Saturday, April 20, 2019

Introducing Sven

The past few weeks have been seriously crazy for me. But full details will have to wait until another time. This post is about an addition to the family:

As some may know, my little blue camper van perished last fall, when the engine developed problems. Unfortunately, too expensive to fix. We didn't feel right trying to sell him on to someone else in that condition, so donated the vehicle to in exchange for a tax-deductible receipt. 

After an exhaustive six-month search, we adopted Sven last weekend. His Swedish-born American owner has just left Whistler bound for Maui (poor guy). No, the man's name wasn't Sven. But the van has been kept clean, maintained and finished inside with incredible care and attention to detail that you'd expect from a Scandinavian. And it smells piney, like the inside of a new sauna!

The vehicle is a 1994 Chev G20, so it was given life the same year we got married, and the year arrived in Canada! Like us, he has low mileage for his years, so should have a few more laps around the sun left.

He's a stealth camper, and for sure still need some work (like actual insulation between the paneling and the body), but is definitely ready for action when my horse show season starts the first weekend of June! Uniquely, he's the only van that we've seen that is a "panel" van on one side, and a "people" van on the other.

Here are some photos (thanks to P for these) to give you an idea:


Panel Van on One Side

People Van on t'Other

Work Van Up Front

Scandinavian Lodge in the Back

The wooden centre part of the bed can be pulled out towards you, and the mattress folds out to full length for maximum stretch-out comfort. I'm pretty sure that I'll be able leave it as it is, though, and be quite comfortable. That'll leave extra moving-around space in the "entrance hall".

There is plenty of privacy with drop-down curtains on the back 3 windows, and covers complete with magnetic corners for the side door windows. I have a black-out privacy screen for the front 3 windows.

Yes, this van is substantially bigger than the last one! I'm driving it around Squamish as my daily driver for the next couple of weeks, getting used to it before I make the road trip to Maple Ridge for my first equestrian event in June.

Until sometime in the summer, here's wishing you all a wonderful spring!

Hope to see you next time!

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Tuesday, January 1, 2019

2018 Round-Up & Previewing 2019!

Happy new year! I hope you had a wonderful festive season, making precious memories with those dearest to you.

I confess, it has been 4 months since my last blog ... and this time I'm not making any well-intentioned but likely-empty promises about posting more frequently in future!

2018 was an amazing year for me and my equestrian event photography. Over the past summer I learned a great deal not only about horse sports photography from both technical and business perspectives, but also about how differently shows are run here in North America! I also enjoyed taking photos at local shows when my work and shooting schedules permitted.

Show Jumping at the SVEA Two Phase in June
I am delighted that I've been invited back to MREC for several events in 2019. I'll be the OP at two three-day hunter-jumper shows, and at three two-day events - very exciting!

Equitation at the MREC Hunter Jumper in August
Hunter-Jumper shows are a combination of equitation, which has the rider and horse being judged on the correctness of their skills both on the flat and over arena jumps; and show jumping. For the most part, classes are individually judged and have little impact on each other.

Show Jumping at MREC Hunter Jumper in August
Eventing is a completely different type of competition: Each horse/rider pair must complete tests in three disciplines: dressage, show jumping and cross country. The winner is the horse/rider with the fewest penalties when combined over all three phases.

Cross Country Equitation at MREC in August
In addition to the five competition weekends, I will be working at two clinics as well. These teaching events will be hosted by LHC Equestrian and will feature world class instructors with proven success in international competition. More details on those to come soon!

Clinic with Beth Underhill at MREC in October
2018 wasn't all about horses, though! In between equestrian events and my full time job, I thoroughly enjoyed shooting the action at the annual Kite Clash held here in Squamish (which, btw, means "mother of the wind") ...

Kite Clash in Squamish in July
... and a couple of pets for fundraisers (Whistler Animals Galore and Second Chance Cheekye Ranch), too!


Freyja & Shasta

Sadly, Buster the friendly blue van, has gone to the great parking lot in the sky ... his ticker gave out and we were unable to resuscitate him. Watch this space for updates.

And now, all that remains is to wish you and yours a happy, healthy, and prosperous year ahead!

Welcome 2019!


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Saturday, September 1, 2018

A Summer Survived!

It is Labour Day weekend here in Canada, and by Tuesday the summer will be considered "over".

Under my belt, I now have a few more local shows, and 3 three-day horse shows!

The multi-day events were a challenge - in a good way! Three long days of shooting each, followed by a week or so of photo processing after each of the events. That means literally every hour that I wasn't working at my full time job, or sleeping, were spent at my computer sorting, processing, and posting photos!

Thank you so much, to all the competitors at SVEA and MREC who purchased prints and products this year - your support is appreciated more than you know! I promise you that, for future shows, I will design a more user-friendly way for you to view your photos! :P

Overall, I am very pleased with the photos I captured ... they made the unbroken hours of shooting, baking in the sun and wind and dust, or shivering under rain gear trying to keep my camera dry, worth it! For some reason, there doesn't seem to be a sunny and cool, or dry and overcast, day available in the weatherman's quiver, for horse show days!

