Angel Horse for America's Horse magazine

Every so often, I get the kind of assignment that allows me to tell an incredible and emotional story. It's a weighty responsibility, but I'm always thankful. These kinds of stories are my favorite, and it's an honor to share them with readers.

This is a story about three women, and the Quarter Horse mare that bound them together due to a strikingly similar tragedy in each of their lives. "Shirley" was a healing balm for these moms in their times of grief, and she continues to be an angel in the life of her forever home.

Sherry, Becky and Tracy shared their stories with me and I in turn shared them with AQHA's member magazine America's Horse. The result was a beautiful tribute to a sweet bay mare by the women who love her. The story got an incredible response from each woman's community--more than a hundred comments across their Facebook pages. I've never seen anything like it, but each woman lived through a hard time thanks to Shirley, and their friends knew it.

For Mother's Day, Becky's daughter made a gallery of the article and Becky hung it in a place of honor in her home. It is such a good reminder that stories like this are why I do what I do. Sometimes my work can have a positive effect, both on the sources, and on the readers. It was a privilege to share these women's story. It can be found in the January-February 2017 America's Horse.

Introducing ALBUMS!

I am so excited to introduce y'all to my new albums! I've searched high and low for the perfect album for my portrait clients, and here it is! Each album features an 8x8 leather- or cloth-covered flush mount album in your color choice, starting with a base of 20 pages of images. The pages are stiff and your photos will display beautifully on the archival quality paper. Each spread lays flat for easy viewing, and the cover contains a cameo image.

This album is included in one of my portrait packages or a la carte, and I'm offering this album to all my previous clients, so if you've had a session with me in the past, you can still get an album.

Here are some more photos of my sample album. Ask me about it if you want to see it in person! 

Five Years of ABC!

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Five years ago today I began my freelance career. So much has happened during the last five years that it feels like a lot longer. In all, I've been working in the equine magazine industry, writing and taking photos, for ten years this year. But as a freelancer, I've written a huge amount of articles--I just did an inventory and kind of blew my own mind at the number. 

But for each article, I spend a lot of time planning, interviewing multiple sources, transcribing, writing, editing and taking/editing/writing captions for photos. Each story is a labor of love, and I work really hard to make it entertaining, educational and compelling for the magazine reader. Plus, hopefully avoiding massive editing headaches for the magazine staff. :-) 

This last month was a heavy workload. I was very happy to turn in all my stories, but 24 hours later, as I was driving to visit the gelding I get to ride once a week (My reward!), my mind was planning future stories and contemplating sources. I get so much joy spending time with my children during the day and pressing in to my work when they're asleep and on the days when we have childcare. I'm still jazzed to sit down with a cup of coffee in my office to craft a good story. Especially when I can work in my house shoes and pet my cat sitting on my desk! I love to talk to sources and hear their expertise and tales, knowing it's going to turn into a good solid article. I love when a photo shoot has magic light, pretty horses and everything just comes together. Even when it doesn't work perfectly, when I get the shots I need, it's still a success. And I'm so appreciative of the relationships developed with editors, sources and colleagues. The horse publication world is a niche in the journalism industry. It's been such a good home for me and I'm proud to be able to contribute to these magazines. 

This has been a wonderful five years, and while I don't know what the future holds, it's exciting to plan, dream and work hard every day. At so many points on this journey, I see God's hand. He's provided for me, given me these talents and continually opened doors. I give Him all the glory for anything I've been able to accomplish. Thank you for reading. I do this for you!

 

England Sisters Portraits

This is one of my favorite shoots I've ever done. I photographed Emma and Madeleine in 2014, and again last year, but I haven't published their images yet. The shoot was magical. The day was cloudy, which made the light soft and shadow free. These girls loved their horses and it was a joy to photograph that relationship. I hope you enjoy! 

One of a Kind Feature in Chrome

I pretty much want every single item I featured in this article for Chrome magazine. I scoured the web for beautiful and unique Western-style products and decor, and these artisans did not disappoint. As a bonus, I learned what to look for when choosing leather goods and reclaimed furniture, for example. Have a look--maybe you'll find something you want for yourself!

