Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Mandy Trouten, Author

From South Carolina, USA, Mandy Trouten is the author of Maybe Today, a fiction account of assault and abuse during high school. Currently a peer counselor and advocate addressing the trials of bullying and peer abuse, Mandy continues her efforts to inform and educate the public.

Welcome Mandy!

What was your inspiration for writing 'Maybe Today'?

It occurred to me that I would be more successful in getting people interested in peer sexual abuse with a "fictional" book than with nonfiction. It's a general fact that most people only read in-depth about a subject if they're already looking into it. Though I would love to reach other sexual abuse advocates, we account for what appears to be an extreme minority of Americans and I really want to reach everyone else--people who don't think it's that big an issue, or do think it is, but don't think anyone cares or anything can be done about it.

What are the statistics for peer abuse in public schools?

The statistics for peer abuse vary by type. An estimated 1/4 to 1/3 of students are victims of bullying, as it's commonly defined, whether physical or verbal. 48% of teens were victims of peer sexual abuse in the 2010-11 school year. To the best of my knowledge, this does not include dating violence. 25% of teens are victimized on a daily/semi-daily basis. Maybe 10% of students, elementary through college, report the abuse to adults. In my experience, this is because most of the abuse happens where adults can see/hear it, yet nothing is done. Often, when adults do get involved, their actions are weak and ineffective.

Do you focus on 'bullying' or another type of peer abuse?

I advocate against all types of abuse in all age groups, but my focus is peer sexual abuse among teens in school.

As a society, what can we do to help?

Students--victims, perpetrators and bystanders--need to know that someone cares and, all too often, teachers and administrators will sweep abuse under the rug if given even half a chance. Sometimes, this is because they don't know what can be done about it and fear taking a stand against their supervisors at the cost of their jobs; but, other times, it's because they don't want to get involved. I had one teacher in high school who actively encouraged the abuse. In 4 years, not once did any of my abusers get more than a "warning" from the administration. A couple warnings were much stronger and very effective, at least for a couple of my abusers, but they were still warnings. It's tempting to think that mine is an isolated case, but it's not. 

"GGE and a previous survey by AAUW report that 25% of students experience sexual harassment on a daily basis, yet only .3% of schools agreed and 33.6% of schools said it “never happens.”" --excerpt from Shadows of Night 

This in itself says that the majority of schools are not paying attention. While I'll readily acknowledge that some schools are much better about this than others, it's also a safe bet that far more than .3% of schools have a regular problem with peer sexual abuse. The best things people can do are to educate themselves on as much as possible having to do with peer sexual abuse and get involved. I'm not just talking about holding rallies and speaking in schools. I'm talking about "small" things, like speaking out when you witness abuse. Tell the abuser that it's unacceptable, tell the victim that you support him/her and tell the adults in charge what happened. Then, follow up with the victim and, as necessary, the adults in charge. 

What other books have you written?  

I've also written a fiction called Silent Night. It's also about sexual abuse, but is written from the perspective of a young woman in her late 20s. She has recently begun having nightmares about the abuse she suffered in school and is struggling not to let her growing PTSD interfere with her job and life. Not big on clubs and similar social things, she agrees to attend the grand opening party of a local club with a friend/coworker. As it happens, her abuser is also there and he isn't about to leave the abuse in the past. She now has to learn how to stop him or go back to being helpless. In theory, Silent Night will be the next book released, in 6 months to a year.

My current book, Shadows of Night, is non-fiction. This book covers everything/nearly everything you need/want to know about peer sexual abuse in schools.

What are you currently writing?

I'm currently working on an action thriller--a bit outside of my element. I like to read the work of action thriller authors like Iris Johansen, Catherine Coulter, John Grisham and Vince Flynn, but writing it is something else all-together. It has the makings of a good book though. I've got the plot and several of the scenes. Now, it's just a question of writing and naming it. :) 

Who is your favorite author?  

