Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Ghost horse

Just because I missed posting something, I haven't got out lately, I miss my camera even though it's right here... A sort-of-not-so-old-photo.
This is a horse with a curious story. One day, he woke up, already in his elder days, and decided that no one would ever ride him again. And no one did. He did that decision for himself... Nobody ever truly owned him, and he showed that... now. After years and years of serving people.

Friday, July 25, 2008

Risky business

I love photographing Horseball (can you tell?) because the action moments are more than many, and I love experimenting with new (if somewhat risky) angles. I was standing at the place where they usually go after scoring a goal... or trying. It was worth it, wasn't it? :-)

(Ponte de Lima, Portugal)

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

The way to achieve your goal!

But who did? :-)

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

More moments...

Moments of joy, moments of pure wildness, moments of beauty.

(Lousada, Portugal)

A post with no photo

This will probably be the only post with no photo in this entire blog, I promise. However, I thought that it might be of interest for all those who, everyday, search in Google for Portuguese costumes, traditions, and "way", and end up lost in this little corner of the Equestrian Portuguese World, or my World, or... that.

This is an article - "Portugal holds on to words few can grasp" published in the International Herald Tribune and written by Michael Kimmelman, starting with a description of the mythical, mystical, and mysterious poet that defines our country so very well, Fernando Pessoa. It ends with a description of the way of being of the Portuguese people and country, what defined us as we are today as a whole.

Now the big question is... are we supposed to "get rid of it" to pursue a better future? Will we be able to? Portugal is a country where, after all, you find everything (in a small scale, comparably to other countries), but still, you can find everything. Just ask all of us who at a certain point in their lives, spent some time abroad...

Some very memorable and truthful quotes from this article:

Eduardo Lourenço is perhaps Portugal's most distinguished literary critic. Pessoa is "an exception, being a great writer," he said the other afternoon. "But he had a way of being that is distinctly Portuguese." He paused to find the right words. "It has to do with everything and nothing — that we Portuguese can have everything, but still feel we have nothing."

Portugal, he explained, had discovered half the world by the 16th century but still felt itself a failure for having not discovered the rest. The national mind-set, Lourenço said, is "a combination of megalomania and humility."

Sunday, July 13, 2008

Midnight Summer Dream

This kind of photos is highly unusual of me... mainly because I'm not a particular fan of "Photoshopping" too much. I like to adjust some color levels, brightness, contrast, sometimes do some sepia or B&W, and that's about it.
So here was my personal challenge of the day: to produce a photo that looked "Photoshopped" but isn't... apart from color levels. ;-) It's nice to experiment around, and this time I experimented with someone's, errrr, random water hose ;-) I'm not really sure whether I like this photo or not, I think it needs to grow on me. What do you think?

(Ponte de Lima, Portugal)

Friday, July 11, 2008

The good, the bad, and the ugly (Horseball Part II)

There are some moments in Horseball where the adrenaline rush is so much that you can't figure out who gets more into the game... the riders or the horses!

Just look at the eye on the horse to the right... He's in a complete "I'm going to get you" mode!

Protecting the ball at all cost!

Just let go of me ;-)

(Ponte de Lima, Portugal)

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

On to the movie - Opening credits (Horseball, Part 1)

I finally got some time to select some Horseball photos! I'll be posting them for the following days...

A girl in the heating up phase...

... discussing the game strategy...


... and a characteristic photo of the players after they have scored, or tried to score... everyone looking up!
I actually got so into photographing the game that I didn't notice what was right in front of me... this is not the only shot in which the gray horse appears to have a left blind eye. It's amazing that he is out in the field giving everything with the others!!!

And a "ramassage" moment. I have to try this sometime :-)

(Ponte de Lima, Portugal)

Monday, July 7, 2008

The Portuguese Riding Costume... "O Traje Português de Equitação"

Yesterday I received an unusual request: a mother is sewing a Portuguese Riding Costume for her daughter and wanted to know more about it. Now, I'm not an expert in the Portuguese Riding Costume and I'm a bit new to the "blog world", but from my point of view, this was an interesting example on how the blogging phenomenon can be used to help complete strangers on the other side of the world, or sometimes, even next door! So I did my very best and here are my two cents, illustrated. :-) I'm including pictures of both the female and male riding costumes since there are some common things. So, on to what really matters... There are many creative options for the costume, so I'll start by stating the common things: trousers, white shirt and hat. These are mandatory.

The complete riding costume also includes a jacket (called "jaqueta" in Portuguese) and a vest wore underneath (called "colete" in Portuguese). Many people don't wear the jacket when it's too hot, for obvious reasons. In that case the vest should always be worn instead.

Most people use a very thick "fazenda" jacket, called "samarra", when it's too cold. It's a traditional jacket from Alentejo and the collar is usually made of fox fur, or an imitation. It can be either very long or waist-level.

