My Photo Shoot, My Horse, Our Story

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.


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.

Broker Anett Dave on him (1 of 1)

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!



A very rare AND special mare…for sure

Stacie told me some interesting facts about her two horses Poet and Zeus over the phone and then in person when I met her. But I must admit, I didn’t know half of her story until days after the photo shoot. It is an inspirational story about overcoming severe challenges and obstacles…to say the least.

Stacies owns this beautiful 10 year old Arabian Bay Mare “Poetic Kharma” aka Poet, who is covered in blue ribbons, won four Championship titles including Region 4 – Horse of the Year for USEF in 2012! Absolutely impressive! I barely could keep up with taking notes as Stacey is telling me about her successful showing career. Then finding out that Poet is also one of the very rare mares that has gone through the Oldenburg NA Inspection and as a purebred Arabian was fully accepted into the Oldenburg Main Mare Book, missing Premium mare by mere points. Now I was speechless!

With Ben, her husband and Annelise, her trainer in tow we moved to a perfect outdoor spot to take the first photos.  Poet is no “Newbie” when it comes to posing in front of the camera and totally cooperated with whatever we asked her to do.

Then we also included Ben, who by the way carries almost as many titles as Poet after his name, DVM, Ph.D., MPH…just to name a few.

Now it was time for Zeus, her young Warmblood. She quickly changed into her dressage outfit and we continued taking photos. She bred him herself and she has high hopes for him to become the next Dressage Star. She LOVES his big movement and playfulness!

By now, the sun almost set and I wanted to get a few nice sunset shots. So we moved Zeus into a paddock area where he could show off his moves!

Then right before the sun went down, I took this photo…


A few days later, when I finished editing the shoot, I knew I had some really nice photos of Poet! I decided to contact the editor of the Arabian Horse Magazine to see if they might have some interest in Poet’s photos as she was not just any horse! After I heard back that they definitely would like to run a story on her, Stacie then emailed more information to them and copied me. It was definitely heart breaking and emotional to read…

Poet was in a terrible accident after her “Horse of the Year” title and broke a lumbar vertebra joint on her left side of her back. The next two years Stacie and Ben spent endless hours of giving her the best care, getting the right diagnostics and tests done including a bone scan and ultrasound. Stacie, at the same time, developed a very painful chronic disorder and had a tough time dealing with it where she lived, up North in Washington.

After moving to Nevada and hopes that she might be able to ride Poet again, she got even more bad news. Poet developed insulin resistance and foundered! AND to top it off, she also developed an intestinal impaction that became so badly infected that she ended up in Intensive Care for 5 days where she almost lost her!
Stacie then continued: ” I remember going into her stall where she was hooked up to I.V’s and hugging her and telling her I won’t give up on her if she won’t give up on me.


Now, as I am looking at her photographs and knowing the extreme struggle they both went through until this day, I know how much this one of a kind Mare Poet means to her! I am glad she has beautiful images of Poet to cherish forever.

There is one more thing about Poet: While she is not completely back of being her old self, she is an Equine Therapy Horse in conjunction with The Center for Hope in Reno for patients with severe eating disorders. She gives them confidence by helping people overcome their fear of horses and sharing her kind soul.


“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.

Jasper Cassie kneeling (1 of 1)

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:

Jasper Cassie standing hugging (1 of 1)

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.



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.


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.




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.


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!





What happens after the shoot?

In an effort to make the entire photo shoot memorable, I am always looking for new and creative ways to enhance the experience, from beginning to end. I added a new feature for my clients that I would love to share with you, because I think it puts the icing on the cake and makes the entire photo shoot experience complete.

It always amazes me with how many photos I come home with. For an 1.5-2 hour shoot I have anywhere between 300- 450 photos, depending on the different poses, action photos, horse’s cooperation, etc. As I go thru and edit them I rate them 1-5, 5 being the highest. I LOVE when I have 5 star photos, because they are pretty much perfect straight out of the camera. They need little retouching, maybe a little more exposure, cropping or color. Three star photos would require more work like fixing shadows, touching up eyes, cropping, adjusting brightness and so on. Here are some examples:

I didn’t have to retouch a lot on that image. I simply cropped it slightly and added a little contrast and done! And I do love the shadow of leaves showing on the horse’s coat. I was actually going back and forth in my head and not sure if it looked good but at the end looking at the entire shoot I love the way they turned out.

