Showing posts with label steeplechase. Show all posts
Showing posts with label steeplechase. Show all posts

Monday, September 29, 2014

A Day of Paying Attention

“It is quite possible that an animal has spoken to me and that I didn't catch the remark because I wasn't paying attention.”   ― E.B White, Charlotte's Web      

Last week, on Review This! I wrote about the Shawan Downs Legacy Chase annual benefit steeplechase in Maryland.  I love going to watch the horses race around the course, jumping over a variety of fences.  It is an amazing, good time.

I made it a point to go again this year.  The weather Saturday was perfect. Following days of cold and rain, Saturday was a sunny, clear-skied day in the 70's.

Moving from one spot, to the next, finally settling on the deserted back fence. I sat in the long grass along the very old fence. Between races I admire the lichen on some of the ancient wooden rails.  Then I realized, despite my best efforts to find privacy, I was not alone.

Dancing spiders
There were spiders moving and dancing along these flat old hardwood boards.  I wasn't sure if they were marking their territories or trying to mate. Perhaps they were warning me to leave. Every few inches there was one of these thumbnail sized spiders. They slowly moved along, back and forth, lifting their hind ends high then dropping them, like hydraulics on a car in a parade. Up and down, up and down, while moving back and forth.

At first I nearly squealed. I'm not extremely afraid of spiders, but I do hate walking into webs when I hike and I'm afraid of the ones that jump.  Initially, I thought these would jump. They looked aggressive. I thought they would move up and down, up and down, side to side, then jump on me.  But they never jumped.

As I watched, mesmerized, I began to notice the webs spitting out of the spider's caboose.  I could see it with my naked eye, spurt, shooting off into the wind, iridescent in the sun.  I couldn't believe what I was seeing.

Look closely, see the web?
I watched and tried to photograph the dances and web spurting, being very careful not to rest my elbows on the top board again in lieu of a tripod.  I was vaguely aware of people walking by, probably wondering what in the world the crazy lady was doing.  Why bursts of shutter clicking while no horses were running?

But I remained focused on the spiders. And their dances. Amazed at how relatively thick and how long the webs were. String after string, like invisible kites being guided by the spider's hiney. Not forming a cobweb, but streamers of spider string blowing to the sky.

The spiders had begun to look less ominous.  In fact, I began to think of one of my very favorite books of all time. Charlotte's Web.  What a great story.  And something was scratching away at the back of my brain.  I knew I had read a fun review about Charlotte's Web. Now just who wrote that thing, I asked myself over and over.


Charlotte's Web
I returned home and found it, the reviewer of Charlotte's Web was Mary Beth's granddaughter.  That explains why the review stuck in my head. Do you want to read a cute and insightful review from the perspective of a little girl? I am five times Rachel's age of 10 but I still love Charlotte. Isn't it amazing how a good story can stick with us for our entire life?

And that was how I spent my Saturday at Shawan Downs, watching horses fly and spiders dance.  

Written by Dawn Rae
Images of spiders by Dawn Rae

Disclosure: In affiliation with AllPosters.com, Dawn Rae is a blogger and content writer who may earn compensation from the sale of AllPosters products.





Note: The author may receive a commission from purchases made using links found in this article. “As an Amazon Associate I (we) earn from qualifying purchases.”


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Monday, September 22, 2014

Horsin' Around in Historic Maryland Horse Country

As a young, horse-crazy girl growing up in the midwest, I loved horses and everything about them. I spent my days riding and many of my nights watching the stars, reclined on their bare backs while they munched their hay.   Don't tell anyone, but there were times that I sat in the barn to do my homework.  Somehow, math was slightly more palatable if I did it near the horses. 


Horses Looking Over Fence at Alfred Vanderbilt's Farm by Jerry Cooke
At one point, I had a wonderful black and white pinto pony. He was my best friend for as long as we owned him.  One day, he and I were meandering down a lonely dirt road.  A herd of deer were just off the edge of the road.  Somehow we had managed to walk right up to them, too close for their comfort, so they picked up their good-bye flag tails and waved as they slowly bounded off into the woods.  

My pony's ears perked and he stepped toward them. To this day, I can't tell  you who wanted to go more, but I gave him his head and clucked with my tongue. Off he went, following those deer through the woods.  There wasn't thick undergrowth, thank goodness, as he sped through the woods trying to join those deer.  I hung on, crouched low and clinging to his bare bare back, one hand wrapped in his thick mane. I only concentrated at not letting myself get scraped off by a tree.  At one point, he jumped a very large downed tree trunk. We moved as one being and I felt as though we were flying.  Clearly, the deer were long gone and we would never catch up. But for a moment, we were running, jumping, and flying along.  From that moment on, I had a great appreciation for the machine that is horse and how amazing it is that they can jump like they do.

From my livingroom, I would watch the Olympic equestrian events when they were televised and I would watch the triple crown races. All of those things seems so fantastical.  Clearly, horses also existed in other parts of the world, but my world consisted of my backyard ponies.  Racehorses, horses and hounds, and hooved Olympic athletes seemed like fairy tales.

Somewhere along the way, I realized that horses are more than back yard companions to little girls.  As an adult living in the mid-Atlantic, I can enjoy the deep history of horses in Maryland. 

Just a handful of the big-ticket horse attractions are:
In addition to those things, there are many opportunities to witness horse shows, expos, and events here.  A few years ago, I got to see a jumping event with Olympic riders participating. That was quite a thrill. But so far, my very favorite horse related event has been the Shawan Downs Legacy Chase.

There is a 300 acre piece of farm land near Hunt Valley, Maryland, that was purchased by the Land Preservation Trust to preserve the non-residential use of the land.  Since that purchase, it has been "Re-branded as Shawan Downs, the property has grown into a first-class equestrian center and steeplechase course." 

Man Riding Horse in a Steeplechase by Eric Horan
The Shawan Downs Legacy Chase is a steeplechase event, to benefit GBMC Healthcare. This year, it is being held on Saturday, September 27th.  I attended a few years ago and hope to return this year.  Picnicking and spending the day on the rolling, green grounds is reason enough to go.  Watching these amazing horses over fences at full speed is thrilling.  The flying hooves, churning up clods of ground, flying over the obstacles as though they have wings is something I'll never forget.  Between races there is plenty to see.  The year I attended, there were groups of spectators in period attire as well as some antique cars.  I truly felt as though I had been transported to decades prior. 

If you hope to attend horse events in Maryland, or if you are in the area on Saturday, I highly recommend that you attend this benefit event.  The Shawan Downs Legacy Chase is not something you would soon forget.  Bring a comfy blanket, your camera, and a good bottle of wine.  


Written by Dawn Rae

Disclosure: In affiliation with AllPosters.com, Dawn Rae is a blogger and content writer who may earn compensation from the sale of AllPosters products.




Note: The author may receive a commission from purchases made using links found in this article. “As an Amazon Associate I (we) earn from qualifying purchases.”


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