A few weeks ago I did something I’ve never done before: booked a photo shoot for my horses. Aside from show photos I have precisely zero professional photos of my horses. I know that those soft-evening-light, wear-a-nice-outfit-and-pose-with-your-horse type of photos are really popular on Instagram, and they’re pretty, but it’s definitely just… not my bag. I did a very tiny bit of mostly sports modeling years ago to earn extra cash and god I was just so uncomfortable. I learned that I really don’t like being in front of a camera. At all. If you ever see any posed photo shoots from me, I’ve 100% been body snatched, send help immediately. However, I definitely love a good theme photo, and I also love photos of my horses, so when a young local photographer posted about a holiday special, I went for it, opting for black background pics of just the boys.
Fittingly, the shoot was set for the day after Thanksgiving. Perfect time for a Christmas theme. I spent the previous afternoon finalizing what the boys would wear and getting everything cleaned up. I had scoured Amazon earlier in the week to find an antler headband for Presto (because you KNOW he’s a reindeer), which isn’t as simple a task as it seems. His ears are a good 6+ inches long, so I had to find the longest possible antlers to make sure they wouldn’t just get lost behind his ears. Not the weirdest Amazon scour that I’ve ever done, but it might rank top five.
I trimmed up their manes a little bit, and chopped off their grown-out bridlepaths. I don’t take off whiskers or ear hair, so those remained untouched, but I did scrub all the dirt off of Presto’s one sock. And yes, every time I have to clean that little sock I bitch about it endlessly. There’s a lot to be said for Henry’s delightful plain bay. It was a bit too cold for baths (and also I’m not that dedicated) so instead I busted out the vacuum. Turns out the barn owner already had one, so I didn’t have to buy one. Henry thought the vacuum was going to eat him, but dubiously acquiesced after some reassurance. Presto, true to form, thought the vacuum was AWESOME and seemed to enjoy it. Because of course he did.
When I asked you guys for bridle opinions I was already leaning toward the hunt bridle, which got the overwhelming majority of the vote. For Presto I thought his green rope and leather Kincade halter was just a little too busy on his already busy face. I knew if I put him in his bridle he’d just chomp and make faces the whole time, but I didn’t have his plain leather halter with me, and his navy leather halter seemed like it would clash (yes, okay, he has a lot of halters). So I went and dug out the black Kavalkade halter he showed in last year, which is a cob size. I had to drop it to all the loosest possible holes, but it worked.
Look at me, I was prepared. They were going to look great!
The next morning was foggy, with that heavy mist in the air that just makes everything feel heavy. I fed around 6 but the photographer wasn’t scheduled to come until 9, so there’s no way I was going to leave everyone inside for 3 hours. I figured I’d turn them out for a bit and go get them around 8:15-8:30. I turned them out, cleaned the stalls, dumped and refilled the water buckets, spread the manure, then went back in the house to eat breakfast and change. About half an hour later I hear something. Is that… is that RAIN? There was NOTHING on the radar when I turned them out. But sure enough, I look out the window and it’s freaking pouring. By the time I put on my shoes it had already tapered off – it was just a small little pop-up shower, intense but very short-lived. The horses thought this was very exciting and were galloping around chasing each other. It was now 8 o’clock and they were SOAKING WET and absolutely riled up beyond belief.
Naturally I panicked. I went out and grabbed them and brought them into the barn, trying to dry them with towels. Presto is really hairy and was absolutely dripping wet. His previously clean sock was also now even filthier than it had been before I cleaned it the night before. I had each of them in a crosstie and went back and forth trying to get them dry while the horses still left in turnout continued to run around, which continued to amp up the two I’d brought in. Finally I remembered that the vacuum also had a blow-dry setting, so I grabbed it and tried that. Henry absolutely would not have it, but Presto didn’t protest. There I was, 8:30am the day after Thanksgiving, blow-drying my 2yo. This is normal right?
The photographer was early and while Henry was at least mostly dry, Presto certainly was not. I’d been pretty successful with his front half, but his back and butt were still soaked. I apologized to the photographer (I literally had ONE JOB) but she didn’t seem phased and said we could work around it.
We started with Henry, and left Presto in the crossties while we took him out into the courtyard. That pissed Presto off. He thought we were abandoning him all alone, so he proceeded to paw and tapdance the entire time we were working on Henry.
Then we switched horses. After Presto’s shenanigans I figured I’d tie Henry out near where we were shooting to try to help make things easier… which it did. Until Henry untied himself and took off. OMG welcome to the circus. I went and retrieved Henry, and tied him over in the barn instead. He promptly untied himself AGAIN and was off AGAIN. This time I retrieved him and hooked him up to a crosstie (good luck getting out of that without thumbs!), and he proceeded to flail around like a fish on a hook, pooping all over the aisle and churning up a cloud of dust. It was embarrassing. He was terrible.
By the time we finished the photo shoot I kind of hated both of them. They acted like a couple of feral hooligans, which is pretty out of character but still really annoying. I’m glad the pictures turned out great, though. Henry looks absolutely stunning (maybe I’m biased but also I’m right) and the hunt bridle was definitely the right choice. And Presto is ridiculously cute as a reindeer. Very apropos.
The pictures are almost enough to make me forget how bad they (ok mostly Henry) were. Almost. I think it’ll be a while before I ever try to wrangle those morons for a photo shoot again. That is WORK. Props to you people who do this regularly. Many thanks to Rowan Ahearn Photography for her infinite patience and somehow still managing to get great shots despite all the mayhem.