Thursday, November 26, 2015

Vote for Riding & Writing!

Riding & Writing

has been chosen as a Finalist!

Equestrian Blogger of the Year 2015!

Thank you to everyone who has contributed to Riding & Writing!

Please vote HERE.

"Huge well done to the finalists! They all write super equestrian blogs regularly which are also fun and informative for the viewer to read and follow. They are also super Haynet members that contribute to the network and its equestrian community. Please look out over the next few days when we will be featuring their blog writing and why you should vote for them.

So how can you vote for your winner? Please click HERE to vote for who you would like to see take the prestigious title of Haynet Blogger of the Year 2015. The winner will receive a trophy to adorn their desk or mantelpiece, a Haynet saddle pad and their blog having a permanent link for 12 months on Haynet’s front page.

So please get voting now and campaign for more votes!  Voting closes on Monday 7th December 2015 with the winner being announced on Tuesday 8th December 2015."

Thank you for your support, contributions, friendship, horses, and more...since 2011! Thanks, Sam!

Have a Happy Thanksgiving!
Blessings from my family to yours...

Wednesday, November 25, 2015

Missouri Misery: Guest Post by Candace Wade

“We were nothing alike except for the unrestrained willingness to do something, anything, to help a being in need. Loner Girl and that horse were two wounded creatures. They had needed each other.

 Missouri Misery
Author and Equestrian

GaWaNi Pony Boy was my introduction to the rapture of equine clinics.  My riding buddy Penny and sat in rapt awe at his appearances from Tennessee to Alabama and Ohio. We collected his books, videos and paraphernalia.  I knew it was a message from the Horse Goddess when I read he was going to be the guest star of a trail riding week in Missouri that fell on my 50th birthday! My husband Bill signed on to escort me on the week of Pony nirvana.

Pony would lecture and walk among us Pony devotees. I crafted vagrant dreams of dude ranches in the sky on the foundation of my fantasies. Percolating enthusiasm and projecting happy experiences help us crawl out of bed in the morning. 

The Resort
Bill and I checked in at the souvenir shop, a sort of combination tourist store and front desk. Useless knickknacks, like painted rocks and foam beer cozies, and the usual junk snacks temped from dusty shelves. It looked wonderful to me. I took stock of the crap and imagined how Pony and I might mosey on back after a fabulous afternoon ride. Maybe I would treat him to a Twinkie.

Bill negotiated the dirt road up to the resort. The trailer/camping area was a swarm of some pretty talkin' rigs. Some of these people must have sunk six figures into their trailers and trucks. Pup tents, lean-tos and Scamp trailers were dwarfed, tucked back into the trees. Next came the dining hall, with a settin' porch that was a charmless, chairless, running rectangle. The barn was on the way up the hill to the resort lodging. This building was for us city slickers. “Ranch lifestyle” can mean many things. In this case it was Kafkaesque. We're talking cardboard walls, a bed with a concrete mattress and a pervasive chlorine smell. We were given two sets of thin towels, one hanger in the closet, and a TV with fleeting reception. My fantasy pivoted to Rod Sterling stepping in to whisk us back to the ‘60s through the TV as a portal to The Twilight Zone. The toilet flushing from the next room sounded like a 747 taking off. The poor guy next door must have had a "going" problem, 'cause the metallic scream of water pipes jarred me several times a night.

"Okay, it's primitive. I can deal," I justified to myself. My future promised miles of trail riding and Pony -- what's a little chlorine smell?

Meal Time
The dinner bell rang. Like zombies, guests on foot wandered in from all directions to the dining . . . no . . . mess hall. Bill and I scattered out of the way when a pack galloped up, full throttle, yanked their horses into a skid turn, and leapt down to tie up.

"What the hell!" I protested to Bill as we entered the building.

The mess hall was set with long metal tables and faded, corny cowboy pictures. It was expansive and spare. An echo would have gotten lost.

Still pissed, I hissed at Bill: "There's such a thing as horse etiquette. I'm going to say something . . ."

A commotion behind us: in clattered "The Posse." They were pungent with machismo, decked out in snake boots with jangling spurs and legs swathed in black leather chaps. Big silver belt buckles glittered at the pubic bone. Muscle tees displayed arms and chests adorned with skull and snake tattoos. These ensembles were crowned with cowboy hats of various hides. The finishing touch was the 15 inch Bowie knives tethered from knee to thigh . . . and these were the women!

"I'm shocked to actually see how long those things are!" Bill whispered.

Having a word about almost getting trampled by this crew became a bad idea at the glint of the Bowie knives. I slid in line for food instead.

Food was slopped into the little cubbies on plastic cafeteria trays, most of which seemed to have the oily sheen of the meal before. I opted for anything that would be served in a Styrofoam bowl. I ate a lot of fruit gelatin and cottage cheese. Everyone else dug right in, shoveling food into their mouths, lips smacking, plopping second helpings on their trays. Even my prissy, gourmet-driven husband thought the food was passable. I appreciated what a sport he was.

A day into the adventure, I realized that the wranglers and barn manager were the same ones scraping and washing the trays -- multi-tasking as it were. The trays looked as if the washers were either in a hurry to get through the washing to move on to their horse tasks or just not interested in hygiene. Yuck! 

"Okay, Bill seems to be fine with this and I can live a long time on cottage cheese and fruit gelatin. This is about riding!  And Pony!" I justified, dewy-eyed with anticipation. I'm a Horse Slut. I'll do anything to wrap my legs around Pony, I mean, a horse.

