Thunder Over Louisville
First of all - forgive me! I have left my blog for too long and my absence has left so many stories left untold! I'm going to work on that :)
Now down to this past weekend at Thunder Over Louisville - it was spectacular! I've been to this event before and been behind a tree line along the river to see some of the show because the crowds are just enormous and the family just never left hours early to get really good seats. Well this year was different and thanks to some dear friends, my family and I had no obstructions to enjoy Thunder and we were ON the river. No trees in sight! And forgive me if I don't recall each type of plane but much respect to each one and their pilot!
The Blue Angels have always been a big draw to this event in Louisville and they put on quite a show again this year. AMAZING timing and precision with this flight crew. The pilots were giving thrill after thrill to the over 650,000 people who came down to the Ohio River.
The planes flew over the crowd and back again with a variety of formations performed during flights. Never, never a dull moment. It is also an amazing sensation to feel and hear the jets rumble as they fly over. Such an energy!
One of my favorite parts of the Blue Angels performance was when two jets came quite close to each other, but with a twist - one was right side up and the other was flying upside down. Oh, and the landing gear was extended. Amazing!
Even though they were flying hundreds of miles per hour, the small distance between planes at moment was astounding. The Blue Angels were consistently impressive during their performance and even though they obviously couldn't hear it, the crowd erupted with applause and cheers many, many times during their time in the program.
Here are few other planes from the show. I totally recommend coming to Louisville to see Thunder at least one time - you won't regret it!
See more of the Blue Angels and other planes at the gallery listed below. Know someone who loves planes? Send them over to the website to check it out - thanks!
This past Saturday I moved my horse to a new barn in Henryville, Indiana. It is a beautiful setting, with 120 acres, three lakes, and miles upon miles of horse trails. I am so excited to be at this new barn and for my horse to be in a safe yet lovely setting - and my kids are especially excited to get to swim and fish in the lakes! Not to mention they also love the gator golf cart they might get to ride in if they ask really, really nicely with their big brown eyes flashing behind their polite smiles!
I am a bit sad though to be leaving my old barn as I'll miss the friends I've made there - both human and equine. Can you get attached to a bunch of horses that aren't yours and you don't ride? YES!
It may sound silly but for the past few years I've gotten to know the other horses that Luxor has been boarded with and they definitely grow on you. Some in more positive ways than others, to be polite, but I definitely grew to love each of them as they were a part of our days spent at the barn. The three horses that were in his herd I will especially miss because I would always take time to love on them for a few reasons. First, because when I called Luxor, he came up to the barn and so did the other three horses, and they were there so greet me. Second, because the owners of the three horses rarely, and I mean rarely, ever came out to see their horses. No, I'm not judging, I just have a hard time comprehending. I especially wanted to give these three horses some TLC, because they all loved and quite honestly - need the attention. If money wasn't an issue I'd have that small herd of horses as my own, but alas. Anyway I will miss Sunny, Fly and Gitana and I hope that the people who still board there recognize the kind hearts each of them has, and the need for some attention. And finally, I will miss taking pictures of the horses! Their photographs show their beauty, character, personality, friskiness or whatever they were feeling on a certain day. I will miss sitting and watching the horses interact, being silly, grouchy, sleepy, etc. etc. That group of horses has given me some amazing moments caught on camera and a start on a path to where I am today with photography.
So at this new barn, will I have anything to take pictures of? YES! Maybe not as many horses, but the scenery is amazing with lots of wildlife, and some real cowboys and cowgirls that might be up for a photo session or two. Is Luxor happy in his new home? I believe yes, as yesterday I turned him out to the "big" pasture for the first time on his own after walking him around to show him the boundaries, and after I let him loose he turned his back to me and headed off to graze without looking back. Will he miss his old pasture buddies? Yes, I'm sure he will but he will get to see a few old horse friends when I have them and their owners over to ride at our new digs.
Thanks for visiting and check back to see what new images I will be showing from my new photography palate. I'm excited and can't wait to take my camera out with me on horseback rides, hikes, fishing, swimming expeditions and...
Yesterday my family and I went to Spring Mill State Park located in Mitchell, Indiana. It was a beautiful, sunny day and perfect for spending it outside. We'd never been to Spring Mill before but had heard it was fun, with lots of historical buildings in a village, lots of hiking trails and also has a great campground. We were just going for the afternoon, so naturally I took my camera with me.
