As an equine photographer I meet a lot of horse owners and their beloved equines and they all have a story. Some longer, some shorter, some more dramatic than others, but all include love for the horse, passion for the sport and true horsemanship, wanting to excel in the field and to provide the best care for our four legged friend!

Broker and I are no different. We had a rough start, to say the least!

Back in 2007, Broker finally arrived at my barn in Las Vegas from Iowa after a long two day ride in a trailer. As soon as he was unloaded I noticed open wounds, scraps and blood on his hind legs with his leg wraps hanging half off. The driver said he was kicking a lot during the ride. Finding out later, that this transportation company put a stallion, a mare and him together in one trailer! Go figure…

The next few months turned into a night mare. This sweet horse I fell in love with, because of his gentle spirit and friendly demeanor, was nothing like it. A total change in behavior and I just couldn’t figure out what made him so angry. Broker and his first owner Laural showed regularly at Iowa State Fairs and other show grounds, so he was definitely used to going to new places and getting adjusted easily.
Days and weeks went by, and his legs healed up just fine but he still had a little limb and dragged his hind, but otherwise I thought he was just fine, physically. Didn’t really think much of it. Every time I wanted to ride him, he either did not move or threw his entire body up against a fence or railing to get me off! He was stubborn, pushy and dominant. He did it even to my trainer, who then told me he is too dangerous to ride and that he needed to be retrained to get him even sold again! OMG,  what the heck did I do? I just bought him, I don’t want to sell him! I was so sad and in tears, not knowing what to do next with him.

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I realized his limb on his hind leg more and more and decided to get it checked out. Well, it wasn’t that easy. For those who ever dealt with a lameness issue know, it could be from anything and come from anywhere. So after several weeks of tests and exams, we finally found that a pelvic fracture was causing his pain and behavioral issues. WOW, now I felt really terrible that I even tried to ride him!  No wonder he was pissed at me trying to get on him with a broken bone! Now, at the sudden everything just made total sense. His transport to Vegas was obviously everything but smooth and he must have gotten hurt really bad on the way to Vegas.

So, long story short…I gave Broker what he needed, at least 3 months of pasture time to heal!

After his recovery, we started all over again and it seemed like I had the old horse back that I first met! I continued to focus on natural horsemanship which totally helped me to understand his dominant behavior and knowing what to do, when and how to act around him without being intimidated! And for a while I went so “Parelli-crazy” that I went to the Colorado campus, and we finished Level 1 & 2. And back then, “YouTube” was like the newest thing to do, so making home videos with us was a no brainer! Here is a link to one of them…back from 2009. WOW…don’t you love looking at old and cheesy videos? I am so glad I have them 🙂

 

Fast forward to today…I finally had my own photo shoot with him! I could not wait to put that pretty bridle on him that I purposely bought for that occasion! I have been planning this since I was planning the Wedding (looong time ago) and wanted to make it part of it. I just had to convince Ashleigh, our wedding photographer to do it, which was as easy as pie.

Broker had a few ups and downs this summer, including two serious colic’s. I got absolutely terrified at the thought that I might lose him. But it also made me realize that every moment we have together, might be the last; and that moments can become memories in just seconds! I am so thankful I did the photo shoot, having these amazing images to hang on my wall to dwell over!

There is only one Broker and I absolutely love this boy!

It was definitely a great experience to go through the time line as an equine photographer, knowing what to do when and how to stay organized to ensure a successful shoot. It was a great eye opener and helped me to understand my clients so much better in so many ways. Although I have a “Prep List” for my clients, I will put a more detailed “How to get ready” check list together which will help future clients tremendously!

Behind every photo shoot, there are many helpers that partake in the success of the photo shoot. Without them, nothing would go the way they go – smooth! Kimberly and John Sweatt welcomed me like family, opened up their stunning horse property for our shoot and gave me the best back drops I could have wished for! John even mowed the entire pasture hours before and made it look like a PGA golf course.
Lisa Singer was my hands-on person, assisting me with Broker and was a champion behind the camera getting Broker’s attention. And so did Kim with her adorable little horsey toy! My husband was the carrier of things, including me (literally) and even got me up on Broker in my tight wedding dress. See photo below 🙂 And my long time hair dresser Danielle Layman didn’t mind having me over at her house on a Sunday afternoon to do my hair.

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And of course, our awesome photographer Ashleigh, who was up for the challenge to take these amazing images of us!  She definitely blew me away with her detailed eye and beautiful shots, keeping in mind she does not know horses. She did such a wonderful job, I could not have done it any better!

I hope that one day, I can convince Ashleigh to get on Broker, so she can feel what we all feel when we are on top of our beautiful creatures…

to feel the horse with our soul!

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“He was supposed to by my FOREVER HORSE!”

