2009

Video Montage

David Parkin has included one of my photos, Red Rowdy, in another of his incredible photo/art montage videos featuring the artists and photographers of This one is dedicated to the memory of Michael Jackson and includes two lovely but not well known songs by M.J. Here is the LINK.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

The Postcard Horse

My hand is improving quickly. Although there are still a few tender spots that I think will keep me from handling a camera for a few more days, I can now use my "typing fingers." So, yesterday, I took an image I did a few weeks ago and "worked" with it a bit. I tried to give it the look and visual texture of an old postcard (thus the name) and I added the wings because I thought he looked as if he should have them and the text to accompany the wings. I've got this one available as a poster on my Red Bubble site and I'll put it up later on my Etsy site. I'm also thinking of working with it a bit more and making a Tshirt out of the design. We will see. I had fun; it was nice to get my hand into creative work once again. 
I have an amusing story that made me smile on a Monday morning and I hope it has the same wonderful effect on you. I saw a news story on TV about the rescue of two baby raccoons from a vending machine where they had somehow become trapped. It was a sweet story with a happy ending but the funny part was the fellow who came from Wildlife Services to rescue the raccoons. He turned his back to the camera and on his shirt was written, "I handle wild animals for a living. So, if you see me running, TRY TO KEEP UP!" gotta love it:))

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Oh "Deer" Me!

Too bad that I can't yet handle a camera with my injured hand because I would have gotten some great wild life shots today. I had just finished feeding the horses. As I was walking back up the hill toward my truck, Fred, my dog, came barreling out of the underbrush being chased by a deer!! I don't know what she did to him but he was terrified and headed toward the house. I called him back and tried to get him into the truck but the deer had circled around and Sadie had now taken up the chase. Fred ran off and followed and in a few seconds, all three came running out of the underbrush again. This time the deer was being chased but it almost seemed as if she was trying to lead the dogs away from the underbrush. When the dogs gave up chasing her, she circled around and came up into the pasture where the horses were standing. All three horses had been standing watching all of this happen with rapt attention. The deer saw Sadie headed back to the underbrush and she ran after her. She leaped across the fence twice and came within a few feet of me. I was beginning to wonder what was wrong with her but it did seem that she was trying to get the dogs to chase her. I thought then that she must have a fawn hidden in the brush. This game went on for quite a while with the deer leading the dogs in loops until they were completely exhausted. They finally gave up and loaded into the truck. As I was backing up, I saw the deer had circled back yet again and was standing between the horses and watching us leave. It was the oddest thing I've ever seen and all I can think is that she must have been protecting her baby.