Spring Mill IS an amazing place with so many areas to explore and enjoy, so we didn't cover the entire park yesterday (which we hope to complete in the fall during a camping trip next time). The kids loved playing in the stream that runs through the entire park, and is also a factor in the restored mill on the grounds in the Pioneer Village (picked up a bag of fresh ground corn meal from the mill - can't wait for homemade corn muffins!). We also watched how tools from the 1800's were used to carve wood, make pottery, and rugs made on a large loom.
Before we went to the Pioneer Village we went to the Nature Center, with lots of hands-on learning for kids of all ages, then went out back for a quick hike on Trail #5. Now in my previous posts I've mentioned a quest for pictures of a blue heron. Little did I know I'd happen to run into one in the lake who would really put on a show for us.
My husband and kids were ahead of me on the trail enjoying the scenery, with me a few steps behind looking across the algae covered lake for anything that might be camera worthy. Wouldn't ya know it, but there in the middle of the lake was a Great Blue Heron standing still, quietly waiting for it's lunch. I shot a few pictures of the bird, and pointed it out to everyone, and they watched for a few minutes. There was a thin line of small trees and plants lining the shore, so as we walked quietly I tried to get better pictures through better vantage points.
After a while we decided to turn around on the trail to get back to the car and drive to another section of Spring Mill. As we walked, the Great Blue Heron was still standing in the same spot, and I took a few more pictures. I said to my family that I wondered how long he probably had to stand there to catch a meal. Not but a few moments later that bird put on a quite a show - stabbing a fish with its beak, flying a short distance to shallower waters, swallowing it whole while stretching its neck out full length to get it down, then fixing its feathers - ALL while directly facing us! We couldn't believe it and thought it was awesome! Our patience had paid off!
After the show, we walked back to the car and did several more hours of exploring and having fun. It was a wonderful day, with each of us loving a different part of it. Personally, I am feeling quite lucky in my quest for bird photographs, with two close encounters in such a short amount of time (see previous blog entry to understand fully!). Will I get shots like that again? I hope so - perhaps with a bigger lens on the end of my camera to get even better images (wink, wink!).
Thanks and let's see what happens next with the camera!
I am still thinking and feeling that today after spending the morning at Churchill Downs in Louisville with a friend, and her friend who has a race horse in training. Being on the backside of the race track is a whole different experience with its own energy and feeling to it, and I am amazed at the entire experience. Seeing the riders on excited and nervous thoroughbreds in the early morning on one of the most famous race tracks in the world has made me appreciate another aspect of the equine world.
The back side of Churchill Downs is full of large barns, mostly full of horses in each stall, wonderful smelling green hay, and the bustle of people around every corner. What I didn't realize is the safety aspect of being in this world of horses and how alert a person needs to be at all times. My kids were invited to go today, which until leaving, I hadn't fully appreciated until talking with my friend, listening to her say how she appreciated how my kids behaved today. She said she wouldn't bring just anybody's kids to this area - and now I understand why (and I am so proud of my kids!).
When we first got to the stall where our new friend's horse was, we had just been told that if a horse is being lead by, we needed to immediately stand against the wall, stand still, and let the horse pass quietly by. If we didn't we had a high chance of getting kicked. After having a few horses go by, we decided it was safer to have us stand on the outside edge of the barn and watch the horses go by because more than a few people in such a busy, closed in area was just too dangerous. We walked to the track to watch exercise jockeys ride horses around the track, entering them through one of a few gaps along the track rail.
The Rules at the Track
The rules are you have to always stop and let a horse pass, stand still and quietly, and no sudden movements. No feet scuffing, no banging, so tapping, no shuffling bags, no speaking loudly. Anywhere.
Why? The thoroughbreds are excited, nervous, and sometimes scared, so for the safety of the riders (and horses) everyone must obey these rules. We had to constantly be aware of horses and riders coming and going, and my kids did great (which for a six and eight year old it can be a challenge for a few hours).
It was simply amazing to see the horses walk out to the left onto the track of Churchill Downs with a pony rider or another race horse because most of the horses being exercised was giving off such an energy and excitement - eyes wide, muscles twitching, feet dancing, tails swishing - and that's just walking onto the track. Other thoroughbreds were walking out like it was just another day at work. As mentioned when horses go out, and also when they are walking they are all headed clockwise around the track. Horses that are running at any speed are going counter-clockwise. Horses that are running at a slower pace are in the middle of the track and the fastest running horses are on the inside along the rail.
Here are some other things I learned today.
