First Photo Shoot: Poop, Dogs, Cattle

Alas, I’m terribly sorry for my recent absence. My husband and I FINALLY bought a house (yes, we’ve been married for three months and still haven’t actually lived together). Anyway, I’ve been swamped with moving, our last deadline, and celebrating my big 3-0 b-day…merely excuses for my lack of posts.

I wanted to share a few photos of my first photo shoot with Horse and Rider. This was back in 2004 when Darrell Dodds was our head editor (and primary photographer). Our then Associate Editor Debbie Moors flew to Big D from Colorado, and Darrell, Debbie, and I headed to Larry Mahan and Diana McNab’s ranch.

I was a little out of the loop (being a few generations behind the Larry Mahan “era”), and didn’t realize what a mega-rodeo star he was. Even my parents, who are as far from rodeo fans as you can get, knew of Larry Mahan. So, apparently, it was a great honor for me to meet him. Unfortunately, I’d been up since about 3:45 in the morning to get to the Mahans’ ranch before dawn, so I wasn’t quite as witty and charming as I’d hoped.

This shoot was for a two-part series we ran in 2005 called “Fit to Ride.” Diana and Debbie demonstrated various yoga poses and maneuvers in the middle of a massive pasture inhabited by longhorns, various other cattle, horses, and dogs. Fortunately, the yoga gals worked on exercise mats to avoid the abounding cow patties.

2004 Associate Editor Debbie Moors and Diana McNab-Mahan demonstrate a yoga pose (to help increase rider flexibility) in the middle of a cow pasture.

Throughout this shoot, I was assigned three primary responsibilities: 1.) Keep the dogs out of the photos; 2.) Remove cow patties from the camera’s view; and 3.) Prevent the cattle from getting too close to the models. Being the low gal on the totem poll, at 23, I accepted these responsibilities with great seriousness. Kicking the cow patties out of the camera’s view proved the easiest of the three tasks. (I used to be a ballet dancer, so leg coordination was a old talent of mine.) The dogs posed a challenge. There weren’t two or three of them. I’d estimate, at the very, least six. They seemed to very much want to be included on the pages of Horse and Rider. Darrell thought their presence would be distracting to the articles’ subject. So, I manically chased the hounds from one end of the pasture to the other (while dutifully kicking cow patties throughout my sprints) in an effort to contain them. It might have been useful to know their names, but with six names, it was hopeless.

Once I finally was able to tackle a few of them, I’d hurl myself to the ground (likely smack on top of a cow patty) and hold on to the dogs for dear life…that is, until one of the others raced toward Diana to offer a tongue bath. In between these absurd antics, I attempted to motivate the cattle to move out of the camera’s view. They proved more difficult than the cow patties and the dogs, and I quickly learned that for some reason I could herd horses better than cattle. My cattle-motivational skills proved rather fruitless.

After Diana and Debbie completed their yoga routine, Larry couldn’t resist a performance (or perhaps he was humored by my idiotic antics throughout the pasture and wanted to the laughs coming). Larry, who I gathered likes being the spotlight, proceeded to performn his own equine-related yoga moves, as well.

I don’t know how old Larry Mahan is, but pretty impressive for an “older” gentleman, especially after years of rodeo-body smashing, eh?

Next, to my immense horror, Larry insisted I mount his barely 3-year-old colt and go for a spin. While I consider myself a fairly competent rider, this was a whole other ball game for me. My “go” cues apparently meant “stop” to this horse; and my “stop” cues seemed to indicate trot as fast as you can (wish I’d been wearing a few sports bras). All in all, it was a grand adventure. I got to meet a rodeo legend I didn’t even know was legendary. I got to ride (I’m guessing) a very expensive horse. Plus, the Mahans invited us into their home for lunch post-shoot…although, I was nicely asked to remove my boots.

Larry insisted that I hop on one of his 3-year-olds. It was a bit different than riding my Thoroughbred. And look at my heels…English??

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