"Snib Clinnart"
Our first ride was with the guide. I think he was some old neighbor who sort of knew the area and helped out. "Snib Clinnart" was a man of few words, a dull razor and threadbare plaid shirts. He sat stoop-shouldered on his horse, leg over the pommel, waiting for the group to assemble.

I'm rather a safety nut when it comes to riding. Part of this comes from guidance from instructors, part from an unwillingness to put my body in unnecessary peril. I wasn't a very athletic kid, more of the pink pinafore and patent leather party shoes type. I'm more than willing to take on the inherent dangers of trail riding, but, I'm skeptical riding in large groups -- too many opportunities for chaos. I rely on the knowledgeable leader.

Bill and I were matched with Tennessee Walking horses. Other riders began to appear. Swarm is more accurate. They cantered in from the camp grounds. Doesn't anyone walk their horses around here? Parents, kids, singles -- there was a churning, teeming energy, to me bordering on pushy. Imagine the biomass of krill.

We were about 30 strong. Consider each person with a distinct personality astride a horse with a distinct personality. Riding in a crowd was new to me. Four was a crowd up at Big South Fork. I was not thrilled, but, okay, I'll be a good sport. I can ride. I can do this. That was me, good sport. The operative word here is was.

Snib was a leader only in that he rode in front . . . sometimes. Everyone did what they wanted. After the initial lurch out onto the trail, the herd performed a constant shuffle for position. Riders muscled past without so much as an "on your left." Seemed everyone wanted to be in front, in spite of the fact we were on a two-horse-width trail. Thirty riders jockeying for position -- riding abreast à la the credits for Bonanza. There just wasn't room. The children were unsupervised, allowed to race up to strange horses and push their way in front. No one had a red ribbon on their horse's tail to warn of a kicker. My horse didn't like strange horses putting their noses up his butt. I can't blame him.

We rode in this "relaxed" manner for a couple of hours. Snib never said a word. I was relieved to see the ranch in the distance across acres of meadow. Bam! The group charged without warning. There was no concern for other riders or possible chuck holes.

To me, it was nuts. I struggled with my feelings because Bill wasn't fazed. The other riders had a great time. My "caution-toads" were croaking like mad. Was I a wussy? Was I a ‘fraidy cat? Were the other riders nuts? This created an emotional struggle within me. I felt redeemed the next day when riderless horses galloped across that same field and an ambulance was summoned to collect riders who had raced across the field unsuccessfully. Is it possible to be the one sane person in the herd?

Riding Alone
Our next ride, I talked Bill into the two of us going it alone. This time, he was nervous -- about getting lost. The chance of getting lost concerned me less than riding with the wild bunch. We had to urge the horses to part from the herd, but this was a good test of my leadership. I led us around the paths surrounding the dreaded meadow. Once again, other riders rushed past to charge across the field. Bill was more eager for speed than I, but we both performed a respectable, lively jog to the barn. That was one in the confidence column.

Loner Girl
Snib guided our next ride. This was a group of eight. I think everyone else was enjoying the calf herding contest. The calves seemed to outwit most of the contestants. What a surprise!  Snib warned that the trail "gits steep." After our horse-rappelling rides in the mountains at Big South Fork, I felt sure this wouldn't be a problem. 

The ride went fine until . . . one of the horses sliced his leg on a shrapnel chunk of karst. We're talking blood, and a lot of it. Snib didn't carry an emergency kit. No one seemed prepared. I donated my bandana for a tourniquet. Being in the depths of a gorge, there was no cell phone coverage. The horse was in trouble.

Snib just kind of stood there. We agreed to send him on to the top of the ridge to call the farm. Duh!  We all helped to encourage the injured horse slowly to the summit. A trailer was going to take some time. At the top of the ridge, it was decided that Snib would take most of us back to the ranch, leaving a couple of volunteers with the horse. A spooky "Loner Girl" decorated with raven black buzz-cut hair, piercings and full body tattoos volunteered to stay back with the horse.

Loner Girl was one of those little mice sleeping in a pup tent beneath the shadow of the expensive behemoth trailers. She had saved up her money to come for the week by herself. She had slept on the couch in her brother's house since she escaped from her abusive boyfriend. Her jobs at two fast food restaurants gave her "savings money" to get her own place and to support her beloved little Mustang horse. She came to Missouri for a week of camping and riding to help put her past behind and to re-start her life. She sat by herself at meals and haunted the back of the group on the trail rides. Her small, dark presence glowed with its loneliness.

Back to the horse. They got the poor animal back to the barn, but there wasn't any plasma or medicine on hand to help him -- no vet on staff. The local vet's practice was mostly cows. They took precedence. The horse would have to wait his turn. He was starting to go down. I stormed into the office to motivate someone into action. Nothing. I was angry about the careless situation and that I was useless.

Who saved the day? Loner Girl. She cajoled the horse to his feet. She ran cold water on his leg to stop the bleeding and take down the swelling. She got him to drink water. She stayed with him until the vet came later that evening. She stayed with him all night. No one else did a thing. They shrugged and wandered away.

You never know who the hero will be. It could be the dumpy, dark, scary girl with whom no one will sit at dinner. Because of her, the horse survived. From then on, I sat with her. She and I drove out and explored Wal-Mart one afternoon. She told me all about her life and why she was there at the horse camp . . . alone. We were nothing alike except for the unrestrained willingness to do something, anything, to help a being in need. Loner Girl and that horse were two wounded creatures. They had needed each other.

