My high school friend and I share some important things in common. We graduated from the same high school. We were teachers together at our alma mater. Our first children were in the same grade at our alma mater. Now, we are approaching the empty nest with hobbies that have become opportunities. My enthusiastic friend has a natural beauty and spirituality that enhances her passion for horses and equine photography. I interviewed her about her love of traveling to Colorado for a family tradition and her equestrian life journey.
Tell me about your equestrian history. How did you start this journey?
I grew up riding but took a 20 year break to go to college, get married and have kids. When my daughter got into it, it resumed again. I didn’t want to push her into it. At first, she wanted to pursue gymnastics and just do cartwheels down the barn. But in third grade, she said, “Mom, I’m ready.” And I jumped and jumped hard! You have to do it all the way; not halfway. We got a horse we could both show and both share. We still have him and he’s retired in our backyard. That’s Fox… I would never sell him. (Pictured below is Zeke. His real name is SLR Executive Privilege.)
Who got you into riding?
My parents totally got me into riding. We’d ride at the barn at Southern Hills (Country Club). It was so gorgeous.
Then, the barn burned down. We rode those horses every week. It was devastating. We got an Arabian, showed Arabians and took a break but then got into Morgans. It’s a little more family oriented and it’s more of a family breed. Arabians are very competitive.
Tell me about Colorado. I see all these gorgeous pictures of your trips there.
It’s my favorite place in the world. It’s in Creede, Colorado which is a little mining town—really fascinating. The ranch we go to is 4UR Ranch (it’s a brand). My family has been going there for 50 years and my kids are the fourth generation to go. I used to go up there with my grandparents. It’s the same place… looks the same…and has the same barn. It’s mostly a fly fishing place but equestrian, too. The Lone Ranger movie was filmed there two years ago. That’s where all of us have learned how to ride…..my kids, my nephews.
I see pictures of these reunions you have in Colorado…?
Do you ever have to use the gun?
No. But I’ve seen bears and I’m scared of the mountain lions. I brought my horse, Fox, and rode him up in the high mountains. He did so well! I wasn’t sure how he’d do in the mountains but he was fine! We go every summer for about two weeks. I want to see every part of Colorado! It’s my favorite place in the whole world. I go for a week with the girls and then spend one week with my family at the ranch. Colorado in the summer….wow!
Many Tulsans retreat up there in the summer—especially August it seems, to get away from the heat.
How did you get into equine photography?
It was interesting….I bought a camera, took pictures of my barn and gave them out as gifs. I took pictures at Morgan Nationals. Morgan Horse magazine saw my pictures on the internet and hired me. Arabian Nationals head photographer asked me to be on the team. I never thought in my wildest dreams I would be a part of that! It’s such an honor!
Did you have to do any special training?
I study photography a lot at home. I’ve read every book. You can’t wing it. Photography is hard….the settings, etc. My friend was my inspiration. Digital camera photography, photoshop and editing is really the huge part of it. I can take millions of pictures but it’s really the editing and really bringing it out that captures the story. I want someone to look at my picture and just really feel like there’s a story behind it. I want people talking about it.
What camera do you use?
Canon 5 D. I also like Nikon. I use Adobe photoshop and I like iPhoto because it’s simple. It’s about cropping and colors. I can sit for hours and edit pictures….I love it! I was in charge of candid photos for the Morgan Horse show. I got to capture the candid moments when they came out of the ring and had just won. It was so much fun….I could do that all day!
What is the name of your photography?
Photos by Laurie
Tell me about your titles that you’ve won. I’m fascinated with that.
I have won (so blessed)…2 reserve world national titles in the Morgan horse. In 2010, they turned off every single light in the coloseum and I got to go into the spotlight. I could relive it every day! In 2012, my daughter and I both won.
My daughter won the Gold Medal–the ultimate prize. It’s called the Western Seat Gold Medal. I won the Western Pleasure Amateur. We’re not the pros, but we own the horses….show the horse. Showing horses means riding them. I go once a week to OKC for Zeke, my Morgan stallion. My amazing horse trainer, Kelly Kraegel is in Guthrie. I’ve been riding with her barn, Cottonwood Creek Ranch, for 6 years. Stallions are wild, powerful and ungelded. It’s crazy for someone my age to ride a Morgan stallion. Usually you buy one and geld them.
Why is that crazy and unusual? Are they dangerous?
Have you ever fallen?
Yeah, I”m sure I have…we both have….but you get back up. When we go to Colorado, there’s a pasture, a valley and mountains everywhere…we both take off on a dead run—like you see in the movies and we just take off! It’s the feeling of the freedom, the rush and excitement of it. She’s always by my side when we do things like that.
I can imagine what you mean. I’ve galloped before and in my mind it feels like I’m racing. But I don’t even know how fast I’m going…..and it’s the most amazing feeling.
When you just take off and let go of the reins….you’re holding him but letting him go as fast as that horse possibly can…..(sigh).
What has this mother-daughter bond (with the horses) done to enrich your life?
It has brought us so incredibly close. I’ve literally enjoyed every stage of her life growing up because when she was little, I was the mother…then we showed together. Now, she’s like my best friend and when we take off to Colorado together…it’s hard to explain that bond …what a hobby can do. I have it with my son, too, and he’s my biggest fan. With my daughter, we both understand the bond. She’s just a natural. We can look at each other when we’re on a horse and we know exactly what the other is thinking……we don’t have to communicate.It’s hard to explain. My husband is the best horse show dad….he zips up my chaps, puts on my numbers and is always so positive. I always look for him in the show ring. It’s a great family sport! But I couldn’t have this without Him…I give God all the glory.