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Unexpected Rodeo

I'm typing with one hand here so forgive any typos, please:)...Horse owners often talk about how similar horses and small children are. I've just encountered another case in point, they both seem to relish making a liar out of you. Our farrier, Dale Collis, came yesterday to shoe my boys for the first time here and to trim Miss Brandy who has no need for shoes since she lives a life of leisure these days. We still haven't put in cross ties or a hitching post so I handle this the old fashion way and hold each horse as Dale works with them. Dale has the most uncanny ability to soothe a horse...usually.
Since I knew that Brandy would be bothering the other horses by curiously standing right beside me as I held them and nudging them with her nose every time she got the opportunity, I decided that she would go last and Rowdy right before her since he was the one that I expected some reluctance from. So, Django was chosen to go first because of his easy, laid back nature. Django and I had been standing there under a shade tree waiting on Dale to arrive and Django seemed his usual agreeable self, relaxed, grazing, enjoying some scratching. 
Django became alert when he saw Dale pulling into the driveway to the barn but I thought this was just normal curiosity.  As Dale drove up beside us, he rolled down his window and commented on what a beautiful horse Django was. I responded in the same manner I always do when Django's mama, Mouse, is complimented, I agreed, lol. I apologized and Dale told me not to worry about it because he was gorgeous. I told him that he was also the sweetest most laid back horse I'd ever met. I said that I expected a little trouble with Rowdy because of his stubborn streak but Django was always so good that shoeing him should be a breeze. 
I'd just finished this statement when Dale set down his tools, petted Django's nose and lifted his front hoof. Neither of us are quite sure what happened next to spook the horse but Django freaked! He slung Dale sideways, in Dale's own words, as if he were a handkerchief and then connected with Dale's hip when he, the horse, spun around. I was trying to hold him and calm him down but he was dragging me down the hill despite my best efforts to dig in. Finally, he gave one mighty jerk and the the rope and half the skin on my right hand went with him. Then I asked myself why I hadn't been wearing gloves. 
After, Dale assured me that he was sore but not seriously injured, he gave me some tape to cover my bleeding hands and I put on some gloves before we went to try and catch Django. I managed to corner him once but my hands were too sore to hold him. He reared and pulled away again as soon as we got close to Dale and his tools. So, we continued with the other two horse and Rowdy proved my prediction wrong again because he was the perfect gentleman. I did manage to get Django corralled in the round pen but he was still too agitated to do anything with.
Dale said that he didn't know why but the horse was obviously spooked of him so we would put off his shoeing until next week when my rope holding hands are healed and I've gotten something from the vet to sedate Django with before Dale's next visit. Dale said that a few sessions where the horse has been sedated should convince him that we aren't going to harm him and straighten out this unexpected problem. 
The almost comical end to this story is that as soon as he saw Dale leave, Django, who'd been running in circles full tilt around the round pen, stopped, turned slowly and walked over to me. He then gently laid his head against mine as if he was saying he was sorry. So evidently it is Dale he has a problem with which is surprising since Dale is usually amazing with even the most agitated of horses.
A post script to this story:
We still had no luck with Django this past Friday when Dale returned. Even after two shots of Dimosaden, one in the muscle and one in the vein, Django still managed to pull away. Steve was there to help but I think that Dale and I both are a bit wary of being hurt again. Dr. Hamilton will be coming next week to administer the sedative and hopefully get our new "rowdy" boy docile enough to at least remove the shoes and trim his hooves. I think I might try riding him barefoot for a while, lol.
So, thank goodness, no serious injuries over this latest lesson in horse ownership for me or Dale. As Huston told me when we were out in Missouri, when you ride a horse it's like you're driving through rush hour traffic in a big city; you have to be constantly aware of everything and everyone around you including your own horse and ready to react at a moments notice. It appears that lesson applies to ground work, too!

Sunday, May 31, 2009


Beautiful day at last!! I spent time with the horses, brushing and grooming them, getting the tangles out of Ranga's mane, braiding Django's. Then I lay back under a shade tree and just stared at that gorgeous, robin's egg blue sky! I saw a spider web floating across the sky, barely missing the tree tops. It sparkled in the sun and gently rolled and tumbled with the velvety soft summer breeze. I think it was spider web. Maybe it was a gossamer thread from an angel's robe.

Saturday, May 30, 2009

Just how sweet is my Django? Not that Rowdy is a bad boy. He's just a wee bit stubborn. Today was worming day and the day that I was going to put on the bio spot for flys, fleas and ticks.  Django, as usual, was so agreeable. He dropped his head for me to put his halter on. I led him to the fence and tied him up and he stood patiently while I applied the fly repellant and giving him the wormer was easy as pie. Even Brandy, who is usually a pill to deal with when haltering or worming, was a doll since both I and the vet figured out that she doesn't throw a fit as long as you come at her from her right side. There was no head slinging or pulling away. I didn't even put a rope on her! Then there was Rowdy...he's another story altogether. The boy has a stubborn streak and he doesn't like being told what to do. It took me over thirty minutes to finally get him cornered and a rope thrown around his neck so that I could halter him. Oh, I did get him cornered in the run in once but the other two decided to join us. I didn't feel quite safe in such close quarters with three horses especially when two of them don't get along. Once he was haltered,  I didn't tie him up which meant I had to chase him around to get the bio spot applied to his rear legs and then he pulled a Brandy on me, clamping his lips closed and throwing his head up when I tried to give him the wormer. I did succeed in the end but I've decided that perhaps Rowdy needs to be haltered and worked with every day for a least until he stops running away from me. 

