APHA
For The Soul—Unique Aspects of the Western World

Golden Connections

Photographer Kirstie Marie Jones illustrates the deep love fostered in horse-human relationships.

By Kirstie Marie Jones with Rachel Griffin
Photography by Kirstie Marie Photography

A girl. Her horse. A golden field at sunset. Her dress flutters in the breeze. His knowing eyes watch her every move. I lift my camera and capture a daydream.

When she looks back on the season of her life we documented, this is how she’ll remember it—a beautiful supercut of joyful moments filled with light, love, laughter and her best friend.

Through my business, Kirstie Marie Photography, I’ve traveled the country photographing some of the world’s most beautiful and talented horses. I’ve also photographed first ponies with little-girl loves and retired schoolmasters whose roles won no trophies but were no less important. Because at the core of what I do, I’m telling the story of the indescribable—yet universal—bond between a girl and her horse.

The Heart Horse

I’ve felt that connection—that bond—firsthand, and it changed my life. PXR Tahoes A Fistful, my own heart horse, was not an easy ride, but we had identical personalities and connected on so many levels. “Tahoe” was like a mirror; I learned so much about my own personality because my strengths and weakness were reflected back to me each time I opened his stall door.

Tahoe and I were inseparable for four years, and that partnership transformed us. He went from bucking in every class to being calm and confident in the biggest arenas. I learned to focus under pressure and work endlessly for my goals. We felt unstoppable. I thought, and he moved. I gave him my trust and the reins, and we conquered the world. Our goodbye was inevitable—I’d always known we’d part ways come college—but that didn’t prepare me for watching a trailer pull away with my whole heart inside.

In my memories, Tahoe is forever 8 years old. He’s in the best shape of his life, and we’ve never missed a beat. Recent portraits—taken too late, with Tahoe at age 19—can’t quite match the magic playing in my mind. Our best rides are documented in the show photos that once plastered my college dorm room, but my heart has always craved an image more personal with which I could truly remember one of the great loves of my life.

See, our relationship wasn’t built in the show pen. Tahoe and I spent far more time at home, alone, just enjoying one another’s company; a picture of a cute trot down the center line doesn’t encompass the love we shared quite like the hours we spent hand-grazing on the hunt for the perfect patch of clover.

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This is an excerpt from the full article—get the whole story in the Fall 2019 Chrome magazine, which is sent to all current APHA members. Not a member? Join or renew at apha.com/join.

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