Pony -- At Last
Pony Boy. Ah, Pony. He was the grail for which I coerced Bill to drive all the way to Missouri. Pony was scheduled to give a fireside lecture in the evening. I dragged Bill down the hill to the campground an hour early, regaling him with warm-up stories of the wonders I had seen Pony perform at other events. We joined the other acolytes perched on hay bales swapping Pony stories. I heard the jangling of "The Posse" as they swaggered up, switching their Bowie knives off their thighs to keep from amputating themselves at the knees as they sat.

GaWaNi Pony Boy was everything I knew he'd be. He was elegant. He was wise. He was inspiring. He was funny as hell. Plus, Pony is yummy in an exotic, Native American sort of way. Bill got into him even though he believed the rumor that Pony is really just a nice Jewish boy from New York. I don't care if he's an Albanian sausage maker; I think his methods make sense. Unlike John Lyons and the Parellis (although I have great respect for all of them), Pony didn't bring his own Stepford horses. He was not into tricks. Pony was about the predator/prey relationship and how to use it with care to get the best out of a horse.

Pony invited anyone who wanted to walk with him at 6 a.m. the next day to meet at the barn. I was going if I had to crawl on broken legs. Sure that I would be one of a few who were willing to walk, I was disappointed to see that Pony had a crowd of 15. I could tell by their trudging gait and too-many-Snickers bodies that most of them would poop out and leave me and Pony to a more intimate walk. "These people will shed like skin off a lifeguard's nose after the first mile," I smirked to myself.

Wrong. Tough, determined and talky, the troupe trooped on. Not only that, many had brought muffins for Pony! What a bunch of suck ups. Wish I'd thought of it.

Auntie Em!  or Ditch or Die
After another scrumptious dinner of slop and glop (gelatin and cottage cheese for me), Bill and I retired to our room in the cardboard shack. The rolling picture on the five-channel TV with the coat hanger antenna (that's where the other hanger went!) warned of tornadoes. Tornadoes!? And we were holed up in this construction paper building!? I hurried into my clothes.

"I'm going out to see what's going on."

Bill just smirked, adjusting the coat hanger antenna.

I scouted for intel from anyone I could find. Yes, tornadoes were reported. I ran back up to our hovel.

"Get up. Put on your clothes. Tornadoes are coming!" I urged, breathless.

"Where the hell are we going to go?"

"There's a ditch down past this building. We could lie down in there," grabbing my purse.

"I'm not lying down in a ditch," was Bill's not unreasonable response.

I couldn't convince him. I felt like Lillian Gish in the closet scene from Broken Blossoms as the wind whipped the driving rain sideways against our windows. I scurried back and forth, unsuccessful at motivating Bill and trying to decide if I should abandon the fool and hurl myself into the ditch. There was the other possibility -- that I would be the only lunatic lying face down in the mud in a ditch. The danger passed while I was weighing those options. We went out to the landing to reconnoiter. Many of the campsite people were huddled together in the ditch. Even Loner Girl was there. Ha! Vindicated!

The Party's Over
That was it. I got up the next morning, had my swill and came back to pack. Missouri is the "Show Me State." Well, show me the way to go home. I'm tired and I want my own bed.

"I'm packing. You go on your ride. I'll be waiting at the barn at 12:30. If you aren't in the truck by 12:45, I'm leaving." After that, I went quiet. Bill knew better than to challenge me when I go quiet. There's a chance if I'm still yelling. Game's over if I go quiet. Bill strode off to have what turned out to be the best ride of his whole life.

I packed up our Ranger, then headed to the settin' porch to read and wait. Twelve thirty, I fired up the truck and spit gravel as I drove up to the barn. I sat there with the engine running. A gorgeous sight on a big black Tennessee Walker, Bill was a vision in motion in a haul-ass, fast, gaited walk.

"Wow, you look amazing, Bill. Get off and get in the car."

What did I gain from this experience? All adventures have value. Savor the anticipation. Better to venture out to the uncharted territory than not try. Hey, I handled a variety of personal and riding challenges, some that kicked holes in my "comfort fences."

The real lesson was, we never know the true heart of an adventure. I thought I was there to commune with GaWaNi Pony Boy, but Loner Girl ended up being the star for me. Watch the quiet, odd one in the corner. That person may be the most valuable being in the room. She might save a horse . . . or you. 

Candace Wade wrote the book Horse Sluts - The Saga of Two Women on the Trail of Their Yeehaw. She has contributed to Horse Nation, Mature Lifestyles and The Tennessean. Candace writes political diatribe, wrote “Hillary’s View” pet column and four unpublished film scripts. She learned to ride at age 46. Still rides at 59+.

Read Candace's Riding & Writing interview here.

Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Cyrus Alderwood, Author

Cyrus Alderwood is the author of A Man Called DooshPot of Gold, and Bedtime Stories for the Terminally Afraid, and a book about the fun times and fads of the 80’s full of cool trivia called The Ultimate 80’s.

Alderwood writes across many different genres including comedy and horror, and is currently working on his next project Tales From the Sunset Pub.  Writing under several different pen names, Alderwood enjoys writing horror/suspense.
Alderwood expounds “I’m going to admit something here that is a bit stupid. I love conspiracy theories and oddities. You name it! If there is a documentary on it I’m pretty sure I’ll carve out time from my day to watch it. It doesn’t matter what it is. Loch Ness! Bigfoot. The government hiding crash debris from UFO’s. If there is a show about ghosts and hauntings I’m all over it. In fact, I had a lot of fun with conspiracies and oddities in my book Pot of Gold.”

