Sunday, April 6, 2014

Equine Festivities

I took a short vacation to the Verde Valley Equine Festival in Cottonwood, Arizona this weekend.  Christine's Frisian stallion Baron was the star of one clinic, ridden by the horse trainer that we both use, Jeremy Cluff.

First off, I have to proclaim that Cottonwood, Arizona has to be the friendliest little city on earth.  I came across a lot of different people throughout the weekend, and every single one of them was super nice.  Even when I had to pull some aggressive driving maneuvers to get where I was going, other drivers were patient, and I didn't hear a single horn honk or see a single middle finger cast my way.  I also want to mention that if you've been considering moving to Arizona, but don't want to deal with the summer heat in the Phoenix metropolitan area, nor the winter snow in Flagstaff, Cottonwood or one of the towns or cities at that similar altitude are a good option.  I was told that the bridle trails around there are gorgeous.  At the festival, we were surround by multi-colored bluffs that looked like Arizona sunsets in their own right.

I'm going to put on my reporter hat for the next few posts about my trip.  I took hundreds of photos and have many stories to tell.  The festival spanned Friday, Saturday, and Sunday, so I missed the final day of it because I drove home Saturday night.  It consisted of four arenas of varying sizes where clinics were offered throughout the weekend.  At the same time, they had the Arizona Horseman's Challenge going on, where five horse trainers choose from a selection of 2-year-old colts from Lazy M Horses, and they are given three days to start these colts.  Their efforts are judged and the winners are picked at the end of the weekend.  Then the trainers get to put 30 more days on each of the horses before they are auctioned off to the general public.

One of the first persons I met along my travels was the event photographer, Joyce Tanner.  Usually, when I show up at a horse event with my professional camera and telephoto lens, I draw out some suspicion, because people wonder if I am planning on stepping on toes and selling my photos without permission.  I'm not in the habit of horning in on another photographer's business, and I let them know that.  Joyce surprised me by welcoming me with open arms.  She gave me photography tips and talked about the business.  She has also photographed the Scottsdale Arabian Horse Show, and has enough experience with different horse breeds and disciplines that she shared with me what she learned regarding what different horse cultures want to see in a photograph.  By the looks of the photos she has taken, she's a very talented lady.

I had told several people that I hoped to work on my novel during my downtime in the motel room, but the reality of it was that I was so exhausted at the end of each day that I immediately climbed into bed and fell asleep.  When you are on the road, your priorities get whittled down to finding food and toilets.  Oh, and buying hats with larger and larger brims to try to keep the sun off your already burnt face, along with finding a jacket to cover your camera when it starts blowing dust and raining.  There was some crazy weather on Saturday.  The whirlwinds blew down a couple of vendor tents.  So many stories to tell, so little time.  I hope I can remember them all.  My days are already getting consumed by my usual responsibilities now that I have returned home.  But it was nice to get a short reprieve from my Palo Verde tree blossom allergies.

While at the festival I got to meet more of Christine's family in addition to Baron...

 Aaron and Harlow


Baron and Jeremy 

And more Baron


Katharine Swan said...

"When you are on the road, your priorities get whittled down to finding food and toilets."

Such an awesomely and amusingly true line!

I was planning on writing or plotting or something while I was at Anomaly Con, but the same thing happened -- I was too exhausted at the end of every day to even attempt it. So I know exactly what you mean!

Mary said...

I can't wait to read more about your trip! And... MY GOD! Baron is gorgeous!

achieve1dream said...

I'm in love with Baron! He is so gorgeous. I hope I can come to Arizona someday and meet all of you guys hehe. I'm looking forward to seeing all your photos and I'm glad you had a great trip!