The fabric of the costume is called "fazenda", and it can be thicker or thinner according to the part of the outfit. The most common colours are black, grey, brown and dark blue, although some (mostly girls) use dark bordeaux and beige as well. Most people use the same colour for the jacket and pants, but some people choose to wear different colours, such as in the photo above.

Both men and women commonly wear short boots and chaps. These can be one of two kinds: the so-called “chaps with nails” (“polainas de pregos”, shown in the picture above), which are traditionally used in tauromachy environments, and the true “Portuguese chaps” (polainas à Portuguesa), which are tied on the sides with thin leather shoestrings. Portuguese boots feature a slightly taller heel than traditional riding boots, as well as a slightly larger sole to form a slot where the spur rests. Full length boots are also seen but more rare nowadays.

The main difference between the male costume and the female's is that the female's includes a skirt that is completely "cut" in half in the front. This is so that it opens and allows the woman to sit in the saddle, as shown in the picture above. Suspenders are used to join the pants and skirt together. Men usually wear suspenders as well since the only belt used with the costume is a silk belt for decorative purposes (called "faixa" in Portuguese).

Both men and women's costumes feature fabric ornaments and fabric buttons in the jacket (the jacket is never completely closed), called "alamares" in Portuguese.

The women's hat is different from the men's since it usually has "ponpons". Many people buy their hats at "Chapelaria Coelho", in the small village of Golegã in Portugal. The hat is usually made of rabbit fur. The shirt can have more or less lace (called "renda" in Portuguese), according to each person's taste.

The hair of the women is usually braided or wrapped into a bun and then covered with a net. The earrings can be either simple pearls or "arrecadas de viana". The latter are made in gold and they have their origin in the Portuguese city Viana do Castelo. Some images are available in this link for the Museu Ourivesaria Freitas.

For those who want to know more, I recommend the bilingual book "O Traje Português de Equitação - The Portuguese Riding Costume", by Lina Gorjão Clara and João Gorjão Clara, 1995. It's written in Portuguese and English and it has multiple illustrations of the endless possibilities of the costume.

(Pictures taken at Golegã, Portugal, Alenquer, Portugal, and Algarve, Portugal, in public horse fairs, from 2000 to 2005).

Sunday, July 6, 2008

Let's look at the trailer

Well, I've had some requests for Horseball pictures from some people who are just plain curious to see them, so here's a small preview! I'm sorry, just can't find the time lately... I hope they're worth the wait ;-) For those who aren't familiar with the sport, it's a sort of basketball played on horses! Of course, you don't dribble, and if the ball falls, you're supposed to pick it up while you're on the horse - that's called the "ramassage" (shown in this photo).

Many technical words in Horseball come from French, because the sport was invented in France. Here are the rules of Horseball summarized in a simple manner.
It's a very exciting sport to shoot because it's very fast - and dusty, sometimes :-), and the possibilities are endless! Stamina, adrenaline, everything!!

(Ponte de Lima, Portugal)

Thursday, July 3, 2008

I'm a Lusitano...

These photos were taken, again, in Ponte de Lima, in the Working Equitation ("Equitação de trabalho", in Portuguese) shows.
For those who aren't familiar with this Riding discipline, it is made of 3 or 4 parts, according to the country of origin (? - correct me if I'm wrong). There is a "maneability" test, meant to test the willingness, elasticity and courage of the horse (and rider :-) ), a "velocity" test, which features more or less the same obstacles but is meant to be done at the greatest speed possible, a Dressage test and a cattle test which is optional (at least here in Portugal). The Lusitano horse excels in this Discipline, for its character and strength.
This used to be the Equestrian Discipline I photographed the most, since I spent more than 6 years riding Lusitanos that did precisely this at my old riding center. Nowadays I'm finding more challenges in photographing other disciplines. Managing to anticipate a horse's move is not always trivial - and even when it appears trivial (such as the trot extensions in Dressage), it's not at all easy to capture the perfect moment. It requires not only a trained eye, but that "horse sensibility", or is it "horse sense", the one everyone talks about?
Anyway, what was kind of funny for me is that after spending some time now in a Riding Center where most people are show jumpers, I have a bit more of feeling for the "jumping anticipation". And I could tell that some people (and horses) face the bull with no problem, they open gates, close gates, do flying changes with no problem at all, and then... the jump (which is the height of a hay bale) was their bigger problem. :-) I'm not meaning to offend anyone, I didn't jump for 9 years or so, and always took it as trivial. Guess what... Made a fool out of myself with my own horse at my brand new riding center. It was fun. :-) Oh well, on to what really matters.
I sincerely admire those who could manage to be in the traditional Portuguese riding costume (called "traje") in that sun and heat... The clothing is REALLY warm, only those who have tried it know what I'm talking about! Oh, by the way, the rubber band on the hat isn't part of the Portuguese costume, as someone told me in the past, it's part of the Spanish riding costume. We Portuguese like to pick our hats from the ground when they fly away... :-D On to the photos!

(Ponte de Lima, Portugal)