I still remember these words from Cassie when she told me about Jasper’s condition with tears in her eyes. She was looking for her dream horse, a horse she can grow old with, a horse to lean on when you need it, a horse that would be in her backyard as she looks out her kitchen window. She simply was looking for a horse to care for and to give a good home to. As Cassie said: “He was suppose to be my forever horse”.

After a long and dragging search Cassie finally found Jasper, a 12 year old Oldenburg/ Thoroughbred cross Gelding in California. He immediately caught everyone’s attention at his arrival because of his stunning looks and his demeanor! Shortly after, Cassie started to show him with SNHSA with great success and came home with several ribbons! Her smile and happiness were priceless. She asked me to take several photos of them since it was their first show and she simply wanted to capture these first moments. Just like a parent seeing your child walk for the first time 🙂

 

After that, I saw Cassie here and there but haven’t really talked with her until my Holiday Photo Shoots came around in November of last year. Still, everything seemed just fine…

In May I received a text message from Cassie asking for a “Remembrance Session” which totally caught me off guard. I was really in shock and was trying to find out what had happened to Jasper.

Beginning of the year Jasper had several lameness problems among other issues. Over a period of time Jasper became more and more unstable to ride. Cassie even trailered him to UC Davis to find the right answers. There, they also put him on a research/ case study and watched him closely. The results were daunting. Jasper developed somehow neurological symptoms which continued to get worse week by week, day by day. He became unfit to ride, sometimes even unsafe to handle and Cassie had a tough time controlling his pain.

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Shooting horses in general is not an easy task, if you ever tried it you know what I mean. Remembrance Sessions are even tougher because you really have just this one opportunity to create beautiful images to preserve their memories that show their bond and relationship. Knowing Cassie and Jasper and their hardship didn’t make it easier in any ways, rather harder.

I know Cassie poured her heart and soul into this special horse and Jasper will always be in her heart. Her moments with Jasper are now memory and I hope she will cherish these photos as much as I was honored to take them.

 

You can find her entire gallery here: https://creatememoriesbyanett.pixieset.com/cassieandjasper

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Mega Heat is a TV Star?

That’s exactly what I said to my trainer Liz today with a bizarre look on my face.

Liz is the owner and trainer at Pair of Aces Stables, Inc. located in Reno, NV and has been my trainer for many years. As I was in need of a few conformation shots of horses for my new project, Liz was so nice to assist me and offered her grooming skills 🙂 and horse handling expertise.

After we finished with the shots, she asked if I could take a few photos of Mega Heat, her off the track Thoroughbred. Mega and Liz were accepted to compete for their share of $100,000 in prize money at the 2017 Thoroughbred Makeover at the Kentucky Horse Park on October 5-8. (Big Congrats!) So she needed a few updated official photos of him.

Liz continues to tell me that he is famous for his role as “Mega Horse” in Rob Dyrdek’s MTV reality show Fantasy Factory.

In the Season 2 premiere of Rob Dyrdek’s Fantasy Factory, the world-famous skateboarder dares to purchase and jockey a thoroughbred racehorse (Mega Heat). In pure Dyrdek style, Rob dives head first into the horse-world. He purchases a pair of giant “horse-legs” for trotting around on, acquires a wooden horse on wheels to practice racing on, and even transforms himself into a lightning-fast jockey named “Bolt Speedman”.

I found the link to the episode here: http://www.mtv.com/episodes/5z45sx/rob-dyrdeks-fantasy-factory-dirty-man-horse-season-2-ep-201

WOW! I just watched it and took a few pics with my iphone: quality is extremely bad but so much fun to see it!

 

Rob owned Mega Heat throughout his racing career, and Liz then adopted him after his successful career as a racehorse when he retired from the track at 9 years old in 2016.

Here are some photos from today’s shoot. Doesn’t he look handsome?

 

 

Liz has an entire team behind her to assist with this enormous project: Lexie, Felise and Carrie are all working together, along with an amazing vet, farrier, physical therapist and chiropractor to help him transition from the track to the sport horse world, and to reach the finals in KY.

Here are Liz and Felise with Mega Heat or shall we say “Mega Horse”? 🙂

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Like any star he has his own Instagram and Facebook page! Please like and follow him at @mega_heat and https://www.facebook.com/megaheat to follow his progress.

I also found some race footage and statistics of him on Horse Racing Nation: http://www.horseracingnation.com/horse/Mega_Heat

WOW! What a cool story! I absolutely had to write a blog about it to share Mega Heat’s story. And I hope, YOU will too! I wish them all the BEST of Luck and can’t wait to see them compete successfully in Kentucky!

 

Fantasy Photo Shoot with Ashley Morgan Rhodes

If you like Game of Thrones, Lord of the Rings or the new show Emerald City, you will LOVE Ashley’s portfolio. She is a model, horse trainer and breeds beautiful Friesian horses, raises Andalusians and of course LOVES fantasy photo shoots!