Friday, May 29, 2009

It's been a soggy month here in Tennessee. It almost seems as if it has rained non stop since we brought the "boys" here. The horses don't seem to mind though. Not only do they get to roll and cover them selves with what I'm sure they consider delightfully wonderful clay mud but they have gotten a long reprise from work since I've only been able to ride them once in the month that they've been here. Even with all of the mud and tangled mane, I still think Django is beautiful...and of course, Ranga Rowdy, too. But then I am a wee bit biased:)

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

The Kentucky Horse Park

I just returned from Lexington and the Kentucky Horse Park where I was photographing Kaitlin Boling at May Daze a three phase event. It was my first trip to the Park. I plan to go back soon just so I can really explore the place. It is nirvana for those who love horses. I've posted a slide show/video on youtube with shots from the show and park. The photo above is not the best shot I got from the weekend but I love both the elevation of the canter and the light in this one.

Sunday, May 17, 2009

The New Kids in Tennessee and Scenes from Missouri

A few photos from both our trip to Missouri and the "new boys" back here in Tennessee. Mouse stayed in Missouri with Huston. She will be bred later this month to a son of the great Missouri Traveler named Traveler's Sensational Zane. He is a gorgeous chestnut stallion and so sweet. His name says it all; he has wonderful breeding. His sire was the aforementioned Missouri Traveler and his mother was a daughter of the famous Zane Grey. Between his breeding and Mouse's, we should get one amazing foal. I'm both scared and nervous--first time horse mom jitters. I am of course hoping for a dapple gray baby that looks just like its beautiful mom. Both Huston and my friend, Fran Forester, tell me that is most likely. Huston also tells me that our lovely Mouse is not a gray dapple but a silver dapple. Can you tell that I love this horse? I've fallen in love with her son as well, Sensational Boy J, that I call Django and her brother, Sensational N' Honey, who is known as Ranga (Australian for red) Rowdy. Both horses live with us now and fill my heart with joy ALMOST as much as Mouse did. I do miss that girl! Photos of all are on this little video that I hope you enjoy viewing. 

Monday, May 11, 2009

Results from the Equine Ideal Photography Competition

The winners and placements in the Equine Ideal Spring 2009 Photography Competition were announced today. All four of my entries made it into the top ten of their catagories:
Head Study (Moonlit Grace) ~ 4th Place
Horses at Liberty (At Play in the Fields of the Lord) ~ 3rd Place
Black & White (Misty Morning Run) ~ Honorable Mention (every placement beyond 6th place)
Art (Once in a Dream) ~ First Place!! 
I was entered into the amateur division this year because I didn't make enough from my photography last year to qualify for the pro division. But the level of work in the amateur division was amazing and I'm so shocked and delighted to have placed this well with my entries. Next competition, I will be able to enter the professional division so we will see how I fare there. Thanks to everyone who voted for me for People's Choice. I didn't win but I still appreciate your votes so much. 
My friend, Geno Praag, has opened an Etsy shop, Praag Photography. Geno does the most amazing photography featuring the wild horses of Utah. His work is truly incredible.