I am grateful to have learned a great deal this year, about both photographing equestrian sports and the business of it all. I wouldn't have my new-found knowledge without the gentle prods (ok, firm shoves!) of my friends at LHC Equestrian, and the guidance from Marion Photography. To say nothing of my discovery at MREC that the format of horse shows in Canada is completely different to anything that I have previously experienced in the UK and South Africa!

Most of all, I thank my ever-patient and tolerant husband, without whose unfailing support I would not have survived the first day of the first show! He continues to cheer me from the sidelines, has converted an old service technician's van into a comfy camper, and keeps my computers tuned to peak performance, while never complaining that he has to share so much of my time with my camera and (gasp!) other people's horses!

My camera equipment performed very well. Ok, there were a few terrifying minutes, like the morning after we had monsoon rain all afternoon the previous day, when I thought I'd have to bin my main camera when it locked up and refused to work! I was able to open it up and air it out, while my trusty (and completely dry) back-up machine picked up the slack for an hour before 1DIV allowed itself to be switched on, and then carried on as if nothing had happened!

Oh well, at least it didn't bounce down a mountainside, this time! Tough gear, these Canons!

For 2018 equestrian events, I still have two of out-of-town clinics to take photos at (which will involve camping in Buster, the van - in October and November - I hope Jack Frost will be kind!), as well as a couple of local shows.

I'm not going to make any promises about when my next blog post will be, because it's evident that I'm useless at actually sticking to any type of publishing schedule!

I hope you've had a great summer ... until next time!

Thursday, May 24, 2018

And She's Off!

Wow, that's what you call jumping in at the deep end! Since my last post I/we have ...

... purchased and started retrofitting a small van for camper use
... photographed a local gymkhana event
... photographed a local jumper warm-up event
... photographed a three-day hunter jumper event 135km away

The SVEA gymkhana was a fun season-opener ... here's one of my fav's from that day:

Click to enlarge!

The following weekend, a very enjoyable couple of hours were spent photographing the SVEA jumper warm-up event:

The three-day hunter-jumper event at MREC was a completely different experience, starting with the drive from Squamish to Maple Ridge (this country bumpkin is not used to major highways and city-style traffic)! Three full days of non-stop photographing from 8am until about 4pm daily, in record-breaking heat, resulted in over 3500 images to sort through when I got home. Needless to say, I slept like a top despite the really chilly mornings! It took a week of working on the photos during every waking hour when I wasn't "at work" or sleeping, but they're now posted. Here's one from the show:

With no idea of what, if any, economic benefit will come of this new venture, to save on accommodation costs (and to have a chance of recouping some expenses if it doesn't work out) we decided to start conservatively with an older Chevy Astrovan that we can refit ourselves as a camper. The idea of an "incognito" sleep option is reinforced by the ladder rack and (working!) orange revolving light on the roof!

After cleaning about 20 years' worth of dust, dirt and grime from this ex-municipal/plumber's workhorse, we discovered that our rarely-used futon fits perfectly - and provides extra storage space underneath! My better half spent hours installing a rooftop solar panel for much-needed camera and laptop battery recharging - it works like a charm! Also included are a water tank for drinking and washing, and a mini-porta-potty for midnight emergencies.

One certainly couldn't ask for a nicer place to park for 3 nights:

Can you spot the one that doesn't quite "belong"?!

What's next? A local gymkhana this weekend, then another 3-day hunter-jumper in Maple Ridge in two weeks!

Cheers for now!

Saturday, April 21, 2018

In the Start Gate!

This weekend is my last one completely "off" for a month!

Next Sunday I have a gymkhana at SVEA, the following Saturday a SVEA hunter-jumper event, and the weekend after that a three-day hunter-jumper at MREC!

I've started a list to try to keep track of things to do and help me get organized. It will be interesting to see what I forget, or didn't anticipate. Hopefully nothing major!

Oh, and my two-sided equestrian business cards arrived:

I'm still not sure about them, and am sure that my graphic designer friends will be cringing - but they'll do for now!

Meanwhile, it seems spring is finally putting in an appearance while still maintaining a tighter grip on alpine regions:

Last night's rain sticking on the ridge behind the Stawamus Chief ...
See you next time out!


Sunday, April 15, 2018

No "rain" today ...

... "the rain" has gone away ... with apologies to Herman's Hermits!

After what seems like weeks of non-stop rain, and a rather bleak forecast for show day, yesterday was dry!

Last year at this time the trees were in full leaf, this year the leaves are barely showing:

And we managed to have a fun morning at the SVEA Jumper Warm-up!

Not only did it allow many horses and riders to stretch their legs over some jumps for the first time this season, it also allowed me to get my photographic "eye" back in after a long winter!

If horse shows are your thing, have a browse around the gallery (30% off with coupon code SVEAwarmup until the end of April).

Two weeks today will be gymkhana day!

See you there!

Friday, March 30, 2018

My Dance Card is Getting Full!

All of a sudden, thanks to the unfailing support of my Most Significant Other and a firm push from a couple of friends, I have a very busy year ahead of me ...

Three 3-day hunter/jumper shows at MREC ...

Three instructional clinics at MREC and Southlands ...

Seven gymkhana fun-day Sundays at SVEA ...

And a couple of SVEA dressage days, too ...

The busiest month features 2 one-day events and 1 three-day ... and there's a possibility of more dates to be added!

I'm excited!

Until next time ... keep that umbrella handy!