Welcome Cyrus!
You write a wide genre of material. Of all the books you have written, which is your favorite?  
It’s hard to pick a favorite, but so far one that has meant a great deal to me is Pot of Gold. I wrote that comedy at a time in my life that was very difficult for me for a number of reasons and I needed to find some humor to cope with it. I made light of my situation in an indirect way and literally laughed the entire time I wrote the book. I think writing that book helped me grow as a person, even though you might read it and wonder how the heck someone my age could have such a crazy sense of humor in a couple of those scenes. Even though it was a hilarious adventure I hope that the theme of hope in a better tomorrow impacts the reader as much as it impacted me while writing it.

So if you haven’t picked up something funny to read in a long time, make Pot of Gold your next stop for your e-reader device or email me at to buy your signed copy.

As a follower of oddities (UFO's, Big Foot, etc.) do you find these unknowns to be real or just a figment of our imagination?  
I find conspiracy theories and documentaries/research into the unknown absolutely fascinating and a lot of fun to jump right into. But I must admit, I’m a healthy skeptic. I’ve never seen a ghost or anything supernatural that I wasn’t willing to accept a perfectly rational explanation for. I’ve never run into Bigfoot or one of his hairy cousins and I’ve never seen a UFO. However, I’m not
entirely closed minded to those oddities. After all, scientists are discovering new species every day, I’ve never purposely sought out a supposed haunted location, and it’s a great big beautiful universe we live in. But with all the things that we don’t know about, I think it’s important to have a little fun with these topics in the meantime. That was one element of Pot of Gold that I wanted to give to the reader…the ability to laugh at things that we probably have a curiosity about.

So, until someone comes up with hard DNA evidence of the existence of Bigfoot I’m going to assume the sightings are probably just some overly hairy dude from Montana or somewhere that just likes to go hiking all over the country.

When you write scary stories, where does your inspiration come from? 
There is no better inspiration than asking yourself “What If?” The very first novel I wrote, Legends and Landmarks, Volume I: The Night Walker, is a perfect example of that. I had just moved to Cincinnati in 2000 and a friend of mine was giving me a tour of the city. As part of the tour she wanted me to see this very old and peaceful cemetery called Spring Grove Cemetery. The place was everything she described…serene, peaceful, and inspirational. As we drove through this huge cemetery we saw joggers, artists painting at their easels, people sketching, and many just there to enjoy the scenery. As I’m riding along I look around at the spectacular monuments and asked myself, “What if this old cemetery was built to hide something sinister from the past? And it was right under our noses for the past 200 years or so?” I managed to get an entire four-part horror series out of that one.

I feel that we are constantly surrounded by inspiration for one kind of story or another, horror or comedy. Want to come up with an idea for a comedy book? Go sit on the bench inside of a Walmart for a couple of hours and just observe people! That’s a good start! Hehe.

My favorite chiller writer is Bram Stoker. Who's yours?
Well Stephen King is great, probably a favorite of most folks. But there are a lot of great chiller writers out there such as Joe Hill, Dean Koontz, and John Manning. However, one of my favorites in the genre is Edgar Allan Poe.

Do you write personal events and scenarios into your storylines?
I try to avoid anything too specific that has happened in my life, but I do stick with familiar themes. In some ways there is a little piece of me in a character or two in each book I have written. As for what characters those are I guess I’ll leave the reader guessing for a while. If I ever hit the best seller lists I might discuss a bit more in detail about how I personally relate to some of the characters. Until then I’ll just have a little fun with the characters and keep people guessing.

Who is your favorite character of your own creation? Why?
That’s a tough question! There are two that really meant a lot to me over the years. One is the main character Eric Young from my first novel, Legends and Landmarks, Volume I: The Night Walker. To see that character grow over the course of the book series was just as entertaining for me as it was for the reader. At that point I was still trying to learn how to be a writer and I learned that the conflicts, both internal and external, were vital in developing Eric Young throughout the series.

Another character near and dear to my heart is Eddie Duchesne, aka “The Doosh” in the comedy A Man Called Doosh. Imagine having that as an unfortunate nickname growing up! Anyway, he is faced with a financial dilemma. To solve the problem this guy decides to just jump into the unknown and follow a childhood dream in hopes of making enough money with his second job so that his pregnant wife doesn’t have to work longer hours. He’s a chivalrous and reckless guy at the same time. He has the guts to chase a dream, and there is a part of all of us that would love the chance to do the same in our own lives. Be prepared for a lot of slap-stick comedy in this one. The Doosh is too busy thinking about what could go right that he doesn’t think about what could go wrong.

Describe your writing routine; where you write and if you have a muse...
I wish I had more of a routine, but I don’t. I do try to make sure that I have at least five pages to look back on by the end of the week. It’s often easier said than done. However, once I’m in the middle of a project I have a hard time slowing down. My work tends to accelerate rapidly once I get past the tenth chapter of whatever I’m working on at the time.

What are you currently writing?
I’m currently working on two different books in two different genres. I am hoping to finish up the first draft of a comedy called Tales From the Sunset Pub by the end of this year. I’ve had a fun time writing comedy over the past year or so but I have been yearning to get back to horror and suspense. The other book, I’m a few chapters in already, is a conspiracy theory that pits a renegade P.I. working a murder case against a sinister plot of domestic terrorism that goes high up into politics and the military industrial complex.

