This is "Fandi do Monte Negro" - a cremello lusitano stallion. After he strutted his stuff in the arena for us, he stood quietly to have his portrait taken in the barn isle. Such a sweetheart this one was. He loved the pets and attention. I love making portraits. As exciting and expressive as these horses are in motion, they is still so beautiful when they are just quiet and still. This horse reminded me of a character from a fairy tale.
Most of the horses I photographed in Portugal were stallions. This was a unique opportunity. Stallions are full of drama and thus, provided some incredibly dramatic photographs. Until now, I had not interacted with stallions much at all, only having been warned of their antics - biting and kicking in particular.
Most shoots were done at farms that were home to some prized Lusitano stallions. One by one each stallion would be turned loose in an arena where he would perform his "moves" as one or two handlers encouraged him to show off. Each horse seemed to have his own signature style. Some would head toss, others would strike, buck, leap, kick out, rear... Each horse showing an incredible display of athleticism and strength. Some were more expressive than others, but no one failed to put on a show. As is usually the case in life, the drama eventually would die down. At this point the horse would look to his handlers, ears pricked forward, lower his head and request to connect with his person.
I didn't expect stallions to exhibit so many of the same endearing traits as the geldings and mares I have known. I am familiar with this request for connection, as well as the deep sigh and soft blinking eye that comes with it. Despite their size and power, they were just as willing to follow the requests of the human sharing their space - to yield to a subtle cue and move when and where they were asked. They seemed just as unaware of their ability to easily take control of a being so much weaker and smaller then they... or perhaps aware, but willing to interact with us instead.
So.... I just returned from a wonderful adventure to Portugal with photographer Tony Stromberg. Met and worked with some awesome photographers/new friends from near and far and had some special opportunities to practice photography with beautiful horses at amazing venues. Sorting through my new treasure trove of images I'm taking stock of the kernels of wisdom and ah-ha moments that came with them. And I'm thinking, this is good blog material!!!
Here is an image to kick off a series of blog entries from Portugal. Stay tuned!!!
Lusitano Stallion at Coudelaria Vila Vicosa
Check out Tony Stromberg's workshops!
My one and only Savannah officially flies away from my nest today. It will be a coming and going thing. I have to believe that, or it would be too much, all at once. This intense, sweet and gentle soul has traveled an, at times, exquisitely painful path through her young adulthood. Her courage in the face of horror, her emotional strength and her capacity for forgiveness, have amazed and inspired me. The scars of her wounds have not diminished her. Her beautiful self is all enveloping. Her creativity, spellbinding. She is at once crumbling and strong, tender and vulnerable and forging ahead.
Savannah taught me from the beginning, to love someone you must be with them in the sadness - without attempting to distract from it or vanquish it. To hold another person, and simply allow them feel their agony - to feel the things they must feel, is perhaps the most difficult part of loving someone, especially your own child.
I love this child with all my heart. I am honored to share this lifetime with her. I will be her champion for all of her life.
For now I wrap a blanket of my love and protection, never-ending, around her and send her on her way.
In the last three days we've had to say good bye to two precious members of our family.
Mona passed away on Saturday while I was at work - suddenly and unexpectedly. It's hard to say if a loss is harder when it comes as such a shock, but losing Mona feels almost unbearable. She has been the tiniest dog in our herd and undoubtedly the hugest personality. She was a great ambassador for her breed and even people who did not like Chihuahuas were instantly enamored with Mona. She loved and trusted EVERYONE - including any stranger that came knocking on the door. She loved to play with her fellow chihuahuas and she knew how to keep the big dogs in line. In no uncertain terms she reminded them not to step on her and NOT to steal her food. Too small to jump up on the couch or bed, she was very adept at communicating what she needed with little woofs. If she came in a room and woofed at you, you were to get up and follow and she would lead you to the door to be let out, or the couch to be lifted onto, or the food bowl, ready for snacks... or maybe she was just desiring a little love and attention. She was eight years old.
Kima had recently been diagnosed with cancer. It was my hope that with meds and TLC she would rally for a while - and we did get to take some walks and spend extra time together these last two weeks. But unfortunately she declined these last couple of days. I have often referred to Kima as the best dog in the world. She really, really was. Incredibly smart, inherently obedient and very beautiful. She was the momma dog to a gorgeous litter of Aussie puppies that have brightened the hearts and homes of their owners. Several years ago she assigned herself Savannah's personal guardian angel and has since followed her everywhere - keeping track of her and offering her friendship and comfort as needed, non stop. I have to say this dog helped me raise my beautiful daughter. From the time she was a puppy I never had to "try" to train her. She figured out what I wanted before I found a way to ask, sometimes even interrupting cat fights before they could get started. She covered every horse trail on Vashon with Sauvie and I - at our heels. She was a friend to all dogs, people and animals and even got along with and brought out the best, in the prickliest of the bunch. Kima was twelve years old.
I wish I could take Kima for a ride with me now on this sunny afternoon. And I wish little Mona were here demanding some affection. Our house feels suddenly very empty and it's hard to imagine it being filled up again like these two filled it. I have been very lucky to have these two angels as companions. And for now, am just heart broken.
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