Boots on the Ground: Scottsdale

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I haven't been to Scottsdale, Arizona, horse country for about eight years. Sure, the city is full of even more places to shop and eat, but the horse properties on the north side of the city, toward Carefree and Cave Creek, haven't really changed that much. The area is still gorgeous in the early-morning and late-evening light, surrounded by towering saguaro cacti and desert mountains.

About 12 years ago, I made my first trip out here to gather training pieces for the?Quarter Horse Journal. It was the first time I met successful Quarter Horse trainers Jim and Deanna Searles, and I remember them being the kindest, most accommodating folks. Whatever I asked, they did. That I shot my first magazine cover at their place makes my memories of the visit even sweeter.

I went back out to the Searles' place early this morning, with contributing photographer Charlie Brooks. We began working with a beautiful Arizona sunrise to our backs, shooting frame after frame of images for upcoming issues of?H&R. Once again, Jim and Deanna did all they could to offer us great material and showed great patience as we tried to get the perfect shots.

Be on the lookout for these how-to training pieces (as well as a great "We'd Love to Own" horse) in our 2012 editorial lineup. I think whether you show competitively or prefer to challenge your skills outside the show pen, you'll find their exercises and advice greatly beneficial. I can't wait to get back to Boulder to get to work sorting through the hundreds of images and putting together their advice to share with you!

It takes a village--or a bunch of flowers--to get ears.

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