It always depends on when. I love Tori Phillips, Jude Deveraux, Catherine Coulter and Iris Johansen. Of course, another of my favorites is K.S. Haigwood and her Save my Soul series. I love books with a quick plot, a healthy dose of wit, believable/likeable characters, etc. and a minimal amount of smut. I'm largely okay with sex/sexual content, but there's a big difference between pg13 (as it was in recent decades, not now) and X.

On a Sunday afternoon, where would we find you?  

That depends. Some Sundays, I'm at home relaxing--reading, watching TV, working on a book (yes, that counts), etc. Other Sundays, I'm at the office working on websites, my books, other people's books, anti-abuse advocacy, etc.

Connect with Mandy

Sunday, July 28, 2013

My Secretary

At the barn office, Bake (the cat) likes to sleep on my manuscripts. There are pawprints on my editor's copy. I suppose my editor won't mind, as long as I meet my deadline! 

Bake has five toes on each paw, which makes him purrr-fect!

Bake helping with correspondence...or is he? zZZzzz...

"Pose, Cherokee! This is for mom's blog"
"Tell them it's our naptime, Cherokee. Go back to sleep!"

"There's a mouse? Where?"

All photos on this site copyright Gina McKnight 2013
No duplication without permission

Friday, July 26, 2013

Sally Faith Steinmann, Milliner

Help save the horses! Mark your calendar! Place your bid from November 1 - 11. Visit http://www.maggiemae.com/OldFriendsAuction.htm for information!

Sally Faith Steinmann was born on Cape Cod, Massachusetts, USA, at a time when hats were going out of fashion. However, as a little girl she was intrigued by the hats she saw and began creating hats and costumes for her puppets and stuffed animals. It was this fascination with designing and creating that eventually led to her career as a milliner.

It was during her studies in women’s issues, psychology and film at Wellesley College that Steinmann began to focus on the social messages that women in this culture receive about themselves and what they should look like. She gradually began to refine her ideas and began to relate them to fashion and the choices women make about what they wear. She realized that fashion doesn’t need to be limited to society’s definition of beauty and style but should center around what makes a woman feel good about herself. After graduation she returned to Cape Cod and rediscovered her childhood love of creating hats. Out of this passion she created her company, MAGGIE MAE DESIGNS®, which she tailored to remind a woman that there is only one standard of beauty, and that is her own.

After beginning MAGGIE MAE DESIGNS® in 1998, Steinmann centered her attention on creating a line of custom design fabric hats which, since 2000, she has sold exclusively through her website, www.maggiemae.com. As her clientèle expanded so did her designs which include hats for equine events, polo matches, steeplechase and hunter events, as well as hats for weddings, teas, garden parties, Concours d’Elegance classic car events and church events. She has developed a loyal following, both in the United States and internationally, based on mutual respect, service and shared appreciation for quality fine millinery.

Over the years Steinmann’s millinery creations have found their way to her Majesty the Queen’s garden parties in Scotland and London, adorned brides and mothers of the bride and groom, as well as teas, countless parties and bar mitzvahs. An avid horse lover, her hats can be seen at equine events both nationally and internationally including the Royal Ascot, Dubai and the winner’s circle at the Kentucky Derby. Her Derby hats have also been honored by being accepted at the Kentucky Derby Museum’s Annual Derby Hat Exhibits. A strong advocate of Thoroughbred equine aftercare, Steinmann began her annual fundraising event, Hats off to the Horses: The Road to the Derby” with Old Friends Equine of Kentucky in 2009. 2013 marks the fourth year of this successful event in which six of her original one of a kind Derby designs honoring retired race horses are auctioned online…. http://www.maggiemae.com/bio.htm 

