Thursday, April 26, 2012

Southwest and Florida Travels

I was lucky enough to get away for a few weeks to the beautiful desert southwest for some sun, horses and photo ops in early March. It was great to meet up with Bev Pettit and share her world for a few days. She was kind enough to share her home and horses and even got me back on a horse on the very kind and patient (and handsome) Skeeter. That is Skeeter the gray guy in some of the photos! The weather and light could not have been more perfect for our fun and games! In the Phoenix area I attended the Casa Grande Ranch Rodeo, the Scottsdale Arabian Show and Mounted Shooting at the Winter Range. I also met up with my friend Scott Trees and Sombrero friend Johnny Garcia showed us some team sorting. Scott even got to try his hand on the game little mare “Oprah”!

In New Mexico I met up with Lynne Pomeranz and got the whirlwind tour of wild horses and sanctuaries, caught a gallery and talked horses and photography. We visited the Monero Mustang Sanctuary in Northern New Mexico run by Sandy Claypool as well as the Cimarron Sky Dog Sanctuary in Watrous run by Jackie Fleming. These women are on the front lines of the continuing wild horse issues. After my trip to Nevada (see below) I saw very clearly the challenges we who love the horses are facing. Jackie explores the issue in depth, please take the time to read her blog for a better understanding.

I landed in a snowy, wintry Reno and spent a few days traveling in that area. The Palomino Valley BLM Wild Horse and Burro Holding Facility, just 12 miles north of Reno, had 1800 horses and burros in its pens the day I was there. The people in the office were open to answering my questions and letting me take photographs. While the handling of the wild horses by the BLM is a controversial issue, it also reminded me of the fact that approximately 45,000 mustangs and burros are currently in short and long term holding facilities in the US. Like it or not if we love these wonderful creatures we need to stop bickering and fighting amongst ourselves and complaining about the BLM and make an effort to work together to do what is best for the horses. A good place to start is considering adoption and promoting adoption events when they are in your area. I will have room in my barn for a burro or two the next time there is an adoption event in my region!
I also explored the Virginia Range and Damonte Ranch areas. These horses are not on BLM lands and not managed unless they stray into populated areas and create a nuisance. In addition, people have started feeding these horses so now as many as 100 horses stand close to housing developments waiting for handouts every morning. Some of the older pregnant mares are in extremely poor condition and it worries me that the horses are bound to lose in this situation.Read more about my visits to this area and my thoughts on the wild horse "problem" in my blog and view all my Southwest Galleries.

I was home for a week and then off again for Florida where I organized two photo workshops for German Equine Photographer Gabriele Boiselle. The weather was perfect and we were treated to some of the best and brightest horses and riders in the Wellington area. This is THE place for horse people to be during the winter months. From dressage to polo to Iberian horses and portraits I came home with many thousands of images to edit! View all the galleries from my Florida trip here