Friday, May 8, 2009

Freedom Run

 We've had rain almost non-stop since Django and Rowdy arrived here and I've had few opportunities to get any photos of them. When the rain finally paused for a moment late Tuesday afternoon, it was almost dusk and even with the ISO turned way up on the camera it was difficult to get a good shot especially of Django whose extremely dark color (he's the blackest black horse I've ever seen) makes it difficult to get a properly exposed shot of him even in the best of light. So, I'd posted a photo of him on that I wasn't quite satisfied with because I still wanted to show him off a bit to my internet friends:). Alyssa Gray wrote to me and suggested that I crop so that what was best about the photo, the highlights around Django's upperbody and on his mane, would really be the focus of the image. I decided to try this and got to work on it. It was several minutes before I realized that I was working on an entirely different image than the original post but I was so pleased with the results that I just went with it. I posted the image on redbubble before I went to bed last night and I wrote in the notes that it was for Alyssa.  What a wonderful surprise this morning when I awoke to find a gift from Alyssa, the most beautiful story inspired by the image above of Django. I'd entitled the photo, Gypsy (Django got his name from Django Reinhardt the famous gypsy jazz guitarist)and the title, too was part of the inspiration.  The story, Freedom Run, had tears streaming from my eyes by the time I finished reading it. It is an extraordinary piece of writing from my extremely talented, Australian friend, Alyssa. And I (and I'm sure Django) am so honored to have inspired something so beautiful. Alyssa is working on a book of ekphrasis pieces she has written, both stories and poetry, all inspired by the artists of Red Bubble. She has asked to include my photo with this touching story in her book when it is published. Please take the time to read the story. It is so moving; you will be so glad that you did.

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Our New Boys

Hard to get a good shot of Django because I think he is the blackest black horse I have ever seen. Rowdy is like his half sister, he seems to love posing for the camera. Neither horse is as active as Mouse though. It might be a while before I get any running shots:) Excuse the mud, it's that time of year....rain, rain, mud, mud and two horses that love to roll!

Monday, May 4, 2009

The Missouri Trail Ride

The place where Huston regularly rides, Lead Mine Nature Conservancy, is about 10 minutes from his home. It was a great ride, ten miles long and lots of streams and climbs and descents, a real trial by fire for trail green me Huston invited over some good friends of his (I will certainly add their names later after I talk to Huston because I'm a duffus who never remembers last names-sorry) to ride with us and they brought a friend of theirs. So we had a great group as we headed out to Lead Mine . As I said, the advice that Huston gave me on Friday, "Sande, you'll never get hurt as long as you stay in the saddle," certainly served me well on Saturday's trail ride.
 One of the horses that Huston's friends brought to ride was a bit excitable. They said that this wasn't typical behavior for him so maybe something was bothering him because he started bucking in the parking lot and kept it up all along the trail. I was riding Django, who wasn't as trail experienced as the other horses and of course, I'm a novice myself. Django kept wanting to "head for the hills" with me every time the other horse would act up. He was basically a very good boy though because he was easy to get under control and calm. About half way through the ten mile ride, the excited horse blew up again and started bucking. The difference this time was that he was right in front of us instead of behind us. Django, I'm sure, thought that something was ready to eat us all if we didn't get out of there. He started hopping sideways with me and I wasn't expecting it. I lost my right stirrup and went flying sideways out of the saddle. I was using English stirrups but thank goodness, I had them on a Western saddle. I reached down with one hand and grabbed the saddle horn and literally jerked myself back into the saddle seat and with my other hand, I turned Django around a bit to stop his jumping. Huston was beside me on Mouse and he simply asked, "Do you want to switch horses?" I told him no, I was fine and we rode on. After we'd ridden for a while, I rode up beside Huston and asked him, "Why did you want to change horses with me? Did you think I was coming out of the saddle back there?" Huston grinned and replied, "I thought you just might!" I laughed and told him, "No, I thought I was coming out,too but I just remembered what you said to me yesterday, you can never get hurt as long as you stay in the saddle. So I was determined that I was staying in that saddle." 
The trail ride was the reason that Steve decided he wanted to buy Rowdy, or Blaze as he was known on Huston's farm. I put Steve's saddle on for him and tightened the girth. The girth we had was too long for the saddle but I really thought I'd made it work...honestly:). I promise there was no thought of life insurance policy pay outs when I forgot to recheck the girth before Steve mounted the horse. We had ridden a short while and just passed through a stream when Steve asked everyone to stop so that he could shorten his stirrups a bit. The saddle had English leathers so instead of dismounting, Steve decided to adjust them while in the saddle. He leaned over and the saddle leaned, too! Before he knew what was happening, he and the saddle were nearly on the ground. Horses and hooves all around him, rocks below and his horse not only didn't move, he froze like a statue. He didn't even twitch a muscle while Steve untangled himself and dismounted and fixed the saddle. What a great trail horse!! When we'd finished our ride and were back in the parking lot untacking our horses, Steve walks up to me and whispers, "What do you think about us taking him home with us." I thought he was talking about Django and I said that I thought that was half the purpose of our trip to take Django home with us. He then totally surprised me (and any of you who really know Steve will be surprised by this as well) by saying, "Not Django, my horse!" I think he'd made this decision while he was hanging perpendicular to the ground. 

