Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Trip to Pine Hill & Blueberry Picking

Friday evening, immediately after my first lesson with Christine, JJ, Foxfire and I loaded up and headed out to Pine Hill, an eventing facility in Bellville, TX. (They really need to spruce up their website.) JJ's two dogs Elias and Reba came with us because JJ's usual dog-sitter wasn't available. Fortunately, both dogs are VERY well behaved. In fact, Reba is actually in training to be a service dog. After a fortunately uneventful 2 & 1/2 hour drive, we arrived at Pine Hill. We unloaded the horses, set up their stalls, put the horses in their stalls, plugged in JJ's pickup bed camper and crashed for the night.

Early the next morning, we got up, ate a quick breakfast and got ready for JJ and Foxfire's lesson. Basically, JJ and Foxfire tacked up and I stood around with the camera bag over my shoulder waiting to take pictures. Since I wasn't riding (I'm not even close to being able to jump yet), I had volunteered to take pictures. As JJ and Foxfire were getting ready, the trainer, Toni, showed up and introduced herself. Once everyone was tacked up, she suggested a warm up in the stadium jumping arena. I checked the direction of the sun and took a few pictures of JJ and Foxfire warming up on the flat.

JJ at the trot.

Foxfire at the canter.

After a brief warm up in the arena, Toni led Foxfire and JJ out onto the cross country course. I did my best to follow and get good pictures. Now, I'm not a real photographer. I've never had any training or anything. But I've picked up a few things about lighting and angles just from watching other photographers and a bit of my own experience. So as I followed them around, I tried to guess which jump they were going over (because I was trying to get good angles on the jumps, I wasn't always close enough to hear what the trainer was saying) and tried to make sure that the sun was behind me and not behind the horse. I didn't always succeed. Sometimes because they were going over a different jump than I thought that they were going over. Sometimes because, even if I knew which jump they were aiming for, they were moving a lot faster than I and I simply couldn't get to the best angle in time and simply had to take whatever shot I could get from wherever I was when they approached the jump. And some jumps simply didn't have any place that you could take a good picture from(my husband's favorite jump into the woods). Anyway, it was a fun experience, and I think I got some good shots. You can see most of the decent pictures in my Pine Hill May 2009 album, but here are a few of my favorites.

JJ and Saga in a massive jump over a little coop.

Foxfire and Ziggy going over a rolltop.

JJ and Saga at the top of the beginner novice bank up.

Saga almost ran me over immediately after I took this shot. He'd always come out of his jumps straight before, so I wasn't expecting him to swerve to his right. Fortunately, I darted left, and JJ straightened him out before he got too close to me. But it makes for a nice shot with Saga looking almost directly into the camera.

JJ and Saga going up the novice bank up.

JJ liked this picture so much, she asked me to make it into the title pic for her blog, The Saga Chronicles. I must admit that it made me feel really good that she liked my picture that much.

Foxfire and Ziggy taking the beginner novice bank up.

Foxfire and Ziggy finishing the beginner novice bank up.

JJ and Saga cantering through the water.

Foxfire washing Ziggy off. (Ziggy's smiling for the camera. :-) )

JJ cooling Saga off.

I feel sort of bad that I got more really good shots of JJ than I did of my husband. But I suppose that's just the way it goes sometimes.

After we got the horses cooled down, we put them in their stalls, and we went to pick blueberries at Chmielewski's Blueberry Farm in Hockley. Neither Foxfire nor I had ever been blueberry picking (or any kind of picking) before, so it was a new experience for us. Even though the bushes had already been pretty well picked over, we managed to find a fair amount of berries and had a really good time. Afterwards we went to a great little diner aptly called Must Be Heaven. JJ and I each had a fabulous french dip sandwich. Foxfire had a succulent salmon sandwich, and we all had a slice of REAL key lime pie. JJ also bought a slice of sawdust pie to go. We waddled out of the diner, drove back to Pine Hill, packed up everything, loaded the horses and headed home.

All in all, it was a fantastically fun day, and I look forward to doing it again.

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