I grew up in what was a small town, Woodinville, Washington. It was full of country homes on large lots, friendly neighbors, lakes, woods and horse pastures. Our neighbor had horses and a pasture which served as home to many area horses.
When I turned 5, I wanted a horse. I would draw horses and collect horse figurines. I also enjoyed horse art, if you call paint by numbers and hook-a-rug “art”. I kept begging my parents for a horse. One day a brown and white Shetland pony just happened to wander into our yard. (It must have been a gift from my fairy godmother.) I pleaded with my parents to keep her. My parents responded, “No honey, it must be some other little girl’s pony and we need to return it to her.” Nobody came looking for it. We put it in the pasture while my parents eagerly tried to find the rightful owner. Finally, they found an old farmer who admitted to the pony. He didn't live too far away and hadn't bothered to go out looking for it. In fact he said we could 'have' the pony if we just bought the halter, bridle and saddle for only $50. I couldn't believe it… I got my pony! I cleverly named her ‘Jony, the pony’. (My parents were convinced it was the sly old farmers game to get rid of his ponies by driving around the area until he spotted a house with a little girl and ditched the pony in the yard early in the morning before anybody was awake.)
Jony was a nice little pony until you tried to ride her. Then Jony turned into a monster. She would buck, bite, kick or try and rub you off on a tree or the corner of the barn. I still had fun with her because I could brush and braid her main and tail, dress her up and walk her around. We would just hang out together until I turned into a teenager and became more interested in girlfriends, boys and riding in cars. We had her for over 10 years and ended up giving her away to another family. That was the end of my equine experience up until recently.
Fast forward; college at Seattle University, a BS degree ultrasound (taking pictures of the inside of the human body), a successful medical sales career, marriage to the love of my life and a move to Boise, Idaho. I tried my hand as a realtor, master gardener, a stand up paddle board (SUP) fitness instructor. Eventually, we had a daughter and I became a stay at home mom. I subsequently started a home based business, recently enrolled in the New York Institute of Photography and again began riding horses with my daughter. My little girl loves horses and wanted to ride so we leased her a gorgeous quarter horse “Reba”. My daughter wanted me to ride with her and as you can guess, I am game for just about anything. What I didn't expect was that I would fall in love with horses all over again.
What’s the best 'flavor' now? One part photography plus one part horse time. Magnificent, strong, curious, smart, beautiful creatures that move incredibly graceful. Spending time alone with horses and my camera is my meditation, a way of being in the moment and capturing the horse’s moment with my camera. I get lost, lose all sense of time and want to take ‘just one more photo’. Most days its hard to stop and walk away even when it is getting really cold and the sun is setting quickly in the dead of winter. Becoming mesmerized by free range horses in the Boise Foothills is the result! So hopefully, when I am much older, say ninety and can’t do all the things I can today, I will look back an think I’m so glad I had all of these amazing experiences. Don’t just go through life trying to perfect that ONE thing and not try any of the other thirty. Get out there and try a new flavor!
XO - Michelle Tullis