When a horse is being run the fastest it can go, it's call "breezing." That part of their workout is usually done in front of the grandstands and they run full out. By the time the horse and riders were on the opposite side of the track where we were, they were being slowed down, with the jockeys standing up in the stirrups. Some horses had their reins pulled back and they were snorting to the rhythm of their feet hitting the ground, while others had their heads pulled all or part of the way to the side because they still wanted to run.
The horses tongues are tied down so they don't swallow them when they are racing. I had no idea prior to today. Some horses entering the track had their tongues literally hanging out of the side of their mouth, while others you could not tell. When they were running there was no hanging out but you could see some of the bands on the bottom side of their mouths in the pictures.
If the horn is sounded at the track at Churchill Downs it is to alert everyone that a horse is loose and sounds until the horse is caught. We were there for a couple hours before this happened. We were standing in a boxed in area with rails next to a building used by timers next to the track. The horn sounded and within a few seconds everybody came to a halt, on and off the track. Immediately pony riders approached the loose horse who was running down the track in the wrong direction directly towards us. A gentleman was standing with us watching and he told us to go stand behind the building and stand against the wall as he went to stand in front of us. He then said go stand on the other side of the building - and I'm glad we did.
As we got to the other side, the loose horse rain right up to the rail where we had been standing. It could have easily hopped the rail and run over anyone that was there. Loose horses on the track are usually scared, hyped up, and in "flight" mode and have to be taken very seriously as injury to the horse and those around them can come easily.
A couple of pony riders gathered in front of and on the side of the horse and eventually caught him. I swear as soon as as the pony rider had the loose horse's reins in his hand, that is the moment when the horn stopped sounding. Amazing. Thank you to the man who had the foresight and thoughtfulness to tell us to move to safety.
We Met a Race Horse in Person
The friend of my friend (our new friend and her two girls) has trained horses for years and is training her two year-old colt on the track. Unfortunately her horse's legs need some down time so she did not run him on the track today. We did get to meet him, see him get a bath and see his stall, which happens to be next to a thoroughbred who just won his first race. Who knows what other horses we ran into today - perhaps a Derby winner in the future. That's pretty exciting to me!
It was an amazing experience today to be on the other side of the track at Churchill Downs in Louisville, KY today. My kids loved it, I loved it, and our friends who go on a regular basis are so interesting to talk with and hear their stories. I don't know which is more fun - being in the grand stands with a crowd of people watching the races every 30 minutes or so. Or being on the barn side of the track watching more horses than I can count horses walking, running, all at the same time, on a beautiful almost-summer morning. What do you think?
If you want to see more pictures, check out the gallery named "Churchill Downs" for a full view of what we were able to see - including the loose horse, a famous trainer, and lots more.
It is amazing to me how the world is connected and how chance meetings can turn into something special. I had a wonderful day yesterday for a few reasons, and one of the reasons stems all the way back to last September...
Yesterday I had the opportunity to took some pictures at an amazing location in Floyds Knobs, Indiana. I had never been there before and it happened because I met a very nice woman at the Maple Syrup Festival back in early March 2012. I had a photography booth set up at the festival in a rustic, old cabin and a woman was very complimentary. After a nice conversation, she invited me to come to her place to take pictures because she had a "big, old barn" that might be nice to photograph. I got her name and address, and tucked it away.
I gave her a call recently, and the invitation was still open, so a friend and I drove out to her home. We headed up the driveway to come upon a beautiful country setting. My friend was there waiting for us, and let us stay for a few hours taking pictures. The barn was big and old, but also contained an amazing number of antiques, tools, and even four swings up in the loft! Of course we had to test those out, and it was like gliding through the air - so fun! And how many people can say they got to swing inside a barn on an old cattle farm?!
After touring the barn, we headed outside to an out building, pond, flower garden, and to an old tree that was still growing even though it has a massive hole through the center of the trunk. The big, tall trees that have been there for decades covered us with cool shade. There was so much to look and an enjoy, through the camera lens and just sitting in the grass embracing a moment as well.
After the shoot, we had some chit chat, and it turns out my new friend knows and worked with my best friend from Sellersburg - what are the chances? We then headed on our way. I got home, checked my email and had another delightful surprise...
I had entered some photos in a "Phone Photos" competition for an art gallery in Louisville, which if chosen, would be printed, displayed and up for sale. I had received an email saying I had made it into the showing! How cool is that?! So needless, to say, I was on cloud nine for having those two photographic blessings come my way.
It was also my kid's last day of school yesterday, and when they got home, we all went out for ice cream. Now there's my final reason for having such a good Friday. :)
Hope your weekend is what you want it to be and who you want to be with. Enjoy this picture from the inside of the barn - such character.