In the Name of My Beloved H&R!

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Sigh...We just sent our April issue to press. I can't tell you what a relief it is every time we get those pages whipped into shape and on to the press peeps, where they work their magic putting your magazine together each month. Think you're going to LOVE our April issue's cover. I was going to post it, but thought better to surprise you.

In our April issue, we're running a feature about new ways to control parasites and what vets are now recommending you do to create your own strategic deworming program. As luck would have it, we needed some photos of, er, poop...horse manure, that is. I was the lucky editor who got to go roll around in mounds of ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ?horse manure in 30-degree temps, as ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ?evidenced by these winning photographs.

It wasn't all that bad...I was dressed for a New England blizzard, so the poop hardly touched my skin OR my camera lens. However, I did grow a bit irritated as our herd of mares began taking great interest in my manure photography. In the photo at left, "Ellie" decided to inspect my shoe...preventing me from getting a stellar poop shot.

Anyway, this caused me to reflect on all the wild photography adventures I've had since working at H&R. I've adored every minute of most of them. There have been times when I've had to shoot the oddest things you likely could conceive of. Here?are a few examples (for your?viewing pleasure):


One of my all-time favorite shoots: We did a page in our Your Horse Your Life section, featuring beautiful, eccentric, classic, bling-y dog collars (naturally, since most horse owners have pooches, too). First of all, I will NEVER be a dog/cat photographer. It was utterly exhausting work. Literally took me about an hour to shoot each dog. Took more than 1,200 frames of each to actually get one?image that would "work" for the mag. (Dogs have a habit of moving around.)?

This lil' gal (above) is my family's beloved Jack Russell terrier, who we had to put down this last November due to very severe cancer. (Literally one of the hardest days of my life. She's an utterly unreplaceable dog.) Well, all hell broke loose when we pulled out the dog biscuits. (In hindsight, not a good plan.) Dublin was no dummy. In fact, her IQ was likely well most of ours. Upon espying a treat, Dub went into autopilot: Sit, shake, speak, lay down, roll over. Well, much to our dismay, we couldn't keep her from rolling over. Somehow, she thought if she just kept rolling more treats would fall from the sky. Indeed, she took awhile to get a good shot. And, I made a mouse pad with one of her photos for my mom as a Christmas gift (great holiday gifts...promise!) Alas, I miss her very much...every day.?

Then came the "cookie shoot." This was for a holiday-themed article about fun horsey things to do around the holidays. My previous coworker and I had to make faux Christmas cookies with real (grocery-store-bought dough), sprinkles, red hots, and so on. Fortunately, I already had the horse cookie-cutter. We managed to get dough/sprinkle slop all over our clothes and the office carpet. It was great fun to clean up!

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Next: Our article on exercises to get you fit for riding. I made my poor coworker demonstrate the exercises in the back "yard" of our office for well over an hour, while some creep-ola man sat in his car watching. Yikes!

Next was the yoga ball. One of our former ad reps and associate publishers had just started at H&R (actually, I believe it was his first day). I needed to take a pic of a coworker demonstrating a yoga-ball pose. Well, needless, to say, we could not get the dang thing to blow up. So, Jim (our ad stud) had to spend an hour blowing up the ball. Fortunately, he has a great sense of humor, and I personally have never laughed so hard in my life.

On this particular occasion, we were "attempting" to illustrate someone wearing a bandana over her face to avoid inhaling dust, during a summer trail ride. Two hours into the shoot, we became giddy to the point of hysteria, and one of my good friends (Chrisite Gard, left, and her Appendix QA/TB, Gus) demonstrated their best runaway-bandit, bank-robber impression. Once again, it is a miracle I was able to hold my camera steady enough to get this shot in focus, as I was laughing so hard. Another fun photo day.


A few other notables:?

>I've made my poor mother model for so many different ridiculous scenarios, she deserves beyond "Mother of the Year" award (not to mention, she's really not a "horse person").

>At our former office (a huge media building w/ hundreds of employees, including some oh-so-cute boys), I had to go to the cafeteria and freeze a carrot stick in a glass of water to make a horse carrot-popsicle. You think I got many looks as I had to march this oddity through two football-field lengths back to our office?

>On one of my first shoots, at 23, I had to hold five dogs at once and kick cow patties as far as I could, so they wouldn't be in the shot. (Had to throw those shoes away.)

>Once I made my current unnamed co-blogger strip buck naked in the middle of our barn pasture for a wardrobe change. I'm sure she was cursing me.

>A good friend and I had to "model" for one of our supplemental annual pubs = winter clothes in Dallas' August. 101 degrees that day. Think I dropped 30 pounds of water. Felt bad returning those clothes to the manufacturers.

>Once, while I was shooting out in my pasture, a @#%$#^!#, sneaky lil' sucker of a horse surprised me from behind, ripped my necklace off (probably ingested half of it); then grabbed my sweater from around my waist and proceeded to play tug-of-war with a fellow pony. (No, I didn't say one distasteful word during this experience.)

>And, last (for now), but certainly not least, Cappy Jackson and I were shooting babies (foals, that is) at Team H&R's Andrea Simons' ranch. Shooting foals is not a particularly easy endeavor...much less when a burro, hog, chickens, etc. creep onto the scene. Using one of Andrea's cat toys (a super handy device involving an enticing, for the cat, stuffed fish). I had to sprint around the field, flinging the cat's fish contraption at the shocked burro...and the seemingly unimpressed hog and chickens.?

...if only I had friends who still worked at Marie Claire (fashion mag, based in Manhattan), they'd be ghoulish green with envy on how much more fun my shoots are than theirs. :-)

In hindsight, over the past (almost) SIX years I've been with Horse & Rider, I've truly enjoyed every minute of photo-shoot drama, hysterics, and the like. I have to say it's a pretty incredible gig.

PLEASE share if you guys have had any uncanny horse photo shoots...that more than likely involved a host of other uninvited guests...inantimate or breathing.

And, within this blog, Erin and I want to continue to tell you guys what the mag-biz is all about, so please feel free to ask us anything. We're not very shy...if you haven't noticed.

Have a great weekend everyone, and it looks----just maybe----like I might get to ride my Memphis tomorrow. Cannot express my happiness at this notion!

Here's to more CRAZY photo shoots, my H&R friends... ?~ALANA :-)

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