When did you realize you wanted to be a milliner?
I've had a lifelong passion for beautiful hats. I grew up watching Audrey Hepburn in "My Fair Lady" and Barbara Streisand in "Funny Girl" and "Hello Dolly!"  And I loved making outfits and hats for my stuffed animals to wear. I was a graduate of Wellesley College where I majored in women's studies, documentary film and psychology. Through my studies I realized the social messages that women in this culture receive about beauty and fashion. I believe that fashion doesn’t need to be limited to society’s definition of beauty and style but should center around what makes a woman feel good about herself, from the inside out. After graduation I returned to my native Cape Cod and rediscovered my childhood love for creating hats. My Mom had given me a pattern for making a felted wool hat and from the very beginning I was hooked. My childhood love for shaping natural fibers into something that could be worn was rekindled. I created fanciful wool hats in bright bold colors and sumptuous textures, and when summer came I created a line of "Easter bonnets" out of silk and linen, decorated with flowers and ribbons and bows. At this point, in 1998, I decided to start my hat business, MAGGIE MAE DESIGNS®, naming it after my tabby kitty, Maggie Mae, who has been my muse since the very beginning. My goal was to offer a hat business tailored to remind a woman that there is only one standard of beauty, and that is her own.

Do you have a favorite hat of your own creation?
Choosing a favorite hat would be like choosing which child a mother likes the best! Each and every hat is a very special creation. What I can do is share photos of some of my most recent one of a kind hats created within the past couple of years. I love these particular hats for their grand shapes, bold colors and fine detailing...

Is there one style over another that requires more time to create?
The time does indeed vary. Brand new custom designs, from concept to actual hat, take much longer than hats ordered from one of my standard online hat collections. The creation time also depends on the shape of the hat, the fabrics that are used, the brim size and the degree of detail in the trims. For example, the Barbara ready to wear hat style from The Leopard Hat Collection takes far less time to create than a custom design such as the Rapid Redux hat. Generally I tell my customers that hats take anywhere from 3-6 weeks to create and ship; longer for custom designs.

What are the steps to create a hat from drawing board to finish?
As a true custom millinery, the creation process for each hat is as unique and individual as the hat that is created and the woman who will wear it. So much depends upon the customer's style preferences, the purpose for the hat and whether the hat is a brand new design or one that I have created before. If the order is for a hat from one of my website collections that requires no custom changes, the process would be as follows: upon receipt of payment the hat foundation is cut, prepped and stitched. Trims are then created, laid onto the hat and eventually hand stitched into place.

If the hat order is for a custom design, there are a variety of other steps involved depending upon the design chosen, including whether the hat is created to match an outfit (or vice versa) as well as how quickly delivery is needed. Oftentimes photos are shared with the customer through email. Swatches, shoes and outfits are often sent as well, and there are countless phone conversations as the design gets finalized. From that point, the process continues as it would for a standard order; allowing some flexibility for tweaks and changes along the way.

The one constant for all of my hat creations is music. An eclectic collection inspires me every day in my little Cape Cod studio - Sheryl Crow, Judy Garland, Yo-Yo Ma, Adele, Kat Edmonson, Pavarotti, Barbra Streisand, Mary Chapin Carpenter, Chris Botti, Norah Jones, Madeleine Peyroux, Tony Bennett, Shawn Colvin and beyond!

I love the rich brocades, organza, tulle lace and embellishments that you use. Where do you obtain your extraordinary fabrics?
I find many of my materials at local fabric shops as well as through a variety of millinery suppliers, online fabric suppliers, and also thrift shops and antique stores for one of a kind buttons and unusual trims. Rich dupioni silk, 100% linen, silk organza and shantung are generally used for the basic hat foundation, while rose curls, fabric leaves, sashes, bows, Marguerites and other trims are fashioned out of organza, silk, taffeta, chiffon and charmeuse. All of my hats are made from fabric which makes them unique from so many hats on the market crafted from straw and synthetic materials that have trims added almost as an afterthought. Finally, buttons, veiling, tulle and French ribbons are added for accents; the details are my favorite part! I view my fabrics as my personal palette of colors, much as an artist would view his paints and canvas. Like painting, the art of hat making is a statement of individual style and expression, both mine and my customer's.