Sunday, May 3, 2009

First Week With the New Kids

Fluid Motion
Longing in Their Hearts
The new "boys" are beginning to settle in here in Tennessee after a week on our farm. Brandy, our old Appy mare, seemed to fall in love with Mouse's baby, Django, immediately. She's never screamed at him or bitten or done anything harsh. She will nuzzle and groom him any time that he'll stand still for it and even doesn't mind when he slips into her feed bucket. Not quite the same relationship that she has with our other boy, Rowdy(named so for two reasons: he is rowdier on the ground than his calm under saddle self would indicate, lol...and Rowdy Yates aka Clint Eastwood, of the old Rawhide TV series, was my first crush as a tiny little girl. Which indicates my age as well as Mr. Eastwoods, lol!) Brandy put Rowdy into his place from the first moment they met and I watched the old girl plant a well placed hoof on Rowdy's rump when he attempted to share her food. He usually keeps a wary eye on her and gives her wide berth. This morning he was standing at the fence curiously watching Steve work at building a dam to stop the run off and gullies that we're getting from all of this rain. When Brandy came down to the fence, Rowdy moved away but evidently not far enough away for Brandy. She actually started backing up quickly in his direction and Rowdy decided to hide behind Django. Do you think he's smart enough to know that she wouldn't kick Django? I don't know if he realized that or not but it did stop her onslaught on him. 
I have yet to get a really good photo of either new horse. It seems as if it has been raining and gloomy almost nonstop since our return. So, the two photos I'll include with this post are both of my sweet Mouse, whom I'm missing more than I even thought was possible. These are both shots that I took at Huston's farm. One shows her staring longingly out at the pasture where all of the mares stay. I called the photo, Longing in Their Hearts, after the Bonnie Raitt song. Huston says that she still stands there every day and whinies softly but he doesn't want to let her out with the other mares yet for fear she'll be hurt. The other photo was also taken on Huston's farm the morning after we arrived and it is of Mouse being Mouse, lol. She really showed off for us the night before as well, prancing about and running and kicking, but it was too dark for me to get a good shot of that show. 

Thursday, April 30, 2009

Second Installment of The Trip

Above: Gray Stud Mouse, Mouse's sire
The horse that we're breeding Mouse to next month.