Here are the web addresses from below:

Will Boedeker Leather

Stephanie Ferguson Boots

Brewster Barn

Treestump

T Bones Custom Creations

David Naylors Interiors

Iron Haus

Kehrberg Leather Art

Western Weddings feature for Chrome magazine

I love weddings. I really enjoyed planning my own, and for a while there I spent many weekends at the weddings of friends. They're such a fun time to get dressed up, see friends and family, eat some good food and have a good time. This article for Chrome magazine was fun to write, as I got to interview some great sources: Wedding planning guru David Tutera, Tara Wilson of Tara Wilson Agency and Julie Neubauer of Yonder Design. I'm so appreciative of the stunning photography--it really made the article. Caroline and Jacob Fusilier's horse-themed wedding was also featured. Hope you enjoy!

High Octane Feed article for the American Quarter Horse Journal

I thought I'd posted this article already, since it was published in the American Quarter Horse Journal in 2013, but I don't think I did! It's January, and many of us (myself included) are trying to eat healthier, so I'm glad to revisit this article. It's really hard to eat healthy at horse shows. The cinnamon rolls at Will Rogers Equestrian Complex are just so delicious, and I know other shows have similar offerings at concession stands. So for this article  I talked to avid Amateur competitor and nutritionist Christine McWhorter, as well as fitness champion Monica Brant--her husband is AQHA Professional Horseman Brad Jewett. Both of my experts have spent many hours at horse shows, so they know the value of healthy food at competitions. I hope you enjoy the article!


Destination Down Under article for Chrome magazine

Australia is an incredible country. Zach and I visited Oz in 2012, and it was life-changing. One thing I really loved about it was the horse culture. We spent some time at a campdraft, among other things, and we had a great time. So writing this travel piece for Chrome magazine was a lot of fun. We got to do some of these things while we were there, but after writing this article, I've added a bunch more activities for the NEXT visit Down Under. :-) Hope you enjoy!

Show Clothes TLC article for the Paint Horse Journal

Proper care goes a long way in protecting your expensive horse show clothes, so I was glad to be able to work with great sources to write this helpful article for the Paint Horse Journal. How do you care for your show clothes?

Saddles and Sweat article for the Paint Horse Journal

This article for the February 2014 Paint Horse Journal was really neat to put together. I interviewed four Paint Horse enthusiasts to learn about their fitness passions. I talked to a cross country runner, a CrossFit junkie (Amanda Ryan--you've met her in other articles, like the January 2014 issue), a p90x warrior and a bikini competitor. I loved getting to learn about why they chose these activities, and how they related to horses. Hope you enjoy!



Fit to Ride article for the Paint Horse Journal

In January and February 2014, I wrote a two-part article for the Paint Horse Journal about rider fitness. "Fit to Ride" explains the importance of being in shape for better riding, and it also shares ways to achieve your fitness goals without going to the gym.

Being healthy, fit and strong is important to me, so I loved working on this article with my sources. I also collaborated with my former Texas A&M equestrian teammate Amanda Ryan for the photos! Check it out and let me know what you think!

Back to work!

October 16, 2015, we welcomed a new addition to our family. Meet Felicity Rose! She is a precious baby girl, and we're so happy she's made us a family of four. I've spent the last 6 weeks adjusting to life with a toddler and a newborn, and while I'm still working on the whole schedule thing, I'm back at work today. The break has been refreshing, and I look forward to creating good content yet again. Here's to good stories, photos and writing in 2016! Thank you all for your support and for your kind words about the arrival of Felicity. I feel blessed to work with great editors and clients, and I'm excited to bring readers more interesting things to read soon!

Contracted Heels article for the American Quarter Horse Journal

Last year, I worked on a series of articles about hooves for The American Quarter Horse Journal. It was definitely a topic that stretched my knowledge in a new direction! Thankful to my expert source! I hope y'all learn something new too. This one is about the difference between contracted and pushed-up heels.

Bits with Dick Pieper for Horse & Rider

I love learning from legends about their favorite pieces of tack. Each one has their own tried-and-true arsenal, and the reasons why those pieces work. I worked with the great horseman Dick Pieper a little while ago for Horse & Rider magazine and we chatted about his favorite bits. Hope you enjoy the feature!

Bedding article for the American Quarter Horse Journal

I love writing articles that can help save readers money. This was an interesting article for me to write for the American Quarter Horse Journal because I spent many years working at a boarding stable cleaning stalls, but I still learned some helpful techniques to make bedding stretch further. I also liked learning about innovative products--it's not all shavings these days! Hope you enjoy!