Where are your hats currently exhibited?
All of my hats are showcased exclusively for sale on my website at http://www.maggiemae.com - wedding hats, Kentucky Derby and Royal Ascot hats, tea hats, garden party hats and fascinators. They are also featured on my blog "Hats and Horses" at http://hatsandhorses.wordpress.com/, on Pinterest at http://pinterest.com/sallysteinmann/ and on my Facebook page at http://www.facebook.com/maggiemaedesignsmillinery.

It must be gratifying to see your hats worn all over the world. Where is your favorite place to travel?
It's amazing, Gina. My hats have been to Royal Ascot, the Queen's garden party in Scotland, the Island of Mauritius, and beyond! As far as where I like to travel, despite living on Cape Cod with the ocean always close by, my artist husband Tom and I love to travel along the Maine coast where we can enjoy the colors, light and sea air. It rejuvenates the soul and kindles many a new hat and painting.

Your effort to help save horses in need is commendable. Describe your first encounter with a horse....  

As a little girl, the horses in storybooks seemed very real to me. I loved the story of Black Beauty as told through the horse's perspective. Through Beauty and the other horses in the book, Anna Sewell poignantly demonstrated how we are the caretakers of these wondrous creatures that possess not only individual personalities but have spirit, emotion and memory as well. I just could not understand how someone could ever abuse or neglect these sensitive and giving creatures. I watched every horse movie and read every horse book I could, longing to meet and ride a real horse! One Saturday when I was about 10, my Dad took us to the local pony rides. There my sister and I met two adorable Shetland ponies, Cocoa, chocolate brown and Sweetie-Pie, black and white. I was captivated by them, and begged my Dad to take us to see the ponies every Saturday from then on. Still, I can so remember feeling a sadness about the limiting world these ponies shared in their tiny paddock and barn. Years later when developers came and the stables disappeared, I wondered whatever happened to those two sweet ponies who had made a little girl's dream come true.

How did you become involved with saving horses?
Over the years as my hat business grew I found an increasing number of my customers were women attending equine events including the Kentucky Derby. This brought me back to my childhood passion for horses. However as an adult I was well aware that not all racehorses have happy endings to their lives.

Following the tragic breakdown of Barbaro in the 2006 Preakness and his subsequent death in 2007, I felt compelled as an artist to create a hat to honor him, naming it Run for the Roses. I next created a new page on my hat website, "Hats and Horses: A Lifelong Love Affair" which showcased some of the horse welfare organizations around the country. That same year I was asked to create and donate hats to honor other fallen equine racing heroes in charity events for Thoroughbred aftercare.

In 2009 I created my concept, Hats Off to the Horses: The Road to the Derby, an annual 6-month online fundraiser about to begin its fifth year with Old Friends Equine of Kentucky with all proceeds going to their Thoroughbred aftercare facility.  You can read all about the series on my Hats Off to the Horses webpage devoted to the auctions. Each year I create and donate six one-of-a-kind couture Kentucky Derby hats created to honor selected retired Thoroughbreds at their Dream Chase Farm facility.  I study photos of the horses and old films of their races to capture what I would describe as the attitude or spirit of the horse in my design. Hats and horses are two of my greatest passions, and through the Hats Off to the Horses fundraiser I have combined them both to offer my support for the retired racehorse and all horses. I hope that the auction series is reaching the hearts and minds of people who may never have thought about racehorses or what happens to them when they can no longer race or breed. To view the hats and horses they honor from our first four years of the auction, please visit the Old Friends Hat Auction Portfolio.

Are you involved with the rescues/placement of horses?
No. There are some amazingly dedicated people in the trenches who attend horse auctions and directly help pull horses from slaughter pens, or who run rescues themselves. For me, as a milliner, I feel that the way I can best help the horses the most is by offering my hats as ambassadors to spread the word about equine welfare.