Huston has been telling me that I should breed Mouse for a while now. He told me that Mouse was too good of a horse and too well bred not to pass on her lineage. So, we left Mouse with Huston in Missouri so that she could be bred to a Missouri Traveler stud that belongs to Dale and Donna Nissen, who also own Mouse's sire, Gray Stud Mouse. There is a picture below of Gray Stud Mouse with Huston and also I've put a full body shot with this post. You can see in this photo just how much Mouse looks like him. I was thrilled that I got the opportunity to meet both horses and "The Honey Horse" which is Mouse's grandfather on her mother's side....I know this is getting complicated. All of Dale and Donna's stallions are so sweet tempered and people friendly. The photo that I have of the Traveler stud is very blurry because it was taken inside the barn with very little light but this was the friendliest guy, he loves attention. I was petting him and loving on him and you would never have known that he was a stallion. When I stopped noticing him and started talking to the people, he reached over and started nuzzling me, lol. Between his dispostion and Mouse's, we ought to get a sweet baby. I'm so excited and it was such fun visiting the Nissan farm which is gorgeous--you feel as if you are miles away from the rest of the world out there, meeting Dale and meeting the stallions which were all special and gorgeous.
Huston tells me that it is a joy having Mouse back on his farm for a while. He plans on showing her this summer and this weekend he will be showing her off in a twenty mile charity ride in Long Lane, Missouri. He told me that there will be between a 100 and 150 horses on the ride. I told him that we will have the best horse there and he said, "You bet we will!" I think we both are more than a little smitten with this horse:)
I'll probably be posting at least two more posts about the trip. One will be about the trail ride we went on last Saturday and the next about the two horses we brought back home with us...yes, TWO:)

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

The Trip

I think that Mouse remembered Huston, too. 

At long last, I finally have the time to sit down in front of this computer and tell you all about what a great trip we had visiting Huston Jenkins in Missouri. I admire Huston so much. He is an amazing horseman and a wonderful person. I learned so much from him in just a few days by watching how he handles the horses and rides and also by listening to his stories about the horses he loves so much. 
He has such a wonderful family as well. His son and two daughters all live near by now. They all made us feel comfortable and at home like we were part of the family. His daughters, Nancy and Wanda, cooked the most wonderful meals for us all weekend. I don't know when I've eaten so well! Huston agrees that they are great cooks and he says that they learned it all from their mother, Patty. They lost Patty last year. She was the most amazing woman. They tell me that she was always so hospitable to guests in their home. I remember how welcome she made me feel the one time I met her in person and I enjoyed so much our phone conversations over the years; she always made me feel as if we were old friends that had known each other forever. She is so greatly missed but her spirit lives on in her family and their love for her. I've always said that I've gained so much from having horses enter my life five years ago through my beautiful Mouse, which Huston raised and trained. The people that I've met through horses have all added so much to my life and Huston and his wonderful family are at the top of that list. I can't thank him or them enough. 
We were much later arriving at Huston's home than we'd anticipated...of course, Steve and I are always late for everything, lol. This time it wasn't all our fault. Mapquest had told us that the trip would take 10 and 1/2 hours but it took us over 12 thanks to road construction, unexpected storms, and hitting St Louis right at rush hour. We did finally arrive right at darkness on Thursday night. Huston met us on the highway and guided us back to his farm. Mouse was so happy to get out of that trailer but she wheeled around and pulled me toward the fence when she saw her baby boy standing there. Huston had told me that she would remember him and I'm sure she did. I found her the next morning, nuzzling another mare across the fence. Huston told me that it was her full sister. Animals, especially horses, never cease to amaze me. 
Huston's farm was like a little bit of heaven to me. I'd get up early in the morning and go out to take photos or just to sit on the porch and watch the horses run in the pasture across from the house. It was just a perfect weekend, clear blue skies, sunshine and enough wind to keep us cool. We rode horses on Friday in the barn and then we went hunting for tack. We didn't find the tack we wanted but the shopping was fun. If we'd realized that we'd be bringing two new horses home instead of one, we might have been shopping more seriously. But more on that later. I've got to go start supper but I will write more about our fantastic weekend later including a visit to the Nissan farm to meet the stud we are breeding Mouse to(!) and to also meet Mouse's sire or daddy, Gray Stud Mouse. There is a photo of him below with Huston but I will more shots of him tomorrow....promise:)

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Our two new boys:) Django is the black one. He's also Mouse's baby and we call him Baby Boy most of the time....right now, he just answers to food, lol. He's seven years old and LOVES attention. His real name is Sensational Boy J. The sorrel, we are calling Rowdy and I'll explain why later. Red Rowdy Boy's papered name is Sensational n' Honey; both he and Django have the same sire but he and Mouse have the same dam or mother. Rowdy is ten years old and a sensational trail horse but a bit of a tool on the ground...we will adjust:) He finally came up to me last night uninvited and let me pet him. We are making progress. Django on the other hand is like a puppy dog; you don't have to ask twice if he wants a rub down....or, just like his mama, a treat, lol
Rowdy being rowdy
Steve meeting Django (Mouse's baby) for the first time

Huston with Gray Stud Mouse...Mouse's daddy...doesn't she look like him?


