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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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!