Judging by Jaclyn McConnell
It was an honour to judge this month’s Photo Show theme “Heart Horse” – a theme that I’m sure resonates strongly with every equestrian in one way or another. For myself, a plucky little Haflinger pony by the name of Moe was my heart horse. We grew up together and while he wasn’t one for ribbons in the show ring, he taught me many lessons in trust, courage, and the best places to hide treats to avoid immediate pony consumption. We developed a bond that will never be forgotten and it was touching to see so many of you with similar stories.
There were an incredible 92 entries in the 17 and under division for this Photo Show! It was wonderful to see so many heart-warming scenes that touched upon every facet of heart horses. When judging, the images that won me over in the end were the ones that placed more of an emphasis on creativity with the theme. Entrants that also put extra care into the details of their scene were also marked higher. I will say, truly amazing work all around! Here are this month’s winners!
Ashley L., WV
This is truly such a lovely scene and an amazing embodiment of the “Heart Horse” theme. The amount of care that went into every detail of this is incredible, from the craftsmanship of the chair to the sign above the barn that reads “Heart Horse Therapy.” While the photograph was taken inside, the use of the mountainous backdrop and props to scale such as the beautiful flowers adds to the realism of the scene. The posing of the models is perfect and I’m sure the two in the middle are developing a bond that will last a lifetime. Incredible job!
Emilee D., PA
This is a really beautiful entry. The long landscape cropping, black and white filter, and stunning sunburst make it a cinematic masterpiece worthy of the screens! The posing of the rider and horse is lovely and you can clearly see their strong bond with one another as they embrace. The background is perfectly to scale, adding all the more to the realism of the scene and moment. Stunning work!
Hannah W., FL
I’m sure I’m not the only one who thinks this setup is a dream come true! The amount of detail in this scene is incredible! From all the bedroom accessories such as her own Breyer, to the quote on the wall, and homage to Jet with his mini-me replicated in 1:9 Breyer form at the window eagerly waiting for a treat. The posing is perfect, and through the photographs you can see the two’s everlasting love and friendship. Beautiful!
Lily F., LA
This is too cute and a perfect mixture of the “Heart Horse” theme and Valentine's Day – not to mention that treats are always a good way to someone’s heart! I’m a sucker for a pun, and in this case the scene plays it out perfectly right down to the tiny apples the rider is sharing with her horse. Such a warm and inviting feeling can also be felt thanks to the lighting and earthy barn tones. Terrific job and love all the details!
Elektra S., AL
I cannot get over how adorable this scene is! Not only are the two outfitted for a perfect painting session with pallets and brushes, but the finished self portrait piece in the center is amazing! Their embrace is heartwarming as they happily look upon their finished masterpiece. There are also a number of other details such as the string decoration of hearts, quote, mini Breyers, and stable odds and ends, giving this scene all the more realism. Fantastic job!
Poppy W., NC
Wow! This image is absolutely stunning! The colours of the sunset are phenomenal and our horse and rider are perfectly silhouetted against it. Upon closer inspection it appears as though the rider is not using any tack, but it’s not needed as it’s exemplifying the two’s strong bond and trust with one another. Amazing!
Hannah L., NH
The amount of detail in this entry is amazing! The photo book treatment of these images allows the viewer to follow the pair’s relationship from the beginning to present day. The posing is absolutely heart-warming and the use of props perfectly helps tell the tale of their friendship. Too cute!
Olivia B., NE
There’s nothing like reading in the paddock on a beautiful summer’s day! The posing of these two is perfect, with the horse snuggling up to his rider listening to her every word. A second horse can also be seen in the background coming to join them and share in the moment.
Molly S., MN
I love the composition of this image! It illustrates the bond between horse and rider wonderfully! The anonymity of the pair also allows the viewer to put themself in their shoes (and horseshoes)! The positioning of the sun flare is perfect as it shines through just over their heads.
Josie B., MS
Another truly adorable entry! While the three in the foreground are too cute, I appreciate the extra detailing in the background from the second mare and foal, to the tree, and to the bunny resting on the log. Great work!
Kiley C., AZ
The focus of this photograph is stunning! The background fades away into bokeh, perfectly allowing the viewer to focus just on the relationship of the horse and rider. You can feel their strong connection as they look into each other’s eyes.
Ariel B., CA
This is a beautiful photo! The composition of the pair is terrific! Another good example of playing to the model’s strengths in posing. The sunburst at the top of this image is a great touch as well.
Jean C., IN
This entry immediately caught my eye. Not only is it an incredible embodiment of the “Heart Horse” theme, but the use of the photographs in the background really helped tell the story of the unconditional and everlasting love between the horse and rider that are replicated in model form. You can hear the laughter in some of the shots as well as feel the triumphs of the partnership in others. While this image doesn’t put as much importance on realism, the placing of the photographs in a heart behind the models is a beautiful composition. Effects such as the vignette also tie in the theme of memory with this piece all the more. Terrific entry!
Kathy S., OH
This is a really beautiful and touching entry. As many of you know, the passing of your heart horse is a difficult experience. The lessons learned with them are never forgotten though nor the joy, laughter, and love they brought. They’ll always be close to your heart and live on with every tale. This image is an incredible tribute to such a horse. The overlay effect of the model in the sky at sunset is beautiful, as well as the additional touches of having the rider hold the horse’s halter and lock of hair. Touching work!
Alli L., VA
I really loved the creativity of this entry as Breyers are definitely heart horses! Many in my collection have sentimental value from either being gifted to me by family or friends, a look-alike to horses I’ve ridden, or a beloved portrait horse from fiction or the track in 1:9 scale! There’s definitely something for everyone. The attention to detail with this image is phenomenal, from the backdrop that looks like a collector's dream to the tiny Breyer box the figure is holding. Fantastic job!
Cade R., AZ
The ambiance of this entry is so warm and inviting thanks to the lighting of this image and the closeness of this shot. You can feel the loving bond between horse and rider as they enjoy each other’s company with some tunes and the soft glow of the lantern light. The model horse selection is perfect – she looks down at her friend with a soft kindness to her eyes. What a lovely evening!
Sue N., IL
I love the framing of this image with nothing but the sky in the background and the pair jumping in from the right. It really makes this moment grandeur and larger than life! Often when riding you have to build up such a trust with your horse, but it all starts with that initial leap of faith which these two are exemplifying perfectly. I can see them having a long partnership together. Great shot!
Kenzie W., WA
These two are just too cute! I love the soft depth of field of this image with the only the pair in focus while the rest of the world fades away. It really brings a lovely intimacy to the piece. I can relate to the rider as often when fetching a horse before a lesson or after, I too would hang around the paddock with them as I couldn’t get enough of their company. It was always a true testament to their tolerance, but that’s their unconditional love for you. Beautiful!
Joe S., NY
The detail and creativity of this piece is amazing! Trekking across the desert is no small feat. It takes an incredible amount of trust between horse and rider – not to mention, quite a fair bit of courage as well. I love the added detail of the rider using his hat as a bowl for his faithful steed to drink out of. Terrific job!
Caitlin E., CO
These two are adorable! I love the added details such as the flowers in the horse’s hair and pink decorations placed the barn in the background. You can feel the love between the horse and rider as they’re about to set off for a ride!
Donna D., NJ
Another great example of using models that compliments the creativity of the image perfectly. The posing is beautiful with Nadia looking up into Oak’s kind eyes and smile. Lovely shot!