Above: Houston and Mouse getting reacquainted after a five year separation.

I'm going to start by posting some photos of our trip to visit Huston in Missouri and then I will post the stories of the trip and news later. I will put an explanation with each photo but I just haven't the time to do the stories justice today. Melissa Hamilton, our vet, is coming out this morning to check out our TWO new horses:)

Saturday, April 11, 2009

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Going to Visit Huston

No, that isn't a typo because it isn't Houston, Texas but our friend Huston Jenkins in Missouri that we are going to visit. Huston is the man who raised and trained Mouse. The first purpose of the trip is to pick up Mouse's baby (who's now 7 and not such a baby:) and bring him back to Tennessee to live with us. The main purpose of the trip though is just to visit a while with Huston and go riding and learn a ton of stuff about horses (which won't even chip what he knows about them.) He's 85 and still breaking and training horses! He is a wealth of horse knowledge and unlike so many people that we unfortunately meet who deal with horses, especially some trainers, Huston loves horses. He tells me that, in his opinion(which is one I really respect) they are more like human than any other creature and each has its own unique personality. The theory he works under and one that is quite successful is that you have to learn the horse before you can train it and then it just takes patience and calm consistency. 
To give you an example, Huston is currently training several horses. One was brought to him totally unbroke and barely in halter and the other was dashing off every time the owner tried to mount. Within two weeks Huston not only had the first horse under saddle and responding beautifully but he had the second standing perfectly still until the rider asked it to move and also parking out (where the horse moves its legs out so that it is closer to the ground) so that the short, heavy rider could mount easily without a block!! And did I mention that he's 85! 
The man is amazing and you can expect plenty of photos and I'm sure plenty more stories as soon as I return home.

Saturday, April 4, 2009

Spring Romp

Mouse Feeling her Spring Oats....or else running away from me to avoid work, lol.
I was smart this morning and managed to corral her during her breakfast. Still, even though getting a halter on her was a breeze--she actually dropped her head and let me do it--getting her into the trailer was another matter entirely!! We've been having problems with this for about a week. The first time was Monday when I was planning on taking her to Brandy's farm (Blue Point) for a quick ride in the arena. That plan fell through quickly when she absolutely refused to be loaded. I tried every trick I knew and finally called our friend, Chris. Chris has been working with a man that he calls a real horse whisperer. I believe him after watching Chris, who was nice enough to drive to our place when he heard we were having problems and spent at least three hours working with Mouse, working magic. By the time he called it done, Mouse was leaping into the trailer on the command, "Load!" The next day, I tried it on my own and it took a few attempts before she was doing what I asked. Then I ate a bad shrimp--which isn't a story in itself...or maybe it is, lol...but I didn't feel like doing much of anything for a few days. Still I know Mouse is smart and smart enough not to have forgotten all of this in five days. She is just in season and showing herself a bit. Well, if you'd seen how she was acting when I first started lunging her, you might say that she is showing her self a lot. It took over an hour and a lot of sweat on both out parts, she and I, before she finally reluctantly loaded. Then I made her back out and do it all over again hoping that would make her easier to get back in the trailer when we were ready to come home. In her defense, Steve had me get in the trailer and ride with Mouse up the driveway to our pasture when we got back home and I told her that I now understand why she hates it so. It is noisy in there. There were times, when we were crossing all of the gullies that the winter rains created, that it sounded as if the entire contraption would fall apart around us. I'm sure it has to be better out on smooth pavement but still she has to feel and hear every bump. 
It was windy today, too, which didn't help. I was a bit reluctant to get in the saddle once we got to Brandy's but Steve told me that was what we were there for. So, I took a literal leap of faith and the girl was great. She got a wee bit spooky but straightened right out when I corrected her a bit. In the end, she was a doll and now, I need to take her the extra feed I promised her tonight. I know she's waiting for that:)

Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Tony Golding photos

I'm going to send you to look at another photographer's photos today. My friend, Tony Golding, takes photos of draft horses or what they call heavy horses in England where Tony lives. He is also very involved in the preservation of these magnificent breeds and his photography has been featured in breed magazines. Here is a slide show of  photos Tony took at a recent Peterborough heavy horse show. I know you will enjoy them because Tony is an exceptional photographer with a talent for capturing both his equine and human subjects with depth and beauty.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

New Blog for Ten Oaks Farm

I just set up a blog for Ten Oaks Farm. In the future, I will be putting all Olaf news there. I'm also headed that way in a few minutes to photograph a rescue that Chris brought in this afternoon. It is a long and complicated but interesting story of how the horse has come to live at Ten Oaks but I will chronicle his recovery through photographs.
Update: here is one of the photos that I got this afternoon. That's Julie, the lady who alerted Chris to the horse's fate and so was one of the heros who saved its life. You can see what a sweet horse he is by how he relates to Julie's precious little girl.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Olaf Update!!

Hope you enjoy this slide show update on Olaf's incredible progress.  Brandy is an amazing trainer and Olaf is a gorgeous and very bright horse. I wish that this was a video so that you could all really see how beautiful he is when he is being driven. At the end, you will be able to see what a gentle giant he is as well. Super horse!
I've put this information at the end of the video but just in case you can't read the tiny print:
Olaf is owned by Vickie Boling, trained by Brandy McDonnel-Smith, and driven by both Brandy and Chris Shipley. The "rider" at the end of the video is sweet, beautiful Audrey, Brandy's daughter. And the last image is of Audrey and her "third" grandma, Mona:)

Saturday, March 21, 2009

 I shot all of these photos on the vernal equinox, March 20th, 2009...which was also the first day of Spring! It was a beautiful day but I got a very late start...which is common with me, unfortunately:)...and so I was shooting at a time of day that I usually avoid. I still am pleased with most of the shots. Part of these were shot at Ten Oaks Stables and are photos of both stable owner, Vickie Boling's horses, boarder Julie's lovely Arabian Cash and also one of one of Cherie and Don Oswald's Rocky Mountain Horses. There are also several of my two favorite subjects, my own horses, Mouse and Brandy. I hope you enjoy this little video. The beautiful music is Last Night of a Thousand Years which was written and is performed by my extremely talented friend, Nori Bucci. Check out Nori's website here. She is an artist as well as a composer and musician. I, of course, especially love her exquisite and sensitive drawings of horses but all of her work is wonderful. 

Saturday, March 7, 2009

Horse Show Page Fini!!

Finally, it is finished. The page itself is simple with information and prices but I've added a video wall, which is what has taken so long, with 10-13 minute slide show videos of shots from the the six shows that I shot at Blue Point Stables last year(2008.) 

First Show -Self Kudos

Ok, I'm being brave and posting this photo of Mouse's and my first show under saddle. I've been sorting through all of the shots taken at the Blue Point Stables shows last year and I came across the few from our own first venture into the show ring. So amazed by how much Mouse loves doing this. The first thing I thought when I viewed this photo was how fat I am, lol...but then I thought, we look really good together. I was terrified but Mouse took to the ring like an old trooper. I know I'm very biased but isn't she beautiful? She blue ribboned here by the way:))

If I Could Fly

If I Could Fly
The wind of heaven is that which flows between a horse's ears.