Trail article for Modern Arabian

I wrote an article for Modern Arabian about the benefits of introducing your show horse to trail class with Michael Damianos. It was really fun to write about a new breed for me (Arabians) for a new publication for me! Loved learning more about this breed and how these horses do trail. Hope you enjoy!


Nine things I've learned in four years of freelancing

Four years ago, I stepped out of my comfort zone and left a wonderful job to begin a freelance career. It was scary and I didn't know how things would work out. I trusted God, kept plugging away and built my business one assignment at a time. It's been quite the journey, but I'm so grateful for this job that I love and the people that I get to work with. I've now been freelancing for nearly as long as I worked at a magazine! And I wanted to share a few things I've learned along the way--some things I'm still learning!

Communication is everything. You could be the best writer, with the best story ideas, and still struggle to get published... if editors find that you miss deadlines, are difficult to work with or hard to get ahold of, they won't want to take the risk and hire you again. I try very hard to have dialogue with editors during my planning and writing process, so if a sticky situation crops up, we can handle it together. Deadlines run my work life. I know from being on staff at a magazine that when I turn in a story, it is just the first step in a long chain of work completed by other people. So if I'm late, it pushes everyone else back. The least I can do is get my part turned in on time!

Maximizing efficiency is crucial. This is a lesson I've learned from taking on too many assignments at once during busy times. But it really hit home when I became a mom, and I went from being able to work all day every day to a finite number of hours in a day. I cannot waste time. I struggle with this daily, and I've tried all kinds of things to keep myself on track. Here are the things that help me: 1. A written to do list front and center on my desk. I write out how long I think tasks will take, and highlight the most important tasks of the day. Checking things off makes me feel accomplished and motivated to do more. 2. Passion Planner, also front and center. This planner helps me, well, plan out my days, weeks and month and it relieves a lot of stress from remembering when I have a commitment. I've used Workflowy, and it helps, and I use Google Calendar, but they don't relieve mental stress like these two paper items. 3. The Antisocial app. This app on the computer blocks social media sites and any other site you want to avoid (cough Etsy) for a set amount of time. I use it when I'm transcribing or have writer's block. 4. Dragon dictate. Transcribing is my least favorite writing task. It makes me want to stab my eyes out. I have a couple of techniques to avoid transcribing every.last.word, but if i want to get a long interview transcribed quickly, I use Dragon Dictate. It's not perfect, doesn't really get horse terms, but it saves my fingers and brain... and of course, some time. 5. Photomechanic. If you have to edit photos.... or even just look at them and sort them quickly... you need this program. It took me 4 years to get it. So much time wasted! 6. Break tasks into time slots. I also categorize my work tasks into "things to do during Wilder's nap" that include interviews and phone calls, and "things to do after he goes to bed" which include writing less urgent emails, editing photos, transcribing and actually writing articles.

Do the work. Despite all of the above, freelancing is still a lot of work. I might not go to a 9-5 job, but I definitely put in a lot of hours. Flexibility is a tradeoff! I get to take Wilder to the park, and travel with our family, and run errands during the day sometimes, but I also work just about every night till bedtime and every nap, and early in the morning, and of all the trips we've taken, I only took off work twice. To make that happen, I worked and worked and worked before and after those trips. I've interviewed people at 3 am while I was on Australia time, written articles from a hotel room more times than I can count, and learned how to transcribe on my laptop during our mandatory monthly trips across Texas. It's a blessing to have the flexibility, but I still have to put in hours. I absolutely love it though!

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Being homeschooled and a horse girl was an asset. I used to think I could never be my own boss. My mom was an entrepreneur, and she was always encouraging my business ideas. I was really bad at making them work though. I just floundered. So I always thought I was the kind of person that needed to go to a job everyday and answer to a boss. Zach was the one that helped me see I could make freelancing work. Though I left because I needed flexibility (ha! see above) I quickly learned that the freelance lifestyle was perfect for me. People used to ask me how I found the motivation to work. In my head, there are always deadlines and assignments. They have to get done. I have to plan out ahead of time to accomplish those assignments. I also work best in the evening. These lessons, I learned by being homeschooled, and by having horses. In high school, I had a stack of books and workbooks, and I had to get them done on my own time. I had to plan my days and complete my assignments, or I wouldn't get to go ride. In college, I had to balance school and the equestrian team. All that to say, I'm definitely comfortable managing the workload at this point, and I never feel like I did when I was trying to grow a startup. I think I found the right business!