In a 2001 CBS interview, Michael Blowen of Old Friends was asked why he wanted to help Thoroughbred racehorses and not some other worthy cause. He replied, “Everyone has a little spot in the world. One tiny little dot. This is my dot." These hat auctions for Old Friends are my dots. Through the funds that my hats raise as well as the awareness this annual event creates, I hope it will inspire more people to support the horses of Old Friends and racehorses in general. If it does, then my efforts have been worthwhile.

Do you have a favorite rescue story?
I read their stories everyday and each one tugs at my heart and inspires me to work even harder to help them. Clever Allemont was one of the first rescues I ever heard about. Winner of over $300,000 during his racing career, Kristin Chambers of Winding Road Equine Rescue and Retirement in Waverly, Kansas, USA, found him in a kill pen with one eye missing and all but hopelessly lost in the slaughter pipeline. Kristin and her friend Diana Baker contacted Old Friends and Clever was retired to Dream Chase Farm in 2009 to live out his days as a happy horse. Then there's the story of Mascot, a racehorse who earned $240,000 at the track and yet somehow wound up at the New Holland auction, the end of the line for so many slaughterhouse-bound horses. Susan Salk of Offtrackthoroughbreds.com shared the story of Mascot's rescue in her August 9, 2012 blog which describes how Mascot was rescued by Melissa Rudershausen of Double Rock Thoroughbred Rescue. Mascot lived for many months with Melissa who tirelessly worked to heal the horse which resulted in a happy yet far too brief retirement after years of neglect. Another favorite rescue story is Susan Salk's story about a gorgeous dappled gray filly named Glenye, miraculously rescued by Mindy Lovell of Spring Hill Farm (Transitions Thoroughbred Program). The filly now has a promising career ahead in the Hunter ring. The important thing in all of these stories is that no matter whether it's a horse who earned millions at the track or one who never won a single race, every horse's life is sacred. Banged up or broken, they all deserve love and our care for the rest of their lives. After all they've given us, we do owe them that much.

How can we help to save the horses?
There are so many things we can do and no contribution is too small in the effort to save our horses. Education is key, and each one of us can help spread the word about the needs of retired racehorses as well as Mustangs, the PMU (pregnant mare urine) mares, and the nurse mare foals. All of these horses need our help. My suggestion is that once people become aware of the needs of these horses that they choose a horse welfare organization to support or donate time to a local horse rescue. On Facebook and Twitter, you can "Like" and "Share" albums of horses for sale at auctions such as Camelot Horse Weekly. These horses need our help in finding safe places to land. This means first learning what their needs are and then determining how you can best help. For those who have the means, they should think about adopting a rescue horse. But do your research. Adopting one of these horses takes a huge commitment which includes not only money but also time, patience and love. 

Connect with Sally…

God Uses Horses

Betsy Talcott Kelleher, Illinois USA

Equine Author and Journalist, Betsy Talcott Kelleher takes a glimpse into treasured moments between horse and human as they learn together and from each other, sharing the struggle and joy of building trust, respect, good communication and mutual dependence. Realize the profound love that can exist between two separate beings. From joy of birth to anguish of loss, there is a source of inspiration, love and healing in soulful eyes and hooves that fly!  

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

KAB Media Kyle Brearey

The proprietor of KAB Media, Kyle Brearey is a world-class filmmaker, photographer, actor, and media mastermind. Based in Yorkshire, England, Kyle travels the world capturing the essence of people, horses, and much more…

Welcome Kyle!

What is the history of KAB Media?

The name KAB Media stems back to my college days. For one of my projects I was to create a website and generate some content for it. I chose to make a website about film, as I knew it’s the sector I wanted to work in and chose to make the content of the site a film.

For a while I thought of a website name or company name to produce my film under and after many different ideas, I thought “What could be more true to me than my name?” So my initials Kyle Andrew Brearey became the acronym KAB. Originally, for my project I was producing a website and a film so the word “Media” covered everything and seemed to fit well with KAB.

So now after all this time, almost 10 years, I still use the name, KAB Media for the same reason I did back then. I'm proud to put my name on anything that I release.

Now I run KAB as both a creative film company and a corporate work company that provides all sorts of shooting and editing options.