What are you currently reading?
I’m one of those folks that can’t focus on one book at a time. I read several at once. I’m currently reading Slaughterhouse-Five by Kurt Vonnegut, The Electric Kool-Aid Acid Test by Tom Wolfe, and Story Trumps Structure by Steven James.

Do you have advice for novice writers?
Don’t be afraid to make mistakes. I’m still making them and I’m working on my 10th book. Writing a book is hard work. Just don’t let the day to day frustrations stop you from continuing. You have a story to tell. Sit down, bang on the keyboard every day and tell it!

Elvis lives?
Of course he does! In the hearts and minds of fans all over the world.

Connect with Cyrus Alderwood…

Monday, November 23, 2015

Studio Kristo Photography, Santorini

The proprietor of Studio Kristo, meet Kristo, world renowned photographer located in beautiful Santorini. Clicking stunning photographs of all life events (weddings, honeymoons, family events, and more) Kristo captures the essence and drama of his subjects, including horses.

Kristo writes, “…horses are representative of the spirit, which is very similar to freedom. Horses serve men, but will never be fully tamed by them. This is just like art. The art serves as a vessel for storytelling, but it has no boundaries, it is open in any direction.”

Welcome Kristo!

Your photos are stunning. What is the secret to capturing the perfect photo?
Photography is not just click and shoot. I strongly believe that beauty is all around us. You just need some time to discover it. The lighting, the lenses, the camera, the landscape, each play an important role. But I think that you need to connect with your subjects, live their moments, understand their way of thinking. Even harsh sun can be easily turned into something beautiful and dramatic. It’s the heart of the photographer that speaks, not the pictures. 

Living in Santorini, you reside in a captivating and intriguing community. What landmark is the most photographed in your area?
Santorini is a breathtaking island. There are endless photographic opportunities. Two of the most popular attractions are the world famous sunset and the blue domed churches. The sunset of Santorini is said to be the most photographed in the world, while the locals say that “Santorini’s sunset enters your soul and lives there forever.”  Tip: I recommend arriving at least 30 minutes earlier to grab the best location to admire the sunset.

Another interesting thing is that most of the travelers think that there is only one church with a blue dome in Santorini. That is actually not true. At present, there are over 365 churches and chapels in the island, more than the days of the year! So, for such a small island, it’s not that difficult to find and photograph a blue domed church.

How do you use light and environment to enhance a photo?
Santorini is a very bright place, and the sun is harsh. In addition to that, houses are painted white to reflect the sun making the light worse. All that could cause harsh shadows on faces when shooting outdoors.  Professionals suggest that the best way to avoid distracting facial shadows from midday lighting is to bring your subjects into a shaded area. But in Santorini there are no large trees, nor any buildings that could cast a big enough shadow to fit the subject. After all, most of my pictures are taken at the edge of the cliff, at the top roofs of the white painted hotels or at the beach. So, I usually position my subjects with their backs to the sun. And of course, I always shoot in manual since the harsh light can easily confuse the camera’s sensors, no matter of how professional the camera is.

Do you have a favorite photo for your own creation?
It’s difficult to pick out a photo. Each photo session is different for me and each picture has something unique to say.  My clients and friends call me storyteller. So, it would be easier for me to choose a story instead of a specific picture. Here is a short interesting story I think that stands out of the others…

Besides weddings, events and portraits, what else do you like to photograph?
I love shooting animals and specially horses. First of all, horses are representative of the spirit, which is very similar to freedom. Horses serve men, but will never be fully tamed by them. This is just like art. The art serves as a vessel for storytelling, but it has no boundaries, it is open in any direction. Also, a horse has so much love to give and as a wedding photographer myself I always try to capture the love of people relationships. One of my latest photo sessions was done for a local horse riding company in Santorini. Horse riding is an activity that is getting more and more popular. The shoot of these 3 beautiful horses running free took place at the black sand volcanic beach. What a better place to capture the spirit of the freedom?  

Where is your favorite place to photograph?
It depends on my clients’ needs. I started my career by shooting indoors. Now, I prefer to shoot mainly outdoors. It’s more creative and interesting to me. Santorini’s rich diversity of landscapes provides endless choices. The blue domed churches in Oia village are a must visit. This is where we always catch the sunset away from tourist crowds. Also, paths along the edge of Caldera offer unbeatable views, while the unique red and black volcanic beaches are nice add-ons to the whole session.

What should I wear for the perfect photograph?
The blue and white colors are the trademark of Santorini. But, my advice is to wear what you feel best in. The confidence you have in the right outfit will shine through.

When I visit Greece, what is the best way to schedule a photo session with you?
Even though I’m based in Santorini, Greece, I’m also available for domestic and international travel.

Before scheduling the photo session, I suggest to prepare the photo session by visiting my gallery page first for some ideas. Then you can get in touch with me
Via Facebook:
Via my website:
Via phone:  (+30) 6986984670

Please note that I book up fast, especially during the busy summer season, although there are some pockets here and there that I can fill. So, to ensure availability, get in touch with me as soon as you confirm your photography date.

Connect with Kristo…
Visit his website and facebook for more stunning photographs

Sunday, November 22, 2015

Penelope Langley, Author and Equestrian

Penelope (Penny) Langley is an avid equestrian, certified equine massage therapist, hooker (rug hooker!), fiber diva, and author. Along with Candace Wade, Penny wrote Horse Sluts: The Saga of Two Women on the Trail of their Yeehaw. 

