Working with horses is a good reminder of why planning photoshoots well in advance is important and why no detail is too small to let go unattended. With sufficient time and care, though, they can take incredible photographs. The same can be said of people on occasion.
[one_half padding=”4px 8px 0 2px”]I like horses. I still remember my first pony ride as a tot. I still remember struggling to try and carry the saddle by myself. I still remember the thrill of jumping gates. Growing up in rural areas, horses were frequently part of our lives and the love and respect I have for them continues. Horses are bright, intelligent, and noble regardless of age or pedigree. Occasionally ornery, they are often great hams in front of a camera and even show jealousy if one gets more lens time than another. They also tend to be great judges of human character and won’t tolerate someone they don’t like.
Having a horse in a photograph almost always makes for a great image, but those pictures don’t just happen by showing up at a ranch one morning and asking to borrow a horse. Most city-raised people don’t know how to ride, or even how to behave around a horse, which can be a bit dangerous. So, when planning to work with horses we have to take plenty of time, choose our models carefully, and take extra precautions such as giving the horse and the model a little time to get to know each other before taking the pictures that count.
Today’s picture is one such bonding moment between Duke and Cynthia. Duke’s owner can just barely be seen on his right side, adjusting the stirrup for Cynthia’s long legs. It was fairly early on a Sunday morning, Cynthia hadn’t ridden in a while, and I’m not sure Duke was all that crazy about having someone on his back at this particular hour. Everything went quite well except for this one tentative moment when Duke moved a little unexpectedly, catching Cynthia by surprise. Very shortly thereafter, they were riding around, getting to know each other, and having a good time.[/one_half]
[one_half_last padding=”4px 2px 0 8px”]We arrived even earlier the next week and fog hugged the pasture as Cynthia mounted Duke and took off. He pranced and trotted beautifully, responding well to her instructions. One of my favorite shots from the day is where Duke appears to be sticking his tongue out at me as he trots my direction. After playing in the field for a while, Cynthia changed clothes and Duke proceeded to stand beautifully still as she laid across his bare back for a number of images. Something tells me that Duke thought he was the focus on the pictures and the girl was just decoration.
I should probably take a moment to insert a cautionary note here. Not every horse is as cooperative as Duke. In fact, when it comes to editorial style photographs, one is almost always better off with an older horse who is accustomed to being ridden by a number of people. Younger, more high-spirited horses are likely to be a bit temperamental about who is on their back; they need strong, experienced riders who know how to take charge and aren’t intimidated by a horse’s dominant personality. Listen carefully to the advice of a horse’s owner and/or wrangler. I’ve never had anyone hurt while taking pictures around horses, but the danger is definitely there.
Pictures circulating in Las Vegas this week show an intimidating Cynthia in her football uniform, promoting that city’s LFL team; she looks as tough and dominating as she is beautiful. So, this seemed like the perfect time to pull out a picture of the one moment, that split second, where she might have been a wee bit anxious. Obviously, her confidence was back by the time we took the pictures below, but we’ll always remember that one moment and the horse that made it possible.[/one_half_last]