Which do you like best; writing, camera, directing ...?

It’s hard to say what aspect of the work I like best. It varies, first and foremost I love directing. It’s what I eventually want to do, been able to create something from scratch that I can call my own. My own little piece of history, that’s where I want to be.

Having said that, its often the writer that creates much of the film than the director, sure the director is the one that takes the words from the page and puts them onto the screen but it’s the writer that creates the words and the story. I do like writing, but I’m not a writer. Everyone loves to write and direct and sometimes that works really well, but I don’t consider myself able to write at a feature film level yet! – maybe one day.

As for the work side of things, I like to get my hands on and get stuck into KAB Media’s work. That covers a wide range of things, directing, camera operating and editing! It’s great to have a hand in every stage of a production, to see how it takes shape and changes from an idea to a fully-fledged piece of video! I guess you could say that what I do in KAB Media, is a reflection of a Directors role in the creative side of KAB.

You've filmed promotional film for equestrian events/companies. Is it difficult to film horses?

I’ve shot equestrian events before. Mostly for a company called “Atkinson Action Horses”  - a great bunch of people, mostly family run business, headed up by Mark Atkinson.

Since getting to know them we have worked with them a lot I think we have learnt a lot from each other. I’ve defiantly learnt a lot about horses and how intelligent, playful and amazing animals that they really are!

When we started working with the horses, they were already used to some of the setups that we used and we shot a show and promotional videos at the Royal Armories Museum. From that we produced the video on this page:

I’ve also worked with the same company on a short film called “Tech Hunt”, I worked on it as assistant Director. The film features a massive horse chase and a mounted gun fight.  

Working with the horses was really hard but at the same time really rewarding; we got some amazing shots. Horses look epic and so majestic as the run - all we had to do really was point and shoot. Haha, of course that’s easier said than done!

Keeping with fast moving horses was hard work, not so much us keeping up, but matching our camera rigged pickup truck to the speed of the horse, as well as having them speed up, slow down, change direction or get close enough to let the riders make contact.

An Assistant Directors job on set is to keep everything running on time, and constantly think ahead of what’s happening, so that when the next shot is ready to be shot, everyone is prepared. Horses, I have learned, can be an Assistant Director’s nightmare! Sometimes the horses just didn’t want to do what we needed them to do… they wouldn’t ride to where they needed to, wouldn’t do the stunt we needed or simply didn’t want to run. Like all animals they have their hard times as well as their good times!

All in all I love working with horses, it has its challenges but that’s just part of the fun!

To date, what has been the most rewarding project you've completed?

Hmmmm… that is a difficult one, I’ve learnt something on all of the projects I have been involved in. If I had to say at a push….it would be “Tech Hunt”.

I don’t think people understand how much work goes into filming horses, from checking the area for pot holes, checking the horses, safety of the horses and the riders; we even had to play the sound of an “octocopter camera” that we were going to use to the horses to have them get used to the sound so it wouldn’t spook them on the day of filming!

Do you film/create all over the world?

In short yes. I’ve shot all over the UK and now we are branching out to the world! I’ve edited for some clients in the USA, doing a TV opening for a Mixed Martial Arts show that was on American TV.

I’ve recently got back from shooting in Italy, for a band called “Hands of Time” or HOT. They saw some of my work and asked me to come over and shoot one of the shows they were putting on during their Italian tour; they will be doing a UK tour in the near future and it’s a good way for them to build up some good publicity!

I love working abroad and widening my scope and view of the world. It’s great to get out and see different places and meet so many different people!

What are the book/film trailer essentials?

Trailers are essential for any book or film I think. The whole purpose of a trailer is to get people into the shop or the cinema for more of what they have seen in the trailer!

As a marketing tool for a story, there really really is no better way to do it! You give your audience a taste of something…those that want more will seek it out! And it’s great to make trailers! – A dash of the hero, a smidgen of his dilemma or quest, a peak at a love interest and the hook of the story! Trailers really sometimes write themselves!