Living with her dog Sookie in Tennessee, USA, Penny interviews about her riding, writing, and much more…

Welcome Penny!

When was your first encounter with a horse?
My sister and her husband lived on his family’s farm and there was a pony all the kids rode.  They used the pony in 4-H shows and the local pony club mostly barrel racing.  The barrels were set up in a field and we would ride to the starting line and the pony knew exactly what to do without any encouragement from us.  She would take off and go through the barrel pattern and as soon as she rounded the last barrel she would go into a mad dash toward the finish line.  I had no problems staying in the saddle and felt no fear whatsoever – oh, the joy of youth!

What horses do you currently stable and what are their dispositions?
I’m a horse slut so I don’t have my own horse but I have had some favorites.  I’ve ridden a Tennessee Walking Horse named Spur at Southeast Pack Trips the last few times I’ve been and I really enjoy him.  He’s good natured, smart, steady and has no problem moving out into that walking-on-a-cloud gait that the horses are known for.  We’re a great match because we both like to move with a little speed.  My all-time favorite horse was Buddy, another TN Walking Horse that was owned by a friend.  We bonded the first time we met and he was the only horse that would always come to us when we went to the pasture to bring them in.  He would lay his head on my shoulder and follow me like a puppy.  I would canter him across a field and all I had to do to turn him was tighten my little finger and he knew exactly what I wanted. 

Congratulations on your novel Horse Sluts!
Thank you and I hope you enjoyed it.  We started it more for our own entertainment than for the public but as we met more women who ride and shared their horse experiences with us, it soon became clear that we needed to put this out there as a way for all horse women to connect.  We’ve met wonderful people who we now consider friends through the book and hope it will continue.

Candace, your co-author, has already interviewed about Horse Sluts, but your viewpoint is important, too! What is the premise for your book and who is your niche audience? 
The book is about our experiences as two 40-something women who decide we want to learn to ride.  We find out that our minds may still be in our 20’s but our bodies definitely aren’t.  Fear raises its ugly head as we realize the repercussions of a fall or injury and suddenly helmets are a great idea – no, they’re mandatory!  Candace and I are the same in that we love to learn new things and to track our progress as our skills advance.  If you could learn to ride from a book, we would be national champions but we took what we learned from books and applied it to our riding.  For me, it’s a reminder that life is an adventure and age is no reason to stop doing the things you love or to start learning new things.  Our niche audience is middle-aged women who ride, have always wanted to ride, have always wanted to get back into riding or have always wanted to do anything they’ve never had the courage or the time to pursue.  It’s also for people who enjoy reading about other’s adventures and the feelings and emotions that come up when on this journey.  One of the most important things when we were writing was that we were brutally real and honest.  I think that has helped us connect with other women because having fun comes before being perfect.  It doesn’t matter if you do something perfectly – just that you do it!

How did you and Candace connect?
We met through a mutual friend when Candace was still living in California and hit it off immediately.  Our friend hosted a party in Tennessee and we had come up with our first joint venture within an hour of meeting.  Another friend had spent the previous weekend at her husband’s fishing camp watching an hour long video about skeet shooting because she was trying to show some interest in his hobbies.  We decided to develop a line of eye cream specifically for the woman skeet shooter since they have to close one eye and focus and there are bound to be additional wrinkles.  We were going to call it Skeet Cream and sell it in a double pump action dispenser.  As we howled with laughter, some joined in and some looked at us like they weren’t quite sure if we should be committed.  I guess you already know the ones we’re still friends with? 

Where are the best riding trails in Tennessee?
In the book I say that if I could only ride one place for the rest of my life, it would be at Big South Fork.  There are so many trails with terrain that can be flat where you can move with speed to some serious climbs.  It’s incredibly beautiful and mostly heavy forest with wild rhododendron that blooms in the spring.  You can ride all day and only see one or two other people.  It’s truly a slice of heaven on earth.

Penny on Cheyenne at Big South Fork
Describe a day in the life of Penny Langley…
Since I work full time as mortgage operations manager for a bank, I get up and go through the house like my hair is on fire trying to get to work on time.  I’m not a morning person.  I have a commute of about an hour so I listen to books on tape as I drive and then dive into work.  I check Facebook and e-mail during lunch to see what’s happening and also post on our Twitter and Pinterest accounts.  I often work late but continue to do social media marketing once I get home.

What are you currently writing?
I’m not currently writing anything because I’m more of a storyteller than a writer.   I’m a traditional rug hooker and fiber artist and am currently working on one of my all-time favorite hooked rugs.  My goal is to finish this one (a lion) and then start a project of hooking various horses and western-themed rugs.  I hooked one of cowboy boots several years ago and sold it through a ranch and lodgings specialty store in Los Angeles.  I’ve sold several others in Middle TN and want to do more original designs. I do have a plan to eventually write a trail snacks and cocktails book.  I love to read about food and come up with new cocktail recipes (former bartender) and specialize in the quick and easy when it comes to food.  A great cocktail and snacks is the perfect way to end the day after a great ride, followed by a nice but easy dinner.  I was diagnosed as a diabetic last year so I want to provide some trail snacks that will meet the needs of diabetics when they’re out on the trail miles away from a store, house, etc. in case there is a drop in blood sugar. 

