Friday, October 25, 2013

A 50 Morning March: Fall 2013

I spend a lot of time with my son. I am balancing a workload with motherhood pretty much on a solo basis. I do have the help of Montessori Daycare three time a week which helps me immensely stay on task and keep my work flow going. Its not easy and because of it I have really started to appreciate the role single parents play in the lives of their children.

I make a great effort to have my son participate in what I have come to call, "The 50 Morning March". On the two days a week where I have him all day, we eat our yummy breakfast and then head out into the wilds on a morning walk. I carry my camera outfitted in a 50mm lens (my most cherished and beloved lens I own). Of course my 2.5 year old toddler, Connor, carries a camera too! His is an old rebel outfitted with a cheap lens.

He is allowed to take pictures, which matter of fact, are quite interesting. While he doesn't yet have an understanding of composition he has an awareness of interesting things to shoot. His favorite being puddles, though I haven't yet figured out if its the reflections he like or the fact he is waiting for me to turn my back so he has a quick shot of jumping into the puddles he finds along our adventures.

We live up in the furnace mountain area of Taylorstown Virginia, nestled deep in the rural landscape of Loudoun County Virginia, a county of Northern Virginia and part of the DC Metro area. Surrounded by forests teaming with deer and fields full of Angus and or Belted Highlander, sheep, goats, pigs, and horses; there is always something new and interesting to find during our adventures.

I am making an effort to post some shots from each Month, starting with this month of October 2013. Please enjoy! I highly encourage all parents to find some "magic" time to explore the great outdoors with their children. We are continually stuck in a "human" world where we are constantly plugged into computers, cell phones, Ipods, Ipads, etc. etc. Its nice to get away and just adventure into the realm of nature!

Monday, October 21, 2013

Little RennFest Memories

The end of summer and well into summer marks a special time for my son. He absolutely loves going to the Renaissance Festivals and we are fortunate enough to be located within two hours of the what are consider two of among the best festivals in the country. We have the Maryland Renaissance Festival, on that I have been frequenting since I discovered it during my first year of graduate school at the Maryland Institute College of art and we have the Pennsylvania Renaissance Festival outside of Harrisburg PA, in New Hope Pennsylvania.

Connor enjoys dressing up in his kilt and participating in the kids activities as well as posing for photos for faire goers who happens to find him too utterly adorable and feel they must snap a picture of him, including the marketing crew of the PA festival who has used his images in their online email marketing :)

Then there is the music, Connor's most favorite thing at the faire. He absolutely loves music, especially Celtic music and he is usually the first one dancing once the performances start! So, the following images showcase my son's special moments at the Renaissance Festivals, hope you enjoy them as much as I do! He is growing up so fast hence why I carry a camera wherever I go with him.



Sunday, October 13, 2013

Corolla Summer Tales: Horses of Rulers and Nobility

"Fly Away Day" Young Banker Stallion at Sunset

July 2013 found me on the beautiful North Carolina Island of Cordova, accessible only by four wheel drive vehicles, a place where wild Corolla Horses wander freely along the beach and find delicious delight munching on tall dune grasses. It is quiet and calm there, the smell of sea and shore and the taste of sea salt on the wind both relax and rejuvenate your soul, I swear, I would never have come home if I didn't have to. It was the closest I have felt to contentment in a good long while.

Now, back to those Corolla horses, much like their world famous Chincoteague cousins (insert your knowledge of  the 1947 book, Misty of Chincoteague, by American author Marguerite Henry) they make their beachfront home on the Island of Cordova off the Coast of North Carolina. They are more formally known as the Banker Colonial Spanish Mustangs as are classified as such in the Horses of Americas Registry. They are the distant relatives of horses belonging to the Spanish explorers, who for reasons unknown left their horses behind upon returning home. It wasn't uncommon for explorers to leave animals behind after the completion of their expeditions, either due to having to lighten their loads or just from ships running aground or wrecking.

A Corolla mare grazes in the early hours of light

The Banker Horses took up residence on the Outer Banks and its impressive to note that these mustangs stayed genetically pure for hundreds of years because life on sandbars prevented cross-breeding. These horses do not group in herds, but rather harems, each stallion has a small band of mares, some stallions only have one or two, while others have four to seven. The dynamic of these horses was amazing to watch.

The handsome Stallion I named Inigo Montoya after the character in the Princess Bride. As you can tell by looking at him, he exudes the Spanish look.

They are not as territorial as other bands of Mustangs found in America, but seem tolerate other harems in or around their "territories". Perhaps this neutrality came about due to the relative small spaces they have to roam, but it is interesting to note that often multiple harems will congregate on the beach together and play in the surf, usually around dawn or dusk.

A stallion and his harem; a single mare with a day old colt. A Proud Family.

I personally witnessed a young stallion approach an older stallion and thought for sure there was going to be "disagreement", ears pinned back, eyes rolling as they were, typical of stallions being protective, but once they got to smelling each other, they started a friendly neighing and pawing game and soon began to groom each other while the mares belonging to each of the stallions came together to munch on the dune grasses. It felt more like a family reunion, leading me to believe that the younger stallion may have been a now grownup son.

Inigo Montoya grazing near the observation tower

"The members of the Spanish Mustang Registry in the 80s and the Horse of the Americas Registry in 2007 have confirmed that the Banker horses are the last remaining band of what was known as the 'the horses of rulers and nobility'- a mixture of Spanish Barb, Andalusian, and Arabian blood. The DNA of Corolla horses was tested both in 1992 and 2007 by Dr. E. Gus Cothran from Texas A&M University and was found to be lineally pure to the 16th century imports as can be found in North America today." -Susan Selig Classen

A mare grazes on a dune as an evening thunderstorm rolls in

In today's world, human interference is greatly affecting their existence due to development of beachfront property and tourism and the fact that the herd now all originate from a single maternal bloodline.  Such a small grouping of horses that continually inbreeds creates genetic anomalies and will eventually suffer from genetic collapse. These horse are now listed on the Endangered Breed list (American Livestock Breeds Conservancy) and on the Critical/Nearly Extinct list (Equus Surival Trust). The best hope for their survival is to introduce other maternal bloodlines.

Horse play in the surf

The Banker horses are special and I immensely enjoyed the time I had behind my camera with them. I am looking forward to returning to Corolla to revisit them one day. Until that time, I suggest anyone who is looking for a great vacation and photographic opportunity to visit Corolla Island. Best time to photograph are sun-up and sun-down, especially with the heat of summer.

Morning on the Sandbar

You can view some more of images at the Horses of Corolla gallery at my website. Prints are available for sale and I will donate proceeds of sales to The Corolla Wild Horse Fund.