Other times it’s harder, maybe you need to rely on the feeling of a story, and it’s hard to get that across in the short time of a trailer but it’s doable with the right music and tone of filming.

Trailer essentials are:

Show your audience something to get their attention in the first 5 seconds. Most trailers are viewed on the internet these days and easy to skip, or click away from. Most humans on the web have a very short attention span so 5 seconds is a good time to show something!

You’ve got the attention of the audience, now you have to tell them the plot. Introduce the Hero, and show how he has come to find himself in difficulty, establish his “quest” or his “mission”, of course it doesn’t have to be a quest or mission but show the difficult path he has to take!

And possibly the most important, in the words of Walt Disney “Always leave ‘em wanting more”. This is why trailers often have a funny joke at the end or a cool shot of the villain, just after the credits. It’s just a final full stop that cut the audience off before they have had their fill. And it’s that hunger that will drive them to find out more!

I love your short films. Do you have a favorite of your own creation?

Wow, its really hard to give a specific project! I recently enjoyed making a short film for the UK Film competition “Four4 horror”. The challenge was to make a film with only 4 shots and each shot had to last exactly 4 seconds! It’s very restricting but at the same time very enjoyable because it limits what you can do and measures everyone on the same scale! I'm really proud as the film has made the finals and it’s in with a shot of winning the top prize.

Watch and vote for “Four4 horror” by tweeting #four4horror #votethecave, or you can see it here:

Connect with Kyle…

High Heals & Horses

Dr. Maria Katsamanis, New Jersey USA

Dr. Katsamanis is a Horse Trainer and Clinical Psychologist. This combination has helped her work with horse and human alike. Whether you want to enhance your relationship with your equine soulmate, overcome a riding block, or aspire to shine in the show ring, you will be "herd". 

Dr. Katsamanis maintains an academic appointment as a Clinical Assistant Professor, at Robert Wood Johnson Medical School in New Jersey. Dr. Katsamanis is a native of Greece. The mythology and folklore around the tradition of horsemanship made a significant mark early in her life. Her commitment to the classical tradition is longstanding and she continues to perfect her art. 

Read the archived article...

Sunday, July 14, 2013

Getting the mail

Cherokee's saddled and ready to go

To the mailbox

Back to the barn office. Time to write and carry on...

Friday, July 12, 2013

Joan Mason, Artist

The proprietor of Mission Falls Ranch in Saint Ignatius, Montana, USA, Joan Mason is an avid equestrian, champion dog breeder, and world-class artist!

Welcome Joan!

Describe Mission Falls Ranch…
We found a small ranch in the most gorgeous spot as my husband was retiring from the US Forest Service in 1985 and so we switched gears from USFS to Ranching and bought Gelbvieh Cattle.  We raised cattle for 20+ years here and in the process, started raising and training Border Collies to help us with the herd.  When we quit cattle, we bought a few sheep to continue training the dogs.  Now one of our main businesses is the dogs.  We have been raising working Border Collies for 27 years and have 9...with pups coming every so often (2 litters due this month). We are up against the Mission Mountain Tribal Wilderness and have Mission Creek flowing through the ranch.

We are looking for a new farm dog, and love collies!  
Would a border collie make a good addition to my farm? 
We don’t raise sheep…
Yes, Border Collies do make good companion dogs (w/o sheep), but they do have to have a 'job'.  The job can be your running buddy, Agility Star, Search and Rescue dog, Frisbee champ of the farm, or keeping the moose off the lawn (some of our dogs are in Alaska doing just that)!  

If I purchase a pup, but unable to travel to Montana; will you ship a pup to my farm?
We do ship dogs and have shipped as far as Panama City, Panama.
We have dogs doing Agility in Chicago, Atlanta, Florida, and Pennsylvania, Search and Rescue in Libby, Montana, dogs keeping geese off golf courses, and just goofing off here and there being companion dogs.