What are you currently reading?
I read everything but can never remember titles.  I’m finishing up a book about a man who saved a mustang captured by the Bureau of Land Management.  I’m also reading one about matching people and horses up through personality types such as the Briggs Myers test for horses and people.  I always have several fictions going as well as catching up on the latest Vanity Fair – love their articles.  Another book I’m reading is Insight Mediation since getting into meditation is on my list of things to do.  With working full-time and promoting the book as well as everything else in my life, I think meditation will bring me some of the peace I find when on horseback.

Do you have advice for novice riders and those looking to purchase their first horse?
I would suggest lessons for anyone who wants to take up horseback riding as well as always wearing a helmet.  The lessons you learn about safety around a horse are well worth the cost of lessons and you can then move on to riding skills.  Another thing I would say is that not every trainer is right for every student and it’s important to find someone who works well with you and your style of learning.  People learn differently and if your trainer isn’t able to teach in a style that works for you, frustration will soon set in and may sour you on riding. 

Another thing I’ve found is that just because someone has horses or says they’ve been riding a long time, it doesn’t’ always mean they know best.  We’ve been in some interesting and unsafe situations around people who were supposed to be experts.  If your gut instinct is telling you that something isn’t a good idea, listen to it.  As far as buying that first horse, I would consult that wonderful trainer you’ve found who knows your personality and your riding level and have them check the horse for temperament and health problems. 

Penny and Candace
What does horsemanship mean to you?
Horsemanship is the relationship established between a human and a horse with mutual respect and trust.  It’s a partnership with the human being a kind and loving leader.

Connect with Penny…

Read Candace Wades Riding & Writing interview here.

Candace Wade, Author and Equestrian

Candace riding Shabeah
Residing in Tennessee, USA, meet author and equestrian Candace Wade. Candace is the co-author of Horse Sluts - The Saga of Two Women on the Trail of Their Yeehaw. Horse Sluts tells how to face your fears. How to challenge yourself. How to spit age in the eye -- on horseback.”

Along with her co-author, Penny Langley, Candace writes, “We create audacious events that surprise. People can't wait to play in our "sandbox." 

Welcome Candace!

When was your first encounter with a horse?
We all had the usual pony rides as a child. Then I had the "stay-ons" (I know now I wasn't truly riding) bouncing for two hours in Griffith Park in Los Angeles and Palm Springs.  The spiffy clothes associated with riding English moved me to take a few English riding lessons in the Malibu hills in my late 20's. This was also "away time" from my husband at the time. I was more interested in creating myself than being married.  Competing wasn't my goal, so I traded the riding Saturdays for hanging out at the beach with my girlfriend.  Is there a study that shows how many women use horses as an escape from (fill in the blank) and/or a vehicle to re-invent themselves?

What horses do you currently stable and what are their dispositions?
The world is my stable because I don't own, I rent.  "Jag," a Paint Quarter Horse and "Shebeah" (as in "she be a b****"), a grey Tennessee Walking Horse are the two main horses in my life.  "Shebeah" is my favorite ride at Southeast Pack Trips at Big South Fork, Tennessee. She's not really a b****. The owner, Larry McMillan, calls her that because she bites him. Maybe he deserves it? "Shebeah" is willing, fast, has a soaring walk. Her canter rocks like a cradle. She makes me look good.

My lovely "Jag" belongs to a teenage girl who rides and boards him at Equine Training Center in Mt. Pleasant, Tennessee.  He works as a schooling horse for selected riders.  His previous job as a barrel racer makes him expect that every rider wants to fly around the arena and make bat-turns.  I (and his owner) ride him English.  He is smart, willing, fast and is a tailor-made teacher for me. He challenges me just enough.  "Jag" is not social. I have discovered this works with my personality. I have been reading Ride the Right Horse by Yvonne Barteau. She breaks down horses' and riders' personality types to help match them and to understand why we might not be blending with our rides. I love "Jag." I don't expect/need him to love me back. That would be about "me." My riding with him is about "us" and him as my teacher.  I love to love "Jag." I don't need him to love me in return.

Congratulations on your book Horse Sluts !
Thank you for your support and acknowledgment on writing, completing and bringing Horse Sluts - The Saga of Two Women on the Trail of Their Yeehaw to print.  My goal was to express Penny and my experiences as creative non-fiction.  True, but visceral and visual. 

What is the premise for your book and who is your niche audience?
The blurb from our marketing card expresses the premise as:

When memories of who we were and what we used to do smash at our egos like bugs on a windshield, Horse Sluts gives a leg up on recapturing the yeehaw of youth. It's how to stand up to fears, how to challenge ourselves.  Horse Sluts is for women who refuse to surrender to age, women who embrace moving forward; it's for women open to the thrill of freedom, of movement, of power -- okay, of controlling a large animal between her legs. Yeehaw! 

Penny and I discovered early into the fantasy process of writing Horse Sluts that the book was not about us; it was about reaching out to other mature riders who used to ride, never rode and/or wanted to feel "juicy" inside again.  Penny and I are just the foils -- examples of overcoming the foibles of being a middle-aged human.

How did you and Penny connect and collaborate?
Penny and I became friends through another friend before my husband and I moved from San Francisco to Middle Tennessee in 1999.  She and I were both in our 40's and plunged into riding lessons together.  We became dear friends and riding buddies.  After years of lessons, riding trips and carting about within an eight hour drive to horse events, the idea that writing a book about our crazy riding adventures became the next audacious challenge.  We dubbed ourselves Horse Sluts because we didn't own horses and were motivated to do most anything to ride. "Hey, Mister, I'll muck your stalls if I can ride your horse."  Truth is, mostly we pay cold hard cash to rent.