I met Ashley last year at Bartley Ranch at a horse expo. She and Leah Earle performed some Mounted Archery which grabbed my attention immediately. When I saw Ashley ride her Andalusian Stallion Thor and reared him up with her bow…OMG I couldn’t believe how beautiful they looked. I absolutely needed to photograph them! After her performance, I literally ran to her. She told me that she invites twice a year photographers for special photo shoots, so I was all ears! Unfortunately I couldn’t attend the one in June of 2016, so we scheduled another one later in Fall. I envisioned to do some sort of a Renaissance/ Game of Thrones kinda shoot and also wanted to get Michael Artemis involved with his HAWK Leonidis. I thought that would be epic and Ashley loved the idea working with a Hawk.

Later in September I scouted out a few areas at our local Galena State Park which is picturesque already by itself, and the colors were beyond magnificent! Finally my ideas came to life! Ashley also wanted to tie in a “Legend” shoot and brought a very fairytale looking like handmade Renaissance dress. There were two more photographers there – Nicole Sepulveda from Sacrament0 and Judy Solomon, another equinotographer.

Michael, Leonidis (Hawk) and Ashley meet for the first time.

Getting ready:

First we did some shots without Leonidis.

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Then we slowly introduced Leonidis to Xander, her horse.

We weren’t sure how Xander would react to the Hawk once he was on his back with Ashley, but surprisingly he did just fine. We took our time to ensure Ashley is comfortable and Michael, who is an expert in wild bird handling, was guiding Ashley of how to work with him.

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Ashley really enjoyed Leonidis and started to play and cuddle with him 🙂 I must say I was impressed of how long she could hold him on her arm! Here some more photos without the horse.

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By now it was 4 pm and we ran out of sunlight. So we rushed back to the trailers, Ashley changed into her gorgeous “Legend” Renaissance dress and Thor was made into a Unicorn 🙂

Here two edited final images. Since we were rushing to get to the location, I did forget my other wide angle lens, so my 70-200 didn’t do me any good because the space we had was extremely tied.

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I must admit that the MOST challenging part for me was the editing. I was soo excited to go home with 800! images and to start the edit, but when I went thru the images I was really disappointed in the quality. And I just couldn’t get the images to look the way I wanted to, so after many long agonizing hours and days of frustration and eye tiredness, I finally gave up and stopped working on them.

I don’t know what made me think of them this week, but I revisited the shoot and found a few images that I was quite happy with and started to edit . Maybe it was a new fresh eye, maybe my new super speedy laptop…I don’t know but at the sudden I see all these images and I went crazy. I edited the last two nights and these are the results. I do have a LOT more. The entire gallery will be added to my portfolio on my website shortly.

I hope you enjoyed the blog and photos as much as I did the photo shoot. Ashley is truly a professional model, easy to work with and a passionate horse trainer. Also a BIG thank you to Michael Artemis who came along with us and was open minded to my idea. If you ever need any info on Hawks and how to care for them, feel free and contact him. He is a Master of his craft.

As usual, any feedback is appreciated, good or constructive!

 

Bye Bye 2016

I have been really busy during the holiday season and the remaining time was spent with my family decorating the house, Christmas parties, making cookies among other things you do during Christmas. And I just now realized I have not written a blog for two months!

I started doing Holiday Photo Sessions with kids/ families and their horses two years ago and everyone just loved the idea. My slogan is…”You can’t bring your horse to JC Penney but I can come to you!” And this year my business during this time has more than doubled thanks to my repeated customers, word of mouth and social media. I loved seeing families getting dressed up, decorating their horses and falling slowly into the Christmas spirit. It’s always a lot of fun,  even if the weather is sometimes freezing cold. Here are some of my favorites:

 

In October I decided to create my first Horse Calendar for 2017 and it kept me busier than expected. From sourcing the right printing company, pricing & deciding on a specific design to choosing the quality of paper, it was definitely an interesting learning curve. At the end I was very happy the way it turned out and received really great feedback, people loved the spiral top and the glossy heavy paper it was printed on. I also decided to make a desktop calendar. There is still a limited amount available on my website.

 

I got extremely frustrated with my 7 year old laptop during that busy time because it just couldn’t keep up with the work load and the speed I needed to use my editing programs. Oh and it ran out of space! It was time to get a new one! So I asked Santa for a new one and he delivered!! Woohoo…so now I am in the middle of transferring my photo shoots, Photoshop and Light Room presets and everything else over…talk about time consuming!

I can’t wait what 2017 has in store for us, my family and my horse photography! I truly love what I do and am fortunate enough to have someone by my side that supports my vision and ideas 100%!

Happy New Year!