Do you ship pups anywhere/international? If you do, what is the process?
Panama was the only dog we shipped out of the country...lots of paperwork but it can be done!  We have sold to Canada but the people have come here to get them and fly home with them.  I do all the flying arrangements and paperwork...figuring out what airline, routes etc, would be best for the puppy.

What should I look for when acquiring a new dog?
Whether or not you get one from us, you should look at the track record of the breeder (how long have they been breeding, what are they breeding for, etc); whether or not they guarantee the puppy's hips and eyes; the temperament of the pup...and the best indication of that is the temperament of the parents; is there a contract...and what are the terms.  We do guarantee hips and eyes, have concentrated on breeding good outgoing bold personalities in the parents (no shy ones), and do not have a contract with hidden strings. We register with the American Border Collie Association.

Do you have a border collie story/anecdote to share?
There are so many over 27 years!  Just in the last 3 years the pups that we have saved for ourselves out of the litters or bought, have learned to go in and out the cat door (learned by watching our 3 cats).  This really helps in the potty training but unfortunately Border Collies eventually get bigger than cats.  We are constantly rescuing 'stuck' pups and/or replacing a destroyed door!  

I've heard sheep can be difficult to keep. Is that true?
Sheep actually are smarter than they are made out to be.  They can spot an open gate in 4 seconds flat. They are just herd animals and flock really well (good for BC's).  So they do things in groups.  They aren't hard to keep...the trick is in the fencing.  You need a good sheep fence to A. keep the sheep in, and B. keep the dog out, (until you want the dog to work the sheep and are controlling the situation).  Dogs should not be in with the sheep unattended...making for a "dog gone wrong" scenario. 

Your paintings are absolutely stunning.
What medium do you use?
Thank you!  I paint (and have been painting for 55 years...and my very first painting was commissioned by my High School art teacher ) primarily in oil and oil pastels on a variety of surfaces...canvas and masonite but have been experimenting with textural surfaces...paper, cloth, egg carton (mulched and shredded), dryer lint (yes you can paint on that!) and other things glued to the canvas or masonite. I then paint on those surfaces...am always surprised by the results so it is very fun.  

…and horses?
I have only concentrated on painting horses for the past 3 or 4 years...before that I painted people, livestock, wildlife, dogs, and a few landscapes but horses are my passion.  I raised Arabians for many years...both Pinto-Arabians and Straight Egyptian Arabians and love them.  I love everything about horses...from the smells, the curving lines of the movement, the times when the horse and I communicate by breathing each other's breath, and the welcoming nicker when I go out to feed.  So it was natural when I gave myself permission to 'do what I want and not what others expect'...it would be horses horses horses.  

Where do you like to paint?
I primarily paint in my studio at home...have done Plein-Aire painting and also do teach workshops from time to time (love seeing  people 'catch-fire' creatively).

Where are you currently exhibiting?
I am currently working toward an up coming show in Missoula, MT at the Artist Shop in the fall, and have two shows currently running now...one at the Sandpiper Gallery in Polson, Montana, the other at The Hangin' Art Gallery in Arlee, Montana, for the month of July.  

Do you welcome visitors to your ranch to see your amazing collies, gorgeous horses, and view your artwork?
My husband Lynn and I do welcome people to come to the ranch...to love on the dogs, see them work, pet the horses, do some art, or just rest and relax.  We are thinking of offering Art Retreats in the future...we are just in the planning stages right now.  But it is a marvelous place to paint and photograph.  

Connect with Joan…
All artwork and photographs (c) Joan Mason. No duplication without permission.

Val Fox Writes

Val Fox, Journalist

Writing Stories, Exploring Cultures....

Val is a writer who has lived among the Blackfoot (Kainai) people for more than 20 years. Formerly a news/features reporter, photographer, then editor, Val changed directions in 1996 and pursued a career working with families and children in crisis. Val writes about World cultures, Earth's Diverse Inhabitants, her work with children and the writer's journey. She is currently writing a book on intervention strategies for high-needs youth.   

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