Self-care is important. This is one I've learned more recently. Taking the time to exercise and even go get my nails done makes me a better worker. I actually was able to set up a magazine photo shoot once after running into the model, a friend of mine, at the nail salon! I get burned out at times, so little breaks to watch a tv show one night or go to the zoo with Wilder are awesome.

Learn to say no. Another one I've really learned since becoming a parent. I built my freelance career by taking every job possible. As I've gotten more established, I've been able to develop relationships with the editors of magazines for whom I really value working. Now that I am a mom, if I take an assignment, I have to be sure I have enough time to get it done by deadline, and I also balance how much work I do by how much time I am missing being away from my child. I love what I do, but I love being mom and the moments spent with Wilder are precious. And I'm also not doing anyone any favors by working too much, turning in subpar content or missing assignments. So I take on less work, and I have to make hard choices and pray the editors understand. Babies are little for just a short window of time, but I hope to make writing and photography my career for many years, so I weigh every assignment carefully. This will become even harder in just a few months, when I'll have two babies!

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Don't be afraid to ask for help. This is a mom lesson. I don't want you to think that I get all my work done during naps and bedtime. Childcare is also a part of the equation. I couldn't do photo shoots or some of the more hectic assignments without the help of both Zach and my in-laws. My MIL watches Wilder 1-2x a week, and I swap work times with Zach, since he works from home as well. It's a balancing act, but I absolutely could not do this job without their help! 

Colleagues aren't competitors. I strongly believe that there is enough room in the horse industry for good freelancers, and it doesn't hurt me to share things I've learned. I have always had enough work (thank you Jesus!) but I am indebted to many friends, colleagues and superiors for getting a foot in the door. I have learned so much from other writers and photographers that were willing to share their knowledge, and I want to pass that knowledge on when I can. If I have to turn down work (really hard to do) I try to to pass on the name of a fellow freelancer. I've gotten great story ideas from friends and colleagues, and I try to return the favor. It's a really small world, this equine publishing industry, and you never know who's help you'll be needing tomorrow. Plus, I've made some really good friends in this business!

Never stop learning. This year has been a season of growth for me. I've discovered podcasts like Being Boss, for example, and it's really helped me evaluate what I want to do with my business. Not having a horse right now makes digging up hands-on topics tough, but wherever I am, whatever I'm reading, I am always thinking of story ideas. I keep a running tally of stuff that catches my interest. It's really hard to come up with good topics sometimes, but just being open to ideas has really paid off in getting to not only learn about cool things, but also write about them!

This turned into a much longer post than I anticipated, so if you're still with me, thanks. :-) I hope something I shared here rang true with you. I'd love your feedback! 

2015 American Horse Publications wrap-up

Thank you Darrell Dodds for the photo!

Thank you Darrell Dodds for the photo!

The American Horse Publications Seminar is one of my favorite events of the year. It's a time where writers, photographers, editors, publishers and other folks connected to the horse magazine industry gather. We gather to network, gain education, recognize hard work and most of all, have a good time. Each year hundreds of articles and photographs are entered in the AHP Seminar contest, where a panel of judges from the industry critique and place the pieces. I've won an award once before, when I was on staff at the Paint Horse Journal, and I've gotten 2nd place and honorable mentions a few times. This year, three of my stories were finalists. My story about white line disease for the American Quarter Horse Journal placed second in its category, and I got two first place awards. One for my profile on Aaron Watson for America's Horse and the other for a mane and tail care article with Colleen McQuay for Horse & Rider. So much effort is put into each article submitted to the contest. It's an honor to be recognized amongst my peers. 

The weekend was so much fun, and it was a wonderful time connecting with other industry professionals. It was even more special because the seminar was held in my hometown of San Antonio!


White Line Disease article for the American Quarter Horse Journal

White line disease is a tough condition to treat. It eats away at horse's hooves, and can be both painful and chronic. This article for the American Quarter Horse Journal explores diagnosis and treatment options with the help of several veterinarian experts.

This article places second in the Service to the Reader category at the 2015 American Horse Publications seminar this past weekend. Read the article below: