Judging by Laura Skillern-Sailer
My name is Laura, and I was thrilled to be asked to judge this months photo show! Working western is a topic close to my heart as I ride real life working ranch horses. I own a small farm, and running it wouldn’t be easy (or as much fun) without the help of my bridle horse, Simon. I also show in AQHA and APHA ranch horse classes. In model horses, I show a lot of western performance as well as making miniature versions of the working western tack I use in real life.
What I really enjoy about working western is it’s a chance to put a lot of different equestrian skills together. It’s not just walk, trot, and canter around an area, but it’s roping, chasing cows, and dealing with the everyday challenges of living and working on a ranch. There were so many excellent and varied entries, and it was a pleasure to judge every one of them!
Taylor J., NC
Beautiful sunset and beautiful photo! The tack fits the horse well, and I love the sense of taking a quiet moment to appreciate life on the ranch.
Cora V., IA
Great use of backlighting! This is also an excellent way to use these two horses in very different positions.
Ella D., CA
I love all the little details on this set up from the signs on the fence in the background to the matching purple tack. Great sense of the action of goat roping, too!
Mariner G., VA
Lovely working ranch set-up! The extra detail of the doll with the branding iron brings it up another notch, too.
Addalyn F., IA
This is such a beautiful photo. The color contrast and composition make it look like a photo of a real-life scene of fixing a fence at first glance!
Annabella H., PA
Great set-up and a brave rider! Bareback barrel racing is HARD to do, and the doll is sitting perfectly here.
Cassia D., MT
Wonderful set-up and a great use of this horse. He’s alert and paying attention to his handler but not spooky.
Lindsay H., ON, Canada
The excellent tack fit in this photo adds to the sense of realism. I also love the inclusion of a helmet!
Caitlyn K., MA
It took me a second to recognize this wasn’t a real horse! Excellent use of lighting and depth of focus to make it look extra-real.
Linnea P., MN
Wonderful, dynamic-looking shot here! I love the addition of the flying snow.
Sara B., MI
Lovely scene and tack all around! I love how the horse is engaged and looking directly at the cattle he’s driving.
Sondra H., IA
I loved both the lighting and the fire effect of this photo. I also love everyone (the horse, the doll, the dog) all looking at the same noise off in the darkness. It gives a real sense of the moment.
Hollyn G., VA
Very engaging scene — I love the angle and control of depth of focus. The tack is also very well-fitted and an attractive working set.
Maddie M., FL
Nicely put-together scene and I especially love the dogs helping out carrying their own sticks! The tack on this is lovely. One thing I might change is have your rider holding the rope in his hand. When I drag a log, I wrap the rope around the horn to dally the rope rather than tie a knot.
Jaclyn M., ON, Canada
This is such a great and engaging photo, from the flying dirt to the soft focus of the background to the angle of the horses. The only thing I’d change is I’d like to see the extra coils and rope in from the rider to give it that extra bit of realism.
Gayle V., NC
Lovely pack mule and a nice pack set. The photo background is a nice touch, bringing an extra sense of realism to the photo.
Alli L., VA
The combination of this mold, the scene, and the cropping/angle of this photo make it really engaging! I’d like to the throatlatch of the bridle buckled, but overall this is a really fun entry.
Kiley C., AZ
I love the use of the cutting cow here! The angle of the photo and the overall scene really make him look like a cow struggling to kick his way free. This photo is also a good example of the differences between "show western" and "working western." In a show, riding in a rope halter is usually not allowed, but I have ridden my ranch horse out in a rope halter before in an emergency situation just like this.
Rachel C., SC
Great to see some Arabian representation in working western! This mold is in a good pose for this scene and the cows are all nicely in proportion, which can be a challenge in model horses.
Sydney C., CO
Nice depth of focus here that really adds to the action of the scene. The flying dirt is another great addition to add to the feeling of really being there. I’d like to see the reins and the coils of the end of the rope in the rider’s hand a little more, as it would add to the overall realism of this photo.