This weekend was doubly delightful, not just because we got to go up to London or because the sun actually came out for the first time since I've been here, but because I had my first up close horse sightings - in fact, I had two!
(Cutie... and I'm certainly not referring to the guy!!)
Up in London we got to see the horse guards at Whitehall - these are mounted guards who essentially act like the Buckingham Palace guards (as in they won't react to you in any way) but do so on horseback. I was very impressed by the training of the horses (neither one moved a toe the entire time I was watching, though one was very curious to passersby and kept trying to nuffle into their pockets-- definitely not the stern look they were going for, I think!), and in general was just wayyy too amused by the whole thing. I was in a group, and they actually had to pull me away to keep going on our walk up to Trafalgar Square; I could have stayed there for the rest of the afternoon!
(Very fancy double bridle situation going on here)
(Pony didn't get the "no interaction with the tourists" memo)
Then, yesterday we had a free day within the program and it was another unbelievably gorgeous day with absolute bluebell skies, so I went for a jog in the morning and then grabbed my camera and went for a tour of the University Park area in the afternoon. Imagine my delight when I discovered, just a few minutes tramp down a less-used track on the east side of the Cherwell, a big field full of grazing ponies!! They were disappointingly far away today, but now at least I know where they are and can go back and check on them; hopefully next time they'll be close enough for me to actually see them without using my 400mm zoom lens!
(Oh haii I see you!)
Speaking of that new lens, I've been practicing with it pretty assiduously over the past few days to try to get ready for the spring eventing season (where I'm hoping it will come in handy) - it's an awesome lens but a pretty enormous change from my little fixed 50mm film camera that I'm used to (my arm gets tired, for one, because this new one's so heavy!!). I've been practicing on flying birds; hopefully if I can get some nice pictures of them, a jumping horse will be no problem =)
(Probably the only one of the 200+ photos I took yesterday that ended up as sharp and well-framed as I wanted... I've got a lot more practice to do!)
(Birds can't compete with horses for my favorite subject, but they're still pretty amazing to watch in their own way)