Most unexpectedly, two special horses came into each of their lives at different times and changed them forever. This is their story....
AMY & DORADO
Dorado is my first horse. He became mine when he was left to me in 2013. In 2012, I had decided to end a 5-year international assignment and repatriate back to the US after splitting my time between London and Paris. I landed in Westerly, RI. I knew very few people locally and my immediate goals were launching my consulting company and readjusting to living back in the USA. Now that I was no longer on a plane or a train every week, I decided it was finally time to take my riding more seriously. I had taken lessons while living abroad but my schedule never allowed for the focus I wanted so desperately to give to riding and horses.
I found a farm in North Kingston, RI and I met my new trainer, Lynn. She also become my first new friend. Lynn introduced me to Dorado whose name soon was truncated down to simply D. D is a chestnut appendix; half thoroughbred, half quarter horse. At the time we first met, he was 17, I was 41 and quite quickly, it was love. He soothed the upheaval in my life and gave it meaning. Gentle, calm and hardworking, he was the perfect partner as I rebuilt everything. It soon became evident to everyone in the barn that we had a "thing" going on.
September 2013 brought darkness to farm. Lynn told us that despite fighting a very tough fight, she'd lose her battle with pancreatic cancer. She was 48 years old when she said goodbye to us that November. Weeks before she passed said to me, “I’d like you to take D”. I whispered back a yes and privately vowed he would always be with me, always taken care of. Once more, D would be my rock in the days and months that followed without my friend.
Searching for a way to use my grief positively, I started volunteering at a rescue. I was moved by the animals I met, saddened by their stories but grateful for the care and dedication of the volunteers. I delicately confronted the thought that this could have potentially been D’s fate if our paths hadn’t aligned and my heart broke a bit more.
This is where I first met Doug though it would be almost a year before we had our first conversation in which he asked if he could photograph me with D.
During our lessons, Lynn would always remark that she could never understand why I was single. I told her that I had made a conscious choice to put work first but I was honest that I sometimes questioned the soundness of that choice. The fact that her horse, now suddenly my horse, would be the direct path to finding my husband makes perfect sense. On the first date, I immediately knew I had finally found my prince (and he came with a horse!). Doug and I married in 2015.
DOUG & MONTANA
Growing up in Queens, NY, my exposure to horses was limited. Aside from seeing carriage horses in Central Park, life with skyscrapers and subways keeps nature at a distance. Years later, living in New England and after a divorce, I found my way to horses. Days after my decision to get divorced, I signed myself up for a riding lesson. That first day with a horse, I realized that my divorce wasn’t an end but a beginning. Soon I learned that horses, unbeknownst to me, can be healers, teachers and friends.
As the months went by, my time with horses was simply more interesting than a bad relationship. That’s the magic of horses; their blatant honesty cuts through day to day petty situations. To them the present is what matters and their strength and power is contagious. In their presence, you can’t help but stand tall among them.
I’d started volunteering at a local rescue. There I could give back the same support horses had given me. Sadly, I soon learned they needed it far more than I did. The dire situations horses were found in was striking and their helplessness demanded action. Domestication had left them with no mechanism for self-help or self-healing; only people can help.
Creativity was always a part of my life; photography and horses happened at the same time for me. Photographing and observing them led to more understanding of what they are and what they need. It also became a great tool for sharing the story and plight of these equines.
In 2013, the rescue took in a horse that I immediately connected with. A 7 year-old standard bred from the auction circuit that was destined for the slaughter truck. I was ready for a horse of my own and a whole new chapter began. I adopted this horse and named him Montana. Now four years later, I can’t imagine life without him. It’s been a learning experience like no other. To say the least, it’s humbling to be around and care for a force of nature. More than ever as the modern world envelops our lives, it’s crucial that we remain tethered to the natural one.
Equine photography also led to the best chapter of my life, meeting Amy. I had been trying to build a portfolio of work and needed more portraits so I reached out to Amy, offering to photograph her with her horse Dorado. I had known of Amy through the rescue. She might tell you that my offer of photography was my way of securing a date with her. I’d maintain that I was being strictly professional but that’s probably a bit of a lie. Either way, it was horses that brought us together. It’s not a whim of fate we take lightly. Fully recognizing the roles these incredible animals have played in our lives; we chose to pay tribute to them in my wedding ring. Montana’s and Dorado’s tail hair was braided together and placed in the center of the ring.