We cobbled a list of riding trips we had taken (together and apart), our lesson experiences and focused on what we felt.  I started to get a sense of how the stories could be organized as examples for the learning and growing processes older riders experience.  A "three act" form began to emerge. Our journey of growth became the engine to bring the reader along with us. 

Penny would send her recollections and personal experiences to me to weave into the story fabric. Her view is shown in italics.  Penny is an engaging, "sit on the couch with a glass of wine" storyteller.  I tried to replicate her "voice" in those sections. As usual with us, we had no idea how to do any of this, but believed if other people could do it, so could we. Much like learning to post on the diagonal -- if kids can do it, so can we.

Where are the best riding trails in Tennessee?
Penny and I are still exploring.  Not owning, we are a tad bit limited to areas where we can procure horses.  Big South Fork on the Cumberland Plateau is my fave. We rent at Southeast Pack Trips. We stay at either Laurel Fork Rustic Retreat or the newly re-opened The Fork. It used to be Wildwood Bed and Breakfast. We shop and party at True West Campground and Mercantile. True West has a prime location at the entrance of the park for those who trailer their horses to stable and camp.

We enjoyed two hours of varied terrain just outside of Nashville at Percy Warner Park. I have friends that love Bowie Park for wide, loamy trails. Trailering to Milky Way Farm is on our list, too.

Describe a day in the life of Candace Wade…
Those of you who work at home know that beginning and end times and days off have to be brought to ground -- found -- lassoed -- respected. My day is a juggling act among marketing Horse Sluts (Facebook, e-mails, ferreting out PR and book related opportunities); writing for Horse Nation and Mature Lifestyles; looking for other freelance writing opportunities; quiet time to let new writing ideas seep into my brain; preparing to moderate a panel at the Equus Film Festival NYC in November; writing a sample treatment for a scripted version of Horse Sluts (just in case); carving out riding time and the usual home and husband stuff.  I am a lark. Coffee and a stab at the NY Times Sunday crossword puzzle begins at 6:00 a.m. I check the week's weather in case I can go out to Equine Training Center to ride "Jag." My husband and I suit up to take our pooch out for a long walk, then zip over to the gym. We are back at our perspective desks by 9:00ish.

Penny and I soaked-up a seminar on a work discipline for success. Identify and focus on the one thing that is the path to your goal.  Isn't this true when working to improve our riding?  Find and focus on one thing that you can accomplish -- do well -- then, move to another task another day (or, in your work day, later that day).  Facebook and Twitter can be an explosive tool for marketing, keeping up horsey relationships and connecting with new horse friends, BUT, it can be a blood sucker. Its siren call pulls us away from our tangible lives.  Facebook and e-mails get their own time block in my day, then that's it.  I put my fingers in my ears, focus on my writing and repeat, "I can't hear you. I can't hear you."  By 3:00 p.m. I'm blitzed. Then, time for another dog walk; inventing something for dinner that my husband can identify as food; laundry; garden; house and falling to sleep to re--runs of Law and Order.

What are you currently writing?
I am scouting ideas and dogging interviews for new pieces that include:  what is involved in "unstacking" "big lick" gaited horses; how and when did soring and "big lick" start; a friend who jumps sidesaddle on a stunning spotted mule; mature riders who play polo; and pieces focused toward older riders (especially those who don't own) and motivating mature people to claim their yeehaw.  I am incubating a novel based on a film scrip I wrote.  Fiction writing scares me -- the "edge of the world"  lack of boundaries.  I'm one of those who feels comfort by rules and boundaries -- so I know where and when to bust them.

What are you currently reading?
My reading is heavy on non-fiction. I'm reading Ride the Right Horse mentioned before.  I have started The Broken Road by Patrick Leigh Fermor. Following picaresque journeys sucks me in. Anything by Bill Bryson, but especially Lost Continent and Neither Here Nor There. God's Middle Finger by Richard Grant is stunning in its language and visuals.  Fiction? Anything by James Lee Burke and the Aurelio Zen series by Michael Dibdin.  I'm drawn to the sensuous (gratifying the senses) styles of writing. I want to smell and taste the crawfish po' boy and drink in the scenery as I'm led to the car crash of the character's emotional adventure.

Do you have advice for novice riders and those looking to purchase their first horse?
We crafted our stories not to play-act as experts. That said I would look an adult beginning rider in the eye and say, "Name your emotions and I've been there.  You are not alone.  Take a deep breath and jump in."

Jane Smiley's interview "Everything I Need to Know I Learned from a Horse" reaffirms much of what we older riders experience.

I'd pass on the advice given to me to work on one task at a time. You can say "no" to any activity for which you have real fear or concern, but keep giving them a try. One day, you will be the master of that fear. Turn off your day, turn off your brain, turn off your "have to's" and trust the horse.  Acquiring a first horse?  Like buying a used car, take along a "mechanic" -- someone who knows horses.  I would hope you would consider a rescue.  Close your eyes and choose with your gut.  Like with us, beauty is under the saddle not on the face.

What does horsemanship mean to you?
Most of us will never win a silver cup or perform airs above the ground.  Even if we do, for me, horsemanship starts with responsible care and stewardship.  It is a willingness to continue to learn and improve riding skills in order to keep both horse and rider safe. It is patience and grace under stress. It is turning the me into we on entering the barn.

Connect with Candace…

Candace on Jag with Penny at Equine Training Center