The Horse Shelter, Santa Fe NM

The Horse Shelter outside of Santa Fe New Mexico is a phenomenal example of an organization rehabilitating animals for a second chance at a home while also expanding the horizons of its volunteers.

I came to the Shelter to document the volunteers and seven trainers who were in the finals days of the Gimme Shelter Challenge, held July 20th at the Rodeo Grounds. This auction was the culmination of 100 days of each trainer working with their young horse (3-5 years old) going from quite green to ready for a new home. Although I only witnessed the last few days it was clear to see the intensive work and the amazing change these horses made.

Because of the high rate of poverty many sick horses, or owners who simply cannot afford the bills of a healthy horse, are released and become feral, not quite wild and not quite able to fend for themselves. And many of these horses, sick and scared, sometimes injured get a second chance for as long as it takes to whatever kind of home they need at the Shelter.

On Friday and Saturday during the Gimme Shelter Challenge the trainers and horses were put through extensive testing before professional judges to show how far they had come. It was such a beautiful thing to witness, concluding with the parade of past adoptees and the freestyle, which I can best describe as a musical performance by horse and rider as partners. At the completion all 7 horses were adopted and funds raised for the Shelter.

When people invest in animals, the animals invest in their people ten fold. And the Horse Shelter is unusual as the volunteers learn Natural Horsemanship skills and help start the horses, working on ground training to help each horse on their journey. But it is a two way street. As one of the past equine adoptees “said” through his owner during the parade, the horse shelter helps humans as much as it does horses. Anyone who has worked with animals in need knows this is absolute truth and horses are a barometer of how you show up, requiring patience and self awareness.

 

Bandipur, an ancient ridge top village, Nepal

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Bandipur is a medieval village set on the ancient trade routes high above the modern highways of Nepal, which have missed this gem. It remains a fairly untouristed town, a time capsule of the ancient days, time set by the bells of the monastery to the east, the sunrise and the dramatic sunsets attended by thousands of swallows. The brick Newari architecture and timeless quality make this village an absolute must for travelers looking to experience Nepal as it once was.

Full PHOTO ESSAY coming soon [please contact me to learn more]

 

Nepal's Rot Festival at Gorhka’s Durbar Palace

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The Rot Mahotsav (Festival) takes place in the Gorhka Durbar Palace, high above the Trisuli Valley and Gorhka, the stunning Newari architecture of the various temples, palaces and mausoleums teetering near the summit. The Rot Festival is dedicated to the worship of Guru Gorakhnath, one of the most important Hindu guru’s who lived between the 8th and 13th century, but appeared to King Prithvi Narayan Shah as a sadhu around the time of the unification of Nepal in the 1700’s. Prithvi Narayan Shah was the king who conquered the many small states which now make up Nepal and in doing so created what we now know as Nepal, and held off the advances of the East India Company, keeping the region from their colonial grasps.

Full PHOTO ESSAY coming soon [please contact me to learn more]

 

West Kerry

This April I had the pleasure of returning to west County Kerry, the rural towns my mother’s family came from. An unforgiving but stunningly beautiful land of rock and sea, mountains and mist, the people are warm and open, the sheep are plentiful. It was lambing season, and every field was dotted with babies under bushlike tufts of grass or eager teens bouncing around in springlike legs. I had come through13 years before looking for family members and while that is a long time in one person’s life, it is a blink in a place where Iron Age Stone Forts sitting in the midst of fields, ancient ogam stones stand by the marsh and priest paths still are delineated to be trod by tourists.

My first day back in Caherdaniel I crashed a funeral, having watched the whole town process across the wide sands of the strand, exposed by low tide to the island cemetery, impossibly timeless sad and beautiful all at once. The reddish wooden casket floated high above a sea of black from my distant vantage point, and I unthinkingly went to the pub, forgetting that that kind of day ends there as well. But I was most welcome of course.

I spent the week hill walking, exploring valleys and mountains, in villages I had seen my last time through and new ones, ending most days at the local pub. With new friends met there, I saw my first Gaelic football match in the impossibly perfect town of Portmagee, two local towns pitted against each other. There was a lot of talk as Sneem and Caherdaniel, the towns of my great grandmother and great grandfather, long rival had recently had to merge as emigration continues to draw the young away for a lack of jobs and any real economy beyond farming and tourism.

More than anything though it was a week of sky, salty air and reflection. Thinking about family past, far distant and more recent. And how a place can be so beautiful and magnetic and inhospitable at the same time. Mayo has a saying, if beauty were wealth we would be the richest county, and I think its true of Kerry too. These wild places, so stunning and so hard.

 

Lobstering Scituate, MA

New England’s coastal downs, their communities architecture and very existence have long been shaped by the sea and it’s business. Fishing and the business around it is at the heart of much of New England heritage, with lobstering holding a particularly unique place. But this is increasingly becoming a threatened way of life as governments balance environmental and economic costs against the few individuals still wanting to make a living in this challenging trade. But when we lose this industry and all the heritage that goes with it and irreplaceable part of New England culture will go with it.

Ha Diligaf is one of the boats operated by Snappy’s Lobsters operating out of Scituate Harbor, considered both ethical and delicious in their catch. In what was once a vibrant fishing harbor, one of the safest on the eastern seaboard, now only a handful of families keep at this work, mostly for the pure love of it.

In March I went out with the guys, and was reminded how tough a job it is, to get that lobster on your plate.