Updated: Jan 13, 2020
I didn’t grow up around horses. Yes, when I was younger I rode a horse a few times. Once as a young boy with my grandfather, twice on boy scout trips and once on a trip to Vermont with a friend. To date that’s still the sum of my riding. My daughter is a different story however. She first got on a horse at age 2 and hasn’t stopped riding since. When she was born I was working shifts for the fire department. My work schedule gave me 6 of every 8 days off which allowed me to take care of Julia most days instead of having to rely on daycare. When Julia was about a year old we began taking regular trips to UCONN to see the animals. She was very drawn to the horses there. We would often bring a lunch to eat at a table near the horse paddocks. Given this interest, when the opportunity arose to try a horse riding lesson at a local barn we jumped on it. I had no idea at that time that this ride was the beginning of my daughters passion. I vividly remember her learning to groom and how to act around horses on the cutest little mini horse named Chocolate Milk. She embraced the brushing and hoof picking and even the mucking. 11 years later her passion for horses hasn’t diminished in the least. Instead of learning to balance on a 24” high mini however, now she’s jumping and competing in several different disciplines. She’s become an excellent rider!
In 11 years I’ve learned a thing or two also. Mostly I’ve learned that Horses are full of personality. Some horses are easier to get along with than others. Some are just goofy all the time. Some want nothing more than to please and some want nothing more than to be left alone. I’ve learned how horses communicate with people. A horse will tell you exactly what it’s thinking if you’re willing to listen. Sometime they tell you with their ears. Sometime it’s how they move or stand. Everything from how a horse looks at you to how it carries its head means something. I’ve learned that horses respond really well to emotion. Like people, if you show a horse some love it will show you love in return. I’ve learned that it isn’t hard to communicate with a horse. You really just need to be genuine with your intentions and the horse will always read you correctly. A gentle touch tells the horse all it needs to know about you.
Horses make great photography subjects for several reasons. They are beautiful animals. Horses are expressive and curious and interested and funny. There’s beauty in capturing a horse and rider flying over fences, just as there is in capturing a couple of horses relaxing in their pasture. Watching Julia in her element (which is any time spent with a horse) brings me great joy. Capturing her with horses always makes for great photos too!