Another image that didn’t need much work. A simple crop and zoom, some contrast and done! Sometimes it is the crop that decides if the image is worth keeping or not.

Here is an image I worked on quite a bit. At first I didn’t pay much attention to this photo, it was too dark and the background just didn’t work, so I gave it one star. But looking at it again I just loved how he his ears were perked up and how she hugged him with her eyes closed.

Thanks to Lightroom and Photoshop I was able to save this image and turn it into a “5 Star”! I really love the finished photo.

Once the entire shoot is edited, the photos are downloaded to my client’s page onto my website for review. My package includes a personalized USB Card with all digital high res photos and a customized photo book with your images, great for your coffee table or gift!

So, what did I add? I truly believe your photos should be looked at, loved, felt, touched and seen by your friends and family when they come into your home. How many people have thousands of photos on their iPhone and computer and never look at them again? Sound familiar? I personally have canvases and framed photos ALL over my house from the Flume Trail, Lake Tahoe, my son, US- our family, memories. People always comment on how many pictures I have up. And I just love looking at them and remembering that moment!

I now offer wall art for all clients AND I will create your personal in home design.

All I need is a photo of your space, your room, hallway or bedroom and I will show you what a canvas or photo on the wall would look like in your house! Even if you are not a client you can purchase any of my horse photography for your wall! Existing and new clients receive 20% off on any wall art.

Here are some examples:


Here are some client images:


I mean, isn’t that really cool? No more hassle trying to figure out if it fits or not! And you know what it looks like before you buy anything! And the possibilities are endless.

I can show you different designs with your photos, if it is one canvas or several in your hallway or over your fire place! I think that is pretty darn good!

I am really super excited about that feature! I will post more about it on facebook and also add it to my webpage shortly.

I would LOVE to hear your feedback about my added feature and what you think about it!

You can also leave a comment!

“The Forgotten Breed”

I took a long ride out to the dusty Palomino Valley last week to visit Michelle Winans-Gomez with “Trinityglen Highland Ponies”. A friend (thanks Michael Artemis) told me that she was breeding a special type of pony that is quite rare to find. So I was all ears and wanted to find out more!

When I arrived at her 40 acre ranch, Michelle had all her ponies, four mares and two stallions, groomed and ready to go!  I was amazed by their beauty and couldn’t wait to take their photos and tell everyone that she’s got something really special. She told me that the Highland Pony originated from the Highlands of Scotland and that they are listed as vulnerable on the endangered species list. There are less than 100! on the Northern American Continent, and around 3500 in the world.


Michelle is a big advocate in promoting and preserving this breed. With less than 70 registered stallions world wide, she has two in stud! She loves to educate people about this strong, sturdy and compact pony and tells me they love to pull carts, are used for low level hunter/ jumpers and show well in dressage. They are great with kids and can carry adults with no problem.

We first go into the pasture with her four mares.They all chill and look like the are chatting about their day until…


Looks like they didn’t quite agree on something 🙂



Here are some very interesting facts about the Highland Pony!

  • In the 1300’s in the days of the “Braveheart” era, the Highland Pony was ridden by King Robert the Bruce!
  • Queen Victoria was known to have ridden this pony during her excursions where carriages couldn’t access the land.
  • The Scottish cavalry used them in World War I and World War II to carry the soldiers to the battle lines. The wars severely depleted this beautiful breed.

I must admit, I absolutely fell in love with this mouse dun mare. Her rich colors just showed beautifully during the sunset, I couldn’t take my eyes off of Sandby Opal. I never seen a “mouse dun” pony before!


This is her beautiful mare Brownbread Queenie.


Some more pictures of her foal and mare. And the hawk is a hobby of Jose’s, Michelle’s husband.


This is one of her stallions, Lieutenant of Whitefield and comes straight from the well respected Whitefield stud in Scotland. What a pretty boy to look at!

And this is “Whiskey” her cream dun stallion: Ch. Circle H Glen Livit


This weekend Michelle is traveling with her companions to the Draft Horse Classic in Grass Valley, NV (Sept 22-25) to showcase her very special breed. If you see her, please stop by and say hello.  You will see that she always has this glow in her eyes when she talks about them! Good Luck Michelle and thanks for welcoming me at your ranch!

For more information please visit her website and check out her facebook page